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Ubuntu on Gumstix

This repository provides a method to build an Ubuntu image for various Gumstix boards such as Overo COMs, DuoVero COMs, and the Pepper SBC.

Prebuilt Images

If you want to get started with Ubuntu using one of our prebuilt images, you can download these prebuilt console images for Ubuntu 15.04 for Overo, Duovero and Pepper. Flash them on to the SD card and you are good to go!

# First unmount the SD card before flashing the image
$ xz -d <image.xz> # Uncompress the image
$ sudo dd if=/path/to/the/image/file of=/dev/sdX bs=4K

Build Instructions

If you want to build everything from scratch:

  1. Install the required tools on your host system:

     $ sudo apt-get install -y git live-build qemu-user-static gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf
  2. Fetch this repository.

     $ git clone git://

    $ cd live-build

  3. Choose an image type and machine for which to build. This repository supports the Gumstix overo, duovero, and pepper machines.

    Image Name Description
    vivid-console A developer-oriented console image of Ubuntu 15.04
    vivid-lxde Ubuntu 15.04 "Vivid Vervet" with a lightweight desktop environment (LXDE)
    sid-console Debian Sid console image
  4. Make it! You will be prompted for a super-user password then go get some coffee.

     $ make MACHINE=<machine> IMAGE=<image> -j4
  5. Everything proceeding correctly, binaries for the u-boot bootloader along with a root filesystem tarball will be created. Insert a microSD card to your development machine, note the drive name, and then format it. Warning: this erases anything currently on the microSD card!

     $ # substitute the path to the drive e.g. /dev/sdd or /dev/mmcblk0 (not the
     $ # path of a partition e.g. /dev/sdd1 or /dev/mmcblk0p1) in place of <drive>
     $ MACHINE=<machine> IMAGE=<image> scripts/ <drive name>
  6. Alternatively, you have the option of creating a dd-able image after the build process is complete using the script present in the scripts/ directory. Before using the script, make sure that the following tools are installed: qemu-img, mkfs, kpartx, sfdisk, losetup.

    $ sudo apt-get install qemu-utils dosfstools kpartx

    Then, run the script:

    $ MACHINE=<machine> IMAGE=<image> scripts/

    This will create a [machine]-[image].img file of size 4GB which needs to be flashed on the microSD card.

    # First unmount the SD card
    $ sudo dd if=/path/to/the/image/file of=/dev/sdX bs=4K

    If you have an SD card bigger than 4GB, you can resize the image after flashing it on the SD card using gparted

    $ sudo apt-get install gparted
    $ sudo gparted /dev/sdX

    Now click on the partition you want to resize and select Partition -> Resize/Move from the menu.

  7. Once the microSD card has been written, insert it into your Gumstix system, login as gumstix with password gumstix and start playing with your new Ubuntu/Debian image.


There are numerous ways to customize this root file system.

1. Change distro, release, or image type.

As well as Ubuntu images, the Live Build tool can build images for a number of Debian-based distributions (e.g. Debian, Kali) each with different release versions (e.g. wheezy, utopic). Depending on the image flavour and the installed packages, images can provide a variety of different desktop environments or a stripped down console environement. Start customizing by copying an existing image directory and adjusting the config.

$ cp -r images/vivid-console images/super-gumstix
$ sensible-editor images/super-gumstix/auto/config
$ make MACHINE=<machine> IMAGE=super-gumstix -j4

There are some great samples.

2. Pre-install additional packages.

To include additional packages in a custom image, simply add the package names (as the would be passed in an apt-get) to the list of packages in the customization directory. Carrying on from the previous customization:

$ echo 'vim' >> images/super-gumstix/customiztion/package-lists/gumstix.list.chroot
$ make MACHINE=<machine> IMAGE=super-gumstix -j4

As the contents of the customization directory get copied over to the config generated by Live Build's configuration step, it is possible to add locally created deb packages by dropping them in a customization/packages.chroot directory. It is even possible to extend the list of package repositories.

3. Change the Root File System.

It is possible to run scripts during the construction of root file system as if the image was actually running (i.e. within a chroot under QEMU emulation). See the customization/hooks directory for some samples.

It is also possible to do some boot-time configuration using the live-config tool (different than live-build config).


This is not a build-everything-from-scratch tool. This tool assembles a root file system from pre-compiled packages and provides a useful framework for adjusting configuration files. If something additional needs to be compiled, there are three options:

  • compile it natively (and possibly, create a .deb for future inclusion)
  • cross-build the code---there are a litany of techniques ranging from building on emulated ARM hardware (qemu) through a full cross-building environment (it gets a little complicated)
  • Use Yocto! The Yocto environment excels at cross-building where Debian prefers native compilation.


Live Build Configurations for Gumstix products.



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