Skip to main content.

Installing Debian Etch on AMCC PPC 440EPx "Sequoia" Board


This Application Note describes how to install the Debian 4.0 (Etch) Linux distribution on the AMCC PPC 440EPx "Sequoia" Board. There are other ways to achieve the same result but still this document outlines the general approach.


This document was written by ZuZhihui (zuzhihui {at} gmail {dot} com).

Installation Requirements

In order to install Debian Etch on the Sequoia board you need the following hardware and software components:

If you want to generate the image files (such as kernel image, ramdisk, filesystem image and Debian image) by yourself, you also need:

My hardware setup is:

This Application Note is based on my hardware. If your setup is different, you need to identify if you need to change the drivers.


Don't want to compile the images by yourself? Just want Debian Etch to run on your board? Follow here. Otherwise please look at Compile

Download Image Files

Download the following image files and put them into your tftp server:

Download and put them where your tftp server can see them.


Boot the board:

tftp 200000 uImage.amcc
era FE000000 FE17FFFF
cp.b 200000 FE000000 ${filesize}

tftp 200000 ramdisk.img.amcc
era FE180000 FE3FFFFF
cp.b 200000 FE180000 ${filesize}

tftp 0x200000 sequoia.flashfs.amcc
era FE400000 FFF5FFFF
cp.b 0x200000 0xfe400000 ${filesize}

setenv bootcmd 'run flash_self'
setenv flash_self 'run ramargs addtty;bootm ${kernel_addr} ${ramdisk_addr}'
setenv addtty 'setenv bootargs ${bootargs} console=ttyS0,${baudrate}'
setenv kernel_addr FE000000
setenv ramdisk_addr FE180000
setenv baudrate 115200
setenv ramargs 'setenv bootargs root=/dev/ram rw'

Copy files to hard disk

The boot process should be smooth and leave you with a busybox prompt, if this is not the case check that you followed the steps above closely.

Now use the fdisk command to partition your hard disk. The device name of the serial ATA hard disk should be /dev/sda. Create a new partition /dev/sda1 with at least 200MB spaces.

fdisk /dev/sda

Now create a filesystem on /dev/sda1 and extract the Debian image files to it. Then reboot the board. Of course be sure to adjust the ftpget command to the mirror you intend to use.

mkfs.ext2 /dev/sda1
mkdir /mnt/sata1
mount /dev/sda1 /mnt/sata1
cd /mnt/sata1
ftpget -u FTPUSER -p FTPPASSWORD FTPSERVER ppc-etch-image.tgz REMOTEPATH/ppc-etch-image.tgz
tar zxf ppc-etch-image.tgz
mv ppc-etch-image/* .
rm -rf ppc-etch-image*
umount /mnt/sata1

Boot into Debian Etch

setenv bootcmd 'run flash_sata'
setenv flash_sata 'run sataargs addtty;bootm ${kernel_addr}'
setenv sataargs 'setenv bootargs root=/dev/sda1 rw'

Debian Etch should boot on your board, login, and apt-get what you need, enjoy!


Download AMCC resource CD

Download AMCC's resource CD for 440EPx Sequoia board at and mount it to /mnt. We need /mnt/software/linux/kernel/linux-2.6-denx.tar.gz and /mnt/software/linux/rootfs/filesystem.tar.gz

Compile Kernel

On the development host, compile kernel using kernel source from the AMCC resource CD:

make sequoia_defconfig
make menuconfig
make uImage

Be sure to select the following items while make menuconfig:


When finished, rename the uImage file to uImage.amcc, that's the kernel image we need.

Compile Ramdisk and filesystem

Extract all the files from filesystem.tar.gz, read the README.filesystem file and follow it.

Then you should have the files ramdisk.img and sequoia.flashfs, rename them to ramdisk.img.amcc, sequoia.flashfs.amcc since they are AMCC official.

Make Debian Etch Image

We'll bootstrap the Etch image using our Power Architecture® server.

The ppc server must run Linux, even better Debian Etch. My ppc server runs Fedora 4 so I have to install debootstrap on it. You can skip installing debootstrap if you run Debian Etch on the ppc server.

These steps must be done by root:

wget debootstrap_0.3.3.2_all.deb
mkdir tmp
ar -x ../debootstrap_0.3.3.2_all.deb
tar zxf data.tar.gz
mv usr/lib/debootstrap/ /
mv usr/sbin/debootstrap /debootstrap/

After debootstrap is installed, then we can bootstrap a Etch image:

debootstrap --arch powerpc etch /home/ppc-etch-image
#chroot into it and make some changes:
LANG=C chroot ppc-etch-image/ /bin/bash
#remove the APT caches
apt-get clean
#modify the hostname
echo "etchamcc440" >/etc/hostname

Create the serial devices, because we'll let Linux console runs on serial port:

mount -t proc proc /proc
cd /dev
umount /proc

Then we should modify the /etc/fstab file, this file lists the filesystems to be mounted after boot. My /etc/fstab file looks like this:

/dev/sda1       /       ext2    defaults 0 1
proc            /proc   proc    defaults 0 0

Modify /etc/network/interfaces file to configure the loopback network device. The contents of /etc/network/interfaces:

auto lo
iface lo inet loopback

Change the /etc/hosts file as: localhost localhost.localdomain etchamcc440

The most important change is in the /etc/inittab file, we should remove the line shown below since we do not want CTRL+ALT+DEL to reboot the system.

ca:12345:ctrlaltdel:/sbin/shutdown -t1 -a -r now

Furtheron remove the following lines:

1:2345:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty1
2:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty2
3:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty3
4:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty4
5:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty5
6:23:respawn:/sbin/getty 38400 tty6
and add the line:
T0:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyS0 115200 vt100

We only have the serial console, so we should only respawn the login program on the serial console.

Now the Etch image is ready. We need to exit the chroot environment and make a tgz file of the Etch image. That's it!

tar czf ppc-etch-image.tgz /home/ppc-etch-image