Tag Archives: aarch64

And now something more enterprise — CentOS on AArch64

Everyone can grab and install Fedora 21-22 on APM Mustang. But what if you want something more enterprise ready? Answer is simple: you can install CentOS 7 (at Alpha stage now).

Requirements are simple:

First fetch iso and then copy to USB thumb drive (simple “dd if=boot.iso of=/dev/sdc bs=4M” is enough). Then just reboot to UEFI shell and run “FS1:\EFI\BOOT\BOOTAA64.EFI” to get into installation.

All files will be read from USB (for Mustang you need official APM firmware 1.1.0 to get proper DTB) and installation goes like with Fedora, RHEL, CentOS — standard Anaconda.

Finally reboot and system is ready for use:

CentOS Linux 7 (Core)
Kernel 4.0.0-1.el7.aarch64 on an aarch64

pinkiepie login: 

AArch64 port is now in progress so not all packages are built yet but they will be.

Running VMs on Fedora/AArch64

There are moments when more than one machine would be handy. But AArch64 computers are not yet available in shop around a corner we have to go for other options. So this time let check how to get virtual machines working.


For this I would use Fedora 22 on APM Mustang (other systems will be fine too). What else will be needed:

  • libvirtd running
  • virt-manager 1.1.0-7 (or higher) installed on AArch64 machine
  • UEFI for AArch64 from Gerd’s Hoffmann firmware repository
  • Fedora or Debian installation iso (Ubuntu does not provide such)
  • computer with X11 working (to control virt-manager)

Is KVM working?

First we need to get KVM working — run “dmesg|grep -i kvm” after system boot. It should look like this:

hrw@pinkiepie-f22:~$ dmesg|grep -i kvm
[    0.261904] kvm [1]: interrupt-controller@780c0000 IRQ5
[    0.262011] kvm [1]: timer IRQ3
[    0.262026] kvm [1]: Hyp mode initialized successfully

But you can also get this:

[    0.343796] kvm [1]: GICV size 0x2000 not a multiple of page size 0x10000
[    0.343802] kvm [1]: error: no compatible GIC info found
[    0.343909] kvm [1]: error initializing Hyp mode: -6

In such case fixed DeviceTree blob from bug #1165290 would be needed. Fetch attached DTB, store as “/boot/mustang.dtb” and then edit “/etc/grub2-efi.cfg” file so kernel entry will look like this:

menuentry 'Fedora (4.0.0-0.rc5.git4.1.fc22.aarch64) 22 (Twenty Two)' --class fedora --class gnu-linux --class gnu --class os --unrestricted $menuentry_id_option 'gnulinux-4.0.0-0.rc5.git2.4.1.fc22.aarch64-advanced-13e42c65-e2eb-4986-abf9-262e287842e4' {
        insmod gzio
        insmod part_gpt
        insmod ext2
        set root='hd1,gpt32'
        if [ x$feature_platform_search_hint = xy ]; then
          search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root --hint-bios=hd1,gpt32 --hint-efi=hd1,gpt32 --hint-baremetal=ahci1,gpt32  13e42c65-e2eb-4986-abf9-262e287842e4
          search --no-floppy --fs-uuid --set=root 13e42c65-e2eb-4986-abf9-262e287842e4
        linux /boot/vmlinuz-4.0.0-0.rc5.git4.1.fc22.aarch64 root=UUID=13e42c65-e2eb-4986-abf9-262e287842e4 ro  LANG=en_GB.UTF-8
        initrd /boot/initramfs-4.0.0-0.rc5.git4.1.fc22.aarch64.img
        devicetree /boot/mustang.dtb

After reboot KVM should work.

Software installation

Next step is installing VM software: “dnf install libvirt-daemon* virt-manager” will handle that. But to run Virt Manager we also need a way to see it. X11 forwarding over ssh to the rescue ;D After ssh connection I usually cheat with “sudo ln -sf ~hrw/.Xauthority /root/.Xauthority” to be able to run UI apps as root user.

UEFI firmware

Next phase is UEFI which allows us to boot virtual machine with ISO installation images (compared to kernel/initrd combo when there is no firmware/bootloader possibility). We will install one from repository provided by Gerd Hoffmann:

hrw@pinkiepie-f22:~$ sudo -s
root@pinkiepie-f22:hrw$ cd /etc/yum.repos.d/
root@pinkiepie-f22:yum.repos.d$ wget https://www.kraxel.org/repos/firmware.repo
root@pinkiepie-f22:yum.repos.d$ dnf install edk2.git-aarch64

Then libvirtd config change to give path for just installed firmware. Edit “/etc/libvirt/qemu.conf” file and at the end of file add this:

nvram = [

Restart libvirtd via “systemctl restart libvirtd“.

Running Virtual Machine Manager

Now we can connect via “ssh -X” and run “sudo virt-manager“:


Next step is connection to libvirtd:


Now we are ready for creating VMs. After pressing “Create a new VM” button we should see this:


And then creation of VM goes nearly like on x86 machines as there is no graphics only serial console.

But if you forgot to setup UEFI firmware then you will get this:


In such case get back to UEFI firmware step.

Installing Fedora 22 in VM

So let’s test how it works. Fedora 22 is in Beta phase now so why not test it?




2GB ram and 3 cpu cores should be more than enough ;D


And 10GB for minimal system:



But when it went to serial console it did not look good :(


I realized that I forgot to install fonts, but quick “dnf install dejavu*fonts” sorted that out:


Go for VNC controller installation.

After installation finish system runs just fine:



As you can see Fedora 22 has everything in place to get VM running on AArch64. UEFI firmware is the only thing out of distribution but that’s due to some license stuff on vfat implementation or something like that. I was running virtual machines with Debian ‘jessie’ and Fedora 22. Wanted to check Ubuntu but all I found was kernel/initrd combo (which is one of ways to boot in virt-manager) but it did not booted in VM.

96 boards again?

During Linaro Connect 2015 Asia there was announcement about new Linaro project called “96boards”. It is about making cheap ARM/AArch64 boards in same form factor and same placement of ports. And first board named HiKey was presented. Today third one — from Qualcomm. So we have two boards now (2/96 was not yet announced).

I prefer not to comment on form factor, lack of Ethernet, mobile phone cpus and other things people do not like but about software requirements.

96boards specification v1.0 says:

Minimum Software requirements for 96Boards certification will include:

  • Boot architecture (open source implementations are strongly recommended)
    • Support for bootloader such as U-Boot/FDT, UEFI/ACPI, UEFI/FDT
    • Support for a secure execution environment (optional)
    • Support for ARM Trusted Firmware (ARMv8), including PSCI APIs (optional)
  • Accelerated graphics support
    • Accelerated graphics drivers need to be fully supported either with open source code, or through royalty free binary drivers. If binary drivers are utilized, the vendor will provide support to provide updated drivers/libraries to support new mainline Linux kernel features.
  • Kernel
    • A kernel based on one of the following that is buildable from source code and any required binary blobs:
    • kernel.org latest “mainline” or “stable” kernel
    • The latest Google-supported Android kernel version
    • One of the last two kernel.org LTS kernels (for example Linaro LSK)
  • Operating system
    • The latest released (stable) version of one or more of the following open source distributions shall be made available for a 96Boards CE compliant design:
    • Android
    • Debian or Ubuntu
    • Fedora or Red Hat
    • An OpenEmbedded/Yocto build of a Linux distribution

I hoped that Linaro will be a place where free/open source software would matter. But it looks like “let release whatever you want as long as size and ports match” deal. Any blob as bootloader, binary graphics drivers (does someone remember TI OMAP line and PowerVR? Those boards run with raw framebuffer nowadays).

And that kernel requirement… HiKey uses cpu which is not in mainline kernel, so does Qualcomm one. Are they in AOSP kernel? Maybe. But does someone else than Android uses those trees for serious work? Latest I see in kernel-msm (which may not be proper place to check) is 3.10 which was released (in mainline) nearly 2 years ago…

I really wonder how “latest released (stable) version” of Debian/Fedora/Ubuntu can be made available for those boards when all those distributions use mainline kernel only (I do not count user generated remixes which are not supported by anyone).

So I wonder will 96/96 board came with mainline support, open bootloader and open drivers for everything. Time will show. Until that I am not so interested.


So today Linaro announced their first board from 96boards project. It is named HiKey and is based on HiSilicon cpu for mobile phones.

I had an occasion to see that board during FOSDEM and decided to write something about it after it land on my desk (which will happen sooner or later). But I have read specification for this and next boards and decided to write few words from my perspective.

First thing? Footprint. Good that two sizes are available for designs as not everyone may want to squeeze into small one.

Second? Ports. 2015 year and no Ethernet, no SATA? Sure, first board is based on SoC from a mobile phone but there is no place on small board for them and extended version looks like not allow for extra ports too.

Next? Power supply. 8-18V in a world where everything is on 5V already. The only place where 12V is mentioned in spec is “external fan power”.

So as we are on voltage… Serial at pins and 1.8V level. Nice way of forcing everyone to buy new serial dongle (Arduino ones are 3.3 or 5V).

But assume that we got it powered and have serial connected. How to boot it? According to specs mainline kernel (or AOSP one or LTE one) has to be used. I wonder how HiSilicon cpu is supported in any of those. From what I read during day (on quite slow connection) it is still not in a kernel…

Graphics situation is still shitty. Vendor is allowed to provide binary blobs to get display working. Did they not learnt from OMAP? PowerVR again someone? But sure, plain framebuffer is all you need. OpenGL is for weak.

I prefer not to discuss about selection of signals on low/high connectors. There are more capable people for it. I only wonder why 2mm raster where nearly all boards I had played with had 2.500 one.

I like list of distributions listed as ones to choose. No longer Android/Ubuntu but also Debian, Fedora or OpenEmbedded based one

But give them time. It is just first board and next ones are announced. Marvell will produce one (they are in a Linaro group for it), other will (probably) follow. Hope that there will be something better.

Gained new power

Today Dennis Gilmore asked me on #fedora-arm “Are you a packager in Fedora?” so I answered that I am in “packager” group but do not own a package in Fedora and do not have plans to change it.

It turned out that the question was part of thinking that maybe I should get membership in the secondary arch group which would allow me to commit my fixes directly. Normally I prefer to grab maintainer’s attention with new reported bug or even IRC discussion about an issue. But sometimes there is no response and fix is aarch64 related without any changes for primary architectures.

So now I can commit fixes to Fedora packages directly to git repositories. Will not overuse this privilege and make it only when it is really required.

Started X11 on AArch64 (hardware this time)

Took me some time but finally I managed to workaround all issues and got X11 running on real AArch64 hardware.

Two years ago I started X11 on AArch64 using emulator. But planned to make it on real hardware one day. And that day came today.


What took so long? Several things. First I lacked hardware – but APM Mustang arrived one day. Then lack of PCI-Express support but it got solved.

So I started collecting graphic cards. Finally ended with Radeon HD5450 and Geforce GTS250 – both with 512MB ram. After last firmware update (to 0.14) they even got whole memory assigned. But none of them worked ;(

After few discussions it got finally confirmed that something is going on with supporting more than 64MB of memory on PCI cards. I prefer not to go to details. Anyway I digged and found Matrox G550 card in local computer scrapyard. Seller wrote that it has 32MB ram (Linux says that only 16MB is present).

Bought card, inserted into pinkiepie (Mustang) and after kernel rebuild I got nice 1920x1080x32-60 framebuffer and X11 over it. Maybe it is not the fastest but it works.

Tomorrow will reconfigure kernel to get USB working (and submit patch for Fedora config) which will give me keyboard, mouse and audio.

Next step? XFCE, GNOME, KDE testing of course ;D And building MPlayer so I will be able to watch movies too.

Fedora 21 RC5 released for AArch64

Today Peter Robinsson released RC5 of Fedora 21 installation ISO for AArch64 architecture. As usual I grabbed it for tests.

As usual I used “clean Mustang, just hdd” method as it is one of easiest to setup. Grabbed fresh F21 RC5 ISO, prepared partitions and rebooted.

There was an issue with “fs0:\EFI\BOOT\BOOTAA64.EFI” as it tried to run “\EFI\BOOT\grubx64.efi” instead of “\EFI\BOOT\grubaa64.efi” but if second one is started then installer booted fine.

New EFI binary was added: MokManager.efi – can be used it for managing keys used to sign kernel modules. Not tried that yet but good to have.

Also noticed that ‘this is testing’ nagging requester got removed. Also nice side/top graphics with “fedora SERVER” information were added.

Installed without issues and rebooted into fresh Fedora 21 Server installation. Things look good for final release.