Installing the nRF Connect SDK manually

The recommended way to get started with the nRF Connect SDK is to use nRF Connect for Desktop. See the Installing the nRF Connect SDK through nRF Connect for Desktop section for information about how to install the nRF Connect SDK through nRF Connect for Desktop.

Note

If you use nRF Connect for Desktop to install the nRF Connect SDK, you can skip this section of the documentation. If you prefer to install the toolchain manually, or if you run into problems during the installation process, see the following documentation for instructions.

To manually install the nRF Connect SDK, you must install all required tools and clone the nRF Connect SDK repositories. See the following sections for detailed instructions.

The steps Install the required tools and Install the toolchain are similar to the installation steps in Zephyr’s Getting Started Guide. If you already have your system set up to work with the Zephyr OS, you can skip these steps.

See Supported operating systems for information on the supported operating systems and Zephyr features.

Install the required tools

The installation process is different depending on your operating system.

The recommended way for installing the required tools on Windows is to use Chocolatey, a package manager for Windows. Chocolatey installs the tools so that you can use them from a Windows command prompt.

To install the required tools, follow the Install dependencies section for Windows in Zephyr’s Getting Started Guide.

In addition to these required tools, install the GN meta-build system if you are interested in building Project Connected Home over IP applications. This system generates the Ninja files that the nRF Connect SDK uses.

To install the GN tool, complete the following steps:

  1. Download the latest version of the GN binary archive for Windows from the GN website.

  2. Extract the zip archive.

  3. Ensure that the GN tool is added to your PATH environment variable.

Install west

To manage the combination of repositories and versions, the nRF Connect SDK uses Zephyr’s west.

To install west, enter the following command:

pip3 install west

You only need to do this once.

Get the nRF Connect SDK code

The nRF Connect SDK consists of a set of Git repositories.

Every nRF Connect SDK release consists of a combination of these repositories at different revisions. The revision of each of those repositories is determined by the current revision of the main (or manifest) repository, sdk-nrf.

Note

The latest state of development is on the master branch of the sdk-nrf repository. To ensure a usable state, the sdk-nrf repository defines the compatible states of the other repositories. However, this state is not necessarily tested. For a higher degree of quality assurance, check out a tagged release.

Therefore, unless you are familiar with the development process, you should always work with a specific release of the nRF Connect SDK.

The main repository, sdk-nrf, contains a west manifest file, west.yml, that determines the revision of all other repositories. This means that sdk-nrf acts as the manifest repository, while the other repositories are project repositories.

For more information about the repository and development model, see the development model section.

Tip

If you cloned the nRF Connect SDK repositories before they were moved to the nrfconnect GitHub organization and want to update them, follow the instructions in Pointing the repositories to the right remotes after they were moved.

To clone the repositories, complete the following steps:

  1. Create a folder named ncs. This folder will hold all nRF Connect SDK repositories.

  2. Open a command window in the ncs folder.

  3. Determine what revision of the nRF Connect SDK you want to work with. The recommended way is to work with a specific release.

    • To work with a specific release, the revision is the corresponding tag (for example, v1.5.0). You can find the tag in the Release notes of the release.

    • To work with a development tag, the revision is the corresponding tag (for example, v1.2.99-dev1)

    • To work with a branch, the revision is the branch name (for example, master to work with the latest state of development).

    • To work with a specific state, the revision is the SHA (for example, 224bee9055d986fe2677149b8cbda0ff10650a6e).

  4. Initialize west with the revision of the nRF Connect SDK that you want to check out, replacing NCS_revision with the revision:

    west init -m https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrf --mr NCS_revision

    For example, to check out the v1.5.0 release, enter the following command:

    west init -m https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrf --mr v1.5.0

    To check out the latest state of development, enter the following command:

    west init -m https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrf --mr master
    

    Note

    If you get an error message when running west, update west to the latest version. See Troubleshooting West if you need more information.

    Initializing west with a specific revision of the manifest file does not lock your repositories to this version. Checking out a different branch or tag in the sdk-nrf repository and running west update changes the version of the nRF Connect SDK that you work with.

    This will clone the manifest repository sdk-nrf into nrf.

  5. Enter the following command to clone the project repositories:

    west update
    
  6. Export a Zephyr CMake package. This allows CMake to automatically load the boilerplate code required for building nRF Connect SDK applications:

    west zephyr-export
    

Your directory structure now looks similar to this:

ncs
 |___ .west
 |___ bootloader
 |___ modules
 |___ nrf
 |___ nrfxlib
 |___ zephyr
 |___ ...

Note that there are additional folders, and that the structure might change. The full set of repositories and folders is defined in the manifest file.

Install additional Python dependencies

The nRF Connect SDK requires additional Python packages to be installed.

Use the following commands to install the requirements for each repository.

Open a command prompt in the ncs folder and enter the following commands:

pip3 install -r zephyr/scripts/requirements.txt
pip3 install -r nrf/scripts/requirements.txt
pip3 install -r bootloader/mcuboot/scripts/requirements.txt

Install the toolchain

To be able to cross-compile your applications for Arm targets, you must install version 9-2019-q4-major of the GNU Arm Embedded Toolchain.

Important

Make sure to install the version that is mentioned above. Other versions might not work with this version of the nRF Connect SDK.

Other versions of the nRF Connect SDK might require a different toolchain version.

To set up the toolchain, complete the following steps:

  1. Download the GNU Arm Embedded Toolchain for your operating system.

  2. Extract the toolchain into a folder of your choice. We recommend to use the folder c:\gnuarmemb on Windows and ~/gnuarmemb on Linux or macOS.

    Make sure that the folder name does not contain any spaces or special characters.

  3. If you want to build and program applications from the command line, define the environment variables for the GNU Arm Embedded toolchain. Depending on your operating system:

    Open a command prompt and enter the following commands (assuming that you have installed the toolchain to c:\gnuarmemb; if not, change the value for GNUARMEMB_TOOLCHAIN_PATH):

    set ZEPHYR_TOOLCHAIN_VARIANT=gnuarmemb
    set GNUARMEMB_TOOLCHAIN_PATH=c:\gnuarmemb
  4. Set the environment variables persistently. Depending on your operating system:

    Add the environment variables as system environment variables or define them in the %userprofile%\zephyrrc.cmd file as described in Set up the command-line build environment. This lets you avoid setting them every time you open a command prompt.

Install SEGGER Embedded Studio Nordic Edition

You must install SEGGER Embedded Studio (SES) Nordic Edition to be able to open and compile projects in the nRF Connect SDK.

SEGGER Embedded Studio is free of charge for use with Nordic Semiconductor devices.

To install SEGGER Embedded Studio Nordic Edition, complete the following steps:

  1. Download the package for your operating system:

  2. Extract the downloaded package in the directory of your choice.

  3. Register and activate a free license. SEGGER Embedded Studio is free of charge for use with Nordic Semiconductor devices, but you still need to request and activate a license. Complete the following steps:

    1. Run the file bin/emStudio. SEGGER Embedded Studio will open the Dashboard window and inform you about the missing license.

      SEGGER Embedded Studio Dashboard notification about missing license

      No commercial-use license detected SES prompt

    2. Click Activate Your Free License. A request form appears.

    3. Fill in your information and click Request License. The license is sent to you in an email.

    4. After you receive your license key, click Enter Activation Key to activate the license.

    5. Copy-paste the license key and click Install License. The license activation window will close and SES will open the Project Explorer window.

Set up the build environment in SES

Before you start building and programming a sample application, you must set up your build environment.

  1. Set up the SES environment. If you plan to build with SEGGER Embedded Studio, the first time you import an nRF Connect SDK project, SES might prompt you to set the paths to the Zephyr Base directory and the GNU ARM Embedded Toolchain. You only need to do this once. Complete the following steps:

    1. Run the file bin/emStudio.

    2. Select File -> Open nRF Connect SDK Project.

      Open nRF Connect SDK Project menu

      Open nRF Connect SDK Project menu

    3. Set the Zephyr Base directory to the full path to ncs/zephyr. The GNU ARM Embedded Toolchain directory is the directory where you installed the toolchain (for example, c:/gnuarmemb).

      Zephyr Base Not Set prompt

      Zephyr Base Not Set prompt

  2. Set up executables. The process is different depending on your operating system.

    Make sure the locations of tools are added to the PATH variable. On Windows, SES uses the PATH variable to find executables if they are not set in SES.

  3. Change the SES environment settings. If you want to change the SES environment settings, click Tools -> Options and select the nRF Connect tab, as shown on the following screenshot from the Windows installation.

nRF Connect SDK options in SES on Windows

nRF Connect SDK options in SES (Windows)

If you want to configure tools that are not listed in the SES options, add them to the PATH variable.

Set up the command-line build environment

The default build environment for nRF Connect SDK is SES. However, you can also build and program your application from the command line. You have to set up your build environment by defining the required environment variables every time you open a new command prompt or terminal window.

See Important Environment Variables for more information about the various relevant environment variables.

Define the required environment variables as follows, depending on your operating system:

Navigate to the ncs folder and enter the following command: zephyr\zephyr-env.cmd

If you need to define additional environment variables, create the file %userprofile%\zephyrrc.cmd and add the variables there. This file is loaded automatically when you run the above command. See Zephyr Environment Scripts for more information.

You must also make sure that nrfjprog (part of the nRF Command Line Tools) is installed and its path is added to the environment variables. The west command programs the kit by using nrfjprog by default. For more information on nrfjprog, see Programming SoCs with nrfjprog.

Updating tools and repositories

Remember to regularly check for updates to tools. Like any other Python package, the west tool is updated regularly.

You might also want to switch to a newer release or check out the latest state of development. However, if you work with a specific release of the nRF Connect SDK, you do not need to update your repositories, because the release will not change.

Updating west

To update west, run the following command:

pip3 install -U west

This command updates west to the latest available version in the PyPi repository.

Updating the repositories

To manage the nrf repository (the manifest repository), use Git. To make sure that you have the latest changes, run git fetch origin to fetch the latest code from the sdk-nrf repository. Checking out a branch or tag in the nrf repository gives you a different version of the manifest file. Running west update updates the project repositories to the state specified in this manifest file.

Note

If you get an error message when running west, update west to the latest version. See Troubleshooting West if you need more information.

Examples of commands

To switch to release v1.5.0 of the nRF Connect SDK, enter the following commands in the ncs/nrf directory:

git fetch origin
git checkout v1.5.0
west update

To update to a particular revision (SHA), make sure that you have that particular revision locally before you check it out (by running git fetch origin):

git fetch origin
git checkout 224bee9055d986fe2677149b8cbda0ff10650a6e
west update

To switch to the latest state of development, enter the following commands:

git fetch origin
git checkout origin/master
west update

Note

Run west update every time you change or modify the current working branch (for example, when you pull, rebase, or check out a different branch). This will bring the project repositories to the matching revision defined by the manifest file.

Pointing the repositories to the right remotes after they were moved

Before nRF Connect SDK version 1.3.0, the Git repositories were moved from the NordicPlayground GitHub organization to the nrfconnect organization. They were also renamed, replacing the fw-nrfconnect- prefix with sdk-.

The full list of repositories with their old and new URLs is in the following table:

Old URL

New URL

File system path

https://github.com/NordicPlayground/fw-nrfconnect-nrf

https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrf

ncs/nrf

https://github.com/NordicPlayground/fw-nrfconnect-zephyr

https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-zephyr

ncs/zephyr

https://github.com/NordicPlayground/fw-nrfconnect-mcuboot

https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-mcuboot

ncs/bootloader/mcuboot

https://github.com/NordicPlayground/fw-nrfconnect-mcumgr

https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-mcumgr

ncs/modules/lib/mcumgr

https://github.com/NordicPlayground/nrfxlib

https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrfxlib

ncs/nrfxlib

If you cloned the repositories before the move, your local repositories and forks of the nRF Connect SDK repositories are automatically be redirected to the new ones. However, you should point them directly to their new locations as described in this section.

To change the remotes, complete the following steps:

  1. Rename any personal forks that you have of the nRF Connect SDK repositories to their new names:

    1. Visit your personal fork in a browser. For example, to rename the fw-nrfconnect-nrf repository, access your fork on GitHub (https://github.com/<username>/fw-nrfconnect-nrf, where <username> is your GitHub account name).

    2. Switch to the Settings tab and edit the name in the Repository name field to sdk-nrf.

  2. Rename the remotes:

    1. Go to your local copy of each of the repositories listed in the preceding table.

    2. Enter the following command:

      git remote set-url remote_name new_url

      In this command, replace remote_name with the name of your remote (for example, origin for your fork or ncs for the upstream repository) and new_url with the URL of your fork or the new URL from the preceding table. If you are not sure about the remotes that are configured in your local repository, enter git remote -v to see your remotes.

For example, to point your existing fw-nrfconnect-nrf clone to its new URL, enter the following command:

cd ncs/nrf
git remote set-url origin https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-nrf

Similarly, to point your existing fw-nrfconnect-zephyr clone to the new URL, enter the following command:

cd  ncs/zephyr
git remote set-url ncs https://github.com/nrfconnect/sdk-zephyr

For more information about remotes and how to handle them, see Forking a repository of the nRF Connect SDK.