Ubuntu Lucid on the Viglen MPC-L

In order to be able to update a bug I’d filed against the graphics driver on the Viglen MPC-L, beloved hardware of the Ubuntu Podcast listeners, I set about installing Ubuntu 10.04 LTS, nicknamed Lucid. This wasn’t as straight forward as it could have been, so here’s how I did it:

  1. Downloaded the Ubuntu i386 desktop ISO.
  2. Turned it into a bootable USB stick using the “Startup Disk Creator” program in System Tools.
  3. Booted the MPC-L off the USB stick. (N.B. It will only boot from USB sticks inserted into the rear USB sockets.)
  4. At the splash screen, selected the advanced boot options, and appended pnpbios=no noapic acpi=off to the boot options.
  5. The system then booted to the text-based installer. I didn’t tell it to use this installer rather than the graphical one, it just did.
  6. Followed the installer process through, noting an error about not being able to install a suitable kernel. I think this is because the Lucid kernels are compiled for i686, whereas the MPC-L is essentially an i586 CPU (AMD Geode).
  7. At the end of the installation procedure, at the “reboot” prompt, I selected “Go back” and chose to start a terminal session.
  8. In the terminal session I set up a chroot to install a suitable kernel:
    # mount -o bind /proc /target/proc
    # mount -o bind /dev /target/dev
    # mount -o bind /dev/pts /target/dev/pts
    # mount -o bind /sys /target/sys
    # chroot /target
  9. Then I installed a kernel: apt-get install linux-386
  10. Once the kernel had installed, I exited the chroot and terminal (type exit twice). This returns one to the installer menu.
  11. Then I selected the reboot option from the installer menu.
  12. After a reboot, the system came up just fine.

As ever it’s worth noting that running GNOME on the 400MHz CPU of the MPC-L is quite hard work, but can be done. Check out Xubuntu or Openbox for more suitable desktop environments though.

Oh, and the bug wasn’t present in Lucid. 🙂

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    3 Responses to Ubuntu Lucid on the Viglen MPC-L

    1. Kevin Grumball says:

      The current build seems to have omitted the PATA drivers again in Ubuntu Server 10.4. The installer for Ubuntu will therefore claim it can’t find any disks (or will offer to partition your USB drive)
      So you need the following steps to install the driver:

      1. When it complains it can’t find a a disk, go back until you get the long list of things to do.
      2. Scroll down to get a terminal session and type the following:

      wget http://popey.com/~alan/viglen/2.6.28-11-generic_pata_cs5535.ko
      mv 2.6.28-11-generic_pata_cs5535.ko pata_cs5535.ko
      insmod pata_cs5535.ko

      3. Exit the terminal session and carry on from “detect disks”.

    2. Simon Reap says:

      I installed Ubuntu Server 10.04.1 on my MPC-L and both of the above problems seem to have been sorted out – the kernel worked fine (once I’d added the “pnnpbios=off nolapic noapic apci=off” to the grub lines) and it found the PATA driver OK.

      I did initially try to upgrade from 8.04 through the update manager GUI, but there were endless problems – the one I remember was the use of an old attribute name in the udev control files which would be lost in the next release. I ended up copying all of my user data to another disk and installing server from scratch (“Server” because I didn’t want, and as said above could barely use, the GUI). Also gave me a chance to partition the disk (changing from the MPC’s default single partition) to make future installs easier.

    3. DigitialDon says:

      Brilliant guide, dont think I would have ever got this working without it. Also, a headsup for anyone else following the guide, support for this cpu has now ended so if you try to use any version above 10.04, it wont work, as far as I know anyway but I am no expert.