Minecraft on the loongson-3A4000 / Lemote A1901

It runs!

This was a bit more work than I had anticipated. However flygoat had done much of the legwork for me. The first thing to get is flygoat’s mc-loongson.zip. I made a local download as I suspect many will not have QQ or WeChat (Or don’t want to admit to the government that you are downloading this…).

I’m not sure if it’s a MIPS thing or a UOS thing, but it had Java 11.0.4 in by default, which is CRAZY slow

$ /usr/lib/jvm/java-1.11.0-openjdk-mips64el/bin/java -version
openjdk version "11.0.4" 2019-07-16
OpenJDK Runtime Environment (build 11.0.4+11-post-Debian-1deb10u1)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Zero VM (build 11.0.4+11-post-Debian-1deb10u1, interpreted mode)

I installed version 8, but they are ‘in parallel’ in different directories… I guess it’s the .net hell drift all over again. Although to be fair I’ve only dealt with vendor installed java on Linux where it’s all fixed to single versions.

/usr/lib/jvm/java-1.11.0-openjdk-mips64el/bin/java --module-path /usr/share/openjfx/lib --add-modules=javafx.controls,javafx.fxml,javafx.base,javafx.media,javafx.web,javafx.swing -jar HMCL-3.2.139.jar

One annoying thing is that it cannot find JavaFX over and over despite it being installed, so I had to manually add the ‘module-path’. This is the syntax for version 11, I’m not all that sure on the version 8 syntax.

$ /usr/lib/jvm/java-8-openjdk-mips64el/bin/java -version
openjdk version "1.8.0"
OpenJDK Runtime Environment (Loongson 8.1.3-mips64r2-uos) (build 1.8.0-1.8.0.212-2deepin-b00)
OpenJDK 64-Bit Server VM (build 25.71-b00, mixed mode)

I changed the /etc/alternatives/java to point to version 8, which although causes the launcher to crash launching the actual exe, it’s trivial enough to change it to version 8. Although the command is… unwieldy but save it to a shell script.

I’m sure it won’t paste well, but here we go.. and it’s in my homedir sooo here we go!

/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-openjdk-mips64el/bin/java “-Dminecraft.client.jar=.minecraft/versions/1.15.2/1.15.2.jar” “-Duser.home=null” -XX:+UnlockExperimentalVMOptions -XX:+UseG1GC “-XX:G1NewSizePercent=20” “-XX:G1ReservePercent=20” “-XX:MaxGCPauseMillis=50” “-XX:G1HeapRegionSize=16M” -XX:-UseAdaptiveSizePolicy -XX:-OmitStackTraceInFastThrow -Xmn128m -Xmx7936m “-Dfml.ignoreInvalidMinecraftCertificates=true” “-Dfml.ignorePatchDiscrepancies=true” “-Djava.library.path=/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/versions/1.15.2/1.15.2-natives” “-Dminecraft.launcher.brand=HMCL” “-Dminecraft.launcher.version=3.2.139” -cp /home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/patchy/1.1/patchy-1.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/oshi-project/oshi-core/1.1/oshi-core-1.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/java/dev/jna/jna/4.4.0/jna-4.4.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/java/dev/jna/platform/3.4.0/platform-3.4.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/ibm/icu/icu4j/66.1/icu4j-66.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/javabridge/1.0.22/javabridge-1.0.22.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/sf/jopt-simple/jopt-simple/5.0.3/jopt-simple-5.0.3.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/io/netty/netty-all/4.1.25.Final/netty-all-4.1.25.Final.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/google/guava/guava/21.0/guava-21.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/commons/commons-lang3/3.5/commons-lang3-3.5.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/commons-io/commons-io/2.5/commons-io-2.5.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/commons-codec/commons-codec/1.10/commons-codec-1.10.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/java/jinput/jinput/2.0.5/jinput-2.0.5.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/java/jutils/jutils/1.0.0/jutils-1.0.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/brigadier/1.0.17/brigadier-1.0.17.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/datafixerupper/4.0.26/datafixerupper-4.0.26.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/google/code/gson/gson/2.8.0/gson-2.8.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/authlib/1.6.25/authlib-1.6.25.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/commons/commons-compress/1.8.1/commons-compress-1.8.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/httpcomponents/httpclient/4.3.3/httpclient-4.3.3.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/commons-logging/commons-logging/1.1.3/commons-logging-1.1.3.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/httpcomponents/httpcore/4.3.2/httpcore-4.3.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/it/unimi/dsi/fastutil/8.2.1/fastutil-8.2.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/logging/log4j/log4j-api/2.8.1/log4j-api-2.8.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/logging/log4j/log4j-core/2.8.1/log4j-core-2.8.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl/3.2.2/lwjgl-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-jemalloc/3.2.2/lwjgl-jemalloc-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-openal/3.2.2/lwjgl-openal-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-opengl/3.2.2/lwjgl-opengl-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-glfw/3.2.2/lwjgl-glfw-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-stb/3.2.2/lwjgl-stb-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-tinyfd/3.2.2/lwjgl-tinyfd-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/text2speech/1.11.3/text2speech-1.11.3.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/ibm/icu/icu4j-core-mojang/51.2/icu4j-core-mojang-51.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl/3.2.2/lwjgl-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-jemalloc/3.2.2/lwjgl-jemalloc-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-openal/3.2.2/lwjgl-openal-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-opengl/3.2.2/lwjgl-opengl-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-glfw/3.2.2/lwjgl-glfw-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-stb/3.2.2/lwjgl-stb-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-tinyfd/3.2.2/lwjgl-tinyfd-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/versions/1.15.2/1.15.2.jar “-Djava.library.path=/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/versions/1.15.2/1.15.2-natives” “-Dminecraft.launcher.brand=HMCL” “-Dminecraft.launcher.version=3.2.139” -cp /home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/patchy/1.1/patchy-1.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/oshi-project/oshi-core/1.1/oshi-core-1.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/java/dev/jna/jna/4.4.0/jna-4.4.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/java/dev/jna/platform/3.4.0/platform-3.4.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/ibm/icu/icu4j/66.1/icu4j-66.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/javabridge/1.0.22/javabridge-1.0.22.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/sf/jopt-simple/jopt-simple/5.0.3/jopt-simple-5.0.3.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/io/netty/netty-all/4.1.25.Final/netty-all-4.1.25.Final.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/google/guava/guava/21.0/guava-21.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/commons/commons-lang3/3.5/commons-lang3-3.5.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/commons-io/commons-io/2.5/commons-io-2.5.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/commons-codec/commons-codec/1.10/commons-codec-1.10.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/java/jinput/jinput/2.0.5/jinput-2.0.5.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/net/java/jutils/jutils/1.0.0/jutils-1.0.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/brigadier/1.0.17/brigadier-1.0.17.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/datafixerupper/4.0.26/datafixerupper-4.0.26.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/google/code/gson/gson/2.8.0/gson-2.8.0.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/authlib/1.6.25/authlib-1.6.25.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/commons/commons-compress/1.8.1/commons-compress-1.8.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/httpcomponents/httpclient/4.3.3/httpclient-4.3.3.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/commons-logging/commons-logging/1.1.3/commons-logging-1.1.3.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/httpcomponents/httpcore/4.3.2/httpcore-4.3.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/it/unimi/dsi/fastutil/8.2.1/fastutil-8.2.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/logging/log4j/log4j-api/2.8.1/log4j-api-2.8.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/apache/logging/log4j/log4j-core/2.8.1/log4j-core-2.8.1.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl/3.2.2/lwjgl-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-jemalloc/3.2.2/lwjgl-jemalloc-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-openal/3.2.2/lwjgl-openal-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-opengl/3.2.2/lwjgl-opengl-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-glfw/3.2.2/lwjgl-glfw-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-stb/3.2.2/lwjgl-stb-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-tinyfd/3.2.2/lwjgl-tinyfd-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/mojang/text2speech/1.11.3/text2speech-1.11.3.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/com/ibm/icu/icu4j-core-mojang/51.2/icu4j-core-mojang-51.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl/3.2.2/lwjgl-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-jemalloc/3.2.2/lwjgl-jemalloc-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-openal/3.2.2/lwjgl-openal-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-opengl/3.2.2/lwjgl-opengl-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-glfw/3.2.2/lwjgl-glfw-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-stb/3.2.2/lwjgl-stb-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/libraries/org/lwjgl/lwjgl-tinyfd/3.2.2/lwjgl-tinyfd-3.2.2.jar:/home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/versions/1.15.2/1.15.2.jar net.minecraft.client.main.Main –username USERNAME –version “HMCL 3.2.139” –gameDir /home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft –assetsDir /home/neozeed/mc-loongson/.minecraft/assets –assetIndex 1.16 –uuid UUID –accessToken TOOOOKENNNNNN –userType mojang –versionType “HMCL 3.2.139” –width 854 –height 480

Naturally you’ll need your own username, token, uuid..

One thing is for sure, setting the graphics to higher details gives better performance. I suspect that it’s a matter of pushing more of the rendering to hardware, out of software mode.

I have it set to Fabulous! graphics, render distance of 25 chunks, no vysnc, clouds fast, mipmap level 2.

While it does take a while to load up, join the server, and do the initial world loading, you can watch all 4 cores run at 100%, but once it’s loaded in, it’s down to a single core at 100%, and the other 3 are hovering around 10-25%. So once jit’d and loaded in it seems to run okay.

They are jackhammering downstairs and I could make this 1 minute clip in a brief moment of peace. This is before I figured out that the more acceleration you give Minecraft, the faster it runs with the GPU doing the heavy lifting (I think).

Is this the machine for the Minecraft enthusiast? Hardly, but Minecraft is the Java success story, where a platform like this, a fringe non mainstream platform will run a commercial app. This is where the real portability of binutils/gcc/libc and Linux prove to be the winning platform.

Adding a Radeon RX 570

I saw this card while I was out, and I’ve seen mention of some Radeon’s working on the Lemote A1901 board, although it didn’t like my Asus Radeon R9 380 Strix, I’m guessing it’s too old? I can’t find it now, but there was some mention somewhere of someone using a 500 series card (I don’t understand the AMD number schema), so I figured I’d get the 570 as it was just over $100 USD, and it has 8GB of VRAM, so it ought to be somewhat usable if I guessed wrong on the compatibility.

But I did get lucky! The card not only was able to initialize, but UOS came up to the desktop!

glxinfo -B gave the following output:

name of display: :0
display: :0 screen: 0
direct rendering: Yes
Extended renderer info (GLX_MESA_query_renderer):
Vendor: X.Org (0x1002)
Device: Radeon RX 570 Series (POLARIS10, DRM 3.27.0, 4.19.0-loongson-3-desktop, LLVM 7.0.1) (0x67df)
Version: 18.3.6
Accelerated: yes
Video memory: 8192MB
Unified memory: no
Preferred profile: core (0x1)
Max core profile version: 4.5
Max compat profile version: 4.5
Max GLES1 profile version: 1.1
Max GLES[23] profile version: 3.2

So there we go, 8GB of memory, and ‘Accelerated: yes’. It’s also FPS locked to the screen refresh so it’s running a steady 60fps for the display I’m using. I need to build some later games that use GL to really push the machine.

The one big ‘negative’ is that the video card sits over the SATA ports, so I need to get an L connector SATA cable, as now I can’t use my 2TB spinning rust disk with the fancy GPU in place. And it makes my 800 watt PSU all the more justified.

I’m just glad that the portable drivers, well are portable!

Adding a 32bit runtime to UOS

AKA what happens when your OS is from one Debian like distribution and lags behind the rest of the world, but you want to run a parallel infastructure. Obviously for people who have sane setups their stuff is in sync and this doesn’t apply.

HOWEVER for people who use USO they will find out quickly that it’s a Debian derived MIPS64EL based distribution, but they don’t keep any MIPSEL (32bit) binaries. So I was thinking add in the dpkg arch, and some deb sources and I’d be good to go, right? Except the stuff is out of step so what happens is that UOS decides it wants to replace the OS with what is on the mipsel repos. Even when specfiying the arch’s directly.

deb [by-hash=force arch=mips64el] https://professional-packages.chinauos.com/desktop-professional eagle main contrib non-free
deb [arch=mipsel] http://deb.debian.org/debian buster main contrib non-free

I tried.

So the good news is that I asked around and found a solution that I’d never heard of, “debootstrap”. The general page is here:

What it boils down to is that it’s a script set that will download enough DEB’s and extract them onto a directory and prep it out as a chroot/jail. And you can specify whatever architecture you want, you can even use qemu to run totally alien stuff! I’d never heard of this before, such a shame.

From my rough notes I did something like this:

/usr/sbin/debootstrap --arch mipsel buster /usr/local/mipsel http://deb.debian.org/debian

This will install the mipsel platform of Buster into /usr/local/mipsel

running the following gets me into the chroot/jail/container..

LANG=C.UTF-8 sudo chroot /usr/local/mipsel /bin/bash

YES it’s that simple! Although there is some house cleaning to be done:

apt install makedev
mount none /proc -t proc
cd /dev
MAKEDEV generic

Making the devices sure took long enough, but now I could do the regular update, add in some compilers and stuff, X11, and whatnot and get things going. Remember to mess around with xauth to get X11 forwarding from chroot working

Now for the ‘fun’ part of linking the libs…

ln -fs /usr/local/mipsel/usr/lib/mipsel-linux-gnu /usr/lib32
ln -fs /usr/lib32/ld.so.1 /lib/ld.so.1

Then you need to ‘config’ ld.config with

cat > /etc/ld.so.conf.d/mipsel-buildroot.conf
/usr/local/mipsel/usr/lib/mipsel-linux-gnu
^D

Phew we are almost there!

$ file /usr/local/mipsel/bin/dash
/usr/local/mipsel/bin/dash: ELF 32-bit LSB shared object, MIPS, MIPS32 rel2 version 1 (SYSV), dynamically linked, interpreter /lib/ld.so.1, for GNU/Linux 3.2.0, BuildID[sha1]=22877e3a9a83675b22a121c9d2f8943d7339e7db, stripped
$ sudo ldconfig;/usr/local/mipsel/bin/dash
$

And just like that we now can run dynamically linked 32bit MIPSEL binaries on UOS.

As a bonus (from stackexcahnge) here is how to run Xauth to get forwarding from the chroot. From the ‘base’ physical machine run:

$ xauth list
latitude/unix:0  MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1  d4474d13c

Now with that cookie run this in the chroot:

# xauth add latitude/unix:0 MIT-MAGIC-COOKIE-1 d4474d13c
# xclock

and the 32bit Xclock should pop up on your 64bit desktop.

Wasn’t that fun?!

Annoyance with the MIPS linker: relocation overflows

gcc disasm.o audio.o configuration.o dialog.o file.o hostcall.o keymap.o main.o memAlloc.o misc.o screen.o screenConvert.o sdlgui.o shortcut.o scalebit.o input.o fe2.o ../fe2.part1.o ../fe2.part2.o -L/usr/lib/mips64el-linux-gnuabi64 -lSDL -o ../frontier

/usr/bin/ld: ../fe2.part1.o: in function <code>load_binfile': fe2.s.c:(.text+0x180): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against</code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.2'
/usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x19c): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against <code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.0' /usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x1a8): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against</code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.0'
/usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x1c0): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against <code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.0' /usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x1e4): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against</code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.0'
/usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x1f0): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against <code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.2' /usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x280): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_GOT_DISP against</code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.0'
/usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x284): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against <code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.0' /usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x290): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against</code>[email protected]@GLIBC_2.0'
/usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x2b4): relocation truncated to fit: R_MIPS_CALL16 against `[email protected]@GLIBC_2.0'
/usr/bin/ld: fe2.s.c:(.text+0x2c4): additional relocation overflows omitted from the output
collect2: error: ld returned 1 exit status
make[1]: *** [Makefile:18: ../frontier] Error 1

I’d never heard or seen this before, and yeah it’s some MIPS’isim.

Apparently it’s something called a “global offset table” which of course has a 64k entery limit which can cause an overflow if you are doing something crazy like running a disassembler and having tens of thousands of instructions.

Looking at the GCC MIPS options page, there is hope, one can opt for a more iniffecient and larger table with the simple option of -mxgot

FrontVM-2 20061120

And now I can link frontvm.

A modern RISC workstation for a modern (government) era.

While discussing various non x86 boards the topic came up about the Chinese government MIPS based processors, namely the Loongson-3A4000. I’ve tried several times on the past to buy one with no success however 2020 would make up with it as 2 separate leads yielded boards.

To me, there is a great deal of confusion around this setup as it goes by different names, and is sometimes spelt in English, other times Chinese (Simplified & Traditional) with different part numbers and vendors making it kind of confusing.

Various names include, but not limited to:

  • Lemote loongson
  • loongson-3-desktop
  • LEMOTE-LS3A4000-7A1000-1w-V01-pc
  • ICT Loongson-3A R4(loongson-3A4000)
  • Lemote LX-6901
  • Lemote A1901
  • 龙芯3A4000+7A台式机主板

I don’t want to sound like I’m going to just shit all over this thing, but it’s not free, it’s not subsided, and it’s not cheap. Weighing in at 元3,500 RMB the LX-6901 is not a machine for the masses, however it is a non x86 machine for the classes.

Thanks to my day job I was able to get my buyer to trace down several companies, and ads placed on TaoBao and another from AliExpress. Last time I tried both routes, along with the board manufacter Lemote, I was unable to get anything. This time however both leads would work out so now I have 2.

I was told that it would take upwards of 2 weeks for the order(s) to be fulfilled and I should have them in 3 weeks. However 4 business days later this box arrived in my office:

presents from the orient

I suspect they need to temper people’s expectations on shipping, but luckily for me I’m not over seas, although shipping from China to Hong Kong does require a special permit for electronics.

Clearly the tape had been opened several times for various inspections as this shipment was destined to be exported. But props on the dragon tape!

As expected, two boards! Oddly and confusing enough both suppliers insist the boards are different.

Natrually, they are of course identical.

Here is a better glimpse at the board.

The Lemote LX-6901 is not without faults however, it has a memory controller issue and cannot operate correctly with 2 sticks of ram. Luckily my DDR4 extras are 16gb so it’s not bad for messing around. The board also can post ATI boards. However it doesn’t like my Asus Radeon R9 380 Strix board, although it posted fine. I have a few of the FirePro W2100 cards, not a remarkable card, but it does work.

In addition you do need a specific OS for the board, on vendor on AliExpress was unwilling to send me anything, while another on TaoBao was willing to send me UnionTech’s UOS.

System BIOS

the M.2 slot works fine and I was able to boot from USB, and install UOS. The BIOS is very ‘PC’ like, pressing ENTER will enter the bios, and you can change boot priorities, or drop to the UEFI shell if you so please.

BIOS initalization

Installation is pretty easy and straight forward. There is only a few options during install, the desination, if you should accept the default layout (why not)? and a language

The USB stick is slow, but it didn’t matter as I only needed to install twice. The first time I had both memory slots populated, and the board crashed at 5% of the install. I was able to do some searching around and found out about the bad memory controller, so popping out one of the DIMMs and I was able to install and use the machine.

UOS for the MIPS however is a seeming commercial product that is very difficult to buy outside of China (it may very well be allocated only for certain circles as you need a Chinese cellphone number, government ID, and some kind of project id?), although I’m still trying.

Not authorized

The phone support was useless, and I’ve had a few email exchanges on asking if it’s available for purchase, and if so how much. I’ll update if I can figure it out.

What does suck is that while UOS is not authorized you can’t get any OS updates, nor can you enable to root user. So yeah you can’t effectively own the machine with UOS. There is a ‘trial’ mode to enable a 90 day ‘grace’ period so at least I can add GCC and at least build software. Clearly if I can’t sort out UOS I’ll have to dump the kernel / initrd and restore another MIPS64EL Linux distro over the filesystem. Debian has MIPS64EL, and seems to be working to mainline the LX-6901.

UOS bills itself as a Windows replacement, and I have to say that I do enjoy using it. It has some rather ‘Windows’ qualities to it, like the sound mixer, and ease of installing apps from the ‘store’ however if it’s not in the store and it’s Not authorized you are out of luck. As much as I dislike distro of the week nonsense, I do like the idea of thousands of people being hired to flesh it out to make Linux usable, but only time will tell how much of it is translation to Chinese, and how much is developing software.

When it comes to performance the 3A4000 running at 1.8Ghz is faster than a Raspberry Pi 4, however not significantly faster CPU wise. However the big plus the MIPS does have is that it has a far more capable bus with M.2 and PCI-E slots along with SATA giving the board much better IO than any SOC solution like the Pis.

I built the BYTE Benchmark 5.1.3 and did this graph with data from running on a Zero for comparison. I had to adjust scales for some of this so its more visible, however the important data is here that CPU wise they are close together, but in the area of IO the Dragon pulls far ahead. For those who like the Linux boot score, the CPU ‘clocks’ in at 3594.02 BogoMIPS per core.

It’s been a large ‘discovery’ thing, and a long time since I’ve tried to make Linux a ‘daily driver’ and of course the scarcity of MIPS binaries on Linux is going to be an issue, but I’ll have to explore the apparent ARM/x86 compatibility as I can find more information about it.

Since this has been such a learning curve for me as I learn more things I’ll add them to this list:

I don’t know how much (if any) reach my blog has in China, but if anyone knows any more or can help, drop a line!

Patching GCC 4.1.2 to build under GCC 8

What started as a spriling out of control build of SLiRP for User Model Linux (UML) I had so many issues with GCC 8, I figured I’d try v4 where I recall it building easily. Well that was. Fun.

Anywas I’m using Linux (Debian 10.5), and the build tools currently has me running GCC 8.3.0. Anyways a straight build introduces this fun:

../.././gcc/toplev.c: At top level:
../.././gcc/toplev.c:524:1: error: redefinition of ‘floor_log2’
 floor_log2 (unsigned HOST_WIDE_INT x)
 ^~~~~~~~~~
In file included from ../.././gcc/toplev.c:59:
../.././gcc/toplev.h:175:1: note: previous definition of ‘floor_log2’ was here
 floor_log2 (unsigned HOST_WIDE_INT x)
 ^~~~~~~~~~
../.././gcc/toplev.c:559:1: error: redefinition of ‘exact_log2’
 exact_log2 (unsigned HOST_WIDE_INT x)
 ^~~~~~~~~~
In file included from ../.././gcc/toplev.c:59:
../.././gcc/toplev.h:181:1: note: previous definition of ‘exact_log2’ was here
 exact_log2 (unsigned HOST_WIDE_INT x)
 ^~~~~~~~~~
make[2]: *** [Makefile:2064: toplev.o] Error 1
make[2]: Leaving directory '/home/jsteve/src/gcc-4.1.2/host-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu/gcc'
make[1]: *** [Makefile:3905: all-gcc] Error 2
make[1]: Leaving directory '/home/jsteve/src/gcc-4.1.2'

Ugh isn’t this fun. Well it turns out it’s largely from the confusion from how GCC now handles inline functions.

I’ve uploaded the patch here. It’s not great, I know but I got a working C compiler out of it, however I had to manually place xgcc/cc1/cpp from gcc-4.1.2/host-x86_64-unknown-linux-gnu/gcc

Naturally YMMV as always.

I did see further hints on this ‘gist‘ that also boils down to using GCC in 1989 mode for inlines:

gcc -fgnu89-inline

And also this ‘stack exchange‘ that mentions that toplev also has issues with the same inline issues. Naturally if you just define inline to nothing you’ll end up with two floor_log2 and exact_log2’s from libiberty. And both are different. Fun times ahead!

As for slirp, well I took the version from the Debian source project, and manually applied all the patches and I ended up not only having to manually create some missing headers, but after getting it to build it’d just crash immediately. Bummer.

I rebuilt it as a 32bit exe, and wow it ran just fine. Go figure. For anyone crazy enough to want to build it on it’s own, this patch take slirp-1.0.16 to a ’17’ with all the current Debian patches, and my sad patch, was what I did to get it to compile with GCC 4. Note you will want to save aside the ‘.p files’ which are the headers, as the configure will remove them and either save them as empty files, or files that don’t work. … Well at least they didn’t work for me!

The whole thing started as a ‘oh wow Linux is now in 5.1.0 release’ and I figured the easiest way to check it out was to use UML. I found this page with a quick ‘how to build and roll’ your own UML’s, although the SLiRP config is a bit off in the host, as it should be 10.0.2.15 for the UML kernel.

The new killer feature is UML can mount a directory as a filesystem so you don’t have to mess around like crazy to make disk images. It makes the experience more docker like, which I enjoy.

./linux root=/dev/root rootfstype=hostfs rootflags=/home/jsteve/linux/linux-5.1.17/uml-demo2 rw mem=64M init=/bin/sh

So no I end up running this in the VM to kick off the required mounts and networking.

mount -t proc proc proc/
mount -t sysfs sys sys/
ifconfig eth0 10.0.2.15 netmask 255.255.255.0 broadcast 10.0.2.255
route add default gw 10.0.2.2
ping -c 2 10.0.2.2

Oh one thing worth pointing out is that 5.1.16 breaks 32bit compiles, you have to build 5.1.17 to get a 32bit kernel.

I should touch more on building UML but I’ve already sat on this for a week, and I’m too busy moving (yet again) to a smaller island. Hopefully a more peaceful one.

UML Linux on WSL2

Since WSL2 runs an actual Linux kernel that means you can run 32bit binaries! And that now means you can run stuff like ancient unmodified UML kernels on Windows! Isn’t that great!

I followed my old posts here & here, to get running or the short version being:

dpkg --add-architecture i386
apt-get update
apt-get upgrade
apt-get install libc6:i386 libncurses5:i386 libstdc++6:i386 slirp

Download a kernel, linux-2.6.24-rc7.bz2 and a root filesystem: Debian-4.0-x86-root_fs.bz2 and get running right away:

./linux-2.6.24-rc7 ubd0=test_fs eth0=slirp mem=512m

And it just worked!

Upgrading to WSL2

I finally got the update to version 2004 of Windows 10 (OS Build 19041.329) which now includes support for running a Linux kernel inside a VM, using paravirtual drivers letting it hook into Windows 10. It reminds me of WinOS/2 where, OS/2 would run Windows 3.1 in a virtual machine, but using special drivers it could redirect it on the native filesystem, and paint the windows on the OS/2 desktop.

So the first thing is make sure you have 2004, winver should look like this:

You will need to go to the old control panel, and enable the Virtual Machine Platform. For those of you using VMware, you’ll need at least version 15.5.5 (15.5.6 is current as of the time of me writing this). I’d suggest you do that before turning on this, but some people like to live dangerously. Also fully shut down all your VM’s otherwise things will end up giving you errors (as you’ll see later).

After the Virtual Machine Platform is installed, your machine will need to reboot. After a reboot, you’ll need to download the Linux Update to the system, available at:

https://aka.ms/wsl2-install

It’s a simple install, and only takes a few seconds. I didn’t have to reboot.

now for the fun parts, you’ll need to list and shut down (terminate) your running WSL’s if you have any running.

C:\Users\neozeed>wsl --list --verbose
NAME STATE VERSION
Debian Running 1

As you can see I only have one, and it’s called Debian, and it is currently running something. Let’s kill it!

C:\Users\neozeed>wsl -t Debian
C:\Users\neozeed>wsl --list --verbose
NAME STATE VERSION
Debian Stopped 1

And now it’s stopped. The command to upgrade is pretty simple:

C:\Users\neozeed>wsl --set-version Debian 2
Conversion in progress, this may take a few minutes…
For information on key differences with WSL 2 please visit https://aka.ms/wsl2

And yes, you can also stop the WSL instance, and move it back to version 1, if you find 2 not doing what you want. However on first impressions, WSL2 is significantly faster.

If you are running VMware, and you didn’t shut down your VM’s you’ll get this lovely message when you try to resume:

The save state will be deleted, but rest assured it’ll launch okay (at least mine did!)

10.6 the last great OS X

One sad consequence of using the Microsoft Virtual Machine framework is that nesting is no longer available.

which is kind of a bummer, as that was the killer feature.

Qemu 5 was recently released

It’s been jumping numbers like crazy, and I’m still holding onto 0.9 because I’m weird. Anyways there is something amazing hiding in all those release notes and stuff:

68040!

The m68k emulation is good enough to run Linux! Granted the target machine is the Macintosh 800, although the Mac ROM doesn’t boot enough to do anything Apple enough, using a serial console however does get us into the system. On my ancient Mac Pro I get emulation in the speed range of a 1Ghz G4!

[email protected]:~# cat /proc/cpuinfo 
CPU: 68040
MMU: 68040
FPU: 68040
Clocking: 1304.9MHz
BogoMips: 869.99
Calibration: 4349952 loops

Absolutely amazing!

Installation is a bit tricky as there is no true bootrom / boot process, so I had to load the installer with a dummy ‘raw’ disk, and tar the kernel & initrd to that raw disk so I could later extract it on the native OS to boot into the disk. I followed mostly the instructions here.

And what is that? NeXT CUBE emulation?

The peripherals are nowhere near complete enough to boot, HOWEVER it does boot the PROM, complete with keyboard support.

qemu-system-m68k -M next-cube -bios Rev_2.5_v66.BIN

It’s fun enough to play with. And thanks to Qemu’s fast emulation, perhaps this is a speedy way to run stuff in the future?

Now isn’t that cool?

Slackware finally goes to Patreon

It’s been a long time overdue, where helping to keep afloat the oldest continues Linux distro is now super easy to do!

Hi folks, Slackware founder Patrick Volkerding here. Welcome to the official page supporting the Slackware Linux Project. Slackware was founded in 1993 and made its first public releases that same year, making it the longest active Linux distribution project.

Today there are many Linux distributions available, but I’ve remained dedicated to this project as I believe it still holds an important place in the Linux ecosystem. Slackware is free, open source software that gives you everything you need to recompile the entire operating system and make any changes you like. The package system is constructed from shell scripts using standard utilities, and easily modified scripts are used throughout so that users may customize their operating system without having to recompile anything. Included software is changed very little (usually not at all) from the way the upstream developers intended. Einstein once said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler” — and when it comes to an operating system, trying to make things “easy” does not always achieve that goal. Anyone who has ever struggled with a package dependency system that doesn’t like the replacement of a system component knows what I’m talking about here. Slackware users know that once you’ve learned how to use the system, it’s easier to use than something that tries to put a GUI setup tool in front of the underlying text files that actually configure the system. And they know that Slackware can be trusted not to constantly change the way things work, so that your investment in learning Slackware lasts longer than it would with a system that’s a moving target. Slackware still builds upon a foundation of the latest development tools, libraries, and applications, and is supported by a vibrant user/developer community that welcomes new users and provides well-tested build scripts for nearly any software you may require.

Your support is greatly appreciated, and will make it possible for me to continue to maintain this project. Cheers!

For me, Slackware holds a special place as just as soon as SLS became a thing it quickly fell into disrepair and rot. The final straw was trying to bootstrap that new fangled ELF thing (it’s almost impossible to find any talk of that COFF thing) and it was just an incredible amount of work. At that point just getting Slackware on a shovelware CD-ROM set was just nothing short of incredible. And it was obvious at the time of ELF that the whole ‘I can’t xyz with little to no effort, therefore dump that distro and try another one’ was born. And Linux never recovered. Look no further at the insane cruft and required infrastructure for Docker to just load an application.

With that said when building a lot of crap from source it’s sometimes nice to have something that’ll just get out of the way, and Slackware does a reasonable job of that. Although last time I really fought with Slackware 13.37 it really didn’t go so well. But at the same time I am willing to make monetary support to ensure the future of Slackware.

The project currently stands at 230 supporters. Which is pretty good, as when it comes to supporting things, few will actually put their money into it, so hopefully this will allow Slackware to continue to exist, and maybe even flourish. I for one find this anti systemd distro important for the sake of software diversity in the ‘me too Debian’ sea of clones out there. Just as supporting OpenBSD is important in the standpoint of security.

You too can support Patrick over on patreon.com.