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(For BeagleBoardAngstrom, click here.)

This page is about running a distribution (ARM EABI) Ubuntu at BeagleBoard. BeagleBoard will boot the (ARM EABI) Ubuntu distribution from the SD card. Since much of this page is generic, it has also be extended to help support devices such as the PandaBoard and BeagleBone.

  • For the best experience, make sure you have an LCD/HDMI monitor attached to the BeagleBoard's HDMI port, 2 GB/4 GB/8 GB SD card, and a known good USB 2.0 hub with mouse and keyboard.


If you need any help:

  • Ubuntu related help:
    • #ubuntu-arm: Ubuntu's ARM IRC on Freenode (logs -> year -> month -> day -> #ubuntu-arm.html)
  • When asking for help, please provide some debugging information:
    • U-Boot Version installed on board
    • Kernel Version: uname -a
    • pastebin dmesg
      • Copy from serial port or use "dmesg | pastebinit" (sudo apt-get install pastebinit)

Required Beagle Software

Mainline U-Boot:

  • All old BeagleBoard (classic) Ax, Bx, Cx and Dx boards are required to upgrade to at least these U-Boot versions.
  • XM Boards have no NAND, so MLO/u-boot.img is always required on the first partition
  • Directions: Upgrade X-loader and U-Boot

Omap Serial Changes

boot.scr/boot.cmd changes:

With 2.6.35:


With 2.6.36/37+:


Serial console login: /etc/init/ttyO2.conf

start on stopped rc RUNLEVEL=[2345]
stop on runlevel [!2345]

exec /sbin/getty 115200 ttyO2

Method 1: Download a Complete Pre-Configured Image

Canonical/Ubuntu Images

Support: #ubuntu-arm: Ubuntu's ARM IRC on Freenode (logs -> year -> month -> day -> #ubuntu-arm.html)

At one time, Canonical "supported" a few boards with their own images (11.10 & 12.04 releases).

  • BeagleBoard xM -> "omap"
  • PandaBoard & PandaBoard ES -> "omap4"

Demo Image

  • These demonstration images contain a custom Mainline based kernel with experimental enhancements to the boards supported. They are usually updated about once a month, as new features/enhancements get added by the community. Currently, this image ships with two kernel's "x" which is for mainline omap3+ devices (BeagleBoard/PandaBoard) and the "psp" which is for specifically the BeagleBone, as much of the kernel support for this device is currently in a TI Git kernel tree on arago-project. The kernel is stress tested by a farm of Panda/Beagle's running 24/7 under a heavy load (building gcc trunk/mainline kernel).
git clone git://
cd stable-kernel
git checkout origin/v3.7.x -b tmp
git clone git://
cd linux-dev
git checkout origin/am33x-v3.2 -b tmp
git clone git://
cd linux-dev
git checkout origin/am33x-v3.8 -b tmp
  • Advanced Users only: Userspace, used in these demo images:

If the script in these demo images fail: email "" I need: terminal command, terminal log, distribution name, arch...

Raring 13.04 armhf

Image Updated:

  • 2013-05-18
    • Beagle/Panda/Panda ES: v3.7.10-x10 kernel
    • BeagleBone: v3.2.42-psp27 kernel
    • BeagleBone/BeagleBone Black: v3.8.13-bone18 kernel (--uboot bone_dtb)
  • 2013-04-26
    • Beagle/Panda/Panda ES: v3.7.10-x10 kernel
    • BeagleBone: v3.2.42-psp27 kernel
    • BeagleBone/BeagleBone Black: v3.8.8-bone14 kernel (--uboot bone_dtb)
  • 2013-03-28:
    • Beagle/Panda/Panda ES: v3.7.10-x10 kernel
    • Bone: v3.2.33-psp26 kernel (--uboot bone_dtb = v3.8.4-bone9)

Services Active:

Note: Depending on your internal network these may work out the box
Apache, Port 80: http://arm/ (Bone: or via usb)
SSH, Port 22: ssh ubuntu@arm (Bone: or via usb) ubuntu@
shellinabox, Port 4200: https://arm:4200/ (Bone: or via usb)
Getty, Serial Port

Default user: ubuntu pass: temppwd

Get prebuilt image:

mirrors (will take some time to update):

Verify image with:

md5sum ubuntu-13.04-console-armhf-2013-05-18.tar.xz
8c791b69ee4c6ddfd1ce4c9049ecf23e  ubuntu-13.04-console-armhf-2013-05-18.tar.xz

Unpack image:

tar xJf ubuntu-13.04-console-armhf-2013-05-18.tar.xz
cd ubuntu-13.04-console-armhf-2013-05-18

If you don't know the location of your SD card:

sudo ./ --probe-mmc

You should see something like

Are you sure? I don't see [/dev/idontknow], here is what I do see...

fdisk -l:
Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes <- x86 Root Drive
Disk /dev/sdd: 3957 MB, 3957325824 bytes <- MMC/SD card

sda      8:0    0 465.8G  0 disk 
├─sda1   8:1    0 446.9G  0 part /  <- x86 Root Partition
├─sda2   8:2    0     1K  0 part 
└─sda5   8:5    0  18.9G  0 part [SWAP]
sdd      8:48   1   3.7G  0 disk 
├─sdd1   8:49   1    64M  0 part 
└─sdd2   8:50   1   3.6G  0 part 
  • In this example, we can see via mount, /dev/sda1 is the x86 rootfs, therefore /dev/sdd is the other drive in the system, which is the MMC/SD card that was inserted and should be used by ./

Install image:

Quick install script for "board"

sudo ./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot board

"board" options:

  • BeagleBoard Ax/Bx - beagle_bx
  • BeagleBoard Cx/Dx - beagle_cx
  • BeagleBoard xM - beagle_xm
  • BeagleBone - bone
  • BeagleBone/Black - bone_dtb
  • PandaBoard Ax - panda
  • PandaBoard ES - panda_es

So for the BeagleBoard xM:

sudo ./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot beagle_xm
  • Additional Options
    • --rootfs <ext4 default>
    • --swap_file <swap file size in MB's>
    • --addon pico <ti pico projector>
    • --svideo-ntsc <use ntsc over dvi for video)
    • --svideo-pal <use pal over dvi for video)

You should now be able to unmount the SD card from you PC, insert into your Board, reboot and have the OS loaded.

For a basic framebuffer driven desktop environment: (make sure network is setup):

Ethernet: "sudo ifconfig -a" and "sudo dhclient usb1" or "sudo dhclient eth0"

Then run:

/bin/bash /boot/uboot/tools/ubuntu/

Additional Expansion Options:

Add "camera=li5m03" to uEnv.txt and run:

  • Beagle xM with LSR COM6L wifi adapter (first units are missing eeprom) see in uEnv.txt for overrides:
#LSR COM6L Adapter Board
#First production run has unprogramed eeprom:

#LSR COM6L Adapter Board + TiWi5

Advanced: Build Image:

Built with a fork of project-rootstock (ARM native mode, run directly on BeagleBoard), using a script from omap-image-builder:

git clone git://
cd omap-image-builder
git checkout v2013.05 -b v2013.05
touch release

Quantal 12.10 armhf

Image Updated:

  • 2013-05-18
    • Beagle/Panda/Panda ES: v3.7.10-x10 kernel
    • BeagleBone: v3.2.42-psp27 kernel
    • BeagleBone/BeagleBone Black: v3.8.13-bone18 kernel (--uboot bone_dtb)
  • 2013-04-26
    • Beagle/Panda/Panda ES: v3.7.10-x10 kernel
    • BeagleBone: v3.2.42-psp27 kernel
    • BeagleBone/BeagleBone Black: v3.8.8-bone14 kernel (--uboot bone_dtb)
  • 2013-03-28:
    • Beagle/Panda/Panda ES: v3.7.10-x10 kernel
    • Bone: v3.2.33-psp26 kernel (--uboot bone_dtb = v3.8.4-bone9)

Get prebuilt image:


Verify image with:

md5sum ubuntu-12.10-console-armhf-2013-05-18.tar.xz
feb3e41208dba6ec1593ac0b910cff3d  ubuntu-12.10-console-armhf-2013-05-18.tar.xz

Unpack image:

tar xJf ubuntu-12.10-console-armhf-2013-05-18.tar.xz
cd ubuntu-12.10-console-armhf-2013-05-18

Then follow directions show above with the other images...

Method 2: Use the NetInstall method

You will need a 1GB/2GB SD card or greater.

Standard system : ~700 MB

Report Bugs/Issues to: (anywhere else will be ignored..)

Download netinstall script:

git clone git://
cd netinstall

Current Support Ubuntu distributions:

--distro oneiric (11.10)
--distro precise-armhf (12.04)
--distro quantal-armhf (12.10)

Old <board> selection:

*BeagleBoard Ax/Bx - beagle_bx
*BeagleBoard Cx    - beagle_cx
*BeagleBoard xMA/B/C    - beagle_xm
*BeagleBone Ax     - bone
*PandaBoard Ax     - panda
*PandaBoard ES     - panda_es

Install script for <board>

sudo ./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot <board> --distro <distro>

New <board> selection:

*BeagleBoard xMx - omap3-beagle-xm

Install script for new <board> selection: (slowly migrating all devices to this method)

sudo ./ --mmc /dev/sdX --dtb <board> --distro <distro>

So for the xM: with quantal-armhf:

sudo ./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot beagle_xm --distro quantal-armhf
sudo ./ --mmc /dev/sdX --dtb omap3-beagle-xm --distro quantal-armhf
  • Other Options:
    • --firmware : installs firmware
    • --serial-mode : debian-installer uses Serial Port

Place SD card into BeagleBoard and boot:

Configure the network:

usb0: USB net <- (usually the OTG port)
eth0: USB net <- (usually the smsc95xx adapter on the BeagleBoard and PandaBoard)
wlan0: Wifi <- Your USDB-Wi-Fi device.. 

See my notes for my testing procedure:

Troubshooting: If boot fails..

  • Hold the user button down to force booting from MMC
  • Upgrade X-loader and U-boot Upgrade X-loader and U-Boot
  • Clear U-boot's Environment Variables in nand:
nand erase 260000 20000

NetInstall assumptions:

Assume asll <default>'s... Thanks you preseed.conf!!!

Method 3: Manual Install (no automatic scripts)

Note, this section use to have a lot of details, but maintenance of the two wiki's became a pain, so for now on we will just link to my other pages:

Beagle/Beagle xM


Panda/Panda ES


Install Latest Kernel Image

Script File

Latest Stable is:

export DIST=oneiric  (options are lucid/maverick/natty/oneiric/precise/squeeze/wheezy)
export ARCH=armel (options are armel/armhf (armhf only for precise))

export BOARD=omap

export BOARD=omap-psp

wget $(cat ./LATEST-${BOARD} | grep STABLE | awk '{print $3}')

Reboot with your new uImage.

Upgrade X-loader and U-boot

  • Note: the functionality of the "X-Loader" project has been merged as u-boot spl.

Compatible with old Ax, Bx, Cx, and Dx BeagleBoards

Note: Sometimes on these older boards, you just have to clear out the stored U-Boot environment variables in nand to make this script work:

nand erase 260000 20000

Or: To fully erase the NAND..

nand erase.chip

Requires MMC card..

git clone git://
cd flasher

For the Beagle Ax/Bx

sudo ./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot beagle_bx

For the Beagle Cx/Dx

sudo ./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot beagle_cx
1: Plug Serial Cable in and Start Serial terminal program
2: Place MMC card in Beagle
3: Push and hold the user button
4: Plug-in power
5: Wait for U-Boot countdown to finish, and let off user button
6: Wait for flashing/script to end
7: Power down, remove and reformat MMC card to final OS

If you don't know the location of your SD card:

sudo ./ --probe-mmc

You should see something like

Are you sure? I don't see [/dev/idontknow], here is what I do see...

fdisk -l:
Disk /dev/sda: 500.1 GB, 500107862016 bytes <- x86 Root Drive
Disk /dev/mmcblk0: 3957 MB, 3957325824 bytes <- MMC/SD card

/dev/sda1 on / type ext4 (rw,errors=remount-ro,commit=0) <- x86 Root Partition
  • In this example, we can see via mount, /dev/sda1 is the x86 rootfs, therefore /dev/mmcblk0 is the other drive in the system, which is the MMC/SD card that was inserted and should be used by ./

SGX Video Acceleration

SGX armel/armhf v3.4.x+

  • Note: This is a still a work in progress, but so far all the basic sgx demos seem to work on my Beagle xM C... Thanks to TI for the special armhf binaries!!! --RobertCNelson 19:48, 17 July 2012 (UTC)
  • Test with: Precise/12.04 armhf demo image with v3.4.5-x1, desktop was lxde via: "sudo apt-get install lxde lxde-core lxde-icon-theme"

Re-Build Kernel and SGX Kernel Modules

git clone git://
cd stable-kernel
git checkout origin/v3.6.x -b v3.6.x
./ (and then follow the directions as the script runs...)

Build kernel


Build SGX modules


Insert SD card, make sure to modify MMC in


Place SD card into the device and boot...

cd /opt/sgx
sudo tar xf GFX_4.0*_libs.tar.gz
sudo ./ 

Reboot, check modules (lsmod):

Module                  Size  Used by
bufferclass_ti          5727  0 
omaplfb                11512  0 
pvrsrvkm              165208  2 bufferclass_ti,omaplfb

Blit Test:

ubuntu@omap:/usr/bin/armhf/es5.0$ ./sgx_blit_test 
------------------ SGX 3D Blit test -----------------
----------------------- Start -----------------------
Call PVRSRVConnect with a valid argument:
Get number of devices from PVRSRVEnumerateDevices:
.... Reported 1 devices
.... Device Number  | Device Type
            0000    | PVRSRV_DEVICE_ID_SGX
Attempt to acquire device 0:
Getting SGX Client info
.... ui32ProcessID:1133
Display Class API: enumerate devices
PVRSRVEnumerateDeviceClass() returns 1 display device(s)
Display Class API: open device
Display Class API: Get display info
.... Name:PowerVR OMAP Linux Display Driver
.... MaxSwapChains:1
.... MaxSwapChainBuffers:1
.... MinSwapInterval:0
.... MaxSwapInterval:1
Display Class API: enumerate display formats
.... Display format 0 - Pixelformat:1
Display Class API: enumerate display dimensions
.... Display dimensions 0 - ByteStride:2560 Width:1280 Height:720
Attempt to create memory context for SGX:
.... Shared heap 0 - HeapID:0x7000000 DevVAddr:0x1000 Size:0x87fe000 Attr:0x2014200
.... Shared heap 1 - HeapID:0x7000001 DevVAddr:0xc800000 Size:0xfff000 Attr:0x2024200
.... Shared heap 2 - HeapID:0x7000002 DevVAddr:0xe400000 Size:0x7f000 Attr:0x2024200
.... Shared heap 3 - HeapID:0x7000003 DevVAddr:0xf000000 Size:0x3ff000 Attr:0x2024200
.... Shared heap 4 - HeapID:0x7000004 DevVAddr:0xf400000 Size:0x4ff000 Attr:0x2014200
.... Shared heap 5 - HeapID:0x7000005 DevVAddr:0xfc00000 Size:0x1ff000 Attr:0x2014200
.... Shared heap 6 - HeapID:0x7000006 DevVAddr:0xdc00000 Size:0x7ff000 Attr:0x2014200
.... Shared heap 7 - HeapID:0x7000007 DevVAddr:0xe800000 Size:0x7ff000 Attr:0x2014200
.... Shared heap 8 - HeapID:0x7000008 DevVAddr:0xd800000 Size:0x3ff000 Attr:0x2024200
.... Shared heap 9 - HeapID:0x7000009 DevVAddr:0x8800000 Size:0x0 Attr:0x2024200
.... Shared heap 10 - HeapID:0x700000a DevVAddr:0x8800000 Size:0x3fff000 Attr:0x2014200
Display Class API: get the system (primary) buffer
Display Class API: map display surface to SGX
Attempt to create transfer context for SGX:
Do a SRCCOPY blit to the bottom right quadrant of the display:
(bottom right quadrant should be red on blue background):
Do a SRCCOPY blit to the top left quadrant of the display:
(top left quadrant should be striped (r/g/b/w) on blue background):
Do a CUSTOMSHADER blit to the top right quadrant of the display:
(top right quadrant should be yellow):
0xb6acd000 (host) 0xf407000 (device): Device mem for custom shader program
0xb6acb000 (host) 0xf408000 (device): Device mem for texture
USE custom shader program: 0x28841001.c0000000	mov.end o0, sa0
Do a SRCCOPY blit with COLOUR DOWNSAMPLING from ARGB8888 to RGB565
and then present the RGB565 to the bottom right quadrant of the screen
(bottom right quadrant should be a red gradient):
Free the off screen surfaces:
Destroy the transfer context:
Display Class API: unmap display surface from SGX
Destroy Device Memory Context
Display Class API: close the device
Release SGX Client Info:
Disconnect from services:
------------------ SGX 3D Blit test -----------------
------------------------ End ------------------------

SGX Legacy armel only upto v3.2.x

NOTE: this only works on BeagleBoard hardware, BeagleBone stuff is in development..

Requirements: stable-kernel (the Demo Images hosted on meet this requirement)

Note: Due to a bug (seems to only effect older Beagle Bx/Cx boards, use v3.0.8-x3 based kernels)

SDK unPackage Script

Download the latest version of the "" script


Make script executable

chmod a+x ./create_sgx_package_*.sh

Run script


After Successfully running:

:~/temp$ ls
GFX_X_XX_XX_XX_libs.tar.gz                      : -> Copy to Beagle (System Libs)
GFX_Linux_SDK.tar.gz                            : -> Copy to Beagle (DEMO's)

Beagle: GFX_*_libs.tar.gz

tar xf GFX_4_00_00_01_libs.tar.gz  (extracts and
./ (copies necessary SGX libs and startup script)
./ (force run the new init script, or you can just reboot...)

On successful install:

Stopping PVR
Starting PVR
Starting SGX fixup for ES2.x (or ES3.x) (or ES5.x xM)

Reboot for good measure (Maverick's Alpha-1 needs this....)

sudo reboot

Beagle: GFX_Linux_SDK.tar.gz

tar xf GFX_Linux_SDK.tar.gz
cd GFX_Linux_SDK
tar xf OGLES.tar.gz

Test SGX with a DEMO

cd OGLES/SDKPackage/Binaries/CommonX11/Demos/EvilSkull

Trouble Shooting

sudo rm /etc/powervr-esrev
sudo depmod -a omaplfb
sudo /etc/init.d/pvr restart



The following Gstreamer elements will be installed:

 $ gst-inspect | grep dsp
 dvdspu:  dvdspu: Sub-picture Overlay
 dsp:  dspdummy: DSP dummy element
 dsp:  dspvdec: DSP video decoder
 dsp:  dspadec: DSP audio decoder
 dsp:  dsph263enc: DSP video encoder
 dsp:  dspmp4venc: DSP MPEG-4 video encoder
 dsp:  dspjpegenc: DSP video encoder
 dsp:  dsph264enc: DSP video encoder
 dsp:  dspvpp: DSP VPP filter
 dsp:  dspipp: DSP IPP

Please note that h264 encoder (dsph264enc) will not work because of missing h264venc_sn.dll64P DSP part. According to this message, it is not available due to a licensing restriction.

Requirements: Kernel built with: "CONFIG_TIDSPBRIDGE=m", for reference, here is what's image/deb's are configured for:

ubuntu@arm:~$ zcat /proc/config.gz | grep TIDSP

On the xM: if 3.2.x is too jerky, try 3.4.x and use the script, as the module changed..

Download the latest version of the "" script


Make script executable

chmod a+x ./

Package script:


Copy DSP_Install_libs.tar.gz to Beagle

Setup network...


ubuntu@arm:~$ tar xf DSP_Install_libs.tar.gz


ubuntu@arm:~$ ./

What got installed:

ubuntu@arm:~$ ls -lh /lib/dsp/
total 7.1M
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 1.3M Dec  3 10:56 baseimage.dof
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  51K Dec  3 10:56 conversions.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  13K Dec  3 10:56 dctn_dyn.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 2.5M Dec  3 10:56 h264vdec_sn.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 481K Dec  3 10:56 jpegdec_sn.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 229K Dec  3 10:56 jpegenc_sn.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 767K Dec  3 10:56 m4venc_sn.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 890K Dec  3 10:56 mp4vdec_sn.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 707K Dec  3 10:56 mpeg4aacdec_sn.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  15K Dec  3 10:56 qosdyn_3430.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  14K Dec  3 10:56 ringio.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 9.1K Dec  3 10:56 TSPA_Object_Code_Software_License_Agreement.txt
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root  53K Dec  3 10:56 usn.dll64P
-rwxr-xr-x 1 root root 245K Dec  3 10:56 vpp_sn.dll64P

Building gst-dsp stuff:

If you installed this image via the demo images or netinstall, the gst-dsp build script is installed:

Update arm tools directory to the latest:

ubuntu@arm:~$ cd /boot/uboot/tools/
ubuntu@arm:/boot/uboot/tools$ sudo ./

Otherwise, install via git:

git clone git://

Change to the pkgs directory

ubuntu@arm:~$ cd /boot/uboot/tools/pkgs
(or if just cloned)
ubuntu@arm:~$ cd ~/tools/pkgs

Build gst-dsp stuff..


Start dspbridge (or just reboot)

sudo /etc/init.d/dsp_init start

Test dspbridge

sudo dsp-test


sudo gst-launch playbin2 uri=file://(file)

Example: (using 854x480 mp4 )

Note: it seems broken in Ubuntu precise armhf...
sudo gst-launch playbin2 uri=file:///home/USER/big_buck_bunny_480p_surround-fix.avi

Screenshot: (on my xm it's a little jerky at the moment, investigating..)

Xorg omapfb Drivers

By default Ubuntu will try to use the FBDEV video driver, however for the BeagleBoard we can take advantage of a more software optimized driver (still not using the sgx video hardware) using the NEON extensions of the Cortex-A8 core.

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep FBDEV

(II) FBDEV: driver for framebuffer: fbdev
(II) FBDEV(0): using default device
(II) FBDEV(0): Creating default Display subsection in Screen section
(==) FBDEV(0): Depth 16, (==) framebuffer bpp 16
(==) FBDEV(0): RGB weight 565

Login into Ubuntu and open a new terminal, xorg has to be running..

xvinfo -display :0.0

X-Video Extension version 2.2
screen #0
 no adaptors present


Note: These are built with neon optimizations:;a=blob;f=debian/rules;h=c2f0d5391c96c5abb60b1e691ad86bb27e0c17d8;hb=HEAD (line 48/49)


sudo apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-omap3

To verify it was correctly installed, reboot and:

cat /var/log/Xorg.0.log | grep omapfb

(II) LoadModule: "omapfb"
(II) Loading /usr/lib/xorg/modules/drivers//
(II) Module omapfb: vendor="X.Org Foundation"
(II) omapfb: Driver for OMAP framebuffer (omapfb) and external LCD controllers:
(WW) Error opening /sys/devices/platform/omapfb/ctrl/name: No such file or directory
(II) omapfb(0): VideoRAM: 1800KiB (SDRAM)
(II) omapfb(0): Creating default Display subsection in Screen section
(**) omapfb(0): Depth 16, (--) framebuffer bpp 16
(==) omapfb(0): RGB weight 565
(==) omapfb(0): Default visual is TrueColor
(--) omapfb(0): Virtual size is 1280x720 (pitch 1280)
(**) omapfb(0):  Built-in mode "current"
(==) omapfb(0): DPI set to (96, 96)
(II) omapfb(0): DPMS enabled
(II) omapfb(0): Video plane capabilities:
(II) omapfb(0): Video plane supports the following image formats:
(II) omapfb(0): XVideo extension initialized

Login into Ubuntu and open a new terminal, xorg has to be running..

xvinfo -display :0.0

X-Video Extension version 2.2
screen #0
  Adaptor #0: "OMAP XV adaptor"
    number of ports: 1
    port base: 56
    operations supported: PutImage 
    supported visuals:
      depth 16, visualID 0x21
    number of attributes: 1

Changing DVI output resolution

Ubuntu 10.10 above defaults to a resolution of 1284x768@16. This is set in the boot.cmd file in the boot partition of the SD card. To change the resolution the DVI output, edit boot.cmd accordingly then recreate the boot.scr file by:

mkimage -A arm -O linux -T script -C none -a 0 -e 0 -n "Ubuntu 10.10" -d ./boot.cmd ./boot.scr

Then reboot the BeagleBoard.


(For configuring S-Video on Angstrom, click here).

Process for setting up S-Video

S-video is tested to be working on 2.6.35-rc5-dl9. BeagleBoard s-video output has traditionally been enabled by "using bootargs (boot arguments) at uboot". In newer versions of the BeagleBoard, the developers have made things easier by instructing U-Boot to look for a .scr file about a dozen lines long that is called cmd.boot.scr, and then follow said parameters. In Angstrom, no boot.scr file is needed, instead, an even easier system is used, where a simple editable .txt file called uEnv.txt containing these parameters suffices (Env is for "environment"). For some reason, in the Ubuntu download files, typically there a bit of convoluted process where uEnv.txt is called up, uEnv.txt says "Go read conf.boot.scr", and cmd.boot.scr sets up the s-video.

To make cmd.boot.scr, create a text file named cmd.boot, then convert it into a .scr file with mkimage by running the following commands on the terminal:

First, you will probably need to get mkimage with apt-get. Run

   sudo apt-get install mkimage

Next, convert your cmd.boot.scr

   mkimage -A arm -O linux -T script -C none -a 0 -e 0 -n 'Execute uImage' -d boot.cmd boot.scr

Bootargs: make this cmd.boot to set s-video

  • NTSC

Bootargs that has been validated.

    setenv bootargs 'console=tty0 console=ttyO2,115200n8 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait ro vram=12M omapfb.mode=tv:ntsc omapdss.def_disp=tv 
    fixrtc buddy=unknown'

Screen cutoff problem

NTSC resolution is supposed to be 640x480. However the edge bands around the TV screen differ from TV to TV. Output of fbset shown below:

   mode "720x482-30"
        # D: 13.500 MHz, H: 15.734 kHz, V: 29.970 Hz
        geometry 720 482 720 482 32
        timings 74074 16 58 6 31 64 6
        rgba 8/16,8/8,8/0,0/0

Depending on your TV device, and what desktop you are running a certain amount of screen cutoff is likely to occur. This is called overscan. Typically, around 5-10% of the left and right edges of display are off the screen (using Ubuntu with xfce). This seems to be due to the fact that there is only one display resolution that is set for NTSC: 720 X 482. It is not possible to change this setting in the xfce4 Settings Manager like one would normally be able to do, because other options are greyed out/do not exist. Normally, even if the Settings Manager did not allow for it, a different resolution setting could be obtained by editing the xorg.conf file in /etc/X11/xorg.conf-4, or some similar place. HOWEVER there is no xorg.conf file in the Beagle version of xfce. xrandr shows the display is set to the minimum of 720x574. Adding an xorg.conf does not fix the problem, because Beagle takes its (analog) display resolution settings directly from the display driver, where 720 X 480 (720 X 574 for PAL ) is hard coded in.

An inelegant but usable workaround for the xfce desktop environment is simply to create vertical and horizontal panels that fill up the space that is cut off on the screen. This is not a complete solution, but at least it will prevent maximized windows from going off into nowhere land.

Truly fixing this would involve going into the display driver and reprogramming it to include additional S-video settings besides just NTSC and PAL. Specifically, to make the whole framebuffer fit on the screen you would need to adjust the overlay in the display driver, the OMAP DSS2. (Didn't test this yet. Some pointers from the driver's documentation below)

   /sys/devices/platform/omapdss/overlay? directory:
   enabled		0=off, 1=on
   input_size		width,height (ie. the framebuffer size)
   manager		Destination overlay manager name
   output_size		width,height
   position		x,y
   screen_width	width
   global_alpha   	global alpha 0-255 0=transparent 255=opaque

Building Kernel

Download SRC

git clone git://

Build kernel


Optional building the deb file



Using a File for Swap Instead of a Partition

On the Bealgeboard you should expect to need a swap file given the limitation of how much RAM they have (between 256 MB and 512 MB). Some system programs like apt-get will only run properly when some swap space is present (due to 256 MB not being enough RAM).

Some images such as those from do not come with a swap partition or any swap space allocated.

Under Linux swap space can be either a dedicated partition or a single file. Both can be mounted as swap which the OS can access.

Creating a Swapfile

The following commands will create a 1 gigabyte file, lock access to only root, format it as swap and then advertise it to the OS.

sudo mkdir -p /var/cache/swap/   
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/var/cache/swap/swapfile bs=1M count=1024
sudo chmod 0600 /var/cache/swap/swapfile 
sudo mkswap /var/cache/swap/swapfile 
sudo swapon /var/cache/swap/swapfile 

To ask the OS to load this swapfile on each start up, edit the /etc/fstab file to include the following additional line:

/var/cache/swap/swapfile    none    swap    sw    0   0

To verify that the swapfile is accessilble as swap to the OS, run "top" of "htop" at a console.

Ubuntu Software

Wi-Fi Networking (command line)


It is possible and relatively easy to configure a Wi-Fi card from the command line.

You will need to edit the /etc/network/interfaces file. There are several guides available via Google.

This is a particularly useful guide

A sample /etc/network/interfaces file for a WPA2 encrypted access point is:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback
auto wlan0
iface wlan0 inet dhcp
wpa-driver wext
wpa-ssid <NAME OF AP>
wpa-ap-scan 1
wpa-proto RSN
wpa-pairwise CCMP
wpa-group CCMP
wpa-key-mgmt WPA-PSK

Your Wi-Fi card will automatically load these settings on start up and give network access.

Lightweight window managers

If you intend to use Ubuntu on the BeagleBoard you can install JWM or IceWM to improve performance.

JWM in particular uses little RAM. On a BeagleBoard with 256 MB, using JWM will leave about 60 MB free to run applications in.

Web Apps


Given that the BeagleBoard has fewer resources than a desktop a light-weight browser is more responsive. Midori is a light-weight browser that still supports flash, etc. It is available from the standard repositories.



If you have a video source (webcam, IP cam, etc.) which appears as /dev/video0, etc. then you can use the Linux surveillance software "motion" to monitor the video stream and record periods of activity.

Motion is also available from the standard repositories. Using a 960x720 resolution webcam with a 15 fps rate under the UVC driver the Rev C BeagleBoard under Xubuntu reports ~60% CPU utilisation.

To make the BeagleBoard automatically start recording on boot do the following:

  • Auto Login - run "gdmsetup" from a terminal and select a user to automatically login
  • Sessions - make sure you don't save any previous X Windows sessions so that it doesn't prompt you for which one you want
  • motion.conf - amend /etc/motion/motion.conf to the settings you want (that is, video output directory, record only video, record in MPEG-4, set frame rate, etc). Do this with "sudo medit /etc/motion/motion.conf" at a prompt.
  • Boot script - create a new script in /etc/rc2.d called "S65motion_client" and set permissions appropriately ("sudo chmod 777 /etc/rc2.d/S65motion_client"). Then edit the file so it has the following text in it:
#! /bin/sh
/usr/bin/motion -c /etc/motion/motion.conf

This will now launch the motion client as root when you boot up.

Also note that unless your BeagleBoard can remember the time (battery backed up clock installed) the timestamps will not be correct until you update the time. If your BeagleBoard has an Internet connection this can be achieved with the ntpdate application.



Willow Garage hosts the open source Robotic Operating System (ROS). Whilst it is natively supported in Ubuntu, the official packages are only for the x86 platform. ROS can be installed from source and is generally easy to do so (although slow).

Following the instructions from here will build and install ROS on your BeagleBoard:

You will need an Internet connection for your BeagleBoard for these scripts to work.

For more information about ROS, see