Beagle Board setup options
A summary of the various options of getting Linux to run on the Beagle Board.
The Beagle Board ships with U-Boot and X-Loader in flash, but there is no Linux kernel or file system on the board by default (as opposed to the gumstix platform, for example). For installing a Linux system on the Beagle Board, it seems that the following standard options are available:
Installing the official image
This procedure is the one described in the Beagle Board's hardware reference manual. It gives you a Linux kernel booting from an (FAT32-formatted) SD card and a Linux file system which can be accessed through the board's serial port, but there does not seem to be a graphic server. I decided to try this option first for my project and see how far it gets me.
- Beagle Board HW ref manual (from p.110)
Installing Koen's unofficial Angstrom OpenEmbedded image
This demo image of the Angstrom Open Embedded distribution seems to include a graphic server and full-grown desktop. It requires a dual-partition fat32/ext3 SD card; or at least that's the suggested method in all tutorials I could find. Information on how to partition ones SD card accordingly can be found at
I might try this option for my own project if I run into trouble with the previous one, or maybe just for fun to see what else can be done with the board. Having said that, it seems that there is some troubles with the ALSA driver for this image, although I am not sure whether these are still an issue and whether they occur in the official image as well.
Compiling image from source
Rather than using a pre-built image, one has the option of setting up an Open Embedded build chain on a host machine (in my case my laptop), in order to build a customized Linux image from source in a Gentoo-like fashion. What's nice about this is that the Open Embedded build chain can also be used to install only selected applications (such as Pure Data), and that the same build chain can be used to build software for different embedded architectures, which is useful if you wanted to build an OS for both a Beagle Board and a gumstix, for example. The bootloader (and a kernel image) can also be compiled from source (see link below).