1.7. Variables

We already have seen some variables in Device parameters. But there is more to variables.

1.7.1. The global device

The global device is a special purpose device. It only exists as a storage for global variables. Some global variables are created internally in barebox (see Magic variables). Additional variables can be created with the global - create or set global variables command:

global myvar

This creates the global.myvar variable which now can be used like any other variable. You can also directly assign a value during creation:

global myvar1=foobar

NOTE: creating a variable with global myvar1=foobar looks very similar to assigning a value with global.myvar1=foobar, but the latter fails when a variable has not been created before.

1.7.2. Non volatile variables

Additionally to global variables barebox also has non volatile (nv) variables. Unlike the global variables the config variables are persistent over reboots.

Each nv variable is linked with the global variable of the same name. Whenever the nv variable changes its value the corresponding global variable also changes its value. The other way round though is not true: Changing a global variable does not change the corresponding nv variable. This means that changing a global variable changes the behaviour for the currently running barebox, while changing a nv variable changes the behaviour persistently over reboots.

nv variables can be created or removed with the nv - create, set or remove non volatile (NV) variables command.

The nv variables are made persistent using the environment facilities of barebox. They are saved automatically to the storage medium whenever barebox shuts down (that is, a reset - perform RESET of the CPU is issued or a kernel is started).


barebox@Phytec phyCARD-i.MX27:/ devinfo nv
barebox@Phytec phyCARD-i.MX27:/ nv model=myboard
barebox@myboard:/ devinfo nv
  model: myboard
barebox@myboard:/ devinfo global
  model: myboard
barebox@myboard:/ global.model=yourboard
barebox@yourboard:/ devinfo nv
  model: myboard

1.7.3. Non volatile device variables

Non volatile device variables are used to make device parameters persistent. They are regular nv variables but are linked with other devices instead of the global device. Every nv variable in the form nv.dev.<devname>.<paramname> will be mirrored to the corresponding <devname>.<paramname> variable.

This example changes the partitioning of the nand0 device:

barebox@Phytec phyCARD-i.MX27:/ nv dev.nand0.partitions: 4M(barebox),1M(barebox-environment),-(root)
barebox@Phytec phyCARD-i.MX27:/ devinfo nand0
  partitions: 4M(barebox),1M(barebox-environment),8M(kernel),1011M(root)

1.7.4. Magic variables

Some variables have special meanings and influence the behaviour of barebox. Most but not all of them are consolidated in the The global device. Since it’s hard to remember which variables these are and if the current barebox has support for them the magicvar - list information about magic variables command can print a list of all variables with special meaning along with a short description:

barebox:/ magicvar
OPTARG                           optarg for hush builtin getopt
PATH                             colon separated list of paths to search for executables
PS1                              hush prompt
armlinux_architecture            ARM machine ID
armlinux_system_rev              ARM system revision
armlinux_system_serial           ARM system serial
automount_path                   mountpath passed to automount scripts
bootargs                         Linux Kernel parameters
bootsource                       The source barebox has been booted from
bootsource_instance              The instance of the source barebox has been booted from
global.boot.default              default boot order