Homebrew tricks for the Dreamcast toolchain

I’ve spent some time working on a Homebrew tap for Dreamcast development tooling, and wanted to write a little about the tricks I used in creating formula to install the Dreamcast compilation toolchain.

First, the Dreamcast toolchain is actually build and installed by the dc-chain package from the KallistiOS repository. dc-chain has 3 phases - download, unpack and build. The download phase is done by the download.sh script, which downloads the source archives of the toolchain components (gcc, binutils, newlib, gdb) for SH4 and ARM architectures. The unpack.sh script then extracts the source archives, fusr deleting any previous extractions. It also has the side-effect of downloading GCC prerequisites that are specified in the GCC sources. Finally, the build phase is implemented in make, and builds and installs the toolchain components. All the settings for this, including installation path and the versions of the components are given in a file named config.mk.

For the Homebrew formula, we have 3 loose requirements:

  1. a separate formula for the upstream toolchain legacy, stable and testing configurations
  2. to automatically detect the source archives to download
  3. for Homebrew to do the downloads, so we get caching and checksums for free

Our first requirement is easy. We just generate the three forumlas. My first pass just used envsubst, but I switched to a full-blown shell script when it got a bit complicated.

For the second one, we take advantage of the fact that dc-chain knows the source archive URLs, and can tell us. We pull the KallistiOS source (as a tarball so that we don’t need to fetch the full history), and twiddle the shell scripts to output Homebrew resources for the URLs that the configuration would download. Since the same sources can be shared between SH4 and ARM, we deduplicate on the base filename so that we only download archives once.

Note that, dc-chain will still download some extra sources; this just captures the majority.

  # Generate a resources fragment for this variant.
    cd "${WORKDIR}/utils/dc-chain"

    ln -sf config.mk.${variant}.sample config.mk

    # shellcheck disable=SC1091
    source scripts/common.sh > /dev/null

    # Hash of name to URL, for deduplication.
    declare -A resources

    for prefix in "SH_BINUTILS" "SH_GCC" "NEWLIB" "ARM_BINUTILS" "ARM_GCC" "GDB" ; do
      filename=$(basename "${!url}")

    for r in "${!resources[@]}" ; do
      cat <<EOF
  resource "${r}" do
    url "${resources[$r]}"

The last piece took a little experimentation. The normal Homebrew approack is to use the .stage method on the forumula resources. This unpacks the resource into a private directory and lets you operate on it from there. However, we really want the unpack.sh script to do the extraction, because it has the side-effect of also downloading GCC prerequisites. The solution is to fish around in the Homebrew cache directly:

      resources.each do |r|
        cp r.cached_download, buildpath/"utils/dc-chain/#{r.name}"

We know that the name of the resource is the archive filenames, so we can directly copy from the cache to the toolchain build directory, and let unpack.sh process it.

The only thing missing is the SHA256 checksums for the resources. I didn’t add that because I was too lazy to wait for all the source archives to download each time I want to regenerate the formulas.