C and assembly development introduction

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This tutorial describes how to set up an environment and use the Ndless SDK to write native Ndless-compatible programs for the TI-Nspire.

Install dependencies

On Linux distros

  • Make sure your system has the following dependencies: git, GCC (with c++ support), binutils, GMP (libgmp-dev), MPFR (libmpfr-dev), MPC (libmpc-dev), zlib, boost-program-options, wget. Install them with your system's package manager if not.

On Mac OS X

  • TODO
  • Make sure your system has the following dependencies: git, GCC (with c++ support), binutils, GMP, MPFR, MPC, boost-program-options, zlib, wget. Install them with your system's package manager if not, for example brew.

On Windows

  • MinGW and MSYS do not work correctly, so install Cygwin (32bit, x86).
  • Install the following dependencies: php (5.6+), libboost-devel, libboost_program_options*, binutils, gcc-core, gcc-g++, git, mpfr, mpfr-devel, gmp, libgmp-devel, libmpc3, libmpc-devel, make, texinfo, zlib-devel, wget
  • Download or git clone the ndless repo from GitHub.
  • Extract the zip and go to the ndless-master/ndless-sdk/toolchain folder
  • Fix the few symlinks, for instance genzehn/zehn.h in the genzehn folder, which has to be deleted then copied there from ndless-sdk/include (and if you intend to rebuild Ndless, utils.c from the resources folder into the different installers folders)

Build and install toolchain and SDK

  • Get the latest code from GitHub
git clone --recursive https://github.com/ndless-nspire/Ndless.git
  • Run the SDK's build_toolchain.sh script that will download and build a complete ARM toolchain compatible with Ndless, and install it <(edit the PREFIX variable at the beginning of the script to change the install location). You don't need to be root for this.
cd ndless-sdk/toolchain/

Running the script again will continue from the last successful step (not redownloading everything for instance). At the end of a successful build you should see Done!. Alternatively you can verify the build using echo $?. 0 indicates success.

  • Now add the following folders to your PATH environment variable. On linux, ~/.bash_profile should be a good place for this, just add something like this to it:
export PATH="[path_to_ndless]/ndless-sdk/toolchain/install/bin:[path_to_ndless]/ndless-sdk/bin:${PATH}"
  • Build Ndless and the SDK, in the top level of the repository, run:

Verifying the installation

  • Open a console, and run:
$ nspire-gcc

If everything has been set up correctly you should see something similar to:

arm-none-eabi-gcc: fatal error: no input files
compilation terminated.

2-minute tutorial

As a convention for the next chapters, lines starting with $ are commands you should type in a console. Other lines are the command's output.

Your first build

Ndless comes with sample programs in the samples/ directory of the Ndless SDK. We will try to build the C Hello World. Change the current directory of the console:

$ cd "<my_ndless_sdk_copy>/ndless-sdk/samples/helloworld-sdl"

Ndless programs are built with GNU Make, which is run with the command make. So let's make the program:

$ make
nspire-gcc -Wall -W -marm -Os -c hello-sdl.c
mkdir -p .
nspire-ld hello-sdl.o -o ./helloworld-sdl.elf 
genzehn --input ./helloworld-sdl.elf --output ./helloworld-sdl.tns --name "helloworld-sdl"
make-prg ./helloworld-sdl.tns ./helloworld-sdl.prg.tns

nspire-gcc is Ndless's wrapper for the GNU C Compiler GCC, which compiles C and assembly source files to object files (here hello.o).

nspire-ld is the wrapper for GCC, which redirects gcc with the option "-fuse-ld=gold" to use another wrapper "arm-none-eabi-ld.gold" as linker. "arm-none-eabi-ld.gold" adds some necessary libraries to the final program.

genzehn converts the executable created by "nspire-ld" to a format, which ndless supports.

make-prg adds a simple loader on top so the executable works on older versions of ndless.

Your first program

If you want to create a program from scratch:

  • Create a new directory for the program
  • Type in a console:
cd "<your directory path>"
nspire-tools new <name>
where <name> is your program name. This will create a Makefile to build <program>.tns
  • Create a new .c file and edit your program
  • Run make to build it