BeagleBoard Ubuntu & DSP From Sources

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Updates to this page

This page was updated to the following versions - and was subsequently updated to fix a few errata.

  • Ubuntu - Maverick Merkat (10.10)
  • ARM GNU/LINUX GCC - 4.5.1
  • ARM EABI GCC - 4.4.1
  • Code Generation Tools v7.2.4
  • Bios User-space binaries v5.33.06
  • Additional notes for Overo


The purpose of this page is to demonstrate how to build and run a DSP enabled (ARM EABI) Ubuntu distribution for the BeagleBoard. We will build two variants of the Ubuntu distribution: an lxde GUI-based version and a minimal console-based version. The following guidelines apply.

  • Build everything from sources when possible.
  • Be on the "bleeding edge", be it compilers, source code, whatever.

This page is not meant to duplicate any previous work and I will link to existing work whenever possible. I used the page BeagleBoardUbuntu that is hosted at this site as my main reference.

This page was written on a generic Intel Core2 running a fresh installation of 32-bit Ubuntu 10.10 Maverick Meerkat. My BeagleBoard is a rev C3 version.

Please note that along the way, you will need to install any dependencies that are not present on your machine. This is a straightforward process. In cases where a script dies without warning due to a missing dependency, I will warn you ahead of time.


We will need three cross-compilers for the OMAP 3530. We will use both the ARM GNU/LINUX compiler collection from Ubuntu to compile the kernel, modules, and user space files. We will use the ARM EABI GNU compiler collection from CodeSourcery to compile the X-Loader and U-Boot bootloaders. We will use the latest TI C6000 Code Generation Tools for the C64x digital signal processor.

ARM Cross Compiler

At the time of this writing, the ARM GNU/LINUX Compiler Collection available from Ubuntu is version 4.5.1. It can be installed via the Synaptic package manager or from the command line. CodeSourcery also provides version 4.5.1/4.5.2 of the ARM GNU/LINUX Compiler Collection. They are one of the leading contributors to the ARM GCC cross-compiler. They regularly push their updates upstream for inclusion into the main branch. They provide a LITE version of their ARM GCC cross-compiler for free. They provide 32-bit binaries, but the sources are available. It would be an interesting project to compile 64-bit binaries, but we'll save that for another day.


To install ARM GNU/LINUX compiler collection from Ubuntu, use the Synaptic package manager or enter the following at the command line.

sudo apt-get install gcc-4.5-arm-linux-gnueabi

If you choose, the Codesourcery ARM/LINUX Lite compiler collection can be found at Sourcery G++ Lite 2011.03-41 for ARM GNU/Linux. All previous versions are also available. If you elect to use the Codesourcery ARM GCC, take care to install the two CodeSourcery versions into separate directories.


At the time of this writing, the latest Codesourcery ARM/EABI Lite compiler collection (v4.5.2) can be found at Sourcery G++ Lite 2011.03-42 for ARM EABI. U-boot did not start when compiled with this compiler, but does start when compiled with a previous version (v4.4.1), which can be found at Sourcery G++ Lite 2010q1-188 for ARM EABI. All previous versions are also available.

Other Compilers

I have used two other cross compilers with good results. If you prefer, these will work too:

TI DSP Compiler

TI's proprietary compiler has been in use for a long time and is the standard for C6000 DSPs. At the time of this writing, the latest version is C6000 Code Generation Tools v7.2.4. You will need to register with TI before you can access the downloads. Recommendation: The scripts to build the DSP Bridge Userspace Utilties require that DSP BIOS and the compiler be installed in the same directory. I chose to keep the default /opt/TI.

SD Card Boot

We will boot the Beagleboard from an SD card. A great tutorial exists and doesn't need any further explanation. I named my boot partition "boot" and my root file system partition "rootfs".


The OMAP 3530 boots in three stages. The first stage is the ROM boot vector. This stage then jumps to the X-Loader that comes pre-installed in the onboard Flash memory. The X-Loader will then jump to a U-Boot bootloader that is installed in Flash or to a U-Boot bootloader that is on a properly configured SD card if present. The second and third stage bootloaders can be replaced or configured as needed.


X-Loader is Texas Instruments' first stage bootloader that will load a second stage bootloader such as U-Boot. The X-Loader project is hosted at x-load-omap3 and can help you get started. Do the following to build X-Loader.

git clone git://
cd mainline
make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi- distclean
make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi- omap3530beagle_config
make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi-

Alternatively, use 'overo_config' for an overo board.

This will create x-load.bin in the working directory. This file will need to be "signed", which essentially pre-pends the load address and length to the image. A good source for a signing tool can be found at Google's Beagleboard Project download page. You can download a pre-built "signGP" or download "signGP.c" to examine and build the source yourself. To do so, save signGP.c in your xloader/mainline directory and enter the following.

gcc signGP.c -o signGP
cp x-load.bin.ift /media/boot/MLO

MLO is now installed on the boot partition of the SD card. Note that X-Loader has been recommended to be the first file on your boot partition and should be titled MLO. More recent versions of X-Loader and U-boot do not seem to be affected by the ordering of files in the boot partition.


There are several U-Boot trees for the BeagleBoard. Previously, I chose to use the mainline tree from Denx because it worked well enough. However, with multiple versions Beagleboards out there, the main tree may not work for an older board such as Rev C3. The U-boot Beagleboard maintainer is Sakoman, Inc.. Their experimental branch is the most up-to-date and supports all Beagleboard revisions. Do the following to build and install U-Boot.

git clone git://
cd u-boot
git checkout omap4-exp
make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi- distclean
make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi- omap3_beagle_config
make CROSS_COMPILE=arm-none-eabi-

Alternatively, use 'omap3_overo_config' for an overo board.

The result is a u-boot.bin in the main directory. Copy this to the boot partition of your SD card.

cp u-boot.bin /media/boot/u-boot.bin

U-Boot Parameters

Once booting from the SD card, I halt the auto-boot to the kernel and set these parameters. This only needs to be done once.

setenv bootargs 'console=ttyO2,115200n8 console=tty0 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait rootfstype=ext3'
setenv bootcmd 'mmc rescan 0; fatload mmc 0 80300000 uImage; bootm 80300000'

Build & Prepare the Kernel

Kernel Source

Using the recommendation found here, I have chosen to use the kernel source provided by the BeagleBoard Kernel project. They have several branches. In keeping with being on the "bleeding edge", I have chosen to use the stable-kernel branch because it is the branch that is most often updated. To get the kernel source, do the following.

git clone
cd stable-kernel

Build the Kernel

The Ubuntu ARM project uses rootstock to build the complete filesystem, which includes kernel, modules, and kernel headers. In order to include these files into the root file system, rootstock requires that the kernel and associated files be bundled into a .deb package that is served from a webserver. The Ubuntu kernel build scripts have a facility for this. You will be required to copy "" to "" and modify it. At a minimum, you will need to uncomment the "CC=" line.

You will need to install "dpkg-dev" prior to building the kernel. To build the kernel, simply enter:

./ (for *.deb)

At the menuconfig stage, include the following changes if you choose to compile the DSP driver into the kernel:

System Type  --->
     TI OMAP Common Featuress  --->
          *Mailbox framework support --->
     TI OMAP2/3/4 Specific Features
          Turn off unused board types
Device Drivers  --->
     Staging drivers  --->
          <*>     DSP Bridge driver  --->

I have previously used 64-bit Linux, but my graphics card on my current laptop does not support it. Previously, on a 64-bit system, fakeroot would repeatedly issue a bunch of errors as follows.

ERROR: object '' from LD_PRELOAD cannot be preloaded: ignored.

This error is generated because the cross-compiler is a 32-bit binary and '' is a 64-bit binary. I have extracted the kernel image from the .deb bundle and it boots. So the error is just an annoyance.

Deploy the Kernel

Copy Kernel uImage to SD Card

In the "2.6-stable/deploy" folder you will find a uImage. The uImage kernel version will be prepended to the filename. Copy this to the boot partition of your SD card. An example is given below.

cp deploy/2.6.39-x1.uImage /media/boot/uImage

Put .deb bundle on a webserver

As previously mentioned, rootstock needs to access a .deb bundle that contains the kernel, modules, and kernel headers from a webserver. These are essential to correctly build a root filesystem. If you don't have access to one, install "lighttpd" - a fast and simple webserver. You can access your new homepage by entering "localhost" in your browser. This page will give you lots of helpful information to include the fact that your webserver root is located at /var/www/. You can copy your .deb files to this location whenever you need them.

An example is given below. Note that the prepended kernel version will change over time.

sudo cp deploy/linux-image-2.6.39-x1_1.0cross_armel.deb /var/www/

Userspace File System

Build the root filesystem

A great overview of building the Ubuntu root filesystem can be found here. This is the second time in the process where we don't compile something for ourselves (the first being the cross-compiler). Rootstock downloads pre-compiled user space applications and libraries. I am not too worried about this because these are not in the kernel space. Rootstock is an Ubuntu supported ARM root filesystem builder, so I will trust that their user space binaries are up to par.

Before we proceed, you will need to install rootstock and dctrl-tools (to process .deb bundles on the command line). You will also need to create a new folder to hold the root filesystem and then cd into it. Also, please note that '--fqdn beagleboard' specifies the fully qualified domain name is 'beagleboard'. You may use any fqdn you prefer, and it does not restrict the root filesystem to a particular board type. The root filesystem is not board specific and will work for any OMAP based system, and quite possibly many other ARM based systems.

lxde root filesystem

The following will build a root filesystem for a maverick distribution running the lxde GUI environment. This example will incorporate the kernel, modules, and kernel headers from the webserver that we set up in the previous section. Also, please note that the following example references the specific .deb file from the examples above. This will change over time.

sudo rootstock --fqdn beagleboard --login ubuntu --password temppwd --imagesize 2G --dist maverick \
--serial ttyO2 --seed lxde,gdm \
--kernel-image http://localhost/linux-image-2.6.39-x1_1.0cross_armel.deb

minimal root filesystem

The following will build a root filesystem for a maverick minimal distribution that boots to a command prompt. Again, please note that the following example references the specific .deb file from the examples above. This will change over time.

sudo rootstock --fqdn beagleboard --login ubuntu --password temppwd --imagesize 2G --dist maverick \
--serial ttyO2 --seed wget,nano,linux-firmware,wireless-tools,usbutils \
--kernel-image http://localhost/linux-image-2.6.39-x1_1.0cross_armel.deb

Deploy the root filesystem

First, we need to erase the old root filesystem. When the SD card is mounted in the host machine, it is located at /media/rootfs. To erase the old contents, enter:

sudo rm -Rf /media/rootfs/*

Next, untar the newly created root filesystem tarball into the SD card rootfs partition. The root filesystem tarball is date/time stamped.

sudo tar -xzf armel-rootfs-201005080031.tgz -C /media/rootfs/


Finally, we are ready to start working on DSP. There are several approaches to this. Please have a look at BeagleBoard/DSP Clarification. This area has undergone quite a bit of change in the last year. Previously, I had chosen to use the kernel's DSP Bridge driver along with DSP Bridge Userspace Utilities. A new project called gst-dsp has started up and it seeks to reduce the dependence on external libraries and also to reduce the number of kernel to user-space transfers. The kernel package provided from Ubuntu includes scripts to build gst-dsp. You can copy the libraries directly onto your target device.

If you wish to continue using DSP Bridge, the instructions are provided as follows. If you followed the directions up to this point, the kernel has the dsp-bridge driver. We now need to get the DSP BIOS operating system for the C64x DSP controller and we need to build the user space binaries and libraries. From this point forward, we will be following the writeup for the omapzoom at DSPBridge Project.


DSP BIOS is the operating system that runs on the DSP. DSP BIOS can be downloaded here. Currently, the latest version is 5.4x, but for once we won't be on the bleeding edge. The reason is because scripts to build the userspace files require version 5.33.x. This will be a project to move to the latest DSP BIOS version.

At this time, we will use DSP BIOS 5.33.06. Download the installer and install into a location of your choice. (Note: The DSP Bridge Userspace Utilties require that DSP BIOS and Code Generation Tools are installed into the same directory. To work with the compiler default install directory, I installed into /opt/TI)

DSP Bridge Userspace Utilities

DSP Bridge requires user space binaries. To build the DSP Bridge user space binaries, create a folder, cd into it and do the following:

git clone git://
cd userspace-dspbridge
git checkout -b my_userspace --track origin/master

Host Machine Dependencies

Before we get started, now is a good time to point out the the build script has a dependency on the 32-bit version of libstdc++. If you are using a 32-bit system, then you have no problem here. If you are using a 64-bit system, you will need to install the 32-bit version of the library. Debian provides a 32-bit version of libstdc++. Once downloaded, the following command will add this library to your system. Note: The version of this library will update over time.

sudo dpkg --force-architecture -i libstdc++5_3.3.6-18_i386.deb

Host Machine Permissions

The build script will fail due to permissions in the xdctools folder of your DSP BIOS installation. To fix this, I added 544 permissions to the required folders.

cd ($YOUR_PATH)/bios_5_33_06/xdctools/
chmod 544 *
cd bin/
chmod 544 *

Files to Patch

There are several bugs in the build scripts. These are fixed in the following patch (although we are using CGT 7.2.4, the patch is still valid): File:Dspbridge-userspace-cgt7 0 2-bios5-33-06.patch

To apply the patch, save the patch file one directory level higher than your DSP Bridge user space binaries directory and then do the following:

$patch -p0 < Dspbridge-userspace-cgt7_0_2-bios5-33-06.patch 
 patching file userspace-dspbridge/source/config.bld
 patching file userspace-dspbridge/source/Makefile
 patching file userspace-dspbridge/source/product.mak
 patching file userspace-dspbridge/source/samplemakefile
 patching file userspace-dspbridge/source/samples/mpu/make/
 patching file userspace-dspbridge/source/samples/mpu/src/dynreg/dload_internal.h
 patching file userspace-dspbridge/source/samples/mpu/src/dynreg/

Files to Modify

You will need to modify 'source/Makefile' as follows.

  • Modify the line that points to where your CROSS_COMPILE is installed (e.g. 'CROSS_COMPILE ?= arm-linux-gnueabi-').

Compile the package

cd source
make clean
make all

Deploy the package

sudo cp -r target/dspbridge/ /media/rootfs/
sudo cp target/lib/* /media/rootfs/lib/

Putting it to the test

If you followed the Kernel configuration instructions above, then the DspBridge driver is already running in the kernel. Two simple checks will verify the presence of the driver.

cat /proc/interrupts
ls /dev

To try the simple ping, first load a base image and then execute the ping example.

$cd /dspbridge
$sudo ./cexec.out ddspbase_tiomap3430.dof64P 
 DSP device detected !! 
 DSPProcessor_Start succeeded.[ 2093.332366] procwrap_detach: deprecated dspbridge ioctl
 Hit any key to terminate cexec.
$sudo ./ping.out 
 DSP device detected !! 
 DSPNodeCreate succeeded 
 DSPNode_registerNotify succeeded 
 DSPNode_run succeeded 
 Ping: Id 1.000000 Msg 0.000000 Mem 15408.000000
 Ping: Id 1.000000 Msg 49.000000 Mem 15408.000000

In Closing

Ok now that we are up and running, there are quite a few things to work on:

How to port to the latest version of DSP BIOS?
How to work with GStreamer?
What else?