My SSD and eSATA caddy have arrived. So now we plug it all in and off we go.

Some testing on my amd64 Ubuntu Linux Machine, for comparison with the uSD cards used for the UDOO currently.

The SanDisk Black uSD card behaves in the amd64 machine, just as it did in the UDOO previously.

Now we test the SanDisk Extreme ii SSD, connected via USB3.0.

Quite a difference.
If we can get close to this performance in the UDOO, then it will be worth the money spent.

UDOO and SSD Preparation

The guide available on elinux describes all of the steps required for booting the UDOO from the SATA drive.

First prepare a small uSD card to be the boot drive. Format it with one ext3 partition, and install the u-boot bootloader as usual.

sudo dd if=u-boot-q.imx of=/dev/<MICROSD_DEVICE> bs=512 seek=2

This is sufficient to get the UDOO to boot.

Now prepare the SSD, by formatting it in the same way you formatted the uSD previously. I’m now adding an additional linux-swap partition about 2GB in size. Although there are warnings about using SSD for swap, if you’re using a full desktop on your UDOO, your browser won’t respect the memory limitation and you’ll create worse problems.

Although the 8MB free space is not currently used in the SATA SSD, because u-boot is contained on the uSD. My guess is that at some time soon the UDOO team will get the u-boot loadable on the SATA drive, and then this space will be needed.

Once the SSD is prepared, then the fastest way to replicate your already created environment is to copy disk to disk.

cd /media
sudo cp -rp UDOO_SDroot/* UDOO_SSDroot
sudo cp -rp UDOO_SDhome/* UDOO_SSDhome
sync; sync

One final thing is to change the references in the /etc/fstab from

/dev/mmcblk0p1 to /dev/sda1 for /
/dev/mmcblk0p2 to /dev/sda2 for /home
/dev/mmcblk0p3 to /dev/sda3 for swap

Now, plug the SSD caddy into the UDOO, and put the uSD in its slot.

First boot

When first booting the UDOO, interrupt the auto boot process and enter the commands noted in the elinux instructions.
Open a serial terminal to your PC with a baud of 115200 8n1. Reset the UDOO and press any key over serial terminal when prompted to cancel the autoboot. If you miss the prompt, you can press reset on the UDOO.

setenv bootdev "sata init; sata dev 0; ext2load sata 0"
setenv root root=/dev/sda1

And the UDOO should boot as normal, but from the eSATA drive.

Note that there can be errors with eSATA / USB3.0 casings. I initially chose one which uses the Prolific PL2773, which implements the attachment as a USB Bulk-Only Mass Storage Class. Unfortunately this storage class doesn’t have the capability to pass TRIM commands.

But, although the attachment for the SSD doesn’t have TRIM capability, the SSD reports that it does have this capability, via eSATA, and this confuses the Kernel.

Errors are caused by the Kernel calling for TRIM on the swap space during the boot process.

How to fix this? Well the simplest way is to throw away the disk casing and connect the SSD drive directly. So, this is what I did. The disk performance also increases markedly too!

UDOO SSD speed testing

The UDOO SATA port doesn’t achieve quite the same throughput as the amd64 desktop does over USB3. But the speed increase over the uSD card is significant, and is very noticeable in use. Worth doing, in any case.

After removing the SSD drive from the housing, and driving it directly, the performance increase can be seen. The average read rate has doubled to over 110MB/s and the access time has decreased by a third making it about the same speed as on the amd64 desktop.

In practice the desktop feels even smoother. Great result!
Screenshot from 2013-11-18 23:08:14

UDOO Ubuntu 12.04 Guide

Recently, my Quad core UDOO board arrived in the post. Initially, I tried the two provided uSD cards, with Ubuntu 11.10 and Android 4.2.2. I was a little disappointed that the Android version didn’t seem to work out of the box, but probably I did something wrong. What was more disappointing was that the provided Ubuntu operating system Ubuntu 11.10, is already past End of Life. Releasing a brand new device with an EOL operating system; I’m not sure what the UDOO team (or actually Freescale) are thinking.


Ok, so It is time to go my own way to get something that will remain viable for the long term. I use Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on my machines that aren’t running debian. So it is natural that I’d try the same Ubuntu Precise LTS solution, which is supported through to 2017, on my UDOO board too.

A bit of searching found Dave Cheney, who has written about installing Precise on his UDOO quad. However, Dave assumes that there is a working UDOO Linaro system from which to derive the result. I didn’t have that starting point, so I needed to find a solution from the uSD card inserted into my amd64 (Intel) machine, and build from a chroot armhf on amd64 solution. Fortunately, there are some references for how to take this path too.

Following this initial process, there are quite a few steps to get to a desktop GUI from the very simple Ubuntu core file system starting point, none of which are documented clearly. So, knowing that I’d need to take this path again (after I break something) it is time to write the steps down.

Get all the pieces of code necessary

From the UDOO Downloads page, get the latest versions of U-boot, Kernel, and Kernel Modules, relevant for your UDOO. Either the Quad versions or the Dual versions.

From the Ubuntu Core page, download the ubuntu-core-xx.xx.xx-core-armhf.tar.gz latest version that is there when you read this. At the time of writing it is 12.04.3. I’m led to believe that any recent version of Ubuntu Core would also work (see comments). There’s plenty of opportunity to experiment.

Prepare the uSD Card

Use the largest uSD card that you can find. Also, get the fastest one available at a reasonable price. I have now loaded the system on to a Sandisk Ultra uSD card, and compared the speeds to a Sandisk “Black” card. It is worth getting a “faster” uSD Card for the operating system, but perhaps not especially the “fastest”. The Black card’s performance is quite variable, and particularly the Average Access time ranges from 1.4ms up to 3ms, whereas the Ultra card’s Average Access time is consistently 0.9ms to 1.0ms after repeated testing. The other parameters seem consistently similar.

Black (Class 4 ) Minimum 19.5Mb/s Maximum 22.4Mb/s Average 21.0Mb/s Access 1.5ms
Ultra (Class 10) Minimum 19.6Mb/s Maximum 22.5Mb/s Average 21.0Mb/s Access 0.9ms

I have done some testing with a SATA SSD to compare it with these uSD Cards. If you can use a SSD as the root disk, then you’ll have a much more responsive experience.

Extreme ii SSD Minimum 81.6Mb/s Maximum 124.3Mb/s Average 110.4Mb/s Access 0.2ms

The elinux wiki has instructions for creating a bootable uSD card for UDOO. These are easy to follow, so I’ll not repeat all the details here. Using GParted I only left 8 MByte space before the start of the primary partition, and I labelled it “UDOO”. I also split the card in half, creating a secondary partition for the /home partition. This may take some time to complete, if your uSD is slow…



Before mounting the newly created filesystems, install the U-boot file into the first 8 MByte of the uSD card. Be sure to pick the descriptor for the root of the card (not the first partition). For me <MICROSD_DEVICE> is /dev/sdg.

Be very sure you’ re using the correct device; using the wrong device identifier will result in the loss of all data on the Hard Drive of the host PC used as you will overwrite the MBR.

sudo dd if=u-boot-q.imx of=/dev/&lt;MICROSD_DEVICE&gt; bs=512 seek=2

Create the Filesystem

Mount the just-created root partition on the uSD card. It will appear at /media/UDOO if you chose the same label as suggested. Then extract the tar.gz file containing the file system onto the uSD card with the following command, where <NAME_OF_TAR_FS> is the Ubuntu Core file downloaded previously.

sudo tar -xzvpf &lt;NAME_OF_TAR_FS&gt; -C /media/UDOO/

First, extract the Kernel Modules to the same current folder, and then copy the Kernel file and the Kernel Modules to the uSD.

sudo cp -p uImage /media/UDOO/boot
sudo cp -rp lib/modules/* /media/UDOO/lib/modules/

So, now the uSD card is complete, and the new Precise UDOO should boot.

But wait,… there’s more. The Ubuntu Core is absolutely the minimum required to get started. There’s not even a user defined, so if we want to log into the new system we have to do a little more to get ourselves started.

Chroot from amd64 into armhf

To be able to execute armhf commands from an amd64 platform we need to use qemu. So for that to work we need to make sure we’ve got qemu installed on the host platform. Check using dpkg.

dpkg -l qemu-user-static

Have your SD Card mounted on your Linux PC and go to your Ubuntu Core folder:

cd /media/UDOO

Copy the qemu for arm file:

sudo cp /usr/bin/qemu-arm-static usr/bin/

Make sure you have your network settings properly configured:

sudo mv etc/resolv.conf etc/resolv.conf.saved
sudo cp /etc/resolv.conf etc/resolv.conf

Then, mount sys, proc and dev:

for m in `echo 'sys dev proc'`; do sudo mount /$m ./$m -o bind; done

Finally, chroot into the target filesystem:

sudo LC_ALL=C chroot . /bin/bash

You are now in your ‘chroot’ which means you can run commands as if you were on your target ARM device.

Using the ‘chroot’

The first step is to verify the network connection is fine. You can run:

apt-get update

You are now ready to install any new package in your Ubuntu Core Filesystem using APT tools.

In the armhf ‘chroot’

Now we can do some commands to make the UDOO environment more complete.

apt-get update
apt-get install apt-utils whiptail language-pack-en-base
dpkg-reconfigure tzdata
apt-get upgrade
apt-get install sudo vim-tiny less net-tools openssh-server wpasupplicant isc-dhcp-client ntp #(and any other packages you want)

Adding a user

Out of the Ubuntu Core box, there is no user defined. so we have to add at least “SOMEUSER” to enable us to log into the system.

adduser SOMEUSER
adduser SOMEUSER adm
adduser SOMEUSER sudo

Fixing the Console

The UDOO serial port (the uUSB connector closest to the corner of the board) operates at 115200 baud, but by default the Ubuntu Core image is not configured to take over on /dev/console at the correct baud. The simplest solution to fix this is to copy the tty1 configuration to the console configuration, and then adjust to the correct baud rate.

cp /etc/init/tty1.conf /etc/init/console.conf
vi /etc/init/console.conf

change the last line to

exec /sbin/getty -8 115200 console

Enabling the Ethernet

The wired Ethernet port is not automatically enabled. Edit the interfaces file and add two lines.

vi /etc/network/interfaces

auto eth0
iface eth0 inet dhcp

Other Niceties

Obtain the Ubuntu universe packages. The /etc/apt/sources.list file has most of the sources commented out. These comments should be removed, before installing a GUI.

vi /etc/apt/sources.list

Leaving the ‘chroot’

If you want to get out of the ‘chroot’ just type:


Un-mount the target filesystem: Make sure you stay at the UDOO root point /media/UDOO/ and run the following commands. Go back to the original network settings. And the qemu can be removed too.

for m in `echo 'sys dev proc'`; do sudo umount ./$m; done
sudo mv etc/resolv.conf.saved etc/resolv.conf
sudo rm usr/bin/qemu-arm-static
sync; sync

Booting into UDOO Precise LTS

Insert the new UDOO Precise LTS file system uSD into the appropriate place, and then start up the serial console to watch the system boot. The serial port uUSB connector is the one closest to the RESET button, and should be connected at 115200 baud 8n1. It will appear on an amd64 Ubuntu machine as /dev/ttyUSB0.


When the system is booted the hdmi interfaced terminal should work successfully too. Use the login details you created above to log in, and profit!

Building the Desktop

From this point it is possible to install the GUI of choice. I have tried with LXDE, but given this is a Quad Core device, it may well run well with the standard Unity Desktop.

Installing LXDE or Unity (the standard Ubuntu desktop) can be done once you’re logged into the UDOO board, by either of these commands.

sudo apt-get install lxde-desktop
# OR
sudo apt-get install ubuntu-desktop

Once you have rebooted into your new desktop, it is useful to move the home directories over to the second partition that was prepared. The full desktop environments identify the second uSD partition and mount it automatically as /media/home.

sudo cp -rp /home/* /media/home

Edit the /etc/fstab file to get the partition to mount at /home, and reboot.

One thing missing (in a short amount of testing) is the firmware for the WiFi device. The best place to find the latest firmware-ralink is in the debian Sid repository. It is the same file for all architectures.

sudo dpkg -i firmware-ralink_0.43_all.deb

Final Thoughts

Compared to the Raspberry Pi the UDOO environment certainly runs very hot. The large heat sink on the UDOO is very necessary, whereby the Raspberry Pi doesn’t even need a heatsink. I guess that Freescale has packed a lot more (4x more?) into the same space that Broadcom used for its design, and that consumes more energy. Certainly, the lack of a GPU driver module and user space tools for the display, forcing software rendering doesn’t help. Hopefully Freescale will get their act together soon and Open Source the Vivante GC2000 driver code, or at least the hardware definitions to allow the Etnaviv team to progress quickly.

Neither Raspberry Pi nor UDOO are capable of being battery powered devices, which makes them pretty useless for any Internet of Things sensor project, IHMO. So, I’m not sure what kind of applications they’re really trying to address? Doesn’t matter, they’re still pretty cool devices and I’m going to be using the UDOO often.

PS3 Ubuntu 10.04 – Summary Guide

OK. So I broke my Ubuntu installation on my PS3, again. Happens all too regularly, I’m afraid. And, I’m not smart enough to fix it once it is borked. So, here’s how I start from scratch to get a Ubuntu 10.04 installation working on my PS3, from nothing.

So, starting from the firmware 3.15 on PS3 Phat. Anything later and sorry, Sony has stolen the OtherOS feature from you. Too bad, you loose. Sony has screwed you.

First thing, you need to visit PSUbuntu to get some hints. Many on them are dated (in terms of the Ubuntu release described), but still a fountain of knowledge.

Step 1. Installing the OtherOS Bootloader. There are a number of them mentioned, but only one that I’ve found handles the ext4 file system, required / desired by later Ubuntu installation systems. The petitboot bootloader is available in different versions, but this one is the one I use It needs to be stored in a USB dongle in a /ps3/otheros/ directory so that the PS3 system can find it to install.

Step 2. Have the Ubuntu 10.04 LTS CD available and have it inserted when you reboot to OtherOS loader from the PS3 OS. The latest version can be obtained from here. I generally use the alternate version, but i guess the desktop version works just as well.

Step 3. Install the Ubuntu 10.04 system, following all the relevant prompts. Blah. Blah.

Step 4. First thing is to get some more swap. There is a full instruction here

Ripping off the instructions from PSUbuntu:

sudo gedit /etc/modules
add “ps3vram” at the end of the file

save the file and get back to the terminal
sudo gedit /etc/rc.local
scroll until you see these lines of code:

exit 0

Before add the following:
mkswap /dev/ps3vram
swapon -p 1 /dev/ps3vram

Step 5. Make the monitor work properly. The instruction here is a little outdated. The introduction of upstart into Ubuntu has made the older instructions obsolete.

First thing is to install the fbset tool.

sudo apt-get install fbset

And then use it according to the instructions here to find out the right amount of cropping necessary to make the screen fit. Once you have the right size (dependent on your monitor) then create a file like this in /etc/init/

# fbset – set system frame buffer
# This task is run on startup to set the system frame buffer for Pioneer 720p
# First you need to sudo apt-get install fbset
# then this file gets put in /etc/init/

description    “set system framebuffer”

start on startup

exec fbset -a -xres 1216 -yres 680 -vxres 1216 -vyres 680

Once this file is created, with the fbset characteristics appropriate to the monitor you’re using, then also create a soft link in /etc/init.d/ to the standard upstart script. Look at other soft links in the same /etc/init.d/ directory to get the idea.

sudo ln -s /lib/init/upstart-job /etc/init.d/fbset

This makes sure that the fbset command gets properly executed.

Last thing is to modify the file in /etc/kboot.conf to use the overscan mode which means adding 128 to the resolution you’ve selected. For 720p I am using the following line:

linux=’/boot/vmlinux initrd=/boot/initrd.img root=/dev/ps3da2 video=ps3fb:mode:131′

This should get the screen resolution set correctly.

Step 6. Compile a new kernel, for the Cell Broadband Engine. There are some instructions on generic Ubuntu Kernels here, which are accurate and simple (even for me).

I found that I only need to ask for these packages, and everything else is brought in too.

sudo apt-get install fakeroot build-essential qt3-dev-tools libqt3-mt-dev

Don’t forget to set the concurrency to make best use of dual-core PowerPC CBE.


When using the xconfig tool, there are two options that should be selected compile for POWER4 and optimise for Cell Broadband Engine. Also, the kernel tick can be set to 300Hz or 1000Hz to get a bit better responsiveness.

fakeroot make-kpkg –initrd –append-to-version=”your-version-identifier” kernel-image kernel-headers modules_image

Following the instructions, there are two additional steps that need to be completed to get the kernel to work properly.

Check you have the tools to build a initrd image

sudo apt-get install initramfs-tools

Build the initrd image following command for building the initrd image

sudo update-initramfs -c –k 2.6.3x.xx.custom

Version 2.6.3x.xx.custom is the directory name which appears in /lib/modules/ after installing modules)
The initrd image will be generated /boot/ directory

I create some soft links in the /boot directory, to save me having to modify the /etc/kboot.conf file

sudo ln -s vmlinux.2.6.3x.xx.custom vmlinux.custom

sudo ln -s initrd.2.6.3x.xx.custom.img initrd.custom.img

Then, create linkages in the /etc/kboot.conf file so that you can refer to the new kernel and initrd image from the boot command line. For example.

linux.custom=’/boot/vmlinux.custom initrd=/boot/initrd.custom.img root=/dev/ps3da2 video=ps3fb:mode:131′

Ok now I’ve found that I need to rebuild the initramfs on the original and old linux versions, otherwise they won’t boot. Costs nothing except a few seconds to do this anyway.

sudo update-initramfs -c –k all

Step 7. Ok. Now go to town. Everything else works perfectly on my machine. Update it. Add multimedia.  Whatever.