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Linaro releases monthly binary images for the ARM Versatile Express including support for A9, A5, A15 (TC1), TC2 (big.LITTLE) CoreTiles and RTSM.

For support matters related to ARM hardware or firmware images downloaded from ARM sites, please contact ARM support

This release includes Linaro Android Jelly Bean and Ubuntu Raring for Versatile Express and Real-Time System Model (RTSM). The images are able to boot A5 (using U-Boot), A9 (ATAGS), TC1 and TC2 using UEFI. Sources are also made available so you can build your own images.

About the TC2 Evaluation Build

This release is based on the Linux v3.10 kernel. As a consequence, almost all of the patches in the ARM Landing Team tree have been rebased and refactored to account for the latest upstream content.

The TC2 CoreTile is the first example of a big.LITTLE system shipped by ARM and serves as a platform for development and test of big.LITTLE software. TC2 contains a tri-core Cortex-A7 cluster and a dual-core Cortex-A15 cluster linked using the CCI–400 coherent interconnect.

The release integrates big.LITTLE development work which can be traced in the big.LITTLE MP working group git repo . Note: This repository has the following tree: big-LITTLE-MP-master-v17 that has been used for the 13.05 evaluation build. This tree includes the following patches that have been developed and qualified for correctness to enable the ARM Versatile Express V2P-CA15_A7 CoreTile (TC2) to run in full MP mode. This new functionality has been optimised for energy usage at near Cortex-A15 (big) performance. These patches are not currently ready to be submitted to the Linux mainline for integration (upstreaming), since they do not yet work seamlessly with the load-balancer. Work is ongoing to make the load-balancer more big.LITTLE aware, making the changes suitable for integration into the Linux mainline.

This release contains optional configurable kernel support for an example implementation of ARM’s Power State Co-ordination Interface (PSCI). This support is disabled by default. Using PSCI support requires the use of secure firmware that is currently available to ARM licensees upon request to ARM. Please contact with the subject line “Access to PSCI” to get access to the firmware code.

Scheduler modifications to support big.LITTLE

  • sched: Basic global balancing support for HMP: This patch introduces an extra-check at task up-migration to prevent overloading the cpus in the faster hmp_domain while the slower hmp_domain is not fully utilized. The patch also introduces a periodic balance check that can down-migrate tasks if the faster domain is oversubscribed and the slower is under-utilized.

  • per-task-load-average-v3-merged: Paul Turner’s patches enabling the calculation of load on a per-task basis.
  • task-placement-v2: Morten Rasmussen’s patches using the per-task load to schedule threads on the big or LITTLE cores as appropriate. The patches take into account multiple domains when making decisions on task migration, with ftrace events added for tracking these migrations. New Basic global balancing support for HMP – improves performance for cases where multiple ‘big’ threads are running but allowing the use of LITTLE cores.

  • Experimental patches for making load values invariant to frequency settings. This helps reduce the chance of unnecessary up migrations to big cores.
  • A patch from Thomas Gliexner which supports a IRQ affinity mask being specified in the command line. This can be used to reduce unnecessary IRQ wakeups on Cortex-A15. For instructions see the irqaffinity entry in Documentation/kernel-parameters.txt
  • arm-multi_pmu_v2 – enables the use of multiple PMU types or sources, for example profiling across both Cortex-A15 and Cortex-A7 clusters and getting results for CCI.
  • scheduler-misc-v1 – miscellaneous scheduler patches complementing the MP work

Platform Support. In addition to the big.LITTLE MP work the TC2 platform support includes:

  • TC2: reset CPUs spuriously woken up on cluster power up
  • vexpress: add shim layer for psci backend on TC2
  • vexpress: allow native pm ops backends to probe for psci suppport
  • psci: add cmdline option to enable use of psci
  • psci: add probe function to discover presence of a psci implementation
  • psci: convert psci ‘-EALREADYON’ error code to linux ‘-EAGAIN
  • vexpress: add psci support in TC2 device tree
  • psci: add constants to specify affinity levels
  • TC2: replace hard coded cluster and cpu values with constants
  • TC2: use generic accessors to extract cpu and cluster ids

  • CPUidle & CPUfreq support
  • hwmon driver allowing, amongst other things, TC2’s power, current and energy measurements to be read through standard sysfs interfaces
  • Common clocks implementation
  • Regulator driver
  • Drivers for previously hard-coded configuration interfaces
  • Support self-hosted debugging through idle
  • In addition to the CPU PMUs the perf framework supports the CCI-400 PMUs

Where To Find More Information

More information on Linaro can be found on our website.

Feedback and Support

Subscribe to the important Linaro mailing lists and join our IRC channels to stay on top of Linaro development.

  • Linaro Development mailing list
  • Linaro IRC channel on at #linaro

  • Bug reports should be filed in Launchpad against the individual packages that are affected. If a suitable package cannot be identified, feel free to assign them to Linaro project.
  • Questions? ask Linaro.
  • Interested in commercial support? inquire at Linaro support

Fixed in this release

None listed.

Known Issues

  • ARM-28 Kernel crashes observed with 13.05 LEB release candidate
  • ARM-23 LP:1129005 – Intermitent failure of LTP shmat01 testcase
  • ARM-21 LP:1180778 – vexpress: A9: Reboot fails with lockup or crashes
  • ARM-18 LP:1131208 – arm64: create config fragments and work with other teams to use them
  • ARM-17 LP:1110634 – BLS-460: Perf group counting requires ‘cpu_cycles’ event as the first event in the event list specified to the perf tool.
  • ARM-16 LP:1097309 – serial console doesn’t received characters on TC2
  • ARM-15 LP:1068595 – Enabling function tracer kills the system on TC2
  • LP: #880859 U-Boot boot script doesn’t work on Versatile Express
  • LP: #912595 l-m-c fails on vexpress due to a change in u-boot name
  • LP: #966411 vexpress: ubuntu: Network manager doesn’t manage ethernet connection
  • LP: #987172 vexpress: YouTube video playback fails
  • LP: #1009326 e2eaudio test failed on Origen, Snowball & vexpress ubuntu image.
  • LP: #1042755 TC2: powertop doesn’t show correct frequency stats

Linaro Ubuntu images are made up of two components. The Hardware Pack, which contains the kernel, boot loader and/or Device Tree blob and a Root file system (RootFS) of your choice to generate an image.

The root file systems are described here where you can also download them.

Linaro provides two methods for installing Linaro binary builds:

  1. Using a pre-built image, which you can download
  2. Assembling your own image using provided components

Pre-Installation Steps

Before any installation begins, it is important that you ensure you Versatile Express board has the latest firmware and boot loader installed. Please check the “Firmware Update” tab on this page for the latest updates and installation instructions.

Using pre-built image


  • Ubuntu 12.04 64 bit or newer on your desktop PC (
  • 4GB SD card or larger
  • Latest firmware installed onto the Versatile Express. Please see “Firmware Update” tab
  • This release pre-built image (vexpress-raring_developer_20130526-344.img.gz), which you can downloaded from the above list of artifacts or from here

Installation Steps

  • Unzip the downloaded pre-built image
  • Insert SD card into your PC and note the assigned '/dev/sdX'
SDCARD=/dev/sdX # sdcard found from dmesg above
zcat vexpress-raring_developer_20130526-344.img.gz | sudo dd bs=64k of=$SDCARD

When the image is created, skip down to the section “Booting the image”.

Note: Windows users may use the Image Writer for Windows.

Building a custom image using pre-built components

Sometimes, you may wish to build your own custom image for a Versatile Express. Perhaps you wish to use a more recent snapshot of the hardware pack for Ubuntu or take the latest Android build. Whatever the reason, you will want to use the Linaro Image Tools to create a custom image.

Using components to generate the image will yield the same functionality found in the pre-built image of the same release.


  • Ubuntu 12.04 64 bit or newer on your desktop PC (
  • Download Artifacts from above or use the following command in your terminal

Note: The instructions above attempt to build an Ubuntu Desktop image. If you wish to create a small image, you can replace the ubuntu desktop tar ball with another root file system, which you can download from here
bc. wget

  • Get Linaro image tools. There are multiple ways you can get the latest Linaro Image Tools:

  • Method 1: Install them from the Linaro Image Tools PPA

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linaro-maintainers/tools
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linaro-image-tools

  • Method 2: Building from source

  • Insert SD card and note the assigned '/dev/sdX' or '/dev/mmcblk0'
dmesg | less

Look for a line that looks like the following at the end of the log

[288582.790722] sdc: sdc1 sdc2 sdc3 sdc4 <sdc5 sdc6 >

Or, if your machine uses ‘/dev/mmcblkX’, you may see a line line this:

[10770.938042] mmcblk0: p1 p2 p3 p4 < p5 p6 >

WARNING: In the next step, make sure you use /dev/“whatever you see above”. You can erase your hard drive with the wrong parameter.

  • Create media
sudo linaro-media-create --mmc /dev/sdX --dev vexpress --hwpack hwpack_linaro-vexpress_20130526-344_armhf_supported.tar.gz --binary linaro-raring-developer-20130526-380.tar.gz

Booting the image

After the media create tool has finished executing, remove the SD card from your PC and insert it into the Versatile Express board.

Before you can boot the image you will need to install the UEFI boot loader into NOR flash and update the Versatile MMC card configuration files. The instructions on the Firmware Update tab provide information on how to do this and how to configure UEFI to specify the SD card as a boot device.

Ubuntu images are comprised of a Hardware Pack (HWPack) and a root file system (RootFS). The hardware pack contains the kernel, boot loader and Device Tree blobs (if applicable). There is no need to rebuild the RootFS since it is comprised of a large number of debian packages. Instead, the best approach is to use an image, which you can create as outlined in the “Binary Image Installation” tab then replace the kernel with your compiled one. This is common practice that many engineers deploy when wanting a standard Linux image to use for testing and development purposes.

The root file systems are described here where you can also download them.

The following instructions will walk you through how to obtain the kernel source, build it, and add it to a pre-existing Ubuntu image.


  • Ubuntu 12.04 64 bit system. You can download Ubuntu from
  • git and toolchain. You can get those by typing the following command in your terminal
sudo apt-get install build-essential git gcc-arm-linux-gnueabi

Get the source

You can use GIT to obtain the kernel source code for this release:

git clone git://
cd linux-linaro-tracking
git checkout ll_20130523.0

Create a kernel config

Do not use the defconfig for Versatile Express, instead, build a config from the config fragments that Linaro provides:

ARCH=arm scripts/kconfig/ \
linaro/configs/linaro-base.conf \
linaro/configs/ubuntu-minimal.conf \
linaro/configs/big-LITTLE-MP.conf \

Note: the config fragments are part of the git repository and the source tarball.

Build the kernel

To build the kernel uImage, use the following command:

make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabi- LOADADDR=0x60008000 uImage

Install your kernel

This section is common for both Android and Ubuntu.

  • Create the Device Tree blob if you don’t have one in your Linaro image (note, the A9 Core Tile boots using an ATAGS kernel so there is no need for a device tree blob):
make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabi- dtbs
  • Insert the SD card containing the Linaro disk image into your PC SD card reader
  • Copy the kernel onto the memory card using
cp arch/arm/boot/uImage /media/boot/
  • Copy the device tree blob
    • For A9 CoreTile: no device tree blob is needed
    • For A5 CoreTile: cp arch/arm/boot/dts/vexpress-v2p-ca5s.dtb /media/boot/v2p-ca5s.dtb
    • For A15 CoreTile (TC1): cp arch/arm/boot/dts/vexpress-v2p-ca15-tc1.dtb /media/boot/v2p-ca15-tc1.dtb
    • For A15_A7 CoreTile (TC2): cp arch/arm/boot/dts/vexpress-v2p-ca15_a7.dtb /media/boot/v2p-ca15-tc2.dtb
  • Eject the memory card from your PC by using the following command
eject /media/boot
  • Insert the memory card into the Versatile Express board and power it on
  • You should boot your Ubuntu image using your own compiled kernel

Ensure that you update your Versatile Express board firmware to the latest version. To update your VE board firmware, please follow the instructions below:

  • Connect and mount your Versatile Express motherboard USB mass storage device to your PC
  • Install the Recovery firmware from the v5.0 VE DVD onto your board.
  • Download ARM’s CPU Migration patch for version 5.0 from
    • Unzip the firmware zip to the root of the motherboard mounted drive
    • Please contact for any issues related this firmware update
  • Unmount the Versatile Express motherboard
  • Reboot the Versatile Express board
  • At the “Cmd> “ prompt, type the following commands:
    Cmd> flash
    Cmd> eraseall
    Cmd> exit
    Cmd> reboot
    • You may need to configure UEFI to boot from the image that you’ve created. See the UEFI page on the Linaro Wiki for more details on configuring UEFI.

You may want to set /media/VEMSD/config.txt AUTORUN to TRUE to be make the CoreTile boot from power on.

For TC2, you should set the DIP swich closest to the black reset button is down so that the Boot Monitor runs the boot script on power on.

This release was boot tested on RTSM A15×4 and A15×4-A7×4 models. No rigorous testing was carried out. This build is expected to run on other RTSM models.


  • Install the RTSM model(s) you wish to run. You must have a valid license and the environment set up to run models
  • Install Linaro image tools
  • Install kpartx which you can get by issuing the following command in your terminal
sudo apt-get install kpartx

Linaro Ubuntu images are made up of two components. The Hardware Pack, which contains the kernel, boot loader and/or Device Tree blob and a Root file system (RootFS) of your choice to generate an image.

The root file systems are described here where you can also download them.

Install Linaro Image Tools

There are multiple ways you can get the latest Linaro Image Tools:

  • Method 1: Install them from the Linaro Image Tools PPA

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linaro-maintainers/tools
sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get install linaro-image-tools

  • Method 2: Building from source


Create a 2GB image file

RTSM will only deal with file systems up to 2GB in size, however the released pre-built image for Ubuntu Desktop requires a 4GB filesystem. Therefore we will build our own Nano image using the pre-built artifacts as listed below.

We use a Nano RootFS for this example, however, you could use other RootFS types such as ALIP or Developer so long as you can install it to a 2GB file (Ubuntu Desktop doesn’t fit the 2GB limit).

Using the following command, you will download the nano RootFS, the hardware pack.


Now you need to create the image using the following commands.

linaro-media-create --image-file linaro.img --image-size 2000M --dev vexpress --hwpack hwpack_linaro-vexpress_20130526-344_armhf_supported.tar.gz --binary linaro-raring-developer-20130526-380.tar.gz
sudo kpartx -a linaro.img
mkdir boot
sudo mount /dev/mapper/loop0p1 boot
cp boot/uImage .
cp boot/uInitrd .
cp -ar boot/rtsm rtsm
sudo umount boot

Run A15×4 model

This example shows how to run the Linaro kernel on a quad core A15 RTSM model:

RTSM_CMDLINE="console=ttyAMA0,115200n8 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait ro mem=1024M ip=dhcp"
-C motherboard.smsc_91c111.enabled=1 \
-C motherboard.hostbridge.userNetworking=1 \
-C motherboard.mmc.p_mmc_file="$RTSM_MMC" \
-C cluster.cpu0.semihosting-cmd_line="--kernel $RTSM_KERNEL --dtb $RTSM_DTB --initrd $RTSM_INITRD -- $RTSM_CMDLINE"

Run A15×4-A7×4 model

This example shows how to run the Linaro kernel on a big.LITTLE RTSM model:

RTSM_CMDLINE="console=ttyAMA0,115200n8 root=/dev/mmcblk0p2 rootwait ro mem=1024M ip=dhcp"
-a coretile.cluster0.*=$RTSM_BOOTWRAPPER \
-a coretile.cluster1.*=$RTSM_BOOTWRAPPER \
-C motherboard.smsc_91c111.enabled=1 \
-C motherboard.hostbridge.userNetworking=1 \
-C motherboard.mmc.p_mmc_file=$RTSM_MMC \
-C coretile.dualclustersystemconfigurationblock.CFG_ACTIVECLUSTER=0x3 \
-C coretile.cluster0.cpu0.semihosting-enable=1 \
-C coretile.cluster0.cpu0.semihosting-cmd_line="--kernel $RTSM_KERNEL --dtb $RTSM_DTB --initrd $RTSM_INITRD -- $RTSM_CMDLINE"

Unmount the image file

When you are finished testing an image, you can delete the mapping to the image file:

sudo kpartx -d linaro.img

note: unless you use kpartx to delete the loop mappings as above, even if you update linaro.img and re-mount it, it will not refresh and you will end up using the old image.