Archives For ARM

Audio on Raspberry Pi

January 9, 2015 — Leave a comment

With stable VCHIQ driver next obvious target was to add VCHIQ-based audio support. So let me introduce to you: vchiq_audio, first take. It’s part of vchiq-freebsd repo so if you use Crochet to build SD card image just enable option VideoCore in config file and module will be automatically included.

From shell run kldload vchiq_audio and you’re good to do. I believe that audio output is picked up automatically by VideoCore so if you have HDMI connected it’s probably going to be HDMI. I do not have device to confirm this. Adding knob to control audio output (auto, headphones, HDMI) is on my ToDo list.

Quality is not ideal though. From quick tests it seems to work fine on system with rootfs on NFS but there are audio drops on SD-based system while playing mp3 over NFS. I’m going to debug and stresstest it more thoroughly next week.

Short instruction on how to install mpg321 package on RPi:

env PACKAGESITE= SIGNATURE_TYPE=none pkg bootstrap

mkdir -p /usr/local/etc/pkg/repos
cd /usr/local/etc/pkg/repos
echo 'FreeBSD: { enabled: no }' > FreeBSD.conf

cat > chips.ysv.conf <<__EOF__
chips.ysv: {
  url: "",
  mirror_type: "http",
  signature_type: "none",
  enabled: yes

pkg install mpg321

Update: support for keyboard/mouse has been added

After New Year I got back to hacking the VCHIQ stuff (thanks to adrian@ for prodding). Since last time I touched NetBSD folks got it merged to main tree, syncing with latest upstream code and fixing some stupid bugs in my codebase. So I partially merged things back, spent some time on fixing more bugs introduced by yours truly, merged userland bits from latest Broadcom’s bits (and fixing some bugs introduced by them). And as a result VCHIQ got stable enough to run ioquake3d on raspberry pi. Well, you can’t play it because there is no sound and no mouse support and keyboard support is severely crippled but you can navigate menus and watch demoes.

Here is short summary of how to get it running:

  • Get latest HEAD that includes r276794
  • Get latest crochet-freebsd
  • Create configuration file for RasspberryPi, make sure that it’s configured for 2Gb SD card and has VideoCore enabled. i.e. it contains:
    option ImageSize 1950mb # for 2 Gigabyte card
    option VideoCore
  • Build RPi image and flash to SD card
  • mount FreeBSD partition, e.g. mount /dev/mmcsd0s2a /mnt
  • Copy Quake3 PAK files to /baseq3 directory on SD card
  • Download and copy *.so files to /baseq3 and ioqake3.arm to /usr/bin on SD card
  • Unmount FreeBSD partition and mount boot partiotion, e.g. mount_msdosfs /dev/mmcsd0s1 /mnt
  • Edit config.txt and change gpu_mem value to 64
  • Unmount SD card and boot it on your Pi
  • Load vchiq module: kldload vchiq
  • Start Quake3: ioqake3.arm +set s_initsound 0

Keyboard support is really broken. TAB and ENTER works, so you can navigate menus. But that’s pretty much it.

ioquake3 codebase with my minor changes located here:
I provide pre-compiled binaries because for some reason ioquake3 built with xdev tools crash in qsort (libc incompatibilities?) so I use make buildenv to build it.

And here is photo of demo in action (there are RaspberryPi and ZedBoard on it too, yay!)
Photo Jan 07

QEMU support in FreeBSD/armv6 regressed since I tried it last time few months back. Changes in FreeBSD kernel and in QEMU itself revealed bugs that were masked by previous behaviour.

In FreeBSD it was r248467: the way memory/IO resources are activated on FDT bus has been changed and it triggered bug in versatile_pci.c

The other issue is more complex. It seems that PCI IRQ routing in QEMU was out of sync with real hardware. So after commit 66a96d7018b9cbabb73c9b87b62a37e4cc46580a IRQ numbers assigned to PCI devices by FreeBSD kernel by default were invalid. Authors of QEMU eventually added compatibility knob to fall back to previous logic. So if you’re using QEMU 1.5 or later add this option to your command line:

-global versatile_pci.broken-irq-mapping=1

VCHIQ drivers work again

January 13, 2013 — 7 Comments

I synced both vchiq-freebsd and userland to latest and greatest.

As I mentioned earlier – OS compatibility shim was removed from upstream sources so I had to create Linux KPI implementation layer which turned out not that awful task because I managed to reuse a lot of code from Max Khon’s DAHDI port. I had to implement (in somewhat hackish fashion) kthread API, re-implement semaphores support using condvar and mutex in order to get _interruptible part of API working properly and create dumb implementation of rather small subset of Linux list.h API.

With latest code I got pretty much all demos in hello_pi working except hello_jpeg(crashes system) and hello_encode(didn’t test). The most exciting bit for me was watching H.264 video playing on Raspberry Pi in hello_video demo. Network throughput still sucks so I had to copy file to tmpfs partition in order to get smooth playback though.

If you want to test VCHIQ – in addition to sources you’ll need latest firmware files. For demos you’ll also have to install freetype2 and manually hack Makefile.include in hello_pi. I’m planning to create ports/packages for both drivers and userland some time next week.

On the related note: Aleksandr Rybalko got XOrg working on Efika MX Smartbook so FreeBSD/Pi will get graphic interface soon :)

It’s been a while since last update on the project status so it might seem as there was no progress in this area. The reality is: there is a bunch of activities happening with various levels of success. So I decided to give kind of end-of-the-year round-up of ongoing projects, plans and obstacles ARM hackers face.

First of all we tried switching default cache type from write-through to write-back type. It should have increased performance but instead opened a can of worms. Memory corruption debugging led to L2 cache driver on Pandaboard, EHCI driver code and subsequently to busdma code. Whole process took quite a few days full of hair-pulling and nagging various people and ended up in committing USB fixes and Ian Lepore’s busdma patches. PL310 (L2 cache controller) driver is being tested at this very moment. Original issue (WB caches) still stands and postponed till next year.

Then there are two projects by Andrew Turner aimed at modernizing FreeBSD/armv6 subsystem: switching to EABI and clang support for ARM. Daisuke Aoyama took both of them and produced working image for Raspberry Pi. He also fixed two issues with event timers on Raspberry Pi so now the platform is much more stable. I ran buildkernel in a loop overnight and by the morning Pi had survived 7 cycles and still was alive and kicking. I also managed to get python built and working on it. Didn’t have 100% success with perl 5.14/5.16, ports were built but failed at install stage segfaulting in do_clean_objs function.

My Pandaboard survived overnight buildkernel loop with L2 cache disabled, but acting up if I enable it. Investigating.

Then there are also several platform bring-ups in progress. Alexander Rybalko works on getting FreeBSD running on Efika MX Smartbook. Ganbold Tsagaankhuu hacks on Allwinner 10. Alexander Dutkowski’s hardware of choice is BeagleBoard-xM.
Ruslan Bukin experiments with Exynos4412 and Thomas Skibo reported about FreeBSD running on Zedboard (Xilinx Zynq-7000).

But what about devices/platform we have in tree? I have limited knowledge about some platforms so here is summary of the ones I’m aware of. If you have more information on any of these targets (or any other ARM-related projects) – let me know, I’ll update post.

  • BCM2835 Raspberry Pi the most accessible and therefore the one that gets the most exposure and testing. Pretty stable, considering. Supported devices: USB, network, MMC, GPIO, framebuffer, GPU. The rest is on ToDo list. VCHIQ driver is BSD-licensed now and I’m planning on getting it to sys/contrib. Userland bits of OpenGL ES should be added as a port though.
  • (update) LPC32x0 No first hand experience but judging by the code it supports MMC, FB, GPIO and USB
  • Marvel Armada XP I don’t have information about this one, sorry
  • Nvidia Tegra2 Just barebone boot stuff.
  • TI AM335x Examples: BeagleBone, TI Sitara EVM. Network was reported working but unstable on BeagleBone. USB is not supported. Haven’t tested GPIO yet.
  • TI OMAP3 Example: BeagleBoard-xM. See Alexander Dutkowski’s project
  • TI OMAP4 The hw I have – Pandaboard ES. Supported devices: USB, network, MMC, GPIO. Some issues with L2 cache
  • Versatile Platform Board Exists only as emulation target for QEMU. Supported hardware: PCI, network, framebuffer. Seems to be fairly stable, no extensive testing performed.

BeagleBone, PandaBoard ad Raspberry Pi images can be built using Tim Kientzle’s scripts.

Not really stellar list of supported peripherals I’d say. I tend to blame several things.

First – experimental and unstable state of FreeBSD/armv6 in general. It’s no fun adding new hardware support when you’re not confident in underlying subsystems stability. “I flush cache for this TX descriptor but is it really gets flushed?”. Been there, no fun at all. That’s why I believe task #1 for nearest future is maximum performance and rock-solid stability of what we have.

Then there is the case of syscons. It’s old, it’s inflexible and it’s mostly i386-centric. Just until recently most of our so-called embedded targets were headless so there were no pressure from this side to reorganize things. My experience with coding two framebuffer drivers or trying to add PS/2 keyboard support on non-i386 platform was not very pleasant. It’s messy and there is a lot of code duplication. newsyscons project may be the way to go, I haven’t looked at it yet. We just need someone(tm) to finish it and get into the tree.

Fix these two issues should make bring-up process easier. It leaves us with question of GPU support. But it’s different story for different post…

Happy New Year, everybody!

FreeBSD/armv6 in QEMU

December 5, 2012 — 7 Comments

[QEMU 1.5 users see this update]

First take at getting FreeBSD/armv6 running in simulators. Simulators are great for tracking down nasty bugs and building packages.

So here is support for Versatile Platform Board machine supported by QEMU. Most likely this code will not run on real VersatilePB because I do not have this hardware and timing code (or lack of it) on CLCD driver and Keyboard/Mouse interface (PL050) is pure guesswork.

Back to gory details:


You’ll need this patch and this script. Apply patch, use script to get freebsd-versatilepb.flash.

As for userland – it’s fully compatible with Raspberry Pi’s userland, or Pandaboard’s one. So you can use latest RPi SD card image. As for now it’s freebsd-pi-r243778.img.gz (124Mb)


I believe that at least QEMU 1.2.0 is required. It’s still 1.1.1 in ports due to some blockers that prevent upgrade to 1.3.0. This patch updates port to 1.3.0 and it worked for me. Also I tested images with QEMU on windows and OS X – works fine.

qemu-system-arm -M versatilepb -m 128M -kernel freebsd-versatilepb.flash  -cpu arm1176 -hda freebsd-pi-r243778.img 


  • Serial console is off by default, use graphics console. If you need headless mode, rebuild image with “device sc” and related options disabled or use prebuilt flash image for headless mode
  • root device name is hardcoded so if you’re using some other image or building your own – be sure that’s ROOTDEV actually match real root
  • Memory size is hardcoded – 128M. For getting this information run-time we’ll need uboot and ubldr added to boot chain

Prebuilt kernels

freebsd-versatilepb.flash (4Mb)
freebsd-versatilepb-headless.flash (4Mb)
MD5 (freebsd-versatilepb-headless.flash) = 24a41807bf94c5fec0565adcfef48678
MD5 (freebsd-versatilepb.flash) = 085dedae67895ac1d1a7c04c7cda8468

FreeBSD on Pi: more stuff

November 29, 2012 — 24 Comments

Long overdue update on how the things are going with FreeBSD on Raspberry Pi. We’ve made some good progress so far:

  • Hans Petter Selasky fixed low-speed interrupt endpoints problem which means we have working USB keyboard now
  • GPIO driver by Luiz Otavio O Souza. So now you can blink OK LED (gpioctl -f /dev/gpioc0 -t 16). Not the most productive activity though.
  • Kernel now obtains information about display resolution, memory layout, MAC address from firmware
  • Framebuffer/syscons support added
  • Some stability fixes for SDHCI/li>
  • Initial port of VCHIQ interface (vchiq-freebsd)
  • Port of userland libraries (userland)

Overall stability and performance is still a problem, but it’s what we’re going to work on next.

And if you missed previous post: freebsd-pi is no more, use HEAD from FreeBSD subversion repository.

Boot process has been changed and now it looks like: firmware → uboot → ubldr → kernel. So old script for building image is no longer relevant. Here is new one. Tim Kientzle’s scripts collection for building images for BeagleBone, Pandaboard and RPi uses more systematic approach but RPi part hasn’t caught up to latest boot chain changes yet. Once it is up to date I suggest using Tim’s scripts.

Building FreeBSD does not require any additional tools but if you want VideoCore bits you’ll need following packages installed:

  • devel/cmake
  • devel/git
  • devel/gmake

If you don’t need VideoCore binaries, just comment build_videocore and install_videocore calls. This script will also install OpenGL ES hello_triangle demo to /root folder. To run it run perform following steps:

# cd /root
# kldload vchiq
# ./hello_triangle.bin

I tried to build Qt5 with OpenGL ES support, but build choked on compile-time assert triggered by FreeBSD using OABI. Good news though: EABI work is almost done, so there is a fat chance we’ll see Qt5 with eglfs backend running on FreeBSD in near future.

You can try pre-built image (124Mb, MD5 sums). Login is “root”, no password. Use dd to write it to SD card. U-Boot seems to be somewhat finicky about SD cards, so if you get “** Unrecognized filesystem type **” message try another card. First boot might take some time because sshd will generate keys. U-Boot output goes to serial port and monitor, FreeBSD console messages go only to monitor, but by the end of boot sequence you should get login prompt on serial.

This image is a snapshot of work in progress and by no means a production system.


** Unrecognized filesystem type ** U-Boot issue seems to be more widespread then I thought. I’m working on it.