ELBE 3 (2019-03-14)

All features of elbe-2.x and elbe-2.9.x are still available. The XML format is compatible.

Debian packages for “ELBE 3” are available from linutronix. Add sth. like this to your sources.list:

deb http://debian.linutronix.de/elbe stretch main

New development model

Future development will be integrated into the ‘master’ branch of github. There will be no longer “testing” releases of ELBE. The next stable release will be “ELBE 4” and includes just one new feature or bugfix.

The most important new features since ELBE 2.4 are described in the following chapters.

Variant management

Other build-systems allow building different flavours or variants of a image based on some config values. This eases the maintainance of very similar images.

A new parameter ‘–variant’ was added to the ‘initvm’ and ‘preprocess’ subcommand. A XML tag inside the XML file given to ‘preprocess’ can contain a ‘variant’ attribute. If the value of the variant attribute inside XML matches with a variant given as parameter to the preprocess command, the XML tag stays inside the XML file. If the XML tag has a variant attribute but doesn’t match with the variant given as parameter to ‘preprocess’ the XML tag will be dropped. If no ‘variant’ parameter is given to the ‘preprocess’ subcommand all tags with a ‘variant’ parameter are dropped.

This allows XML snippets like this:

<url variant='security'>
        <binary>http://security.debian.org/ stretch/updates main</binary>
        <source>http://security.debian.org/ stretch/updates main</source>
        <pkg variant='security'>openssh-server</pkg>
        <pkg variant='audio,video'>totem</pkg>

It is also possible to use multiple sections with variant attributes like this:

<pkg-list variant='audio>
<pkg-list variant='video>

This needs defining mergeable sections by xpath.

This is the list of currently supported mergeable sections: - target/finetuning - target/pkg-list - project/buildimage/pkg-list

If one of these sections occure multiple times the contents are merged into a single section.

If the above example will be submited by specifying

elbe initvm submit --variant=audio,security'

It will use all elements but not



The new XML element ‘archivedir’ points to an local directory and adds the content into a newly created archive. ‘archivedir’ can be specified more then once. The content of the direcories is copied in order of appearance. Existing files are overwritten by the later ones. ‘archive’ and ‘archivedir’ are mutual exclusive.

‘archivedir’ is only allowed in XML files going into ‘elbe preprocess’ or ‘elbe initvm’ and are converted into an ‘archive’ tag by this elbe subcommands.

Example snippet to use ‘archivedir’:

<archivedir variant="production">bar</archivedir>
<archivedir keep-attributes="true">baz</archivedir>


Currently only x86_64 host and armhf targets are supported.

$ elbe initvm submit --keep-files --writeproject uuid.prj examples/armhf-ti-beaglebone-black.xml
$ elbe control build_sdk `cat uuid.prj`
$ elbe control wait_busy `cat uuid.prj`
$ mkdir -p sdk
$ elbe control --output sdk get_files `cat uuid.prj`

To use the SDK, follow the instructions from the Yocto SDK Manual (Chapter 2)


It’s possible to run elbe inside a docker environment. ‘contrib/dockerfile’ inside the elbe source includes a Makefile for generating a Dockerfile and running/stopping the container.

debootstrap: specify variant, add extra packages

ELBE 3 allows more specific control over debootstrapping the base system.

debootstrap variants are used to define, what is going to be installed in a basic debian system. Known variants are: * minbase, which only includes essential packages and apt * buildd, which installs the build-essential packages into the rfs * fakechroot, which installs the packages without root privileges



can now be used in an ELBE XML to specify the debootstrapvariant.

The debootstrapvariant element also allows an “includepkgs” attribute to specify additional packages that should be installed during debootstrap.

Project finetuning

Is a new finetung list that is executed after the images are created. It supports converting an image into a different format, copy files from or to a partition or setting a specific packer for an image. E.g.

  <losetup img="sdcard.img">
    <!-- globs work, but must make sure, that only a single file is matched -->
    <copy_from_partition part="1" artifact="vmlinuz">/vmlinuz-3.16.0-*-arm64</copy_from_partition>
  <img_convert fmt="qcow2" dst="sdcard.qcow2">sdcard.img</img_convert>
  <set_packer packer="tarxz">sdcard.qcow2</set_packer>

pbuilder: build-profiles

dpkg-buildpackage allows to specify build profiles using -P option

Specifying a profile is now also supported by elbe by adding –profile to the “elbe pbuilder” command.

grub/x86: support for UEFI incl. hybrid boot

It’s now possible to build x86 images with UEFI grub support. See examples/x86_64-pc-hdimg-grub-hybrid-stretch.xml and examples/x86_64-pc-hdimg-grub-uefi-stretch.xml for usage.

elbe-debianize: supports debianizing u-boot

debianizing u-boot >= 2014.04 is now supported by “elbe debianize”

Initvm is registered at libvirt

ELBE 2.x used a tmux session to run the initvm in the background. In ELBE 3 this was replaced by registering the initvm at libvirtd. “elbe initvm” now uses the python libvirt bindings to control the initvm. There is still a Makefile next to the initvm image to start/stop the initvm without using libvirt.

Upgrade/downgrade version of elbe inside the initvm

‘elbe control install_elbe_version [version]’ makes the initvm install a specific elbe version. It defaults to the version of the elbe executable used to issue the command.

Source-code cleanups

Elbe now uses SPDX licence tags. It follows the pep8 codingy-style. And a lot of pylint complains have been fixed.

Manuel Traut on 2019-03-14