Sep 232007

Hi All…

Some good news on the Loongson front. I’ve managed to figure out unionfs, and udev enough to construct a kernel and minimal userland that’s capable of mounting a SquashFS volume from a USB HDD, then lay a tmpfs volume over the top of it, making it writable.

The LiveUSB images will likely come in two forms:

  • A minimal image, that’ll just provide a basic system capable of performing an installation of Gentoo
  • A complete desktop image, with KDE, Firefox, Thunderbird and all the usual conveniences.

The boot procedure will go something like this:

  1. Download the LiveUSB kernel and your chosen OS image to a USB HDD, or burn them on a CD (if you have a USB CD-ROM drive) naming the files ‘kernel’ and ‘gentoo-mipsel-root.sqfs’ respectively in the root directory of the disk.
  2. Plug the USB HDD or CD-ROM into the Lemote Fulong computer and power it up
  3. Hit ESC to break into the PROM, then type (substituting vfat with the appropriate driver… I might have the vfat wrong too):
    PMON> load /dev/fs/vfat@usb0/kernel
    PMON> g console=tty

Gentoo will then start automatically booting from the USB HDD. Ultimately I want to construct something equivalent to the Gentoo 2007.0 x86 Installer CDs which have the Gentoo Linux Installer, but I figure even there, it’ll be a similar procedure to boot them — first though, the installer needs some MIPS love.

On my TODO list, is to figure out how the livecd target in catalyst works … at present I’m doing everything by hand. I’d also like to try and fix µClibc so it doesn’t die when the kernel page size is bigger than 4KB (on Loongson, one needs to use a page size of 16KB).  Time will tell here, at the moment I’m a bit busy to go delving into the depths of the µClibc dynamic linker to fix things, so I’m just using the rather bloaty glibc library.

In short though… we’ll soon have the very first install images for Gentoo/MIPS on this platform available.