Coding and Building

Let's walk through contributing to the Redox subpackage games, which is a collection of low-def games. We are going to modify minesweeper to display P instead of F on flagged spots.

Working with Git

Before starting development, read through Creating a Proper Pull Request, which describes how the Redox team uses Git.

In this example, we will discuss creating a fork of the games package, pretending you are going to create a Merge Request for your changes. Don't actually do this. Only create a fork when you have a permanent change you want to contribute to Redox.

Using Multiple Windows

For clarity and ease of use, we will be using a couple of Terminal windows on your host system, each running a different bash shell instance.

  1. The Build shell, normally at ~/tryredox/redox or whatever your base redox directory is.
  2. The Coding shell, normally at ~/tryredox/redox/cookbook/recipes/games/source.

Set up your Configuration

To get started, follow the steps in Including a Program in a Redox Build to include the games package in your myfiles configuration file. In your Terminal window, go to your redox base directory and run:

make qemu

On Redox, run minesweeper as described in the link above. Type the letter f and you will see F appear on your screen. Use Ctrl-Alt-G to regain control of your cursor, and click the upper right corner to exit QEMU.

Keep the Terminal window open. That will be your Build shell.

The Recipe

The games package is built in the folder cookbook/recipes/games. When you clone the redox base package, it includes a file cookbook/recipes/games/recipe.toml. The recipe tells the toolchain how to get the source and how to build it.

When you build the system and include the games package, the toolchain does a git clone into the directory cookbook/recipes/games/source. Then it builds the package in the directory cookbook/recipes/games/target.

Edit the recipe so it does not try to automatically clone the sources.

  • Create a Terminal window running bash on your host system, which we will call your Coding shell.
  • Change to the games directory.
  • Open recipe.toml in an editor.
    cd ~/tryredox/redox/cookbook/recipes/games
    gedit recipe.toml &
  • Comment out the [source] section at the top of the file.
    # [source]
    # git = ""
  • Save your changes.

Git Clone

To set up this package for contributing, do the following in your Coding shell.

  • Delete the source and target directories in cookbook/recipes/games.
  • Clone the package into the source directory, either specifying it in the git clone or by moving it after clone.
    rm -rf source target
    git clone --origin upstream --recursive
    mv games source
  • If you are making a permanent change that you want to contribute, (you are not, don't actually do this) at this point you should follow the instructions in Creating a Proper Pull Request, replacing redox.git with games.git. Make sure you fork the correct repository, in this case redox-os/games.

Edit your Code

  • Using your favorite code editor, make your changes. We use gedit in this example, from your Coding shell. You can also use VS Code.
    cd source
    gedit src/minesweeper/ &
  • Search for the line containing the definition of the FLAGGED constant (around line 36), and change it to P.
    const FLAGGED: &'static str = "P";

Check your Code on Linux

Most Redox applications also work on Linux without being modified. You can build and test your program on Linux.

  • From within the Coding shell, go to the source directory and use cargo to check for errors.
    cargo check
    You could also use cargo clippy, but minesweeper is not clean enough to pass.
  • The games package creates more than one executable, so to test minesweeper on Linux, you need to specify it to Cargo. In the source directory, do:
    cargo run --bin minesweeper

The Full Rebuild Cycle

After making changes to your package, you should make rebuild, which will check for any changes to packages and make a new Redox image. make all and make qemu do not check for packages that need to be rebuilt, so if you use them, your changes may not be included in the system. Once you are comfortable with this process, you can try some tricks to save time.

  • Within your Build shell, in your redox directory, do:

    script build.log
    make rebuild

    The script command starts a new shell and logs all the output from the make command.

    The exit command is to exit from script. Remember to exit the script shell to ensure all log messages are written to build.log. There's also a trick to flush the log.

  • You can now scan through build.log to check for errors. The file is large and contains many ANSI Escape Sequences, so it can be hard to read. However, if you encountered a fatal build error, it will be at the end of the log, so skip to the bottom and scan upwards.

Test your Changes

In the Redox instance started by make qemu, test your changes to minesweeper.

  • Log in with user user and no password.
  • Open a Terminal window.
  • Type minesweeper.
  • Use your arrow keys or WSAD to move to a square and type f to set a flag. The character P will appear.

Congratulations! You have modified a program and built the system! Next, create a bootable Redox with your change.

  • If you are still running QEMU, type Ctrl-Alt-G and click the upper right corner of the Redox window to exit.
  • In your Build shell, in the redox directory, do:
    make live

In the directory build/x86_64/myfiles, you will find the file livedisk.iso. Follow the instructions for Running on Real Hardware and test out your change.

A Note about Drivers

Drivers are a special case for rebuild. The source for drivers is fetched both for the drivers recipe and the drivers-initfs recipe. The initfs recipe also copies some drivers from drivers-initfs during the build process. If your driver is included in initfs, you need to keep all three in sync. The easiest solution is to write a build shell script something like the following, which should be run in your redox base directory. (Note: This assumes your driver code edits are in the directory cookbook/recipes/drivers. Don't accidentally remove your edited code.)

rm -rf cookbook/recipes/drivers-initfs/{source,target} cookbook/recipes/initfs/target
cp -R cookbook/recipes/drivers/source cookbook/recipes/drivers-initfs

make rebuild qemu

Shortening the Rebuild Cycle

To skip some of the steps in a full rebuild, here are some tricks.

Build your Package for Redox

You can build just the games package, rather than having make rebuild check every package for changes. This can help shorten the build cycle if you are trying to resolve issues such as linking to libraries.

  • In your Build shell, in the redox directory, type:
    Redox's makefiles have a rule for r.PACKAGE, where PACKAGE is the name of a Redox package. It will make that package, ready to load into the Redox filesystem.

Make a New Image

Now that all the packages are built, you can make a Redox image without the step of checking for modifications.

  • In your Build shell, in the redox directory, do:
    make image
    make qemu
    make image skips building any packages (assuming the last full make succeeded), but it ensures a new image is created, which should include the package you built in the previous step.

Patch an Image

If you feel the need to skip creating a new image, and you want to directly add a file to the existing Redox image, it is possible to do so. However, this is not recommended. You should use a recipe to make the process repeatable. But here is how to access the Redox image as if it were a Linux filesystem.

  • NOTE: You must ensure that Redox is not running in QEMU when you do this.

  • In your Build shell, in the redox directory, type:

    make mount

    The Redox image is now mounted as a directory at build/x86_64/myfiles/filesystem.

  • Remove the old minesweeper and replace it with your new version. In the Build shell,

    cd ~/tryredox/redox/build/x86_64/myfiles/filesystem
    rm ./bin/minesweeper
    cp ~/tryredox/redox/cookbook/recipes/games/target/x86_64-unknown-redox/stage/bin/minesweeper ./bin
  • Unmount the filesystem and test your image. NOTE: You must unmount before you start QEMU.

    cd ~/tryredox/redox
    make unmount
    make qemu

    The new version of minesweeper is now in your Redox filesystem.

Checking In your Changes

Don't do this now, but if you were to have permanent changes to contribute to a package, at this point, you would git push and create a Merge Request, as described in Creating a Proper Pull Request.

If you were contributing a new package, such as porting a Rust application to Redox, you would need to check in the recipe.toml file. It goes in the cookbook subproject. You may also need to modify a filesystem config file, such as config/demo.toml. It goes in the redox project. You must fork and do a proper Pull Request for each of these projects. Please coordinate with the Redox team via Chat before doing this.

VS Code Tips and Tricks

Although not for every Rustacean, VS Code is helpful for those who are working with unfamiliar code. We don't get the benefit of all its features, but the Rust support in VS Code is very good.

If you have not used VS Code with Rust, here's an overview. VS Code installation instructions are here.

After installing the rust-analyzer extension as described in the overview, you get access to several useful features.

  • Inferred types and parameter names as inline hints.
  • Peeking at definitions and references.
  • Refactoring support.
  • Autoformat and clippy on Save (optional).
  • Visual Debugger (if your code can run on Linux).
  • Compare/Revert against the repository with the Git extension.

Using VS Code on individual packages works pretty well, although it sometimes take a couple of minutes to kick in. Here are some things to know.

Start in the "source" dir

In your Coding shell, start VS Code, specifying the source directory.

code ~/tryredox/redox/cookbook/recipes/games/source

Or if you are in the source directory, just code . with the period meaning the source dir.

Add it to your "Favorites" bar

VS Code remembers the last project you used it on, so typing code with no directory or starting it from your Applications window or Favorites bar will go back to that project.

After starting VS Code, right click on the icon and select Add to Favorites.

Wait a Couple of Minutes

You can start working right away, but after a minute or two, you will notice extra text appear in your Rust code with inferred types and parameter names filled in. This additional text is just hints, and is not permanently added to your code.

Save Often

If you have made significant changes, rust-analyzer can get confused, but this can usually be fixed by doing Save All.

Don't Use it for the whole of Redox

VS Code cannot grok the gestalt of Redox, so it doesn't work very well if you start it in your redox base directory. It can be handy for editing recipes, config and make files. And if you want to see what you have changed in the Redox project, click on the Source Control icon on the far left, then select the file you want to compare against the repository.

Don't Build the System in a VS Code Terminal

In general, it's not recommended to do a system build from within VS Code. Use your Build window. This gives you the flexibility to exit Code without terminating the build.