Bootloader Interface


SWUpdate has bindings to various bootloaders in order to store persistent state information across reboots. Currently, the following bootloaders are supported:

The actual (sub)set of bootloaders supported is a compile-time choice. At run-time, the compile-time set default bootloader interface implementation is used unless overruled to use another bootloader interface implementation via the -B command line switch or a configuration file (via the bootloader setting in the globals section, see examples/configuration/swupdate.cfg).

Note that the run-time support for some bootloaders, currently U-Boot and EFI Boot Guard, relies on loading the respective bootloader’s environment modification shared library at run-time. Hence, even if support for a particular bootloader is compiled-in, the according shared library must be present and loadable on the target system at run-time for using this bootloader interface implementation. This allows, e.g., distributions to ship a generic SWUpdate package and downstream integrators to combine this generic package with the appropriate bootloader by just providing its environment modification shared library.

Bootloader Interface Description

The bootloader interface implementations are located in bootloader/. Each bootloader has to implement the interface functions as defined in include/bootloader.h, more precisely

char *env_get(const char *name);
int env_set(const char *name, const char *value);
int env_unset(const char *name);
int apply_list(const char *filename);

which retrieve a key’s value from the bootloader environment, set a key to a value in the bootloader environment, delete a key-value pair from the bootloader environment, and apply the key=value pairs found in a file.

Then, each bootloader interface implementation has to register itself to SWUpdate at run-time by calling the register_bootloader(const char *name, bootloader *bl) function that takes the bootloader’s name and a pointer to struct bootloader as in include/bootloader.h which is filled with pointers to the respective above mentioned interface functions. If the bootloader setup fails and hence it cannot be successfully registered, e.g., because the required shared library for environment modification cannot be loaded, NULL is to be returned as pointer to struct bootloader.

For example, assuming a bootloader named “trunk” and (static) interface functions implementations do_env_{get,set,unset}() as well as do_apply_list() in a bootloader/trunk.c file, the following snippet registers this bootloader to SWUpdate at run-time:

static bootloader trunk = {
    .env_get = &do_env_get,
    .env_set = &do_env_set,
    .env_unset = &do_env_unset,
    .apply_list = &do_apply_list

static void trunk_probe(void)
    (void)register_bootloader(BOOTLOADER_TRUNK, &trunk);


#define BOOTLOADER_TRUNK "trunk"

added to include/bootloader.h as a single central “trunk” bootloader name definition aiding in maintaining the uniqueness of bootloader names. This new “trunk” bootloader should also be added to the Suricatta Lua Module interface specification’s bootloader Table suricatta.bootloader.bootloaders = { ... } in suricatta/suricatta.lua.


Take care to uniquely name the bootloader.

See, e.g., bootloader/{uboot,ebg}.c for examples of a bootloader using a shared environment modification library and bootloader/{grub,none}.c for a simpler bootloader support example.

Bootloader Build System Integration

A bootloader support implementation needs to be registered to the kconfig build system.

First, the bootloader support implementation, named “trunk” and implemented in bootloader/trunk.c for example, needs to be added to bootloader/ in the Bootloader Interfaces menu as follows:


menu "Bootloader"

menu "Bootloader Interfaces"


    bool "TrUnK Bootloader"
      Support for the TrUnK Bootloader

Then, in order to enable the compile-time selection of the “trunk” bootloader as default, add a section to the Default Bootloader Interface choice submenu of the Bootloader menu as follows:

    prompt "Default Bootloader Interface"
      Default bootloader interface to use if not explicitly
      overridden via configuration or command-line option
      at run-time.


    bool "TrUnK"
    depends on BOOTLOADER_TRUNK
      Use TrUnK as default bootloader interface.

Finally, bootloader/Makefile needs to be adapted to build the “trunk” bootloader support code, given BOOTLOADER_TRUNK was enabled:


If the “trunk” bootloader, for example, requires loading a shared environment modification library, then Makefile.flags needs to be adapted as well, e.g., as follows:

LDLIBS += dl