Table of Contents

This is part 6 of the series Embedded Linux with Raspberry Pi 3 Model B. Please check earlier articles to get the grasp of current one.


In the earlier articles, we compiled toolchain, U-boot, Linux kernel for the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B.

In order for a Linux system to function fully, a few applications are required. When the Linux kernel boots, it tries to mount the filesystem and then looks for an init program to execute. If the init program is not found, the kernel panicks and boot process will be stopped.

A shell to execute the commands and some basic utilities are also required to make the Linux system usable.

Busybox is a software suite, that generates a minimal root file system with an init program, the shell and basic Linux utilities.

Generating minimal root filesystem for RPI3 Model B
Generating minimal root filesystem for RPI3 Model B

Get the busybox source code

cd ~/rpi3/
git clone git://
cd busybox
# Checkout to latest stable version. Can be found with `git tag --sort=v:refname`
git checkout 1_31_1

Change configuration

make menuconfig
  • Build busybox statically (without shared liraries) by enabling Settings -> Build static binary (no shared libraries)
  • Add cross compiler prefix (aarch64-rpi3-linux-gnu-) by going into Settings -> Cross compiler prefix
  • Add installation directory by going into Settings -> Destination path for ‘make install’. Give the full path. Ex: /home/USERNAME/rpi3/nfs. Replace USERNAME with you Ubuntu system username.

Download the patch to fix compile time issue

You might see the following compile time error during compilation.

date.c:(.text.date_main+0x21c): undefined reference to `stime'
collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status
Note: if build needs additional libraries, put them in CONFIG_EXTRA_LDLIBS.

Download and apply the patch to fix the above compile time error.

curl --output ./0003-compile-error-fix-stime.patch
git apply 0003-compile-error-fix-stime.patch

Compile the busybox

export PATH=$PATH:~/x-tools/aarch64-rpi3-linux-gnu/bin/
make -j`nproc`

Install the minimal filesystem

make install

This will install the minimal root filesystem to the path ~/rpi3/nfs. Verify the content with following command.

ls ~/rpi3/nfs/

The list should be similar to the following.

bin  linuxrc  sbin  usr

In the next section, we will make the Linux kernel mount the root file system over network.