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Yocto vs. Buildroot Detailed Comparison For Beginners

Yocto vs. Buildroot: Detailed Comparison For Beginners

In the present world, humans want to control everything with GUI. From your car parking to your security systems, you use displays like mini-computers to control applications. Embedded Linux is the heart of all these systems. Embedded Linux is a customization of Linux with only necessary components required for your specific embedded application. Yocto and Buildroot are famous platforms for embedded Linux developments. Both Yocto and buildroot have made it easier to build custom Linux for your embedded products.


Yocto is an open source project that helps you create embedded Linux regardless of hardware architecture easily. The yocto project is very flexible. You can easily expand yocto build according to your project requirements. In comparison, Buildroot allows you to easily generate embedded Linux systems through cross-compilation. Its main focus is simplicity and minimalism. However it has many drawbacks too that we will see later on.


In this tutorial, we will compare yocto and buildroot in simple words. We will also help you choose between buildroot and yocto for your embedded Linux projects. So, keep reading for the amazing content! 

What is Yocto? 

Yocto is an open-source project that helps in customizing Linux for embedded systems regardless of the hardware architecture. The core idea of Yocto lies in its philosophy. 

Yocto was developed in 2010 by the collaboration of several  hardware and software design companies like Intel, OpenEmbedded, Texas Instrumentation, Huawei, Wind River, Mentor Graphics and Monta Visa Software. 

The main reason for collaboration between these giant companies is to develop a platform that can make embedded Linux development standardized regardless of hardware architecture. Developers can use the same standard Yocto project for multiple platforms with minor changes.

By the collaboration of these companies, yocto has build tools, templates, reference designs and other fundamental technologies to allow developers to make customised Linux for any board easily.

The Yocto philosophy is based on layers. Every hardware vendor provides its layer that contains packages, machine configurations and other things required to build Linux for their embedded board. This layer makes support for multiple architecture easier. 

Advantages of Yocto:

  • It has a huge community and widespread support that makes Yocto development easier.
  • Multiple architecture support such as AMD, MIPS, ARM, INTEL, PPC and others.
  • Yocto projects are easily deployable on other architectures with a little modification. You don’t have to swap complete development environment for different boards in yocto.
  • Contains reference packages and templates for any embedded board.
  • Yocto project is very customizable and expandable.

Disadvantages of Yocto:

  • Learning curve for yocto is slow. It takes a lot of time and resources to get a strong grip on yocto concepts.
  • Yocto takes a lot of time for build. Besides, it also requires a lot of space to make a yocto project. You must have at least 50 GB free space to make the yocto build.
  • Its first build takes a very long time. However, subsequent build takes less time as Yocto uses state-caches that only rebuild the modified packages.

What is Buildroot?

Buildroot is just a collection of scripts that allows you to build Linux for any board from the source code. It builds the code for packages in any hardware architecture with the help of makefiles. The makefiles contain information about downloading, configuring and building a package for your embedded Linux board. It has some pre-built configurations for some common boards like raspberry pi and beaglebone.

You can build packages for your root file systems through menu in the buildroot. This features makes it much easier to select packages for your customized Linux. Its main philosophy is minimalism and simplicity. So, makefiles in combination with menu makes buildroot easier to learn and develop applications.

Advantages of buildroot:

  • It helps you to make minimal system for your board
  • It is very simple and easier to learn as everything is managed through makefiles here.
  • It allows you to select packages through the menu.
  • Its first build takes very less time and space as compared to yocto.

Disadvantages of Buildroot:

  • The biggest disadvantage of buildroot is that you have to do a lot of changings to customise your build.
  • It stores all configuration options in a single file. If you want to switch hardware architecture, you have to do a lot of customization for your new platform
  • Any change in configuration will rebuild all the packages that makes development cycle hectic.

Yocto and Buildroot Comparison Table:



Yocto has a huge community that offers huge support for development. Besides, every vendor also provides its support for Yocto development. It has a very specific community. Therefore, it has less support on google compared to yocto.
Yocto is little hard to learn compared to buildroot as its structure is not very simple Buildroot is very easy to learn due to its very simple Makefile based structure.
Yocto is very flexible and easily expandable through layers (also known as BSP) Its a little difficult in buildroot to make customization although it only has a single file for customization.
Yocto requires a lot of resources for build, like a minimum 50 GB. Buildroot requires very less resources compared to yocto for the first build.
In yocto, its very easy to switch from one hardware architecture to another. In Buildroot, Its harder to switch from one hardware architecture to another as you have to change almost complete configuration file.
Yocto first build takes a lot of time but requires very less time in future as it uses state-cache that only rebuilds modified packages only. Any modification in buildroot project requires full rebuild of all the packages that is hectic.
Yocto has a layered structure. Buildroot has makefiles and kconfig based structure.
Yocto is a complete project for building custom distro for different boards Buildroot is just a cross-compilation tool for building Linux for different hardware from source code.


Choose between Yocto and Buildroot:

If your project requires significant configuration changes and multiple hardware support, you should choose Yocto for your project. However, if you want minimal system on a single hardware, you should go for buildroot. Personally, we are big fan of yocto as it provides standard procedures to build Linux for any system easily. Besides, it gives much control to deal with any complexity in developing embedded Linux for any Hardware architecture.

That’s all from todays tutorial. If you are facing any difficulty in your embedded Linux project, feel free to Contact Us for any help.

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