34 Making Changes to the Yocto Project

Because the Yocto Project is an open-source, community-based project, you can effect changes to the project. This section presents procedures that show you how to submit a defect against the project and how to submit a change.

34.1 Submitting a Defect Against the Yocto Project

Use the Yocto Project implementation of Bugzilla to submit a defect (bug) against the Yocto Project. For additional information on this implementation of Bugzilla see the “Yocto Project Bugzilla” section in the Yocto Project Reference Manual. For more detail on any of the following steps, see the Yocto Project Bugzilla wiki page.

Use the following general steps to submit a bug:

  1. Open the Yocto Project implementation of Bugzilla.

  2. Click “File a Bug” to enter a new bug.

  3. Choose the appropriate “Classification”, “Product”, and “Component” for which the bug was found. Bugs for the Yocto Project fall into one of several classifications, which in turn break down into several products and components. For example, for a bug against the meta-intel layer, you would choose “Build System, Metadata & Runtime”, “BSPs”, and “bsps-meta-intel”, respectively.

  4. Choose the “Version” of the Yocto Project for which you found the bug (e.g. 4.3.999).

  5. Determine and select the “Severity” of the bug. The severity indicates how the bug impacted your work.

  6. Choose the “Hardware” that the bug impacts.

  7. Choose the “Architecture” that the bug impacts.

  8. Choose a “Documentation change” item for the bug. Fixing a bug might or might not affect the Yocto Project documentation. If you are unsure of the impact to the documentation, select “Don’t Know”.

  9. Provide a brief “Summary” of the bug. Try to limit your summary to just a line or two and be sure to capture the essence of the bug.

  10. Provide a detailed “Description” of the bug. You should provide as much detail as you can about the context, behavior, output, and so forth that surrounds the bug. You can even attach supporting files for output from logs by using the “Add an attachment” button.

  11. Click the “Submit Bug” button submit the bug. A new Bugzilla number is assigned to the bug and the defect is logged in the bug tracking system.

Once you file a bug, the bug is processed by the Yocto Project Bug Triage Team and further details concerning the bug are assigned (e.g. priority and owner). You are the “Submitter” of the bug and any further categorization, progress, or comments on the bug result in Bugzilla sending you an automated email concerning the particular change or progress to the bug.

34.2 Submitting a Change to the Yocto Project

Contributions to the Yocto Project and OpenEmbedded are very welcome. Because the system is extremely configurable and flexible, we recognize that developers will want to extend, configure or optimize it for their specific uses.

The Yocto Project uses a mailing list and a patch-based workflow that is similar to the Linux kernel but contains important differences. In general, there is a mailing list through which you can submit patches. You should send patches to the appropriate mailing list so that they can be reviewed and merged by the appropriate maintainer. The specific mailing list you need to use depends on the location of the code you are changing. Each component (e.g. layer) should have a README file that indicates where to send the changes and which process to follow.

You can send the patch to the mailing list using whichever approach you feel comfortable with to generate the patch. Once sent, the patch is usually reviewed by the community at large. If somebody has concerns with the patch, they will usually voice their concern over the mailing list. If a patch does not receive any negative reviews, the maintainer of the affected layer typically takes the patch, tests it, and then based on successful testing, merges the patch.

The “poky” repository, which is the Yocto Project’s reference build environment, is a hybrid repository that contains several individual pieces (e.g. BitBake, Metadata, documentation, and so forth) built using the combo-layer tool. The upstream location used for submitting changes varies by component:

  • Core Metadata: Send your patch to the openembedded-core mailing list. For example, a change to anything under the meta or scripts directories should be sent to this mailing list.

  • BitBake: For changes to BitBake (i.e. anything under the bitbake directory), send your patch to the bitbake-devel mailing list.

  • “meta-*” trees: These trees contain Metadata. Use the poky mailing list.

  • Documentation: For changes to the Yocto Project documentation, use the docs mailing list.

For changes to other layers hosted in the Yocto Project source repositories (i.e. yoctoproject.org) and tools use the Yocto Project general mailing list.


Sometimes a layer’s documentation specifies to use a particular mailing list. If so, use that list.

For additional recipes that do not fit into the core Metadata, you should determine which layer the recipe should go into and submit the change in the manner recommended by the documentation (e.g. the README file) supplied with the layer. If in doubt, please ask on the Yocto general mailing list or on the openembedded-devel mailing list.

You can also push a change upstream and request a maintainer to pull the change into the component’s upstream repository. You do this by pushing to a contribution repository that is upstream. See the “Git Workflows and the Yocto Project” section in the Yocto Project Overview and Concepts Manual for additional concepts on working in the Yocto Project development environment.

Maintainers commonly use -next branches to test submissions prior to merging patches. Thus, you can get an idea of the status of a patch based on whether the patch has been merged into one of these branches. The commonly used testing branches for OpenEmbedded-Core are as follows:

  • openembedded-core “master-next” branch: This branch is part of the openembedded-core repository and contains proposed changes to the core metadata.

  • poky “master-next” branch: This branch is part of the poky repository and combines proposed changes to BitBake, the core metadata and the poky distro.

Similarly, stable branches maintained by the project may have corresponding -next branches which collect proposed changes. For example, nanbield-next and mickledore-next branches in both the “openembdedded-core” and “poky” repositories.

Other layers may have similar testing branches but there is no formal requirement or standard for these so please check the documentation for the layers you are contributing to.

The following sections provide procedures for submitting a change.

34.2.1 Preparing Changes for Submission

  1. Make Your Changes Locally: Make your changes in your local Git repository. You should make small, controlled, isolated changes. Keeping changes small and isolated aids review, makes merging/rebasing easier and keeps the change history clean should anyone need to refer to it in future.

  2. Stage Your Changes: Stage your changes by using the git add command on each file you changed.

  3. Commit Your Changes: Commit the change by using the git commit command. Make sure your commit information follows standards by following these accepted conventions:

    • Be sure to include a “Signed-off-by:” line in the same style as required by the Linux kernel. This can be done by using the git commit -s command. Adding this line signifies that you, the submitter, have agreed to the Developer’s Certificate of Origin 1.1 as follows:

      Developer's Certificate of Origin 1.1
      By making a contribution to this project, I certify that:
      (a) The contribution was created in whole or in part by me and I
          have the right to submit it under the open source license
          indicated in the file; or
      (b) The contribution is based upon previous work that, to the best
          of my knowledge, is covered under an appropriate open source
          license and I have the right under that license to submit that
          work with modifications, whether created in whole or in part
          by me, under the same open source license (unless I am
          permitted to submit under a different license), as indicated
          in the file; or
      (c) The contribution was provided directly to me by some other
          person who certified (a), (b) or (c) and I have not modified
      (d) I understand and agree that this project and the contribution
          are public and that a record of the contribution (including all
          personal information I submit with it, including my sign-off) is
          maintained indefinitely and may be redistributed consistent with
          this project or the open source license(s) involved.
    • Provide a single-line summary of the change and, if more explanation is needed, provide more detail in the body of the commit. This summary is typically viewable in the “shortlist” of changes. Thus, providing something short and descriptive that gives the reader a summary of the change is useful when viewing a list of many commits. You should prefix this short description with the recipe name (if changing a recipe), or else with the short form path to the file being changed.

    • For the body of the commit message, provide detailed information that describes what you changed, why you made the change, and the approach you used. It might also be helpful if you mention how you tested the change. Provide as much detail as you can in the body of the commit message.


      You do not need to provide a more detailed explanation of a change if the change is minor to the point of the single line summary providing all the information.

    • If the change addresses a specific bug or issue that is associated with a bug-tracking ID, include a reference to that ID in your detailed description. For example, the Yocto Project uses a specific convention for bug references — any commit that addresses a specific bug should use the following form for the detailed description. Be sure to use the actual bug-tracking ID from Bugzilla for bug-id:

      Fixes [YOCTO #bug-id]
      detailed description of change

34.2.2 Using Email to Submit a Patch

Depending on the components changed, you need to submit the email to a specific mailing list. For some guidance on which mailing list to use, see the list at the beginning of this section. For a description of all the available mailing lists, see the “Mailing Lists” section in the Yocto Project Reference Manual.

Here is the general procedure on how to submit a patch through email without using the scripts once the steps in Preparing Changes for Submission have been followed:

  1. Format the Commit: Format the commit into an email message. To format commits, use the git format-patch command. When you provide the command, you must include a revision list or a number of patches as part of the command. For example, either of these two commands takes your most recent single commit and formats it as an email message in the current directory:

    $ git format-patch -1


    $ git format-patch HEAD~

    After the command is run, the current directory contains a numbered .patch file for the commit.

    If you provide several commits as part of the command, the git format-patch command produces a series of numbered files in the current directory – one for each commit. If you have more than one patch, you should also use the --cover option with the command, which generates a cover letter as the first “patch” in the series. You can then edit the cover letter to provide a description for the series of patches. For information on the git format-patch command, see GIT_FORMAT_PATCH(1) displayed using the man git-format-patch command.


    If you are or will be a frequent contributor to the Yocto Project or to OpenEmbedded, you might consider requesting a contrib area and the necessary associated rights.

  2. Send the patches via email: Send the patches to the recipients and relevant mailing lists by using the git send-email command.


    In order to use git send-email, you must have the proper Git packages installed on your host. For Ubuntu, Debian, and Fedora the package is git-email.

    The git send-email command sends email by using a local or remote Mail Transport Agent (MTA) such as msmtp, sendmail, or through a direct smtp configuration in your Git ~/.gitconfig file. If you are submitting patches through email only, it is very important that you submit them without any whitespace or HTML formatting that either you or your mailer introduces. The maintainer that receives your patches needs to be able to save and apply them directly from your emails. A good way to verify that what you are sending will be applicable by the maintainer is to do a dry run and send them to yourself and then save and apply them as the maintainer would.

    The git send-email command is the preferred method for sending your patches using email since there is no risk of compromising whitespace in the body of the message, which can occur when you use your own mail client. The command also has several options that let you specify recipients and perform further editing of the email message. For information on how to use the git send-email command, see GIT-SEND-EMAIL(1) displayed using the man git-send-email command.

The Yocto Project uses a Patchwork instance to track the status of patches submitted to the various mailing lists and to support automated patch testing. Each submitted patch is checked for common mistakes and deviations from the expected patch format and submitters are notified by patchtest if such mistakes are found. This process helps to reduce the burden of patch review on maintainers.


This system is imperfect and changes can sometimes get lost in the flow. Asking about the status of a patch or change is reasonable if the change has been idle for a while with no feedback.

34.2.3 Using Scripts to Push a Change Upstream and Request a Pull

For larger patch series it is preferable to send a pull request which not only includes the patch but also a pointer to a branch that can be pulled from. This involves making a local branch for your changes, pushing this branch to an accessible repository and then using the create-pull-request and send-pull-request scripts from openembedded-core to create and send a patch series with a link to the branch for review.

Follow this procedure to push a change to an upstream “contrib” Git repository once the steps in Preparing Changes for Submission have been followed:


You can find general Git information on how to push a change upstream in the Git Community Book.

  1. Push Your Commits to a “Contrib” Upstream: If you have arranged for permissions to push to an upstream contrib repository, push the change to that repository:

    $ git push upstream_remote_repo local_branch_name

    For example, suppose you have permissions to push into the upstream meta-intel-contrib repository and you are working in a local branch named your_name/README. The following command pushes your local commits to the meta-intel-contrib upstream repository and puts the commit in a branch named your_name/README:

    $ git push meta-intel-contrib your_name/README
  2. Determine Who to Notify: Determine the maintainer or the mailing list that you need to notify for the change.

    Before submitting any change, you need to be sure who the maintainer is or what mailing list that you need to notify. Use either these methods to find out:

    • Maintenance File: Examine the maintainers.inc file, which is located in the Source Directory at meta/conf/distro/include, to see who is responsible for code.

    • Search by File: Using Git, you can enter the following command to bring up a short list of all commits against a specific file:

      git shortlog -- filename

      Just provide the name of the file for which you are interested. The information returned is not ordered by history but does include a list of everyone who has committed grouped by name. From the list, you can see who is responsible for the bulk of the changes against the file.

    • Examine the List of Mailing Lists: For a list of the Yocto Project and related mailing lists, see the “Mailing lists” section in the Yocto Project Reference Manual.

  3. Make a Pull Request: Notify the maintainer or the mailing list that you have pushed a change by making a pull request.

    The Yocto Project provides two scripts that conveniently let you generate and send pull requests to the Yocto Project. These scripts are create-pull-request and send-pull-request. You can find these scripts in the scripts directory within the Source Directory (e.g. poky/scripts).

    Using these scripts correctly formats the requests without introducing any whitespace or HTML formatting. The maintainer that receives your patches either directly or through the mailing list needs to be able to save and apply them directly from your emails. Using these scripts is the preferred method for sending patches.

    First, create the pull request. For example, the following command runs the script, specifies the upstream repository in the contrib directory into which you pushed the change, and provides a subject line in the created patch files:

    $ poky/scripts/create-pull-request -u meta-intel-contrib -s "Updated Manual Section Reference in README"

    Running this script forms *.patch files in a folder named pull-PID in the current directory. One of the patch files is a cover letter.

    Before running the send-pull-request script, you must edit the cover letter patch to insert information about your change. After editing the cover letter, send the pull request. For example, the following command runs the script and specifies the patch directory and email address. In this example, the email address is a mailing list:

    $ poky/scripts/send-pull-request -p ~/meta-intel/pull-10565 -t meta-intel@lists.yoctoproject.org

    You need to follow the prompts as the script is interactive.


    For help on using these scripts, simply provide the -h argument as follows:

    $ poky/scripts/create-pull-request -h
    $ poky/scripts/send-pull-request -h

34.2.4 Responding to Patch Review

You may get feedback on your submitted patches from other community members or from the automated patchtest service. If issues are identified in your patch then it is usually necessary to address these before the patch will be accepted into the project. In this case you should amend the patch according to the feedback and submit an updated version to the relevant mailing list, copying in the reviewers who provided feedback to the previous version of the patch.

The patch should be amended using git commit --amend or perhaps git rebase for more expert git users. You should also modify the [PATCH] tag in the email subject line when sending the revised patch to mark the new iteration as [PATCH v2], [PATCH v3], etc as appropriate. This can be done by passing the -v argument to git format-patch with a version number.

Lastly please ensure that you also test your revised changes. In particular please don’t just edit the patch file written out by git format-patch and resend it.

34.2.5 Submitting Changes to Stable Release Branches

The process for proposing changes to a Yocto Project stable branch differs from the steps described above. Changes to a stable branch must address identified bugs or CVEs and should be made carefully in order to avoid the risk of introducing new bugs or breaking backwards compatibility. Typically bug fixes must already be accepted into the master branch before they can be backported to a stable branch unless the bug in question does not affect the master branch or the fix on the master branch is unsuitable for backporting.

The list of stable branches along with the status and maintainer for each branch can be obtained from the Releases wiki page.


Changes will not typically be accepted for branches which are marked as End-Of-Life (EOL).

With this in mind, the steps to submit a change for a stable branch are as follows:

  1. Identify the bug or CVE to be fixed: This information should be collected so that it can be included in your submission.

    See Checking for Vulnerabilities for details about CVE tracking.

  2. Check if the fix is already present in the master branch: This will result in the most straightforward path into the stable branch for the fix.

    1. If the fix is present in the master branch — submit a backport request by email: You should send an email to the relevant stable branch maintainer and the mailing list with details of the bug or CVE to be fixed, the commit hash on the master branch that fixes the issue and the stable branches which you would like this fix to be backported to.

    2. If the fix is not present in the master branch — submit the fix to the master branch first: This will ensure that the fix passes through the project’s usual patch review and test processes before being accepted. It will also ensure that bugs are not left unresolved in the master branch itself. Once the fix is accepted in the master branch a backport request can be submitted as above.

    3. If the fix is unsuitable for the master branch — submit a patch directly for the stable branch: This method should be considered as a last resort. It is typically necessary when the master branch is using a newer version of the software which includes an upstream fix for the issue or when the issue has been fixed on the master branch in a way that introduces backwards incompatible changes. In this case follow the steps in Preparing Changes for Submission and Using Email to Submit a Patch but modify the subject header of your patch email to include the name of the stable branch which you are targetting. This can be done using the --subject-prefix argument to git format-patch, for example to submit a patch to the dunfell branch use git format-patch --subject-prefix='mickledore][PATCH' ....