[ARMedslack] Installing Slackware 14.0 on Sheevaplug (with ESATA)

Stuart Winter m-lists at biscuit.org.uk
Mon Oct 1 16:20:22 UTC 2012

Hi Michael,

Thanks for your mail.

> U-Boot:
> It seems like you can't boot the new kernel that is delivered with Slackware
> 14.0 (3.4.11) with an older U-Boot version (mine was from mid 2011, iirc). The
> bootup process will hang after "Uncompressing linux kernel...". My first guess
> was a wrong machine id set in u-boot, but the kernel and the init ramdisk from
> Slackware 13.37 work fine. Nevertheless, upgrading u-boot to a current version
> (i used one from March 2012) solves the problem. You can find instructions on
> how to do this and links to current versions here:

Thanks - there was a similar sounding problem for the Guruplug too, caused
by a bug in u-boot that was triggered by newer kernels.

> The version located under 2011.12-3 works fine, so just use this one.

I will add a section about the Sheevaplug ESATA system to here

> Partitioning:
> I wasn't able to create the partitions (/boot, swap, root) with fdisk. Opening
> /dev/mmcblk0 with fdisk works, but as soon as you try to write the changes to
> the sd card you get the error message "unable to write /dev/mmcbklk0p: bad
> file descriptor". I haven't found out what causes this problem yet. As a
> workaround you have to partition the card on some other computer (i used my
> desktop computer). Creating the file system with the slackware installer
> works.

If you find out, let me know - I've never used an SD card there as all of
my machines have hard drives.

> Installation Guide:
> The guide says that you have to set the variable "arcNumber" to 2678/0xa76 in
> u-boot, but in fact you have to set the variable "machid" to 0xa76 (on the
> Sheevaplug with ESATA).

The arcNumber variable was the correct name on the u-boot for the original
SheevaPlugs.  However, is it even needed at all?  I seem to recall Jawkins
saying it wasn't required when he was looking at why the guruplug wouldn't

I think it might be that the variable inside u-boot has changed.  I don't
don't have an ESATA Sheevaplug, and would have had to look up the arch
numbers from another source -- which I assume were correct at the time.

I've amended the INSTALL_KIRKWOOD document with the change above, and I'll
add a note about needing to upgrade the u-boot on an ESATA Sheevaplug
I'll add it into 14.0 soonish.

> Nevertheless: Thanks a lot Stuart for all the time and the effort that you put
> into Slackware for ARM! I have been using Slackware on my Sheevaplug and on a
> Dreamplug for several months now and i am looking forward to install it on my
> new Raspberry PI. It's a great distribution!


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