6.2. barebox state

6.2.1. Overview

Boards often have the need to store variables in persistent memory. The constraints are often different from what the regular environment can do:

  • compact binary format to make it suitable for small EEPROMs/MRAMs
  • atomic save/restore of the whole variable set
  • redundancy

barebox,state is a framework to describe, access, store and restore a set of variables. A state variable set can be fully described in a devicetree node. This node could be part of the regular devicetree blob or it could be an extra devicetree solely for the state. The state variable set contains variables of different types and a place to store the variable set.

A state node contains a description of a set of variables along with a place where the variables are stored.

Required properties:

  • compatible: should be barebox,state;
  • magic: A 32bit number used as a magic to identify the state
  • backend: contains a phandle to the device/partition which holds the actual state data.
  • backend-type: should be raw or dtb.
  • additionally a state node must have an alias in the /aliases/ node pointing to it.

Optional properties:

  • algo: A HMAC algorithm used to detect manipulation of the data or header, sensible values follow this pattern hmac(<HASH>), e.g. hmac(sha256). Only used for raw.
  • backend-stridesize: Maximum size per copy of the data. Only important for non-MTD devices
  • backend-storage-type: Normally the correct storage type is detected auto- matically. The circular backend supports the option noncircular to fall back to an old storage format.

6.2.2. Variable nodes

These are subnodes of a state node each describing a single variable. The node name may end with @<ADDRESS>, but the suffix is stripped from the variable name.

State variables have a type. Currenty supported types are: uint8, uint32, enum32, mac address or string (fixed length string). Variable length strings are not planned.

Required properties:

  • reg: Standard reg property with #address-cells = <1> and #size-cells = <1>. Defines the offset and size of the variable in the raw backend. size must fit the node type. Variables are not allowed to overlap.
  • type: Should be uint8, uint32, int32. enum32, mac or string for the type of the variable
  • names: For enum32 values only, this specifies the values possible for enum32.

Optional properties:

  • default: The default value if the variable cannot be read from storage. For enum32 values it is an integer representing an offset into the names array.


/aliases {
      state = &state;

state: state {
      magic = <0x27031977>;
      compatible = "barebox,state";
      backend-type = "raw";
      backend = <&state_part>;

      foo {
              reg = <0x00 0x4>;
              type = "uint32";
              default = <0x0>;

      bar {
              reg = <0x10 0x4>;
              type = "enum32";
              names = "baz", "qux";
              default = <1>;

&nand_flash {
      partitions {
              compatible = "fixed-partitions";
              #address-cells = <1>;
              #size-cells = <1>;
              state_part: state@10000 {
                      label = "state";
                      reg = <0x10000 0x10000>;

6.2.3. Variable Types

  • uint8:
  • uint32:
  • int32:
  • enum32: The default value is an integer representing an offset into the names array.
  • mac:
  • string: The length of the string excluding the trailing 0 is determined by the length given in the reg property.

6.2.4. Backends

Currently two backends exist. The raw backend is a very compact format consisting of a magic value for identification, the raw values and a CRC. Two copies are maintained for making sure that during update the storage device still contains a valid state. The dtb backend stores the state as a devicetree binary blob. This is exactly the original devicetree description of the state itself, but additionally contains the actual values of the variables. Unlike the raw state backend the dtb state backend can describe itself.

6.2.5. HMAC

With the optional property algo = "hmac(<HASH>)"; a HMAC algorithm can be defined to detect unauthorized modification of the state’s header and/or data. For this to work the HMAC and the selected hash algorithm have to be compiled into barebox.

The shared secret for the HMAC is requested via keystore_get_secret(), using the state’s name, from the barebox simple keystore. It’s up to the developer to populate the keystore via keystore_set_secret() in beforehand.

6.2.6. Frontend

As frontend a state instance is a regular barebox device which has device parameters for the state variables. With this the variables can be accessed like normal shell variables. The state command is used to save/restore a state to the backend device.

After initializing the variable can be accessed with $state.foo. state -s stores the state to eeprom.