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This page is about running a (ARM EABI) Ubuntu distribution at BeagleBoard. BeagleBoard will boot the (ARM EABI) Ubuntu distribution from SD card.

Note: for the best experience, make sure you have an LCD attached to the HDMI port, 2GB/4GB/8GB SD card, and a known good usb2.0 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

X-loader/MLO (1.4.4ss) & U-Boot (2010.03) (Zippy1 & Zippy2 Support)

  • All Bx, C2/3/4 Boards are required to upgrade to atleast these MLO and U-Boot versions.
  • XM Boards have no NAND, so u-boot.bin is always required on the first partition
  • Directions: Upgrade X-loader and U-Boot

Demo Image

Lucid 10.04

Built with:

sudo ./rootstock --fqdn beagleboard --login ubuntu --password temppwd --imagesize 2G \
--seed wget,nano,linux-firmware,wireless-tools,usbutils --dist lucid --serial ttyS2 \
--script --components "main universe multiverse" \

Get prebuilt image:

mirrors (updating):

Unpack it: (sudo apt-get install p7zip-full for 7za)

7za x ubuntu-10.04-minimal-armel.tar.7z
tar xf ubuntu-10.04-minimal-armel.tar
cd ubuntu-10.04-minimal-armel

Quick Install script for Beagle Bx, C2 & C3

./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot beagle

Quick Install script for Beagle C4 (forces 720Mhz)

./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot beagle_c4
  • Hotfix for users with cards that are mounted as "/dev/mmcblk0p1" that will be included in the next upload (most netbooks with integrated mmc card..)
  • Additional Options
    • --rootfs <ext3 default>
    • --swap_file <swap file size in MB's>

md5sum: 71c9f2372283752a7f410075001c1d76 ubuntu-10.04-minimal-armel.tar.7z

Lucid 10.04 Xfce4

Removed due to broken gdm (users not shown, default to xterm) Should have a new upload in a couple days.

Maverick 10.10 Alpha-2

Built with:

sudo ./rootstock --fqdn beagleboard --login ubuntu --password temppwd --imagesize 2G \
--seed wget,nano,linux-firmware,wireless-tools,usbutils --dist maverick --serial ttyS2 \
--script --components "main universe multiverse" \

Get prebuilt image:

mirrors (will take some time to update):

md5sum: b681caac004e14029fb144fae1c97232 ubuntu-maverick-alpha2-minimal-armel.tar.7z

Unpack it: (sudo apt-get install p7zip-full for 7za)

7za x ubuntu-maverick-alpha2-minimal-armel.tar.7z
tar xf ubuntu-maverick-alpha2-minimal-armel.tar
cd ubuntu-maverick-alpha2-minimal-armel

Quick Install script for Beagle Bx, C2/C3/C4

./ --mmc /dev/sdX --uboot beagle
  • Additional Options
    • --rootfs <ext3 default>
    • --swap_file <swap file size in MB's>

NetInstall Method

The NetInstall Method, allows you to install Ubuntu directly onto your Beagle by pre-populating a boot image that will perform the complete install.

Note: The boot arg's are stored in boot.scr which will be copied to the first partition.


  • 2GB+ SD card
  • USB Ethernet/Wifi

Script Source:

Install bzr

sudo apt-get install bzr

Download debian-di script

bzr branch lp:~beagleboard-kernel/+junk/debian-di

Discover SD/MMC Partition

sudo fdisk -l

Run Script

cd debian-di
./ --mmc /dev/sdX --distro lucid --firmware
  • Options:
    • --distro : lucid
    • --firmware : install firmware for WiFi devices
    • --serial-mode : force NetInstall to use Serial Port

Note: The default boot options work for most people, but if you'd like to tweak boot settings, edit these before running the script.

NetInstall boot Settings:
gedit ./debian-di/scripts/dvi.cmd
gedit ./debian-di/scripts/serial.cmd

Normal Boot Settings:
gedit ./debian-di/scripts/dvi-normal-lucid.cmd
gedit ./debian-di/scripts/serial-normal-lucid.cmd

Place SD card into Beagle and Boot

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:

Continue with out Kernel Modules <yes>
Partition <Guided - use the largest continuous free space>

RootStock: Build an Ubuntu root file system

Ubuntu Version's

This guide only covers the latest Ubuntu stable (lucid) release and notes for the testing (lucid+1) dists. Notes for older release's can be found here:

Install RootStock

This is based off Ubuntu's RootStock Project; RootStock script.

Debian Squeeze

(unsupported as tested on 4/28/2010, qemu segfaults)

Karmic (9.10)

sudo apt-get install (FIXME: rootstock minimum requirements)
bzr branch lp:project-rootstock
cd project-rootstock
bzr revert -r 94  (Commit 95, isn't supported by Karmic's QEMU)
  • qemu: unknown parameter 'aio' in 'file=/tmp/tmp.QxNNQAxEyv/qemu-armel-201004221701.img,aio=native,cache=none'

Lucid (10.04)

sudo apt-get install rootstock


RootStock: Useful seed Packages

Useful Packages:

linux-firmware,wireless-tools :wifi adapters..
ntpdate :sync real time clock from network

GUI's (broken bug: FIXME)

xfce4:  xfce4,gdm,xubuntu-gdm-theme,xubuntu-artwork

RootStock: Running

Rootstock Command line:

sudo ./rootstock --fqdn <hostname> --login <rootuser> --password <rootuserpasswd> --imagesize <qemu image size> \
--seed <packages> --dist <jaunty/karmic/lucid> --serial <ttySx>  --kernel-image <http>

Basic Lucid (10.04) Beagleboard minimal image:

sudo ./rootstock --fqdn beagleboard --login ubuntu --password temppwd --imagesize 2G \
--seed wget,nano,linux-firmware,wireless-tools,usbutils --dist lucid --serial ttyS2 \
--components "main universe multiverse" \

Upon Completion, you should have:

armel-rootfs-<date>.tgz  -> Root file System, dump to ext2/3 partition of SD card
vmlinuz-2.6.<version>    -> Boot Image, use mkimage to create uImage and dump to the first fat16 partition of SD card
initrd.img-2.6.<version> -> Boot initramfs, use mkimage to create uInitrd and dump to the first fat16 partition of SD card

Partition SD Card

You will need a 1GB SD card or greater.

Standard Console System : ~286MB
+ Desktop environment (lxde,gdm) : ~479MB

Starting with an empty SD card and using gparted, create:

50 MiB Primary Partition, fat16/fat32
Rest as ext2/ext3/ext4/btrfs

Gparted Example:

For Reference:

Disk /dev/sdd: 2038 MB, 2038431744 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 247 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x0008e471

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sdd1               1           6       48163+   6  FAT16
/dev/sdd2               7         247     1935832+  83  Linux

Copy Root File System to SD Card

Mount your SD card's larger root file system partition (assuming /dev/sdX2) and 'untar' the rootfs into it.

mkdir -p ./tmp
sudo mount /dev/sdX2 ./tmp
sudo tar xfp armel-rootfs-*.tgz -C ./tmp
sudo umount ./tmp

Boot Partition


sudo apt-get install uboot-mkimage

U-Boot uImage

U-Boot needs a compatible kernel image to boot. To do this, we are using mkimage from (uboot-mkimage) to create an image from the vmlinuz kernel file.

mkimage -A arm -O linux -T kernel -C none -a 0x80008000 -e 0x80008000 -n "Linux" -d ./vmlinuz-* ./uImage

U-Boot uInitrd

This step is Optional, but it helps with the lucid and Lucid++ experience.

mkimage -A arm -O linux -T ramdisk -C none -a 0 -e 0 -n initramfs -d ./initrd.img-* ./uInitrd

U-Boot Boot Scripts

The version of U-Boot installed or recommended to install uses boot scripts by default. This allows users to easily switch between multiple SD cards with different OS's with different parameters installed. Ubuntu/Debian requires a slight modification to the bootargs line vs. Angstrom, 'ro' vs 'rw'.

fixrtc: (only uInitrd) Resets RTC based on last mount
buddy=${buddy}: (both) Kernel Zippy1/2 Support

create ubuntu.cmd

setenv bootcmd 'mmc init; fatload mmc 0:1 0x80300000 uImage; bootm 0x80300000'
setenv bootargs console=tty0 console=ttyS2,115200n8 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait ro vram=12M omapfb.mode=dvi:1280x720MR-16@60 buddy=${buddy}

With optional uInitrd: create ubuntu.cmd:

setenv bootcmd 'mmc init; fatload mmc 0:1 0x80300000 uImage; fatload mmc 0:1 0x81600000 uInitrd; bootm 0x80300000 0x81600000'
setenv bootargs console=tty0 console=ttyS2,115200n8 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait ro vram=12M omapfb.mode=dvi:1280x720MR-16@60 fixrtc buddy=${buddy}

Use mkimage create to actual *.scr file for U-Boot:

mkimage -A arm -O linux -T script -C none -a 0 -e 0 -n "Ubuntu 10.04" -d ./ubuntu.cmd ./ubuntu.scr

Copy to Boot Partition

Mount your SD card fat16/fat32 partition (assuming /dev/sdX1) and copy the uImage, boot.scr, and optional uInitrd to the first partition.

mkdir -p ./tmp
sudo mount /dev/sdX1 ./tmp
sudo cp ./uImage ./tmp/uImage
sudo cp ./uInitrd ./tmp/uInitrd

sudo cp ./ubuntu.scr ./tmp/boot.scr

sudo cp ./ubuntu.scr ./tmp/boot.ini

sudo umount ./tmp

Ubuntu Bugs & Tweaks

Enable Network Access

Modify /etc/network/interfaces

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

Manual: From the Command line

sudo ifconfig -a
sudo dhclient ethX (or wlanX/etc..)

Additional Network Setup Information can be found HERE


Install Latest Kernel Image

Script File



Reboot with your new uImage

Upgrade X-loader and U-boot

Compatible with Bx,C2/3/4

Requires MMC card..

bzr branch lp:~beagleboard-kernel/+junk/omap-flasher
cd omap-flasher
./ --mmc /dev/sdX
1: Place MMC card in Beagle
2: Push/Hold User Button Down
3: Apply Power
4: After U-boot loads, Let Off User Button
5: Wait for Flashing to end
6: Power down, remove/edit boot.scr from MMC card

Depending on what's in NAND, you might still have to stop and do this:

nand erase 260000 20000

Manual Run

mmc init	
fatload mmc 0:1 0x80200000 x-load.bin.ift
nand unlock
nand ecc hw
nandecc hw
nand erase 0 80000
nand write 0x80200000 0 20000
nand write 0x80200000 20000 20000
nand write 0x80200000 40000 20000
nand write 0x80200000 60000 20000
fatload mmc 0:1 0x80300000 u-boot.bin
nand unlock
nand ecc sw
nandecc sw
nand erase 80000 160000
nand write 0x80300000 80000 160000
nand erase 260000 20000

SGX Video Acceleration

Requirements: 2.6-stable from launchpad or 2.6.34+ deb's from (finally supports

Note: An older version of these instructions was adapted for the IGEPv2 platform - if you are following this tutorial and have an IGEPv2, consider using instead

Use a "corporate email" and download the latest (

SDK unPackage Script

Download the latest version of the "" script into the same directory that has "OMAP35x_Graphics_SDK_setuplinux_3_01_00_06.bin" (click: download file) 
:~/temp$ ls

Make script executable

chmod a+x ./

Run script


After Successfully running:

:~/temp$ ls
GFX_3_01_00_06_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_3_01_00_06_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)

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/ChameleonMan

Trouble Shooting

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


This is still a major work in progress...

Here is one approach: BeagleBoard Ubuntu & DSP From Sources

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


S-video is tested to be working on 2.6.35-rc5-dl9. S-video output can be enabled using bootargs at uboot as mentioned below.



Bootargs that has been validated.

    setenv bootargs 'console=tty0 console=ttyS2,115200n8 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait ro vram=12M omapfb.mode=tv:ntsc omapdss.def_disp=tv 
    fixrtc buddy=unknown'

Note that the NTSC resolution is 640x480. However the edge bands around the TV screen differ from TV to TV. Output of fbset shown below, which does not seem right.

   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


I do not have PAL tv, most likely changing above to omapfb.mode=tv:pal should work. Someone with access to PAL tv please check and update.

Building Kernel

Register on, install bzr

sudo apt-get install bzr

Download SRC

bzr branch lp:~beagleboard-kernel/+junk/2.6-stable

Build Kernel


Optional Building Deb File


Ubuntu Software

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 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 xwindows 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 (ie video output directory, record only video, record in mpeg4, 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 app.