NSLU2 support committed to FreeBSD/arm

I just committed the basic Linksys NSLU2 support to the subversion tree. It boots and runs on an NFS root. We're currently lacking support for the leds, the buttons and the on-board flash. Here's some basic instructions if you want to try it on your NSLU2. They are adapted from Sam Leffler's README file for the AVILA, which is adapted from other sources, including Olivier Houchard's and my instructions that have appeared.

  1. Build world
  2. Setup NFS root
  3. Configure diskless system
  4. Build and Install Kernel
  5. Put Kernel in tftp area
  6. Boot from redboot

Build world

The FreeBSD handbook can help you find the sources, etc Once you have them, and they are from -CURRENT after 8am on 2008-08-03, you can proceed to build the world. Each section is cumulative from the previous section for simplicity sake.

setenv TARGET arm
setenv TARGET_CPU_TYPE xscale
make buildworld

Setup NFS root

Find a server that has some disk space. You'll need about 250MB of space for a full FreeBSD image.

setenv ROOT /data/freebsd/roots/slug
make installworld DESTDIR=$ROOT
mergemaster -m $SRC/etc -D $ROOT -i -A arm

Setup diskless system
diskless(8) gives a good overview in how to do this. It is left as an exercise for the read to come up with all the settings. Usually /etc/rc.conf and /etc/fstab must be configured. /etc/ttys is another one that usually needs some tlc. If there's enough demand, I'll write about this in the future.

Build and install the kernel

make KERNCONF=NSLU buildkernel
make KERNCONF=NSLU DESTDIR=$ROOT installkernel

Note: the NSLU kernel is configured with the root filesystem mounted via NFS over the npe0 wired interface.

You should now have an NFS-mountable root filesystem with a kernel. The final step is to setup network diskless booting from the board. It is assumed you have a DHCP server operating on your network and the server is configured to supply the necessary information in the DHCP lease. If you run the ISC DHCP server the following configuration information is an example of how to do this:

option root-opts code 130 = string; # NFS / mount options

host slug {
hardware ethernet 00:d0:12:02:47:68;
filename "kernel-slug.nfs";
option root-path "";
option root-opts "nolockd";

Note: the root-opts item specifies the root filesystem should be mounted with the nolocked option; this just short-circuits file locking requests so you don't get complaints from programs that use the pidfile(3) routine (e.g. devd)

Install kernel in tftp area

Place the kernel in the TFTP area for booting from the prom monitor. If your TFTP server returns file from /tftpboot (default) then do something like:
cp $ROOT/boot/kernel/kernel /tftpboot/kernel-slug.nfs

Boot using Redboot

+(hit control C here)
RedBoot> ip -h -l
IP: Gateway:
Default server:
RedBoot> load -b 0x200000 kernel-avila.nfs
Using default protocol (TFTP)
Address offset = 0x40000000
Entry point: 0x00200100, address range: 0x00200000-0x004db2d4
RedBoot> go

Here's a complete transcript of my doing this. The .gz file listed below really isn't the simple gz file, but rather kernel.gz.tramp from the kernel build. Also, I've hacked my NSLU to have a serial port, which make development like this easier. See the web for instructions on how to do a no-mod breakin.

+Ethernet eth0: MAC address 00:14:bf:68:47:ba
IP:, Gateway:
Default server:, DNS server IP:

RedBoot(tm) bootstrap and debug environment [ROMRAM]
Red Hat certified release, version 1.92 - built 15:16:07, Feb 3 2004

Platform: IXDP425 Development Platform (XScale)
Copyright (C) 2000, 2001, 2002, Red Hat, Inc.

RAM: 0x00000000-0x02000000, 0x000723a0-0x01ff3000 available
FLASH: 0x50000000 - 0x50800000, 64 blocks of 0x00020000 bytes each.
== Executing boot script in 2.000 seconds - enter ^C to abort
RedBoot> ip -l -h
IP:, Gateway:
Default server:, DNS server IP:
RedBoot> load -b 0x200000 kernel.nslu.gz
Using default protocol (TFTP)
Address offset = 0xf0000000
Entry point: 0x00200074, address range: 0x00200000-0x003830fc
RedBoot> go
KDB: debugger backends: ddb
KDB: current backend: ddb
Copyright (c) 1992-2008 The FreeBSD Project.
Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.
FreeBSD is a registered trademark of The FreeBSD Foundation.
FreeBSD 8.0-CURRENT #12: Sun Aug 3 00:09:07 MDT 2008
CPU: IXP425 266MHz rev 1 (ARMv5TE) (XScale core)
DC enabled IC enabled WB enabled LABT branch prediction enabled
32KB/32B 32-way Instruction cache
32KB/32B 32-way write-back-locking Data cache
real memory = 33554432 (32 MB)
avail memory = 25894912 (24 MB)
ixp0: on motherboard
pcib0: on ixp0
pci0: on pcib0
ohci0: irq 28 at device 1.0 on pci0
ohci0: [ITHREAD]
usb0: OHCI version 1.0
usb0: on ohci0
usb0: USB revision 1.0
usbd_get_string: getting lang failed, using 0
uhub0: on usb0
uhub0: 3 ports with 3 removable, self powered
ohci1: irq 27 at device 1.1 on pci0
ohci1: [ITHREAD]
usb1: OHCI version 1.0
usb1: on ohci1
usb1: USB revision 1.0
usbd_get_string: getting lang failed, using 0
uhub1: on usb1
uhub1: 2 ports with 2 removable, self powered
ehci0: irq 26 at device 1.2 on pci0
ehci0: [ITHREAD]
usb2: EHCI version 1.0
usb2: companion controllers, 3 ports each: usb0 usb1
usb2: on ehci0
usb2: USB revision 2.0
uhub2: on usb2
uhub2: 5 ports with 5 removable, self powered
ixpclk0: on ixp0
ixpiic0: on ixp0
iicbb0: on ixpiic0
iicbus0: on iicbb0 master-only
iicbus0: at addr 0
iic0: on iicbus0
ixpwdog0: on ixp0
uart0: on ixp0
uart0: [FILTER]
uart0: console (115200,n,8,1)
uart1: on ixp0
uart1: [FILTER]
ixpqmgr0: on ixp0
ixpqmgr0: [ITHREAD]
npe0: on ixp0
npe0: [ITHREAD]
npe0: remember to fix rx q setup
miibus0: on npe0
rlphy0: PHY 1 on miibus0
rlphy0: 10baseT, 10baseT-FDX, 100baseTX, 100baseTX-FDX, auto
npe0: Ethernet address: 00:14:bf:68:47:ba
npe1: on ixp0
npe1: [ITHREAD]
npe1: remember to fix rx q setup
npe1: Cannot find my PHY.
device_attach: npe1 attach returned 6
ixpclk0: [FILTER]
Timecounter "IXP425 Timer" frequency 66666600 Hz quality 1000
Timecounters tick every 10.000 msec
bootpc_init: wired to interface 'npe0'
Sending DHCP Discover packet from interface npe0 (00:14:bf:68:47:ba)
npe0: link state changed to UP
Received DHCP Offer packet on npe0 from (accepted) (no root path)
Sending DHCP Request packet from interface npe0 (00:14:bf:68:47:ba)
Received DHCP Ack packet on npe0 from (accepted) (got root path)
npe0 at server boot file kernel.slug
subnet mask router rootfs rootopts nolockd
Adjusted interface npe0
Trying to mount root from nfs:
warning: no time-of-day clock registered, system time will not be set accurately
warning: no time-of-day clock registered, system time will not be set accurately
Interface npe0 IP-Address Broadcast
Loading configuration files.
No suitable dump device was found.
Entropy harvesting: interrupts ethernet point_to_point kickstart.
Starting file system checks:
mount_nfs: can't update /var/db/mounttab for
Setting hostuuid: 1c728616-1dd2-11b2-9fa6-0014bf6847ba.
Setting hostid: 0xb1c1273a.
Mounting local file systems:.
Setting hostname: slug.
net.inet6.ip6.auto_linklocal: 1 -> 0
DHCPREQUEST on npe0 to port 67
ip length 328 disagrees with bytes received 332.
accepting packet with data after udp payload.
bound to -- renewal in 900 seconds.
lo0: flags=8049 metric 0 mtu 16384
inet6 fe80::1%lo0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x2
inet6 ::1 prefixlen 128
inet netmask 0xff000000
npe0: flags=8843 metric 0 mtu 1500
ether 00:14:bf:68:47:ba
inet6 fe80::214:bfff:fe68:47ba%npe0 prefixlen 64 scopeid 0x1
inet netmask 0xffffff00 broadcast
media: Ethernet autoselect (100baseTX )
status: active
Additional routing options:.
Starting devd.
Additional IP options:.
Mounting NFS file systems:.
Creating and/or trimming log files:.
Starting syslogd.
/etc/rc: WARNING: Dump device does not exist. Savecore not run.
ELF ldconfig path: /lib /usr/lib /usr/lib/compat
Initial arm initialization:.
Additional ABI support:.
Clearing /tmp (X related).
Starting local daemons:.
Updating motd.
Mounting late file systems:.
Starting cron.
Local package initialization:.
Starting inetd.
Starting background file system checks in 60 seconds.

Thu Jan 1 00:00:39 UTC 1970

FreeBSD/arm (slug) (ttyu0)

login: root
Jan 1 00:03:24 slug login: ROOT LOGIN (root) ON ttyu0
Last login: Thu Jan 1 00:42:28 on ttyu0
Copyright (c) 1992-2008 The FreeBSD Project.
Copyright (c) 1979, 1980, 1983, 1986, 1988, 1989, 1991, 1992, 1993, 1994
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

FreeBSD 8.0-CURRENT (NSLU) #12: Sun Aug 3 00:09:07 MDT 2008

Welcome to FreeBSD!

Before seeking technical support, please use the following resources:

o Security advisories and updated errata information for all releases are
at http://www.FreeBSD.org/releases/ - always consult the ERRATA section
for your release first as it's updated frequently.

o The Handbook and FAQ documents are at http://www.FreeBSD.org/ and,
along with the mailing lists, can be searched by going to
http://www.FreeBSD.org/search/. If the doc distribution has
been installed, they're also available formatted in /usr/share/doc.

If you still have a question or problem, please take the output of
`uname -a', along with any relevant error messages, and email it
as a question to the questions@FreeBSD.org mailing list. If you are
unfamiliar with FreeBSD's directory layout, please refer to the hier(7)
manual page. If you are not familiar with manual pages, type `man man'.

You may also use sysinstall(8) to re-enter the installation and
configuration utility. Edit /etc/motd to change this login announcement.

nslug# ntpdate harmony
3 Aug 07:04:18 ntpdate[582]: step time server offset 1217746845.716155 sec
slug# date
Sun Aug 3 07:04:19 UTC 2008
slug# df
Filesystem 1K-blocks Used Avail Capacity Mounted on 55871592 49741636 1660230 97% /
devfs 1 1 0 100% /dev 55871592 49741636 1660230 97% /pe


Warner Losh said...

UPDATE: Forgot to setenv TARGET arm in my instructions.

Warner Losh said...

You might want to check out slimming down nslu for details on how to make a smaller kernel.

bms said...

Can't you enlarge the kernel area by repartitioning the MTD flash partition table?

That would be an OK workaround for now I believe, providing the USB drivers can go in.

It is or will be easy to create USB images for FreeBSD once I commit the USB bits for NanoBSD.

Doing the onboard NOR flash will take a bit more work.

Warner Losh said...

While I could enlarge the kernel partition on the flash for the NSLU2, I was hoping to not have to do that. It is a bit of an artificial target, but it also drives the state of the art for getting a kernel that's smaller than 1.25MB.

Ho Van said...

Thanks for your post. I have Ixp645 board, I make the same step but it doesn't work. Can you help me or give me some comment. Thanks