Documentation / devicetree / overlay-notes.rst


Based on kernel version 6.9. Page generated on 2024-05-14 10:02 EST.

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.. SPDX-License-Identifier: GPL-2.0

========================
Devicetree Overlay Notes
========================

This document describes the implementation of the in-kernel
device tree overlay functionality residing in drivers/of/overlay.c and is a
companion document to Documentation/devicetree/dynamic-resolution-notes.rst[1]

How overlays work
-----------------

A Devicetree's overlay purpose is to modify the kernel's live tree, and
have the modification affecting the state of the kernel in a way that
is reflecting the changes.
Since the kernel mainly deals with devices, any new device node that result
in an active device should have it created while if the device node is either
disabled or removed all together, the affected device should be deregistered.

Lets take an example where we have a foo board with the following base tree::

    ---- foo.dts ---------------------------------------------------------------
	/* FOO platform */
	/dts-v1/;
	/ {
		compatible = "corp,foo";

		/* shared resources */
		res: res {
		};

		/* On chip peripherals */
		ocp: ocp {
			/* peripherals that are always instantiated */
			peripheral1 { ... };
		};
	};
    ---- foo.dts ---------------------------------------------------------------

The overlay bar.dts,
::

    ---- bar.dts - overlay target location by label ----------------------------
	/dts-v1/;
	/plugin/;
	&ocp {
		/* bar peripheral */
		bar {
			compatible = "corp,bar";
			... /* various properties and child nodes */
		};
	};
    ---- bar.dts ---------------------------------------------------------------

when loaded (and resolved as described in [1]) should result in foo+bar.dts::

    ---- foo+bar.dts -----------------------------------------------------------
	/* FOO platform + bar peripheral */
	/ {
		compatible = "corp,foo";

		/* shared resources */
		res: res {
		};

		/* On chip peripherals */
		ocp: ocp {
			/* peripherals that are always instantiated */
			peripheral1 { ... };

			/* bar peripheral */
			bar {
				compatible = "corp,bar";
				... /* various properties and child nodes */
			};
		};
	};
    ---- foo+bar.dts -----------------------------------------------------------

As a result of the overlay, a new device node (bar) has been created
so a bar platform device will be registered and if a matching device driver
is loaded the device will be created as expected.

If the base DT was not compiled with the -@ option then the "&ocp" label
will not be available to resolve the overlay node(s) to the proper location
in the base DT. In this case, the target path can be provided. The target
location by label syntax is preferred because the overlay can be applied to
any base DT containing the label, no matter where the label occurs in the DT.

The above bar.dts example modified to use target path syntax is::

    ---- bar.dts - overlay target location by explicit path --------------------
	/dts-v1/;
	/plugin/;
	&{/ocp} {
		/* bar peripheral */
		bar {
			compatible = "corp,bar";
			... /* various properties and child nodes */
		}
	};
    ---- bar.dts ---------------------------------------------------------------


Overlay in-kernel API
--------------------------------

The API is quite easy to use.

1) Call of_overlay_fdt_apply() to create and apply an overlay changeset. The
   return value is an error or a cookie identifying this overlay.

2) Call of_overlay_remove() to remove and cleanup the overlay changeset
   previously created via the call to of_overlay_fdt_apply(). Removal of an
   overlay changeset that is stacked by another will not be permitted.

Finally, if you need to remove all overlays in one-go, just call
of_overlay_remove_all() which will remove every single one in the correct
order.

There is the option to register notifiers that get called on
overlay operations. See of_overlay_notifier_register/unregister and
enum of_overlay_notify_action for details.

A notifier callback for OF_OVERLAY_PRE_APPLY, OF_OVERLAY_POST_APPLY, or
OF_OVERLAY_PRE_REMOVE may store pointers to a device tree node in the overlay
or its content but these pointers must not persist past the notifier callback
for OF_OVERLAY_POST_REMOVE.  The memory containing the overlay will be
kfree()ed after OF_OVERLAY_POST_REMOVE notifiers are called.  Note that the
memory will be kfree()ed even if the notifier for OF_OVERLAY_POST_REMOVE
returns an error.

The changeset notifiers in drivers/of/dynamic.c are a second type of notifier
that could be triggered by applying or removing an overlay.  These notifiers
are not allowed to store pointers to a device tree node in the overlay
or its content.  The overlay code does not protect against such pointers
remaining active when the memory containing the overlay is freed as a result
of removing the overlay.

Any other code that retains a pointer to the overlay nodes or data is
considered to be a bug because after removing the overlay the pointer
will refer to freed memory.

Users of overlays must be especially aware of the overall operations that
occur on the system to ensure that other kernel code does not retain any
pointers to the overlay nodes or data.  Any example of an inadvertent use
of such pointers is if a driver or subsystem module is loaded after an
overlay has been applied, and the driver or subsystem scans the entire
devicetree or a large portion of it, including the overlay nodes.