For many configurability requirements, options provide sufficient expressive power. However there are times when a higher level of abstraction is appropriate. As an example, suppose that some package relies on the presence of code that implements the standard kernel scheduling interface. However the requirement is no more stringent than this, so the constraint can be satisfied by the mlqueue scheduler, the bitmap scheduler, or any additional schedulers that may get implemented in future. A first attempt at expressing the dependency might be:


This constraint will work with the current release, but it is limited. Suppose there is a new release of the kernel which adds another scheduler such as a deadline scheduler, or suppose that there is a new third party package which adds such a scheduler. The package containing the limited constraint would now have to be updated and another release made, with possible knock-on effects.

CDL interfaces provide an abstraction mechanism: constraints can be expressed in terms of an abstract concept, for example “scheduler”, rather than specific implementations such as CYGSEM_KERNEL_SCHED_MLQUEUE and CYGSEM_KERNEL_SCHED_BITMAP. Basically an interface is a calculated configuration option:

    display  "Number of schedulers in this configuration"

The individual schedulers can then implement this interface:

    display       "Multi-level queue scheduler"
    default_value 1

    display       "Bitmap scheduler"
    default_value 0

Future schedulers can also implement this interface. The value of an interface, for the purposes of expression evaluation, is the number of active and enabled options which implement this interface. Packages which rely on the presence of a scheduler can impose constraints such as:


If none of the schedulers are enabled, or if the kernel package is not loaded, then CYGINT_KERNEL_SCHEDULER will evaluate to 0. If at least one scheduler is active and enabled then the constraint will be satisfied.

Because interfaces have a calculated value determined by the implementors, the default_value and calculated properties are not applicable and should not appear in the body of a cdl_interface command. Interfaces have the data flavor by default, but the bool and booldata flavors may be specified instead. A bool interface is disabled if there are no active and enabled implementors, otherwise it is enabled. A booldata interface is disabled if there are no active and enabled implementors, otherwise it is enabled and has a value corresponding to the number of these implementors. Other properties such as requires and compile can be used as normal.

Some component writers will not want to use interfaces in this way. The reasoning is that their code will only have been tested with the existing schedulers, so the requires constraint needs to be expressed in terms of those schedulers; it is possible that the component will still work with a new scheduler, but there are no guarantees. Other component writers may take a more optimistic view and assume that their code will work with any scheduler until proven otherwise. It is up to individual component writers to decide which approach is most appropriate in any given case.

One common use for interfaces is to describe the hardware functionality provided by a given target. For example the CDL scripts for a TCP/IP package might want to know whether or not the target hardware has an ethernet interface. Generally it is not necessary for the TCP/IP stack to know exactly which ethernet hardware is present, since there should be a device driver which implements the appropriate functionality. In CDL terms the device drivers should implement an interface CYGHWR_NET_DRIVERS, and the CDL scripts for the TCP/IP stack can use this in appropriate expressions.

Note: Using the term interface for this concept is sometimes confusing, since the term has various other meanings as well. In practice, it is often correct. If there is a configuration option that implements a given CDL interface, then usually this option will enable some code that provides a particular interface at the C or C++ level. For example an ethernet device driver implements the CDL interface CYGHWR_NET_DRIVERS, and also implements a set of C functions that can be used by the TCP/IP stack. Similarly CYGSEM_KERNEL_SCHED_MLQUEUE implements the CDL interface CYGINT_KERNEL_SCHEDULER and also provides the appropriate scheduling functions.