Linux/DECstation HOWTO build a kernel on a DECStation

1. Get a running system

A good starting point is the NFS-based root filesystem I've uploaded to : mipsel-root-20011216.tgz

See my  Installation HOWTO  for instructions on building a working linux system on a DECStation.

2. Get the compile environment ready

The root system you've just installed, only contains run-time packages, no compilers etc. In order to get your compile environment ready, you'll have to install or upgrade at least the following packages (or newer) from H.J.Lu's RedHat 7.1 port :
glibc-devel-2.2.4-19.4 Depends on kernel-headers, use --nodeps to install.
ncurses-devel-5.2-8.1 Only needed for 'make menuconfig'. Depends on 'perl', use --nodeps to install.

3. Install the kernel source

The current kernel source is maintained in the CVS tree at To get the latest tree, you have to 'checkout' the linux tree from the CVS system. This can be done on any internet connected system that supports CVS.

Change to a directory where the source tree should be created (it will be in the subdirectory 'linux').

$ cvs -d login
(Only needed the first time you use anonymous CVS, the password is "cvs")

$ cvs -d co -r linux_2_4 linux

Note we checkout the 2.4 kernel tree. The default is 2.5. Now you'll have to copy this tree over to the DECStation's file system.

4. Configure and Compile the kernel

You can use my .config file as a starting point (save the config.txt file, and copy is to /usr/src/linux/.config).

Before you run make menuconfig, you must clean up all intel binaries in the scripts and scripts/lxdialog subdirectories. These are not removed by a 'make clean', and will fail your make (this is only needed in case you copied the source tree from a cross-development system).

Select support for DECStations, and select the correct CPU type for your station. Don't forget to unselect the crosscompiler in the Kernel-Hacking section.

Now run 'make dep; make clean; make boot', and take a long break. This step takes about 2 hours on my 5000/260, but it may a lot more on smaller systems.

5. Test it!

Copy the resulting boot image from arch/mips/boot/vmlinux.ecoff to /tftpboot/vmlinux on your boot server.

Reboot your DECStation.

6. Notes

  • I've compiled the kernels on my kernel selector page on my DECStation 5000/260.
  • Tested on a 5000/150 and 5000/200 too.

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    Last change: 9-1-2002