Gentoo on Fulong

So, a couple of days ago, I decided that it was high time to install a different version of linux on my Lemote Fulong.

First of all, the Lemote Fulong is a Chinese desktop machine designed for low power with a decent amount of capability. It is a MIPS based machine, using pretty much all of the MIPS architecture that is not patented by various other corporations. As such, it works pretty well in this regard.

It only runs linux based operating systems, as Microsoft certainly never wrote a version of Windows for the MIPS architecture. The closest they have ever come is by writing Windows NT for the Alpha architecture. So linux it is.

By default, the Fulong comes with a modified Debian installation installed, and that is maintained by the Lemote corporation. Unfortunately they do not maintain everything as up-to-date as I would like it, so I went searching for other distributions. I found that Stuart Longland had been working on getting gentoo working on the Fulong, so I patiently waited for him to get something going. That day happened last week.

He had released a kernel for the machine a while ago, but the rest of the distribution was still coming along. Last week he released a liveUSB image of his distribution for use, and I quickly grabbed that and started playing with it.

His instructions included putting a netboot kernel and the liveUSB image onto a flash key and booting the entire system from the key, but I would rather use the keys as little as possible, so I put the kernel onto a tftp server I have available to boot from instead. From there I was able to bootstrap into the liveUSB image and play around.

Of course, this wasn’t enough, and I wanted the entire thing installed onto the harddrive of the fulong instead. My first couple of attempts didn’t go so well, and ended up in a mess. Finally I was able to build a distribution on the harddrive that had a working kernel that would boot, and I am now good to go with a full gentoo distribution on the harddrive, and I can now remove the USB key for good from the system.