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Date: Thu, 17 Dec 2020 15:55:12 +1100
From: Patrick Oppenlander <>
Cc: Jesse DeGuire <>
Subject: Re: Musl on Cortex-M Devices

On Thu, Dec 17, 2020 at 11:24 AM Rich Felker <> wrote:
> On Wed, Dec 16, 2020 at 06:43:15PM -0500, Jesse DeGuire wrote:
> > Hey everyone,
> >
> > I'm working on putting together a Clang-based toolchain to use with
> > Microchip PIC32 (MIPS32) and SAM (Cortex-M) microcontrollers as an
> > alternative to their paid XC32 toolchain and I'd like to use Musl as
> > the C library. Currently, I'm trying to get it to build for a few
> > different Cortex-M devices and have found that Musl builds fine for
> > ARMv7-M, but not for ARMv6-M or v8-M Baseline because Musl uses
> > instructions not supported on the Thumb ISA subset used by v6-M and
> > v8-M Baseline devices. I'm using the v1.2.1 tag version of Musl, but
> > can easily switch to HEAD if needed. I am using a Python script to
> > build Musl (and eventually the rest of the toolchain), which you can
> > see on GitHub at the following link. It's a bit of a mess at the
> > moment, but the build_musl() function is what I'm currently using to
> > build Musl.
> I had assumed the thumb1[-ish?] subset wouldn't be interesting, but if
> it is, let's have a look.
> >
> >
> > Anyway, I have managed to get Musl to build for v6-M, v7-M, and v8-M
> > Baseline and have attached a diff to this email. If you like, I can go
> > into more detail as to why I made the changes I made; however, many
> > changes were merely the result of my attempts to correct errors
> > reported by Clang due to it encountering instruction sequences not
> > supported on ARMv6-M.
> Are there places where clang's linker is failing to make substitutions
> that the GNU one can do, that would make this simpler? For example I
> know the GNU one can replace bx rn by mov pc,rn if needed (based on a
> relocation the assembler emits on the insn).
> > A number of errors were simply the result of
> > ARMv6-M requiring one to use the "S" variant of an instruction that
> > sets status flags (such as "ADDS" vs "ADD" or "MOVS" vs "MOV"). A few
> > files I had to change from a "lower case s" to a "capital-S" file so
> > that I could use macros to check for either the Thumb1 ISA
> > ("__thumb2__ || !__thumb__") or for an M-Profile device
> > ("!__ARM_ARCH_ISA_ARM").
> Is __ARM_ARCH_ISA_ARM universally available (even on old compilers)?
> If not this may need an alternate detection. But I'd like to drop as
> much as possible and just make the code compatible rather than having
> 2 versions of it. I don't think there are any places where the
> performance or size is at all relevant.
> > The changes under
> > "src/thread/arm/__set_thread_area.c" are different in that I made
> > those because I don't believe Cortex-M devices could handle what was
> > there (no M-Profile device has Coprocessor 15, for example) and so I
> Unless this is an ISA level that can't be executed on a normal (non-M)
> ARM profile, it still needs all the backends that might be needed and
> runtime selection of which to use. This is okay. I believe Linux for
> nommu ARM has a syscall for get_tp, which is rather awful but probably
> needs to be added as a backend. The right way to do this would have
> been with trap-and-emulate (of cp15) I think...

Linux emulates mrc 15 on old -A cores but they decided not to on -M
for some reason. BTW, the syscall is called get_tls.

Is there any option other than supporting the get_tls syscall? Even if
someone puts in the effort to wire up the trap-and-emulate backend,
musl linked executables will still only run on new kernels.

I took the trap-and-emulate approach in Apex RTOS to avoid opening
this can of worms. It's the only missing link for musl on armv7-m.
Everything else works beautifully.


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