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Compile and Deploy a Real-Time Kernel to the ComfilePi

The generic kernel employed the the default ComfilePi operating system is not a real-time kernel. That is fine for many, if not most, use cases. For those use cases that may require real-time operation, we provide the following procedure.

In addition to compiling and deploying a realtime kernel, other OS configurations may be necessary to improve the realtime performance.

Please note that COMFILE Technology does not maintain the Raspberry Pi kernel or the Linux real-time patches, so those wishing to employ this capability should assume responsibility for it.

Kernel Versioning

The Raspberry Pi Foundation maintains the kernel for Raspberry Pi-based products at The real-time kernel patches are maintained by a different group at Compile errors and/or patch errors can arise if the 3 digit version number of the Raspberry Pi kernel and the real time patch do not match. The Raspberry Pi Foundation and the real-time patch maintainers do no coordinate their releases, so one must search the kernel's commit history for a “Linux x.y.z” commit that matches the real-time kernel patch version, then use the “Merge remote-tracking…” commit that follows it. At the time of writing this, the latest such commit for the 5.10.y branch was here:

Build Script

Given the versioning limitations explained above, the following shell script cross-compiles kernel version 6.1.26. It will download all necessary software and source code, cross-compile the real-time kernel, and package the resulting assests for deployment to a ComfilePi panel PC. It was tested on a Debian instance of Windows Subsystem for Linux.

# You may need to install the following packages
# apt update -y
# apt install -y wget git bc bison flex libssl-dev make libc6-dev libncurses5-dev crossbuild-essential-$ARCH
# All work will be done in $PWD/rtkernel.  The final result will be packaged as $PWD/rtkernel/result
rm -rf $WORK_DIR
mkdir $WORK_DIR
# download the kernel
git clone --depth=1 --branch $KERNEL_BRANCH
# download the RT patch
gunzip patch-$RT_PATCH_VERSION.patch.gz
# Need this to get precisely the correct kernel version
cd linux
git fetch origin $COMMIT_HASH
git reset --hard $COMMIT_HASH
# Patch the kernel
patch -p1 < ../patch-$RT_PATCH_VERSION.patch
 # Prepare configuration
 # Configure to use the "Fully Preemptible Kernel (Real-Time)" kernel
./scripts/config --set-val CONFIG_PREEMPT_RT y
./scripts/config --set-val CONFIG_RCU_BOOST y
./scripts/config --set-val CONFIG_RCU_BOOST_DELAY 500
./scripts/config --set-val CONFIG_RCU_NOCB_CPU y
./scripts/config --set-val CONFIG_NO_HZ_FULL y
./scripts/config --set-val CONTEXT_TRACKING_USER_FORCE n
./scripts/config --set-val RCU_NOCB_CPU_DEFAULT_ALL n
./scripts/config --set-val RCU_NOCB_CPU_CB_BOOST y
# Compile
make -j32 ARCH=$ARCH CROSS_COMPILE=$COMPILER Image.gz modules dtbs
# copy assets to the root file system
make ARCH=$ARCH CROSS_COMPILE=$COMPILER INSTALL_MOD_PATH=modules_to_install modules_install
 # Out of linux, out of work_dir
cd ../../
# copy assets to the $PROJECT_DIR/result directory
mkdir -p $RESULT_DIR/boot/overlays
cp ${WORK_DIR}/linux/arch/$ARCH/boot/Image.gz ${RESULT_DIR}/boot/$KERNEL_NAME.img
cp -r ${WORK_DIR}/linux/modules_to_install/lib/* ${RESULT_DIR}/lib/
cp ${WORK_DIR}/linux/arch/$ARCH/boot/dts/broadcom/*.dtb ${RESULT_DIR}/boot/
cp ${WORK_DIR}/linux/arch/$ARCH/boot/dts/overlays/*.dtb* ${RESULT_DIR}/boot/overlays/
cp ${WORK_DIR}/linux/arch/$ARCH/boot/dts/overlays/README ${RESULT_DIR}/boot/overlays/

Deploy to the ComfilePi

After running the build script above, the rtkernel/result directory will contain 2 directories: boot and lib. The boot directory contains assets that must be deployed to the ComfilePi's FAT32 partition (i.e. the /boot directory) and the lib directory contains assets that must be deployed to the ComfilePi's operating system root partition (i.e. the /lib directory).

On the build PC:

# Package up the result into a single file
tar czf rtkernel.tgz -C rtkernel/result/ .
# transfer the file to the ComfilePi
scp rtkernel.tgz pi@

Download rtkernel_6.1.26-rt8.tgz (MD5: cadb563fc3cc61e9a2a5fc571a08004a)

On the ComfilePi:

# Install the kernel assets
sudo tar xzf rtkernel.tgz --directory / --keep-directory-symlink --no-same-owner

After rebooting, verify that the new kernel is loaded and running

$uname -a
Linux raspberrypi 6.1.21-rt8-v8+ #1 SMP PREEMPT_RT Fri May 12 10:19:19 KST 2023 aarch64 GNU/Linux


comfilepi/compile_a_real-time_kernel/index.txt · Last modified: 2023/11/22 08:57 by COMFILE Technology