[PATCH 00/16] fdt: Make OF_BOARD a boolean option

Ilias Apalodimas ilias.apalodimas at linaro.org
Mon Nov 1 12:04:33 CET 2021

Hi Simon,

On Thu, 28 Oct 2021 at 05:51, Simon Glass <sjg at chromium.org> wrote:
> Hi Ilias,
> On Tue, 26 Oct 2021 at 00:46, Ilias Apalodimas
> <ilias.apalodimas at linaro.org> wrote:
> >
> > Hi Simon,
> >
> > A bit late to the party, sorry!
> (Did you remember the beer?

We'll probably need something stronger to sort this out :)

> I am replying to this but I don't think it
> is all that helpful for me to reply to a lot of things on this thread,
> since I would not be adding much to my cover letter and patches)
> >
> > [...]
> >
> > > >
> > > > I really want to see what the binary case looks like since we could then
> > > > kill off rpi_{3,3_b,4}_defconfig and I would need to see if we could
> > > > then also do a rpi_arm32_defconfig too.
> > > >
> > > > I want to see less device trees in U-Boot sources, if they can come
> > > > functionally correct from the hardware/our caller.
> > > >
> > > > And I'm not seeing how we make use of "U-Boot /config" if we also don't
> > > > use the device tree from build time at run time, ignoring the device
> > > > tree provided to us at run time by the caller.
> > >
> > > Firstly I should say that I find building firmware very messy and
> > > confusing these days. Lots of things to build and it's hard to find
> > > the instructions. It doesn't have to be that way, but if we carry on
> > > as we are, it will continue to be messy and in five years you will
> > > need a Ph.D and a lucky charm to boot on any modern board. My
> > > objective here is to simplify things, bringing some consistency to the
> > > different components. Binman was one effort there. I feel that putting
> > > at least the U-Boot house in order, in my role as devicetree
> > > maintainer (and as author of devicetree support in U-Boot back in
> > > 2011), is the next step.
> > >
> > > If we set things up correctly and agree on the bindings, devicetree
> > > can be the unifying configuration mechanism through the whole of
> > > firmware (except for very early bits) and into the OS, this will set
> > > us up very well to deal with the complexity that is coming.
> > >
> > > Anyway, here are the mental steps that I've gone through over the past
> > > two months:
> > >
> > > Step 1: At present, some people think U-Boot is not even allowed to
> > > have its own nodes/properties in the DT. It is an abuse of the
> > > devicetree standard, like the /chosen node but with less history. We
> > > should sacrifice efficiency, expedience and expandability on the altar
> > > of 'devicetree is a hardware description'. How do we get over that
> > > one? Wel, I just think we need to accept that U-Boot uses devicetree
> > > for its own purposes, as well as for booting the OS. I am not saying
> > > it always has to have those properties, but with existing features
> > > like verified boot, SPL as well as complex firmware images where
> > > U-Boot needs to be able to find things in the image, it is essential.
> > > So let's just assume that we need this everywhere, since we certainly
> > > need it in at least some places.
> > >
> > > (stop reading here if you disagree, because nothing below will make
> > > any sense...you can still use U-Boot v2011.06 which doesn't have
> > > OF_CONTROL :-)
> >
> > Having U-Boot keep it's *internal* config state in DTs is fine.  Adding
> > that to the DTs that are copied over from linux isn't imho.  There are
> > various reasons for that.  First of all syncing device trees is a huge pain
> > and that's probably one of the main reasons our DTs are out of sync for a
> > large number of boards.
> > The point is this was fine in 2011 were we had SPL only,  but the reality
> > today is completely different.  There's previous stage boot loaders (and
> > enough cases were vendors prefer those over SPL).  If that bootloader needs
> > to use it's own device tree for whatever reason,  imposing restrictions on
> > it wrt to the device tree it has to include,  and require them to have
> > knowledge of U-Boot and it's internal config mechanism makes no sense not
> > to mention it doesn't scale at all.
> I think the solution here may be the binman image packer. It works
> from a description of the image (i.e. is data-driver) and can collect
> all the pieces together. The U-Boot properties (and the ones required
> by TF-A, etc.) can be added at package time.

I am not sure I am following you here or why binman is relevant to
this discussion.  If the boot process doesn't require a FIP (e.g  SPL
+ U-Boot proper or SPL -> EL3 -> U-Boot proper or TF-A + U-Boot) then
using binman makes a lot of sense.  If the boot process is TF-A ->
U-Boot and requires a FIP, TF-A has it's own set of tools for
preparing that [1] [2] ,  why would we want to teach binman FIP
packaging? And if we do are you willing to keep it up to date with
everything they come up with? IOW packaging the firmware is not
U-Boot's responsibility, it's the vendors.  Why should he not be able
to choose FIP? (ST already changed that in u-boot btw).

> If you think about it, it doesn't matter what properties are in the DT
> that is put into the firmware image. TF-A, for example, is presumably
> reading a devicetree from flash, so what does it care if it has some
> U-Boot properties in it?

It doesn't, but the point here is entirely different.  Today there's a
number of U-Boot DTBs that are unable to boot a kernel.  The direction
we would like to is have the firmware provide a DTB that's usable for
the kernel. Yes I know vendors mess things up and there's a
correlation of the DTB and the kernel version, but let's set that
aside for a moment. If we want to use a 'generic' DT then we have to
make sure that whoever packages it knows what to put in there.  That's
why for me, it's very important to only allow *upstreamed only* DT
properties for whoever ends up being responsible for the packaging.
In that case you can demand TF-A to bundle U-Boot nodes in the DTB it
produces if the board is supposed to use U-Boot. If those are internal
only to U-Boot and not upstreamed this makes little sense to me and I
don't see why people will agree to that.

> As to syncing, we have solved this using u-boot.dtsi files in U-Boot,
> so I think this can be dealt with.
> >
> > >
> > > Step 2: Assume U-Boot has its own nodes/properties. How do they get
> > > there? Well, we have u-boot.dtsi files for that (the 2016 patch
> > > "6d427c6b1fa binman: Automatically include a U-Boot .dtsi file"), we
> > > have binman definitions, etc. So we need a way to overlay those things
> > > into the DT. We already support this for in-tree DTs, so IMO this is
> > > easy. Just require every board to have an in-tree DT. It helps with
> > > discoverability and documentation, anyway. That is this series.
> > >
> >
> > Again, the board might decide for it's own reason to provide it's own DT.
> > IMHO U-Boot must be able to cope with that and asking DTs to be included in
> > U-Boot source is not the right way to do that,  not to mention cases were
> > that's completely unrealistic (e.g QEMU or a board that reads the DTB from
> > it's flash).
> I think you are at step 2. See above for my response.
> >
> > > (I think most of us are at the beginning of step 2, unsure about it
> > > and worried about step 3)
> > >
> > > Step 3: Ah, but there are flows (i.e. boards that use a particular
> > > flow only, or boards that sometimes use a flow) which need the DT to
> > > come from a prior stage. How to handle that? IMO that is only going to
> > > grow as every man and his dog get into the write-a-bootloader
> > > business.
> >
> > And that's exactly why we have to come up with something that scales,  without
> > having to add a bunch of unusable DTs in U-Boot.
> In what way does this not scale? How are the DTs unusable? If there is
> a standard binding, we should be fine.

The keyword here is the definition of 'standard'.  If standard means
upstreamed to DT spec, as I said before I don't see any problem. By
unusable I was referring to the QEMU DTs you are trying to push into
U-Boot  or the RPI one.  It doesn't scale because you have to maintain
and upstream all the DTs in the U-Boot tree.  The story so far is
merge and forget for a big number of DTs, so I find it hard to believe
that everyone will start behaving and sync up their DTs.  I'd much
rather prefer having a central repo and force people to use that.

> >
> > > We need a way to provide the U-Boot nodes/properties in a
> > > form that the prior stage can consume and integrate with its build
> > > system. Is TF-A the only thing being discussed here? If so, let's just
> > > do it. We have the u-boot.dtsi and we can use binman to put the image
> > > together, for example. Or we can get clever and create some sort of
> > > overlay dtb.
> > >
> > > Step 3a. But I don't want to do that. a) If U-Boot needs this stuff
> > > then it will need to build it in and use two devicetrees, one internal
> > > and one from the prior stage....well that is not very efficient and it
> > > is going to be confusing for people to figure out what U-Boot is
> > > actually doing. But we actually already do that in a lot of cases
> > > where U-Boot passes a DT to the kernel which is different to the one
> > > it uses. So perhaps we have three devicetrees? OMG.
> >
> > No we don't. That's a moot point. If you separate the DTs U-Boot
> > provides the internal one and inherits one 'generic'.  Linux will be able to use
> > that.  So the only case were you'll need 3 DTs is if the *vendor* breaks the
> > DT across kernel versions,  In which case there's not much you can do to
> > begin with and that's already a case we have to deal with.
> Linux actually doesn't care if the U-Boot properties are in the tree,
> so long as we have proper bindings. My point here is we only need
> either:
> a. one devicetree, shared with Linux and U-Boot (and TF-A?)
> b. two devicetrees, one for use in firmware and one for passing to Linux
> We don't need to separate out the U-Boot properties into a second (or
> third) devicetree. There just isn't any point.

Again if we are talking about bindings that are upstream in the spec,
then we agree.  Depending on the SRAM limitation we can even do (a).
If the vendor messes up the DT backwards compatibility then we can do
(b).  If you expect TF-A and FIP to go pick up the special bindings
U-Boot needs, then we disagree.

> >
> > > b) Well then
> > > U-Boot can have its own small devicetree with its bits and then U-Boot
> > > can merge the two when it starts. Again that is not very efficient. It
> > > means that U-Boot cannot be controlled by the prior stage (e.g. to get
> > > its public key from there or to enable/disable the console), so
> > > unified firmware config is not possible. It will get very confusing,
> > > particularly for debugging U-Boot. c) Some other scheme to avoid
> > > accepting step 3...please stop!
> > >
> > > Step 4: Yes, but there is QEMU, which makes the devicetree up out of
> > > whole cloth. What about that? Well, we are just going to have to deal
> > > with that. We can easily merge in the U-Boot nodes/properties and
> > > update the U-Boot CI scripts to do this, as needed, e.g. with
> > > qemu-riscv64_spl. It's only one use case, although Xen might do
> > > something similar.
> > >
> > > To my mind, that deals with both the build-time and run-time issues.
> > > We have a discoverable DT in U-Boot, which should be considered the
> > > source of truth for most boards. We can sync it with Linux
> > > automatically with the tooling that I hope Rob Herring will come up
> > > with. We can use an empty one where there really is no default,
> > > although I'd argue that is making perfect an enemy of the good.
> > >
> > > Step 5: If we get clever and want to remove them from the U-Boot tree
> > > and pick them up from somewhere else, we can do that with sufficient
> > > tooling. Perhaps we should set a timeline for that? A year? Two? Six?
> >
> > We can start slowly migrating boards and see how that works out.
> > We could either use 2 device trees as you proposed, or have u-boot merge
> > the 'u-boot' DTB and the inherited DTB before DM comes up.  OTOH I'd prefer
> > if linux gets handed a clean device tree without the u-boot internals in
> > it, so I think 2 discrete DTs is cleaner overall.
> I know you would prefer that, but does it really matter in practice?
> What is the objection, actually?
> As I mentioned on the call, I think the prior stage should do any
> merging or fixing up. Trying to do that sort of thing in 'early' code
> in U-Boot (or any other program, including Linux) is such a pain. With
> U-Boot, for example, we don't even have any RAM available to do it
> with half the time and it would dramatically increase the amount of
> memory needed prior to relocation. It just isn't a very good idea to
> try to do this in early code. It is also completely unnecessary, once
> you get past the philosophical objections.
> If TF-A wants to be in the picture, let it deal with the implications
> and responsibility thus incurred. TF-A has no right to tell U-Boot how
> to handle its config. TF-A is 0.5m LOC, i.e. a lot, almost a quarter
> of the size of U-Boot. It duplicates loads of things in there. No one
> will even *notice* an FDT merge function, which is actually only 70
> LOC:

Again I am repeating myself so here's a tl;dr of how I view this:
1. All DT bindings u-boot expect become part of the DT spec -- I am
fine with whatever, since at this point it makes sense to say "You are
booting u-boot go add whatever it expects, it's part of the spec".
The prior stage boot loader can then obviously merge the DT fragments
and everyone will be happy.
2. For the bindings that are not upstreamed, I'd prefer having u-boot
do the fixup. Alternatively, we could provide fragments that are easy
for TF-A to merge? By easy I don't mean read U-Boot code, it's .dts
files, find the fragments you need and add them manually...


[1] https://wiki.st.com/stm32mpu/wiki/How_to_configure_TF-A_FW_CONFIG
[2] https://trustedfirmware-a.readthedocs.io/en/latest/design/trusted-board-boot-build.html



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