To start developing on Apache NuttX, we need to get the source code, configure it, compile it, and get it uploaded onto an embedded computing board. These instructions are for Ubuntu Linux and macOS Catalina. If you’re using a different version, you may need to change some of the commands.


Install prerequisites for building and using Apache NuttX (Linux)

  1. Install system packages
$ sudo apt install \
    bison flex gettext texinfo libncurses5-dev libncursesw5-dev \
    gperf automake libtool pkg-config build-essential gperf \
    libgmp-dev libmpc-dev libmpfr-dev libisl-dev binutils-dev libelf-dev \
    libexpat-dev gcc-multilib g++-multilib picocom u-boot-tools util-linux
  1. Give yourself access to the serial console device

    This is done by adding your Linux user to the dialout group:

$ sudo usermod -a -G dialout $USER
$ # now get a login shell that knows we're in the dialout group:
$ su - $USER

Install prerequisites for building and using Apache NuttX (macOS)

$ brew tap discoteq/discoteq
$ brew install flock
$ brew install x86_64-elf-gcc  # Used by simulator
$ brew install u-boot-tools  # Some platform integrate with u-boot

Install prerequisites for building and using Apache NuttX (Windows – WSL)

If you are are building Apache NuttX on windows and using WSL follow that installation guide for Linux. This has been verified against the Ubunutu 18.04 version.

There may be complications interacting with programming tools over USB. Recently support for USBIP was added to WSL 2 which has been used with the STM32 platform, but it is not trivial to configure:

Install prerequisites for building and using Apache NuttX (Windows – Cygwin)

Download and install Cygwin using the minimal installation in addition to these packages:

make              bison             libmpc-devel
gcc-core          byacc             automake-1.15
gcc-g++           gperf             libncurses-devel
flex              gdb               libmpfr-devel
git               unzip             zlib-devel

Install Required Tools (All Platforms)

There are a collection of required tools that need to be built to build most Apache NuttX configurations:

$ mkdir buildtools
$ export NUTTXTOOLS=`pwd`/buildtools
$ git clone tools

NOTE: You will need to add NUTTXTOOLS_PATH to your environment PATH

  1. Install kconfig-frontends tool

This is necessary to run the ./nuttx/tools/ script as well as using the ncurses-based menuconfig system.

$ cd tools/
$ cd kconfig-frontends
$ # on MacOS do the following:
$ patch < ../kconfig-macos.diff -p 1
$ ./configure --prefix=$NUTTXTOOLS --enable-mconf --disable-shared --enable-static --disable-gconf --disable-qconf --disable-nconf
$ # on Linux do the following:
$ ./configure --prefix=$NUTTXTOOLS --enable-mconf --disable-gconf --disable-qconf
$ touch aclocal.m4
$ make
$ make install
  1. Install gperf tool (optional)
$ cd tools/
$ wget
$ tar zxf gperf-3.1.tar.gz
$ cd gperf-3.1
$ ./configure --prefix=$NUTTXTOOLS
$ make
$ make install
  1. Install gen-romfs (optional)
$ cd tools/
$ tar zxf genromfs-0.5.2.tar.gz
$ cd genromfs-0.5.2
$ make install PREFIX=$NUTTXTOOLS

Get Source Code (Stable)

Apache NuttX releases are published on the project Downloads page and distributed by the Apache mirrors. Be sure to download both the nuttx and apps tarballs.

Get Source Code (Development)

Apache NuttX is actively developed on GitHub. If you want to use it, modify it or help develop it, you’ll need the source code.

You can either clone the public repositories:

$ mkdir nuttx
$ cd nuttx
$ git clone nuttx
$ git clone apps

Or, download the tarball:

$ curl -OL
$ curl -OL
# optionally, zipball is also available (for Windows users).

Later if we want to make modifications (for instance, to improve NuttX and save them in our own branch, or submit them back to the project), we can do that easily. It’s covered in the section Making Changes.

Install a Cross-Compiler Toolchain

With Apache NuttX, you compile the operating system and your application on your desktop or laptop computer, then install the binary file on your embedded computer. This guide assumes your computer is an ARM CPU. If it isn’t, you’ll need a different tool chain.

There are hints on how to get the latest tool chains for most supported architectures in the Apache NuttX CI helper script and Docker container

Download the right flavor of the ARM Embedded Gnu Toolchain for your embedded processor’s CPU.

Unpack it into /opt/gcc and add the bin directory to your path. For instance:

$ usermod -a -G users $USER
$ # get a login shell that knows we're in this group:
$ su - $USER
$ sudo mkdir /opt/gcc
$ sudo chgrp -R users /opt/gcc
$ sudo chmod -R u+rw /opt/gcc
$ cd /opt/gcc
$ HOST_PLATFORM=x86_64-linux   # use "mac" for macOS.
$ # For windows there is a zip instead (
$ curl -L -o gcc-arm-none-eabi-9-2019-q4-major-${HOST_PLATFORM}.tar.bz2${HOST_PLATFORM}.tar.bz2
$ tar xf gcc-arm-none-eabi-9-2019-q4-major-${HOST_PLATFORM}.tar.bz2
$ # add the toolchain bin/ dir to your path...
$ # you can edit your shell's rc files if you don't use bash
$ echo "export PATH=/opt/gcc/gcc-arm-none-eabi-9-2019-q4-major/bin:$PATH" >> ~/.bashrc