Archive for October, 2010

Pandaboard and Gentoo: Part one (unpacking and specs)

October 28, 2010


Like i did with the Nvidia Tegra2, i’m going to talk about the Pandaboard which i received two days ago.

The story begins at late september, once the brand-new Pandaboard got announced. Before it was announced how much it would cost and before you could buy it, the Pandaboard Early Adopter Program (PEAP) was available. This program allowed(the two phases are now over) developers to submit their project and be allocated a Pandaboard if the project was among the most voted ones. The first phase selected the top5 projects and the second one the top10.

I submitted my proposal for the first phase, and luckily enough my project and another one were tied with 5 votes, which was the maximum any project achieved.
My project is mainly about documenting the installation of Gentoo on the Pandaboard and provide everything needed to install it. Also to help users install it as well. After i have done everything, the board will be used to test/build packages and keep testing new kernels/applications made by OMAP developers.

Let’s go with the specs. The Pandaboard has a OMAP 4430 Dual-Core ARM Cortex-A9 processor @ ~1GHz, 1GB of DDR2-800(400MHz) RAM, audio input/output, Bluetooth(through TI WiLink 6.0 solution), 802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi(through TI WiLink 6.0 solution), 10/100Mb USB-based ethernet(SMSC LAN95xx), HDMI, DVI-D(using an HDMI port), 2 USB ports, 1 USB OTG port and 1 SD slot. You can expand the specs in their official webpage:

One of the things i should add regarding the specs, is that there are two revisions publicly available to the board: the EA1 and A1. The EA1 are the boards that were available through the PEAP program i talked above, the A1 are the ones that you can buy. The difference between them is that the EA1 boards use 2.0 silicon and the RAM is clocked at 200MHz(DDR2-400). The A1 boards use 2.1 silicon and are clocked at 400MHz(DDR2-800). That means that you can’t compare any benchmark i can do, since the RAM of my panda is slow compared with a panda you can buy, which after all is the real product.

Here’s the cpuinfo:

Processor : ARMv7 Processor rev 2 (v7l)
processor : 0
BogoMIPS : 2013.49

processor : 1
BogoMIPS : 1963.08

Features : swp half thumb fastmult vfp edsp thumbee neon vfpv3
CPU implementer : 0x41
CPU architecture: 7
CPU variant : 0x1
CPU part : 0xc09
CPU revision : 2

Hardware : OMAP4430 Panda Board
Revision : 0010
Serial : 0000000000000000

dmesg is here

For more information you can check the official webpage and the wiki page made available for it. Until i create the documentation for installing Gentoo, you can install either Ubuntu, Android, or a minimal Angstrom distribution following the instructions in the wiki. Obviously you can also install Gentoo by yourself πŸ™‚

Have fun!


October 9, 2010

Hi everyone,

Keeping with the previous post, i’m announcing the following changes for ARM stage3s.

The optimization flag on the default CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS will be changed from -Os to -O2 as of this month stage3.

This is a change we’re doing so we don’t hit bugs undiscovered until we hit them like bug 331641 which only ocurred when using -Os and was reported by Gentoo users. Also that way we use the same optimization flag used on the rest of the arches and distributions.

If you still want to use -Os you’re free to do so, like whatever CFLAGS you want to use.


October 4, 2010

Hello everyone,

From this month(October) the default ARMv7 CFLAGS/CXXFLAGS used to built ARMv7 stages are going to change from:
CFLAGS="-Os -march=armv7-a -mfpu=vfp -mfloat-abi=softfp -pipe"
CFLAGS="-Os -march=armv7-a -mfpu=vfpv3-d16 -mfloat-abi=softfp -pipe"

The vfpv3-d16 option was included in gcc-4.4, and since thats what its stable, we’ll change the CFLAGS. This doesn’t affect current installations, but users are recommended to change their CFLAGS and rebuild the system.

Of course like always you’re free to use any other CFLAGS that suit better your system. You can use vfpv3 or neon if your system has those options. Those CFLAGS i mention is just for the armv7a stages we build, which target the “worst” possible armv7 processor.

Architectures and Gentoo (Part 1)

October 3, 2010


In gentoo we support 13 different architectures: alpha, amd64, arm, hppa, ia64, m68k, mips, ppc, ppc64, s390, sh, sparc and x86. Although amd64 and x86 are the most common and popular, they are only 2 architectures of the total 13 we support, so i thought i could write about the rest of the architectures and their status on Gentoo.

I’ll do it in parts because i’ll get burned out too easily!

I think its sad to see a lot of that architectures that were so popular being discontinued, but i guess thats whats the progress is about πŸ™‚ The main problem of arches getting discontinued is that the hardware is slow compared with new hardware, less users because they replace their old alternative architecture computer with an standard amd64/x86 PC. That makes that there’s less users of said architecture, which makes less interesting for linux distributions to support them, then there’s no developers…and then the architecture really dies. IMHO its sad, but thats the way it is.


The alpha processor was phased out by Compaq in 2004, being replaced by ia64. That means that you can’t buy any new hardware that has alpha processors(as to my knowledge). Of course there is some alpha hardware that wasn’t ever used, so you can say there is ‘new’ hardware, as in unused, but there’s no alpha processor manufactured after 2004. There were both workstations and servers.

The alpha status on Gentoo is good, there is three developers on the team: Tobias Klausmann (klausman, Blackb|rd on IRC), Matt Turner (mattst88) and myself. There was a lot of distributions supporting alpha back in 2001, when alpha was well and alive. But as of today, Gentoo is one of the few distributions that support it officially(guess we’re crazy :D).


Well, i don’t think i need to comment on this one…


ARM is one of the architectures that its level of activity is the same as amd64/x86 thanks to its fast-growing use on embedded devices. You can even find notebooks with ARM processors(called smartbooks), phones and NAS(Network Attached Storage) running Linux, WinCE and Android. Everytime they are getting more powerful, at the moment you can find dual-core processors at 1GHz, and thats not going to stop.

The status of ARM on Gentoo is good. We’re five developers: maekke, xmw, dagger, vapier and me. Also there are some users on #gentoo-embedded( which are really helpful. We provide stage3s for a handful of CHOSTS: armv4l, armv4tl, armv5tel, armv6j and armv7a. Which covers most of the devices available. One of the bad things of ARM is that every device available is almost completely different, that means we can’t have install guides of each device if we don’t have the device itself…


HPPA is another of the dead architectures that we support at Gentoo. It was an architecture designed by HP, and was phased out in 2008. It was replaced by ia64 as well. There was both workstations and servers.

The status on Gentoo is good. There is two developers: jer and GMsoft. I can’t speak too much about it because i’m not in the team, but i know its supported and doesn’t have too many issues(at least gentoo-related).

Hope you liked the first part πŸ™‚