Back in September of last year, I pushed out two images for xfce4-based desktop systems for the Yeeloong netbook. These mips64el machines are manufactured by Lemote in China, and distributed in the US by “Freedom Included“. Over the summer, I spent time fixing the bugs I hit as I ported over goodies for the desktop: Abiword for word prcessing, GQview for images, Audacity for audio, Claws for email and Dillo for browsing. Most of these bugs were in build systems that were not multilib aware. I was building for three ABI’s, o32, n32 and n64 with libraries living in /lib, /lib32 and /lib64, respectively, and similarly under /usr. Since some build systems would blindly install into /lib and since the default ABI is n32, this caused some issues!
As mentioned, there are two images, one for binaries built with a hardened toolchain (SSP, PIE, FORTIFY_SOURCES=2, bind_now and relro) and the other for binaries built with a vanilla toolchain. Remarkably, hardening led to no appreciable bugs over the vanilla, but there is about a 5% performance hit when running. This is most noticeable when compiling which is already slow on these 800-900 MHz machines. In fact, this is why I decided to distribute entire desktops and not just stage3’s. It would take a user about two days of no stop building to get to the desktop from a stage3. Given the occasional failure along the way, this is a recipe for frustration for anyone who wants Gentoo on their Yeeloong. Hopefully the end user won’t be too unhappy with my choice of software. In the future, I hope to have a better brower than Dillo and try go get video working. I’ve had some success with the latter but not enough to push something out.
Anyhow, four months after my initial images and I thought its time to update. Except for updating the packages, I didn’t change the selection. My update to the kernel, however, was important: we can now do the usual partitioning suggested in the Gentoo Handbook: boot on sda1 with ext2, swap on sda2 and root on sda3 with ext4. My first images had to combine boot and root into one ext3 partition because of certain limitations.
I hope if you have the hardware you’ll give the images a test drive and let me know! They’re available on any Gentoo mirror under <mirror>/experimental/mips/desktop-loongson2f. The latest version is 20130124 and the instructions for installation are found here.