The coreboot build system

(this document is still incomplete and will be filled in over time)

General operation

The coreboot build system is based on GNU make but extends it significantly to the point of providing its own custom language. The overhead of learning this new syntax is (hopefully) offset by its lower complexity.

The build system is defined in the toplevel Makefile and and is supposed to be generic (and is in fact used with a number of other projects). Project specific configuration should reside in files called

In general, the build system provides a number of “classes” that describe various parts of the build. These cover the various build targets in coreboot such as the stages, subdirectories with more source code, and the general addition of files.

Each class has a name (eg. romstage, subdirs, cbfs-files) and is used by filling in a variable of that name followed by -y (eg. romstage-y, subdirs-y, cbfs-files-y). The -y suffix allows a simple interaction with our Kconfig build configuration system: Kconfig options are available as variables starting with a CONFIG_ prefix and boolean options contain y, n or are empty.

This allows class-$(CONFIG_FOO) += bar to conditionally add bar to class depending on the choice for FOO.


Classes can be defined as required. subdirs is handled internally since it’s parsed per subdirectory to add further directories to the rule set.

TODO: explain how to create new classes and how to evaluate them.


subdirs contains subdirectories (relative to the current directory) that should also be handled by the build system. The build system expects these directories to contain a file called

Subdirectories are not read at the point where the subdirs statement resides but later, after the current directory is handled (and potentially others, too).


This class is used to add files to the final CBFS image. Since several more options need to be maintained than can comfortably fit in that single variable, additional variables are used.

cbfs-files-y contains the file name used in the CBFS image (called foo here). Additional options are added in foo-$(option) variables. The supported options are:

  • file: The on-disk file to add as foo (required)
  • type: The file type. Can be raw, stage, payload, and flat-binary (required)
  • compression: Can be none or lzma (default: none)
  • position: An absolute position constraint for the placement of the file (default: none)
  • align: Minimum alignment for the file (default: none)
  • options: Additional cbfstool options (default: none)

position and align are mutually exclusive.

Adding Makefile fragments

You can use the add_intermediate helper to add new post-processing steps for the final coreboot.rom image. For example you can add new files to CBFS by adding something like this to site-local/

$(call add_intermediate, add_mrc_data)
	$(CBFSTOOL) $< write -r RW_MRC_CACHE -f site-local/my-mrc-recording.bin

Note that the second line must start with a tab, not spaces.

See also Managing local additions.

FMAP region support

With the addition of FMAP flash partitioning support to coreboot, there was a need to extend the specification of files to provide more precise control which regions should contain which files, and even change some flags based on the region.

Since FMAP policies depend on features using FMAP, that’s kept separate from the cbfs-files class.

The position and align options for file foo can be overwritten for a region REGION using foo-REGION-position and foo-REGION-align.

The regions that each file should end in can be defined by overriding a function called regions-for-file that’s called as $(call regions-for-file,$(filename)) and should return a comma-separated list of regions, such as REGION1,REGION2,REGION3.

The default implementation just returns COREBOOT (the default region) for all files.

vboot provides its own implementation of regions-for-file that can be used as reference in src/vboot/