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Author Topic: basic GuruPlug questions  (Read 2355 times)
Zortrium
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« on: September 09, 2010, 02:06:26 PM »

Hi all,

I'm about to get my hands on my first GuruPlug Server.  I've worked extensively with several SheevaPlugs in many configurations (booting from USB, booting from SD card, running custom kernel, etc) so I'm not a plug newbie, but I can't seem to find a general page that succinctly describes the current state of the GuruPlug in terms of distro hackability.  So, clarification to a couple questions for those with GuruPlug experience would be appreciated (or pointers to relevant pages); I'm not really looking for step-by-step instructions at this point, just basic answers.

1. I believe that the GuruPlug cannot, at present, boot a bog-standard Linux distribution as the SheevaPlug can?  E.g., I can't take the SD card running stock Debian that my SheevaPlug boots off of and use it in a GuruPlug.  Furthermore, there are special files in the included distribution that make things like the GuruPlug's wireless work correctly?

2. I've read that the u-boot in the GuruPlug is less capable than the u-boot in the SheevaPlug. Can the GuruPlug u-boot be upgraded or replaced to rectify that?

3. My current understanding of external booting is this -- you CAN mount the GuruPlug root file system from an external drive (either USB or SD), but you CANNOT boot the kernel from an external drive, so the kernel always needs to reside in flash.  For a GuruPlug Server (not the Plus) which doesn't have an SD card slot, can you boot from SD via a USB adapter?  Finally, are there any restrictions on the external drive formatting (e.g., must be formatted as FAT instead of ext2 to be read by u-boot)?

Any pointers appreciated in advance.
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big_ignoramus
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« Reply #1 on: September 13, 2010, 11:02:05 PM »

I can't answer all of your questions, but I'll try to give you some thoughts relevant to them.

First, I'd suggest that you get the JTAG box from GlobalScale if you aren't already getting it. You need it to access the UART and JTAG. You only need to hook up the UART to get the serial console and there are some who made their own UART connection (http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=2052.0), but the JTAG is needed to recover from a bricked plug (but you can flash U-Boot over UART if the plug isn't bricked). I'm a software guy so I wouldn't attempt to make my own as I'd probably just end up hurting myself with some wire crimpers. As an aside if you do brick your plug, the GuruPlug Installer used to recover is based on openocd (like the SheevaPlug Installer is) and you have to hook up both UART and JTAG (at least that what I had to do). When trying to recover, I found that you don't have much time once power is applied for it to work; have the command pre-typed, plug in the plug with the connections already in and then rush back to the keyboard and hit enter right away (was suggested here: http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=2109.msg12424#msg12424 and worked for me).

The U-Boot and kernel that it comes with have the wrong arch number and won't work anyone but each other (not quite true, if you build the other to use that wrong number, you can get around that...or so I've seen on the boards). If you go to the downloads section of GlobalScale's website, there are links for an updated U-Boot and kernel that use the right numbers (http://www.globalscaletechnologies.com/t-downloads.aspx). I highly suggest that you upgrade the U-Boot because the version that ships is pretty limited. A build of U-Boot was built by forum member flipflip (available from http://oinkzwurgl.org/guruplug_uboot) and is worth looking at (also look at http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=1642 as it discusses attempts to put the kernel on microSD and external USB, although I don't know of anyone being successful). One other note on booting the kernel: you can tftpboot the kernel and that's a good thing for development when you don't want to commit to the kernel build or to test the build.

As for distros that support the GuruPlug:
Debian Squeeze (doesn't mention GuruPlug but does support Kirkwood): http://www.debian.org/ports/arm/
armedslack, Slackware's ARM port (GuruPlug is one of their supported platforms): http://www.armedslack.org/
FedoraARM, Fedora's ARM port (they provide a link to a blogpost about getting FedoraARM up and running on a GuruPlug): http://fedoraproject.org/wiki/Architectures/ARM
PlugBoxLinux, a derivative of Arch Linux for Kirkwood devices: http://plugapps.com
Gentoo (doesn't specifically mention GuruPlug, but does support armv4 and later): http://www.gentoo.org/

There is an instance of someone getting Angstrom working with the GuruPlug (http://plugcomputer.org/plugforum/index.php?topic=1790.0), but I've not been able to get that to work. I built it for the SheevaPlug (as the other poster implied they did) but I used the development branch ... and I digress ...

For completeness, I'd be remiss if I didn't mention the wiki pages: http://plugcomputer.org/plugwiki/index.php/GuruPlug

Hope that helps.
« Last Edit: September 13, 2010, 11:03:51 PM by big_ignoramus » Logged

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