I'm starting with buildroot for my Raspberry PI 2 project.

I've came to part where I need to select toolchain that will build whole project.

I have two main options:

  • use buildroot to build my own toolchain
  • use Linaro (or other existing) toolchain

It looks like Linaro would be the easiest solution, but I was wondering if there will be any performance differences between systems built with those two toolchains?

Is it something that can make any visible difference at all?

1 Answer 1


I have two main options:

Beware that since the Pi 2 is newer, most discussions of cross-compiling revolve around the A/B/+ (aka. "Pi 1") models. The difference is that the 2's BCM2836 processor is ARMv7 based, whereas the BCM2835 used on older models is ARMv6 based.

Since ARMv7 is backward compatible with ARMv6, you can use binaries intended for the A/B/+ on a Pi 2. However, if you want to fully exploit the architecture, you would want to target ARMv7 specifically.

ARMv6 is relatively obscure, but thanks to the explosion of smartphones and other mobile devices over the past half decade, ARMv7 is very widespread. Hence, finding an ARMv6 cross-compiler is difficult (which is why the options for targeting A/B/+ models are few), whereas finding an ARMv7 cross-compiler is very easy -- all mainstream GNU/Linux distros have one available. So you don't need to build your own or rely on Linaro, you can just install via apt/yum/pacman/whatever on on your x86 box and use that.

Is it something that can make any visible difference at all?

I won't claim to be an expert on the nitty gritty details, but since Linaro and pretty much anything else is bound to be gcc based, I doubt it will matter that much. If you find something that isn't gcc based from which you plan to scratch build a linux system, I hope you know what you are doing, and good luck. Clang might be an exception (but I don't think it is considered to produce a better result).

In any case, you are free to experiment and change your mind later. I would just start with a distro cross-compiler for now.

  • FWIW I'd heard and I tend to agree that Clang was a bit more informative with its error messages than your average GCC. I was not so sure on whether the Armv6 is supported but this, though old, does seem positive.
    – SlySven
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 5:52
  • I only use clang as an IDE plugin for completion and error checking and and I'd sort of say the opposite, but that is very biased since when I actually go to compile I use more -W with GCC. They are definitely different in terms of messages. WRT armv6 I've used crosstool-ng, mostly for kernels. My own stuff I can usually get away with working on x86 by swapping in the right headers, then only certain pieces have to be repeatedly recompiled when testing on the pi so I just do it there. It is much slower but also less hassle.
    – goldilocks
    Commented Nov 30, 2015 at 11:01

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