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These are reference notes for using Gentoo Linux on the CompuLab fit-PC computer.

The notes cover:

Installing Gentoo Linux

The fit-PC is different from most modern PCs in two notable ways:

As a result these additional steps (described below) are needed when installing Gentoo Linux using the the standard method described in the Gentoo Linux x86 Handbook:

To install Gentoo Linux you will need:

Creating a LiveUSB

The standard installation method should be followed, until "2. Choosing the Right Installation Medium".

At this point it is necessary to prepare a "Gentoo Linux LiveUSB" Installation Medium, based on the "Gentoo Minimal Installation CD". There are a number of methods for preparing a "Gentoo Linux LiveUSB" described on the Web (Gentoo Linux LiveUSB HOWTO, HOWTO LiveUSB Key), however these methods use a FAT16 formated USB stick which prevents the kernel supplied with the "Gentoo Minimal Image" from booting. To ensure the "self-sustained Gentoo environment" boots satisfactorily from a "Gentoo Minimal Image" it is necessary to format the USB stick with a EXT2 file system. The method described below is based on those previously described at HOWTO LiveUSB and Problem with booting "LiveUSB".

Prepare USB stick

The following instruction are run on the Linux helper host. My USB stick device is /dev/sda.

You may need to unmount volumes of the stick if already formated

# umount /dev/sda1

Clear disk partition table and boot sector

# dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/sda count=1024


# fdisk /dev/sda

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1   *           1        1006      258010+  83  Linux


# mke2fs /dev/sda1

Put Gentoo Minimal LiveCD on the USB stick

Fetch Gentoo Minimal LiveCD ISO image

# wget -S

Mount the ISO and copy to the USB stick (Mount ISO and MDF Images)

# mkdir -p /mnt/cdrom 
# modprobe loop
# mount -o loop,ro -t iso9660 install-x86-minimal-2008.0.iso /mnt/cdrom 
# mkdir -p /mnt/usb 
# mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/usb 
# cp -r /mnt/cdrom/* /mnt/usb 
# umount /mnt/cdrom

Make USB stick bootable

# emerge syslinux
# dd if=/usr/lib/syslinux/mbr.bin of=/dev/sda 
# mv /mnt/usb/isolinux/isolinux.cfg /mnt/usb/isolinux/extlinux.conf 
# nano /mnt/usb/isolinux/extlinux.conf                     # add slowusb after cdroot (if necessary) 
# extlinux -i /mnt/usb/isolinux 
# umount /dev/sda1

Booting from LiveUSB

boot: gentoo-nofb

Selecting the correct Tarball

Continue with the standard installation method until "5.b. Default: Using a Stage from the Internet".

At this point it is necessary to download the Stage Tarball. The fit-PC is considered to have a i586 configuration hence it is necessary to choose the stage3-x86 tarball.

# wget -S

Configuring the Compile Options

Continue with the standard installation method until "5.d. Configuring the Compile Options".

In the Gentoo architecture classification fit-PC is i586. Hence, the flags in /etc/make.conf need to be set thus

CFLAGS="-march=k6-2 -Os -pipe -fomit-frame-pointer"


Continue with the standard installation method until "7. Configuring the Kernel".

As we have already noted the fit-PC is classified as a i586 machine. However, we have downloaded a x86 tarball. To convert from the i486 sources to i586 it is necessary to under take the bootstrapping procedure described in the Gentoo FAQ.

# cd /usr/portage/scripts
# ./
# emerge -e system

Configuring the kernel

Continue with the standard installation method until "7. Configuring the Kernel".

The fit-PC is essentially an normal x86 platform. However, there are some kernel configuration options which are essential/desirable when creating a bootable kernel. These are:

Linux Kernel Configuration: Processor family
Processor type and features  --->
  Processor family  --->
     ( ) Winchip-2A/Winchip-3
     ( ) GeodeGX1
     (X) Geode GX/LX
     ( ) CyrixIII/VIA-C3

Linux Kernel Configuration: IDE controller
Device drivers --->
  <*> ATA/ATAPI/MFM/RLL support --->
      <*>   Enhanced IDE/MFM/RLL disk/cdrom/tape/floppy support
      <*>     AMD and nVidia IDE support
      <*>     AMD CS5535 chipset support

Linux Kernel Configuration: Network interfaces
Device drivers --->
  <*> Network device support  
      [*]   Ethernet (10 or 100Mbit)  --->
            [*]   EISA, VLB, PCI and on board controllers
            <*>   RealTek RTL-8129/8130/8139 PCI Fast Ethernet Adapter suppor
            [ ]     Use PIO instead of MMIO                                  
            [ ]     Support for uncommon RTL-8139 rev. K (automatic channel e
            [ ]     Support for older RTL-8129/8130 boards                   
            [ ]     Use older RX-reset method                                
Linux Kernel Configuration:
Bus options (PCI etc.)
     [*] Geode Multi-Function General Purpose Timer (MFGPT) events

Finishing Off

Continue with the standard installation method until "7. Configuring the Kernel".

Hardware configuration


Read Gentoo ALSA guide, the audio module to select in the kernel config is "CS5535/CS5536 Audio".

Sound related config

Linux Kernel Configuration:
Device Drivers
    Advanced Linux Sound Architecture
      PCI devices
        <M> CS5535/CS5536 Audio

Temperature Sensors

Some more Geode LX configuration hints :

Linux Kernel Configuration:
I2C Hardware Bus support
       <*> Geode ACCESS.bus support

Software configuration


And if you want Linux frame buffer device support (staring from Linux kernel 2.6.22):

Linux Kernel Configuration: Framebuffer
Graphics support --->
  <*> Support for frame buffer devices  --->
      [*]   AMD Geode family framebuffer support (EXPERIMENTAL)
      <*>     AMD Geode LX framebuffer support (EXPERIMENTAL)


Xorg config

The driver name for Geode LX is amd

In /etc/make.conf set

VIDEO_CARDS="amd nsc fbdev v4l vesa vga"
USE="-opengl ..."
$ emerge -av xorg xf86-video-amd

You may need to unmask package xf86-video-amd.

to be continued with an xorg.conf sample file

Issues to resolve

Linux Kernel Configuration:
Device Drivers
   Character devices
        <M> AMD CS5535/CS5536 GPIO (Geode Companion Device)
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Last modified: Fri, 26 Sep 2008 02:24:00 +0000 Hits: 661