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Hardware drivers in Gentoo on the Pandaboard


1.  Overview

The Pandaboard has the following hardware integrated: Graphics module, audio module, Wireless/Bluetooth module and ethernet module.

Both ethernet and audio works out of the box, but the rest of the hardware either needs an external driver and/or tools to initialize.

Also, all the drivers/tools we'll talk about are really tied with the kernel version. So make sure you're using a proper kernel version. Hint: check the overlay

2.  Pandaboard Overlay

I've created an overlay for all the ebuilds that provide external drivers or utils to get the hardware initialized. This document supposes you know what an overlay is and how to get it integrated in your Gentoo installation on the Pandaboard.

The overlay is available in the official gentoo overlays repository:;a=summary

3.  Kernel

The graphics drivers relay heavily on the kernel version used, and use the kernel sources to build the drivers. For that reason i've added an omap4-sources ebuild that will be pulled by the drivers' ebuild.

The omap4-sources ebuild will simply extract the kernel sources. However keep in mind that it will take, unfortunately, some time to extract and install if you're using an SD card.

The kernel sources need to be configured and prepared. The way to do it is as follows:

Code Listing 3.1: Emerging and preparing the kernel sources

(This will take some time if you're using an SD card)
# emerge -v omap4-sources

(Make sure /usr/src/linux points to the newly emerged omap4-sources)
# cd /usr/src/linux

(Copy the kernel configuration from the running kernel)
# zcat /proc/config.gz > .config

# make -j2 prepare scripts

After that, we'll have our kernel ready to compile the drivers.

4.  Bluetooth

Warning: Bluetooth needs to be tested

5.  Wireless

The in-kernel wireless driver needs a firmware thats available on the linux-firmware ebuild.

Code Listing 5.1: Emerging linux-firmware

# emerge -v linux-firmware

6.  Graphics


There are two graphics drivers you can use. There's xf86-video-omapfb which is an opensource driver for OMAP FrameBuffers and is available in the gentoo tree.

Another option is pvr-omap4 which is a closed source driver, which should be better in terms of performance with the opensource driver.


Code Listing 6.1: Emerging xf86-video-omapfb

# emerge -v xf86-video-omapfb


Note: This driver provides its own EGL and OpenVG libraries, unfortunately they collide with the ones provided by x11-libs/mesa, so they are deleted before installing.

Code Listing 6.2: Emerging pvr-omap4

# emerge -v pvr-omap4

7.  References

You may find more documentation about the device itself and Linux-related at the following links:

8.  Thanks

  • for providing me a Pandaboard to document and support Gentoo on it
  • My coworker Jordi Inglés, who gave me an 8GB SDHC for this project
  • Siarhei Siamashka(ssvb) for giving helpful hints


Page updated May 3, 2012

Summary: This guide shows you about the hardware drivers for the pandaboard under Gentoo

Raúl Porcel

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