Lab 25, network, part 2

After the Lab 24 when we prepared the layout I took serious study of the ways to implement the ethernet driver. And I found that there is actual convergence of 2 ways of implementation that I saw in previous lab. Comparing to implementation of ethernet driver in C (ether.c, smsc.c) it is enough to have code worked up to call of kernelproxy() which just bypass control to etherusb.c – send a “bind” command into the control file and bypass as arguments usb end point files for input and output data streams.

If so, then I have no need to implement the file-server support of “ether” device in limbo as it will handled by etherusb.c which we already have ready (of course to find this simple solution fisrt I ported even more C code to Limbo).

I took parts from Plan9 of ether.c and smsc.c and start converting into Limbo, which wasn’t so complicated task. Actually I combined then into single file ethersmsc.b.

When I had attempt to start Raspberry with this new ethernet driver but to my wonder I found that Mac address is just zeros. Strange, but by asking experts and checking info, yes that’s correct: eeprom of ethernet chip on Raspberry does not have the MAC there embedded. Instead it is kept in VideoCore chip and can be received by MailBox interface.

The communication with VideoCore is already implemeneted in vcore.c which we have from 9pi project. But my attempt to receive MAC showed something very strange – it didn’t work at all. Channel 1 of mailbox interface – Framebuffer works perfect why Channel 8 – getting properties from chip does not work at all.

Almost two days of debugging, different trys, attempts while I realized that I probably have very old firmware. Oops. When I did try get new firware files ( I found another stumbling block: U-Boot no more working!

 ** Unable to use mmc 0:1 for fatload **

Well, my U-Boot was from friend of mine and from 2012 (yep, old). As next I need to compile U-Boot myself. Version from repository didn’t compile for some reason, so I tried the release 2013-10.

# emerge --ask crossdev
# crossdev -S -v -t armv6j-hardfloat-linux-gnueabi
# cd u-boot
# make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=armv6j-hardfloat-linux-gnueabi- rpi_b_config
# make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=armv6j-hardfloat-linux-gnueabi-

But I as result I have elf file while I need an image file. For this special tool:

# emerge sys-boot/raspberrypi-mkimage

Next attempts to boot didn’t work again. Ah, I need to process u-boot.bin but not just u-boot file:

# u-boot.bin /mnt/SD/u-boot.bin

Finally! It boot! But wait:

## Executing script at 00000000
Unknown command 'usb' - try 'help'

Why? After searches I found that even up to current moment they haven’t integrated Usb codes for raspberry into U-Boot :(
I have to go back. The very recent but with Usb is the repository Also looks from 2012 but I have hope.

Again, compile cycle and I got U-Boot with Usb finally and with new firmware!

In:    serial
Out:   lcd
Err:   lcd
mbox: Timeout waiting for response
bcm2835: Could not set USB power state
Net:   Net Initialization Skipped
No ethernet found.
Hit any key to stop autoboot:  0 
reading uEnv.txt
** Unable to read file uEnv.txt **
reading boot.scr
247 bytes read in 8516 ms (0 Bytes/s)
Running bootscript from mmc0 ...
## Executing script at 00200000
(Re)start USB...
USB0:   Core Release: 2.80a
scanning bus 0 for devices... Error condition at line 653:  XACTERR
Error condition at line 653:  XACTERR
Error condition at line 653:  XACTERR
USB device descriptor short read (expected 18, got 0)
4 USB Device(s) found
       scanning usb for storage devices... 0 Storage Device(s) found
       scanning usb for ethernet devices... 1 Ethernet Device(s) found
Waiting for Ethernet connection... done.
BOOTP broadcast 1
*** Unhandled DHCP Option in OFFER/ACK: 95
*** Unhandled DHCP Option in OFFER/ACK: 95
DHCP client bound to address
Waiting for Ethernet connection... done.
Using sms0 device
TFTP from server; our IP address is
Filename 'irpi'.
Load address: 0x7fe0

And an attempt to get stored MAC Address with MailBox from VideoCore and success!

mac: b827ebd9eafd

To bypass it from kernel to Usb driver we will just create environment variable in main.c funcion init0():

               snprint(buf, sizeof(buf), "%s", getethermac());
               ksetenv("ethermac", buf, 0);

Also bind “/env” as we haven’t done it yet in rpiinit.b.
Testing and looks okay, I see the MAC in ifc

; cd /net/ether0
; ls
; cat addr
b827ebd9eafdx; cat stats
in: 470
link: 0
out: 6
crc errs: 0
overflows: 0
soft overflows: 0
framing errs: 0
buffer errs: 0
output errs: 0
prom: 0
mbps: 100
addr: b827ebd9eaf

Now time to get IP with DHCP. To do so I decided for now just put code into driver:

# default initialization:
# let's get ip with dhcp
confether() {
	fd: ref Sys->FD;
	ethername := "ether0";

	fd = sys->open("/net/ipifc/clone", sys->OWRITE);
	if(fd == nil) {
		sys->print("init: open /net/ipifc/clone: %r\n");
	if(sys->fprint(fd, "bind ether %s", ethername) < 0) {
		sys->print("could not bind ether0 interface: %r\n");

	fd = sys->open("/net/ipifc/0/ctl", Sys->OWRITE);
	if(fd == nil){
		sys->print("init: can't reopen /net/ipifc/0/ctl: %r\n");

	dhcpclient = load Dhcpclient Dhcpclient->PATH;
	if(dhcpclient == nil){
		sys->print("can't load dhcpclient: %r\n");
	(nil, nil, err) := dhcpclient->dhcp("/net", fd, "/net/ether0/addr", nil, nil);
	if(err != nil){
		sys->print("dhcp: %s\n", err);

Rebooting again, and

; cd /net/ipifc/0
; ls
; cat local ->

Great! Try to ping from both sides:

# ping
PING ( 56(84) bytes of data.
64 bytes from icmp_seq=1 ttl=255 time=0.843 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=2 ttl=255 time=0.419 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=3 ttl=255 time=0.389 ms
64 bytes from icmp_seq=4 ttl=255 time=0.407 ms


; ip/ping -n 4
sending 4 64 byte messages 1000 ms apart
0: rtt 20000 µs, avg rtt 20000 µs, ttl = 64
1: rtt 20000 µs, avg rtt 20000 µs, ttl = 64
2: rtt 20000 µs, avg rtt 20000 µs, ttl = 64
3: rtt 10000 µs, avg rtt 17500 µs, ttl = 64


Revision on google code

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  1. Posted February 23, 2014 at 23:33 | Permalink

    This is awesome news. I look forward to being able to build and run Inferno on the Pi.nnGive the amount of tweaking involved since Part 1 was published, a one-piece HOWTO on building a bootable image would be great (once it’s stable, of course — I suppose there’s still a fair bit of stuff to do).

  2. yshurik
    Posted February 23, 2014 at 23:38 | Permalink

    I haven’t done any work about preparing usable image which can be written to SD and just be used. Just proved everything ready in Lab 23. I guess that will be solely next Lab about packaging image with all required files or so.

  3. fred
    Posted February 25, 2014 at 06:31 | Permalink

    So far so good !!!nnNext maybe you can start from Richard Miller note [] regarding the SDcard boot process :nn1/ Booting from sd card:n- start with a normal rpi distro sd (e.g. 2012-08-16-wheezy-raspbian)n- copy 9pi to sd’s root directoryn- add or change “kernel=” line in config.txt to “kernel=9pi”n… There should be no problem adjusting this to your Inferno kernelnn2/ After that is the minimal rootfs that you may embed into your kernel boot image. Aside from base cmds and libs, I suggest adding files that would support:n- IP related commands to configure IP stackn- namespace commands required to mount/bind filesystem including w/ 9pn- disk related commands to partition, format, kfs etcnnOnce you have that, you potentially have the minimal bare Inferno. Maybe what people want in order to embed a Limbo app without GUI, source, etc.nn3/ On the other hand, such a bare minimal Inferno might have a script to facilitate installation of sources, GUI, etc. over a 9p connection. B. Stuart did a nice paper / ISO. google “Installing Native Inferno on a PC”.nn4/ Finally, I don’t know how feasible it is but installing / updating through “hg clone” would be cool for a development Terminal…

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