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Disclaimer : This document is a work in progress and should not be considered official yet.

Gentoo on the Genesi Efika MX Open Client


1.  Overview

Installing Gentoo in the Efikamx is pretty simple. You can either use a sufficiently sized SD card (>=2GB for ease) or the internal SSD drive. If you are familar with the Gentoo Linux installation process, there is not much different here.

2.  Requirements

To be able to install Gentoo, you'll need the following:

  • A Genesi Efika MX Open Client
  • One SD card
  • A network connection

3.  Booting the installation environment


The Efika MX comes with Ubuntu on it from the manufactor. In order to install Gentoo on the internal drive you can't be booted from it. It is probably easiest to extract a SD card image because if the SD card has a kernel and rootfs on it, the efikamx will automatically boot from that. You can find a basic Gentoo image here:

4.  Installing Gentoo


The installation on this device is more or less the same as any other kind of machine.

So please read and follow the ARM Handbook from the beginning, just skip the 10th chapter, as its irrelevant for our machine. I'll just explain what we have to do differently. Please read below first so you know when you have to go back to this document during the installation.

Installation on SD card

If you are comfortable keeping the installation on the SD card that you made from above, that is fine. You can start customizing the installation as you see fit.

Installation on internal drive

This document assumes that you will not want to keep the Gentoo installation on the SD card, as such, more detailed instructions are below.


As I already explained, we don't need a boot partition, although you can create it anyway if you want to have your kernels and initramfs separated from the main partition. The key here for those unfamilar with u-boot is that the first partition should be vfat. Your partition table should look similar to this:

Code Listing 1.1: Example partition layout

efikamx ~ # fdisk -l /dev/sda

Disk /dev/sda: 3858 MB, 3858333696 bytes
255 heads, 63 sectors/track, 469 cylinders
Units = cylinders of 16065 * 512 = 8225280 bytes
Disk identifier: 0x00018d94

   Device Boot      Start         End      Blocks   Id  System
/dev/sda1               1           4       32098+   c  W95 FAT32 (LBA)
/dev/sda2               5         469     3735112+  83  Linux

Warning: One critical item is that you will probably run out of inodes on the second partion, you should mkfs with the -i 4096 parameter. ext4 is suggested.

Stages information

Here's some information about the stages.

  • Architecture: arm
  • Subarchitecture: armv7a
  • CHOST: armv7a-unknown-linux-gnueabi
  • Profile: default/linux/arm/10.0

We'll be using the new EABI, also called gnueabi, instead of the old ABI. That is armel on Debian. There's no exact reason for why we should use this EABI and not the old one, apart that this one is better than the old.

Therefore, we need an armv7a-unknown-linux-gnueabi stage3, available under the releases/arm/autobuilds directory in your favorite mirror

Configuring and installing the kernel

The Efika MX is not yet supported in the mainline kernel. You can find source and binaries at the Power Developer site. I suggest using the binaries at first, at least until you are able to get a working system. Place the uImage, u-boot.bin, and type-id.bin file in partition 1, place the kernel modules on partition 2.

Enabling SSH access

Now we add sshd to the startup of our system so we can access it when we boot into our new system.

Code Listing 4.1: Adding sshd to the startup

# rc-update add sshd default

Enabling serial console access

By default the ttyS0 port is configured. However, the machine is configured with ttymxc0 at 115200bps. So this should be added to the /etc/inittab file:

Code Listing 4.2: Configuring serial console

# nano -w /etc/inittab

(Comment out s0 and add this line under Serial Consoles)
s0:12345:respawn:/sbin/agetty 115200 ttymxc0 vt100

Also, need to add ttymxc0 to /etc/securetty so that root can log in on the serial console, should you need to.

Finishing the installation

This is pretty much all the installation, read all the recommendations of the handbook, and remember to change the root password and/or create some users.

5.  Booting to our new system

Once you've finished the installation of Gentoo into your Efika MX, you can simply power it down and remove the SD card. Then it will boot from the internal drive. If it does not boot, then you can put in the SD card and reboot to fix the mistake.

6.  References

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

7.  Thanks

Gentoo would like to thank Genesi since they provided us some hardware to do this porting and they've been very helpful.


Page updated February 15, 2010

Summary: This guide shows you how to install Gentoo on the Genesi Efika MX Open Client.

Jeremy Olexa

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