Hardkernel ODROID-XU3 Lite

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Installing Gentoo onto an Odroid XU3-Lite is not a difficult task. To do it in an easy way, we will need two micro SD memory cards of 8GB. We will use a hard disk of 40GB via USB. We will use the disk to improve speed; but actually you can not use it at all.

Starting up the main board

Download the appropriate Ubuntu image and copy it to the micro SD card.

root # xz -d -c ubuntu-14.04.1lts-lubuntu-odroid-xu3-20141105.img.xz | pv | dd of=/dev/sdb

If there is another image, normally you can use the new one.

Activate boot from micro SD using the corresponding switch

ODROID-XU3 Lite Boot Switch.jpg

You can get more information about this procedure using this link

Insert the card into the card reader and switch on the PC

Getting more resources

Because I will not need the graphical user interface I will get rid of it. You can login using ssh or the UART terminal, ssh is recommended.

user: root password: odroid.

root #echo "manual" > /etc/init/cups.override
root #echo "manual" > /etc/init/cups-browsed.override
root #echo "manual" > /etc/init/lightdm.override
root #echo "manual" > /etc/init/bluetooth.override
root #/etc/init.d/ntp stop
root #ntpdate my.time.server.com
root #echo "Europe/Zurich" > /etc/timezone
root #dpkg-reconfigure tzdata
root #nano -w /etc/ntp.conf
FILE /etc/ntp.confntp related settings
server my.time.server.com
root #shutdown -r now

Partitioning the disk

Connect the disk and make a partition with ext4 to hold on the Ubuntu File System, 6GB should be enough more will be better ;-).

root #parted /dev/sda
(parted) mklabel msdos
(parted) mkpart primary 1MiB 20GiB
(parted) quit
root #partprobe
root #mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1
root #mkdir /mnt/repository
root #mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/repository

Installing gentoo

In this part I will go really fast it is just the normal gentoo installation process.

Downloading the files

We will need some files to do the installation. The stage 3 for arm, the last portage, the kernel binary and the kernel source. Actually we do not need the whole tree of the kernel but I do not know git very well. I used the kernel 3.10.63 with date 31 de diciembre del 2014. Yes, I was working that day.

Installing the gentoo environment

root #mkdir gentoo
root #cd gentoo
root #tar -xvjpf ../stage3-armv7a_hardfp-YYYYMMDD.tar.bz2
root #cd usr
root #tar xjvf ../../portage-latest.tar.bz2
root #cd /mnt/repository
root #cd
root #mount -t proc none /mnt/repository/gentoo/proc
root #mount -o bind /sys /mnt/repository/gentoo/sys
root #mount -o bind /dev /mnt/repository/gentoo/dev
root #cp -L /etc/resolv.conf /mnt/repository/gentoo/etc/
root #chroot /mnt/repository/gentoo /bin/bash
root #env-update && source /etc/profile
root #export PS1="(chroot) $PS1"
Preparing make.conf
root #nano -w /etc/portage/make.conf
FILE /etc/portage/make.confrelated settings
# Please consult /usr/share/portage/config/make.conf.example for a more
# detailed example.
CFLAGS="-O2 -pipe -march=armv7-a -mfpu=vfpv3-d16 -mfloat-abi=hard"

# These are the USE flags that were used in addition to what is provided by the
# profile used for building.
USE="-bindist threads -X"



Installing packages

We will emerge some key packages, the rest you can do it later.

root #emerge syslog-ng vixie-cron dhcp ntp
Configuring NTP

This is really important!!!.

This motherboard does not have any real time clock (RTC), so we will need some software to do de job.

root #emerge ntp
root #echo "Europe/Zurich" > /etc/timezone
root #emerge --config timezone-data

Edit the contents of /etc/ntp.conf and /etc/conf.d/ntp-client with nano if you know what to put in.

FILE /etc/ntp.confntp related settings
server my.time.server.com
FILE /etc/conf.d/ntp-clientntp-client related settings
NTPCLIENT_OPTS="-s -b -u my.time.server.com"

In may case, dhclient, set up my ntp.conf. ntp-client is not essential, but for me it helps a lot ;-)

The network

Nothing new here, but remember, we will set up the mac address in the file "boot.ini"

root #cd /etc/init.d
root #ln -s net.lo net.localnet

Edit the contents of /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rules and /etc/conf.d/net to setup the behavior of the network interface

FILE /etc/udev/rules.d/70-persistent-net.rulesudev rule for network interface
SUBSYSTEM=="net", ACTION=="add", DRIVERS=="?*", ATTR{address}=="00:1e:06:61:7a:39", ATTR{dev_id}=="0x0", ATTR{type}=="1", KERNEL=="eth*", NAME="localnet"
FILE /etc/conf.d/net
Other configuration files

We should define the hostname of our workstation

root #nano -w /etc/conf.d/hostname
FILE /etc/conf.d/hostname

our keymap

root #nano -w /etc/conf.d/keymaps
FILE /etc/conf.d/keymaps

I change the syslog-ng configuration to avoid the use of the filesystem. You could not do this, but I did it.

root #nano -w /etc/syslog-ng/syslog-ng.conf
FILE /etc/conf.d/hostname
#log { source(src); destination(messages); };

Because we do not have a RTC, we need to avoid fsck to verify the system time. With this setting e2fsck will always assume that the system clock can not be trusted.

root #nano -w /etc/e2fsck.conf
FILE /etc/e2fsck.conf
broken_system_clock = true
Activating the services
root #rc-update add syslog-ng default
root #rc-update add vixie-cron default
root #rc-update add sshd default
root #rc-update add net.localnet default
root #rc-update add ntp-client default
root #rc-update add ntpd default
Setting the root password

This will be the password for our new environment

root # password root

We are done here. We will now close the chroot and finish installation.

Chroot exit

root #exit
root #umount /mnt/repository/gentoo/{dev,sys,proc}

We are in ubuntu land again. A few more steps to complete the installation.

Preparing the media for Gentoo

Now we need to connect the second micro SD card using an USB interface to the computer. In my case /dev/sdb I will create a new partition table and put two new primary partitions. One for the kernel and some boot files and the other one for the system. We need 2MiB free before the firs partition, you will know later why.

root #parted /dev/sdb
(parted) mklabel msdos
(parted) mkpart primary 2MiB 128MiB
(parted) mkpart primary 128MiB 3GiB
(parted) quit
root #partprobe
root #mkfs.vfat /dev/sdb1
root #mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdb2
root #blkid
/dev/sdb1: SEC_TYPE="msdos" UUID="612A-ED6F" TYPE="vfat" 
/dev/sdb2: UUID="788af328-b4be-4393-9da0-260b2412275f" TYPE="ext4" 

Universal boot

We need to install the u-boot into the same space we let free in our last step. For this:

root #cd /mnt/repository/linux-odroidxu3-3.10/tools/hardkernel/prebuilt_uboot/
root #sh ./sd_fusing.sh /dev/sdb

Follow the instructions and be careful with the name of the device.

Mounting the file system

We have now two partitions, but they are empty. To fix that we will use the kernel binaries and the Gentoo's file system tree that we already did.

root #cd /mnt/repository/
root #mkdir bootFS
root #mkdir rootFS
root #mount /dev/sdb1 bootFS
root #mount /dev/sdb2 rootFS
Extracting the kernel binaries

We will use this time the kernel binaries. We will use the kernel source in another tutorial.

root #mkdir odroidxu3
root #cd odroidxu3
root #tar -xvJf ../odroidxu3.tar.xz
Preparing the files

What do we do now?

We copy the "boot" folder from the kernel binaries to the micro SD boot partition. We copy the "lib" folder to the Gentoo's file system tree. We copy the Gentoo's file system tree to the microSD card.

root #cd /mnt/repository
root #cp -a -f -v odroidxu3/boot/* bootFS/
root #cp -a -f -v odroidxu3/lib/* /mnt/repository/gentoo/lib/
root #cp -a -f -v /mnt/repository/gentoo/* rootFS/
Preparing the boot.ini file

I will copy the boot.ini from ubuntu to my micro SD card. Then, I will modify the root devide (It did not work for me using UUID). In this file you will find also the mac address to be assigned to the ethernet card.

root #cp /media/boot/boot.ini bootFS/
root #nano -w bootFS/boot.ini
FILE bootFS/boot.ini
setenv bootrootfs "console=tty1 console=ttySAC2,115200n8 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait ro"
Preparing fstab

Using UUID for the fstab is normally a god thing to do. You can modify this file using device names or volume labels. It is your choice.

root # nano -w rootFS/etc/fstab
FILE rootFS/etc/fstab
UUID=788af328-b4be-4393-9da0-260b2412275f	/	ext4	errors=remount-ro,noatime,nodiratime		0 1
UUID=612A-ED6F	/boot	vfat	defaults,rw,owner,flush,umask=000	0 0
tmpfs		/tmp	tmpfs	nodev,nosuid,mode=1777			0 0
Optimizing our gentoo

In my case I will use this computer as server. I will not use screen, mouse or keyboard on it. I will claim back some resources optimizing rootFS/etc/inittab.

FILE rootFS/etc/inittab
c1:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 tty1 linux
#c2:2345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 38400 tty2 linux
s0:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty -L 115200 ttySAC2 xterm
#s1:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty -L 9600 ttyS1 vt100


Shutdown the whole system

root # shutdown -h now

exchange the cards ubuntu <-> gentoo.

In the next start up, you should see a pretty fast Gentoo up and running :-)

Other Thoughts

I would like to share some facts about this main board. It is just my own experience nothing else.

The purchase of

I bought this motherboard through the web site of hardkernel. I have to say that I did not receive any kind of confirmation from the web site when I did it.

I tried to contact the support by mail, with the confirmation from paypal, but they consider yahoo as spam!!! I tried then from gmail and that time, they answered me.

They shipped the parcel using UPS. It was really fast but extremely expensive.

The hardware was really good. The package content was exactly as described. Actually, I recommended it.

In my case, the power source got lock into my electrical extension cord. Now I can not pull out the power source and I can not use the extension for any other use.

The fan is really noisy, even if they have some kind of smart controller. I would prefer a bigger one but more silent.

The software support is really good. You can find whatever you need online. Hardkernel provides a kernel and some binary tools with the correct documentation.