Cross-compiling probe-rs

Even though probe-rs can run on most systems, there can be cases where using cargo install is not possible due to system permissions or resource limitations.

In such cases you can cross-compile probe-rs for use in cargo-flash or cargo-embed on a different architecture, and move the resulting static binary to the target system.

We will use a Raspberry pi 400 as the target system as an example, where cargo install on a default Raspberry PI OS installation can not pass the rustc final Linking step due to system memory limitations.

After defining the target system architecture, in this example being armv7-unknown-linux-gnueabihf, here are two different ways to Crosscompile, each with their pros and cons.

Using Cross

Cross self defines as:

“Zero setup” cross compilation and “cross testing” of Rust crates

Its main advantage is to not be susceptible on the usual cross compilation issues that arise from using the host machine's shared object libraries, by using a Docker image to build the static binary.

The downside of this approach is that you will have to rely on the Cross Project and supply the build environment Dockerfile, making sure that it resembles the system you are building for with a cross C toolchain installed as much as possible.

Building the tools such as cargo-flash for the Raspberry Pi 400, on an x86_64 Linux System, happens as follows:

# Cloning probe-rs on the system we will build the binary on.
git clone

# Installing cross
cargo install cross

# `cd` into the probe-rs repository
# And create a `crossimage` folder
cd probe-rs && mkdir crossimage

# Create a Dockerfile resembling the target system,
# and put it inside the `crossimage` folder.

We can take an armv7-unknown-linux-gnueabihf base system from the rust-embedded/cross Docker Hub container registry.

After that, follow the instructions from the probe-rs prerequisites to prepare the image for the building steps.

You can download the Dockerfile for this example from here.

# Create and edit a Cross.toml file in the root of the cloned repo.
vim Cross.toml

Add the following to the Cross.toml. Which will define to cross which container should be used for the target architecture:

image = "crossimage"
# Build and tag the container image, specifying the name as defined in the `Cross.toml`.
docker build -t crossimage crossimage/

# Run cross to compile, cross arguments are the same as the `cargo` ones
cross build --path probe-rs-tools --release --target=armv7-unknown-linux-gnueabihf

# Done

You now have a statically built cargo-flash binary inside the target/<architecture>/release folder on the root directory of the cloned repo, which you can now move to the Raspberry Pi 400 cargo bin path folder (usually ~/.cargo/bin).

Using LLVM

As using LLVM for crosscompiling can go out of the scope of just generating a cargo-flash binary, please follow the instructions on how to crosscompile in the LLVM guide.