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RE: GP2X hardware platform

Dear Hector,

I have just replied to Debian ARM as this is an ARM platform anyway.

>During ARM BoF at DebConf7 i proposed a new hardware to support on
>Debian as NSLU2 is, called GP2X, which is an open-platform under 200€,
>already running linux kernel.

I believe this has been proposed several times before.

There are a few things with the GP2X people need to be aware off that may have a bearing any effort to use a Debian RootFS.

Firstly the stock Linux offering is based on 2.4.25 and it would be no small effort to port the device to 2.6. You would also loose a number of propriety binary modules that are shipped with the 2.4 firmware (very closed source, we have tried to get them opened).

This would have a bearing on any port to Debian as the bulk of work on ARM is on the ARMEL port and without a minimum of a recent stable 2.6 kernel ARMEL support for a ROOTFS is not going to work ;-). You would also need to update the bootloader (U-Boot 1.0.0) to support booting an ARMEL kernel.

Another point to note is that the current default memory map only shares the 1st 32MB with Linux, the rest is split-up for the hardware features, framebuffer, second CPU or good old fashioned hand malloc'ing. Many user space applications and kernel modules use that upper 32MB in some way so you can't take it away and give it to Linux.

I have no doubts 2.6 can work on the GP2X (I have got life out of a 2.6 kernel on the device myself) but binning the bulk of support for existing apps may be a very extreme move for most users.

Secondly, there are efforts within the GP2X community to push the device forward (the vendor has no desire to develop the platform beyond where it is). One of these projects is Open2x (www.open2x.org), I should also stress that I am an admin of this project. The project aims to move the device forward whilst keeping with the 2.4 kernel series (2.4.26 ATM) and maintaining compatibility with most existing applications. 

We currently use BuildRoot (modified for gLibC support and our toolchain) to construct our ROOTFS and have permission to ship the binary modules with the firmware. 

We very seriously considered using Debian ARM for the filesystem in Open2x but for a number of reasons (we have a number of libraries that are heavily modified for the GP2X but changes are not upstream for example) we decided that sticking to BuildRoot for now was more controlled and flexible for us.

If there was a serious desire to consider a Debian ARM port to the GP2X then gauging the feelings of both users (www.gp32x.com is the most active user forum) and developers (#GP2XDEV on EfNet is the main developer chan) for support would seem like a logical step.

Kind Regards,

John Willis

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