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How to Install Debian Linux on an Embedded System

Mar 12, 2010, 01:32 (0 Talkback[s])
(Other stories by Melissa Soriano)


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"In this article, I will describe how to bring up Debian Linux on an Embedded System. 

"The hardware chosen for the embedded system is a PowerPC 440EPxX. I have chosen Debian for the operating system of choice to load on the embedded hardware because of my prior experience with it and because it is a free distribution that continues to be actively maintained and supported. Linux is a powerful operating system and is valuable on an embedded hardware platform for real-time applications. An example is real-time digital signal processing. Alternatives to Debian include Montavista and Wind River, which are both commercial Linux distributions.

"1. Description of the hardware

"The hardware is a custom digital signal processing printed circuit board which includes a PPC440EPx embedded processor and five Xilinx Virtex 5 Field Programmable Gate Arrays (FPGAs). The PPC440EPx was designed with an RS-232 interface, a JTAG debug and flash programming interface, 2 Gigabit Ethernet interfaces, and one status LED. Initially, the system is completely bare of software and contains no operating system. The goal is to bring up Debian Linux on this embedded hardware platform, and the same process applies to most embedded platforms.

" 2. Compiling the custom bootloader (uboot) and Linux kernel

"The bootloader is a small program that is used to load the operating system. Popular bootloaders include the IBM PowerPC Initialization and Boot Software (PIBS) and the U-Boot Universal Bootloader from DENX. In this example, U-boot was used. The board was designed with a JTAG interface to the PPC440EPx. An Abatron BDI debugger can be used to load U-boot and associated environmental variables onto the Flash using the JTAG interface. In this system, the Flash is a Mirrorbit. The U-boot source is available from DENX."

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