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The source tree contains the Device Tree Compiler (dtc) toolchain for
working with device tree source and binary files and also libfdt, a
utility library for reading and manipulating the binary format.
DTC and LIBFDT are maintained by:
David Gibson <>
Jon Loeliger <>
Python library
A Python library is also available. To build this you will need to install
swig and Python development files. On Debian distributions:
sudo apt-get install swig python3-dev
The library provides an Fdt class which you can use like this:
$ PYTHONPATH=../pylibfdt python3
>>> import libfdt
>>> fdt = libfdt.Fdt(open('test_tree1.dtb', mode='rb').read())
>>> node = fdt.path_offset('/subnode@1')
>>> print(node)
>>> prop_offset = fdt.first_property_offset(node)
>>> prop = fdt.get_property_by_offset(prop_offset)
>>> print('%s=%s' % (, prop.as_str()))
>>> node2 = fdt.path_offset('/')
>>> print(fdt.getprop(node2, 'compatible').as_str())
You will find tests in tests/ showing how to use each
method. Help is available using the Python help command, e.g.:
$ cd pylibfdt
$ python3 -c "import libfdt; help(libfdt)"
If you add new features, please check code coverage:
$ sudo apt-get install python3-coverage
$ cd tests
# It's just 'coverage' on most other distributions
$ python3-coverage run
$ python3-coverage html
# Open 'htmlcov/index.html' in your browser
To install the library via the normal method, use:
./pylibfdt/ install [--prefix=/path/to/install_dir]
If --prefix is not provided, the default prefix is used, typically '/usr'
or '/usr/local'. See Python's distutils documentation for details. You can
also install via the Makefile if you like, but the above is more common.
To install both libfdt and pylibfdt you can use:
make install [SETUP_PREFIX=/path/to/install_dir] \
To disable building the python library, even if swig and Python are available,
make NO_PYTHON=1
More work remains to support all of libfdt, including access to numeric
Test files are kept in the tests/ directory. Use 'make check' to build and run
all tests.
If you want to adjust a test file, be aware that tree_tree1.dts is compiled
and checked against a binary tree from assembler macros in trees.S. So
if you change that file you must change tree.S also.
Mailing list
The following list is for discussion about dtc and libfdt implementation
Core device tree bindings are discussed on the devicetree-spec list: