Christoph's last Weblog entries

Entries from October 2016.

Installing a python systemd service?
26th October 2016

As web search engines and IRC seems to be of no help, maybe someone here has a helpful idea. I have some service written in python that comes with a .service file for systemd. I now want to build&install a working service file from the software's I can override the build/build_py commands of setuptools, however that way I still lack knowledge wrt. the bindir/prefix where my service script will be installed.


Turns out, if you override the install command (not the install_data!), you will have self.root and self.install_scripts (and lots of other self.install_*). As a result, you can read the template and write the desired output file after calling super's run method. The fix was inspired by GateOne (which, however doesn't get the --root parameter right, you need to strip self.root from the beginning of the path to actually make that work as intended).

As suggested on IRC, the snippet (and my software) no use pkg-config to get at the systemd path as well. This is a nice improvement orthogonal to the original problem. The implementation here follows bley.

def systemd_unit_path():
        command = ["pkg-config", "--variable=systemdsystemunitdir", "systemd"]
        path = subprocess.check_output(command, stderr=subprocess.STDOUT)
        return path.decode().replace('\n', '')
    except (subprocess.CalledProcessError, OSError):
        return "/lib/systemd/system"

class my_install(install):
    _servicefiles = [

    def run(self):

        if not self.dry_run:
            bindir = self.install_scripts
            if bindir.startswith(self.root):
                bindir = bindir[len(self.root):]

            systemddir = "%s%s" % (self.root, systemd_unit_path())

            for servicefile in self._servicefiles:
                service = os.path.split(servicefile)[1]
                self.announce("Creating %s" % os.path.join(systemddir, service),
                with open(servicefile) as servicefd:
                    servicedata =

                with open(os.path.join(systemddir, service), "w") as servicefd:
                    servicefd.write(servicedata.replace("%BINDIR%", bindir))

Comments, suggestions and improvements, of course, welcome!

Tags: python.
Running Debian on the ClearFog
22nd October 2016

Back in August, I was looking for a Homeserver replacement. During FrOSCon I was then reminded of the Turris Omnia project by The basic SoC (Marvel Armada 38x) seemed to be nice hand have decent mainline support (and, with the turris, users interested in keeping it working). Only I don't want any WIFI and I wasn't sure the standard case would be all that usefully. Fortunately, there's also a simple board available with the same SoC called ClearFog and so I got one of these (the Base version). With shipping and the SSD (the only 2242 M.2 SSD with 250 GiB I could find, a ADATA SP600) it slightly exceeds the budget but well.

ClearFog with SSD

When installing the machine, the obvious goal was to use mainline FOSS components only if possible. Fortunately there's mainline kernel support for the device as well as mainline U-Boot. First attempts to boot from a micro SD card did not work out at all, both with mainline U-Boot and the vendor version though. Turns out the eMMC version of the board does not support any micro SD cards at all, a fact that is documented but others failed to notice as well.


As the board does not come with any loader on eMMC and booting directly from M.2 requires removing some resistors from the board, the easiest way is using UART for booting. The vendor wiki has some shell script wrapping an included C fragment to feed U-Boot to the device but all that is really needed is U-Boot's kwboot utility. For some reason the SPL didn't properly detect UART booting on my device (wrong magic number) but patching the if (in arch-mvebu's spl.c) and always assume UART boot is an easy way around.

The plan then was to boot a Debian armhf rootfs with a defconfig kernel from USB stick. and install U-Boot and the rootfs to eMMC from within that system. Unfortunately U-Boot seems to be unable to talk to the USB3 port so no kernel loading from there. One could probably make UART loading work but switching between screen for serial console and xmodem seemed somewhat fragile and I never got it working. However ethernet can be made to work, though you need to set eth1addr to eth3addr (or just the right one of these) in U-Boot, saveenv and reboot. After that TFTP works (but is somewhat slow).


There's one last step required to allow U-Boot and Linux to access the eMMC. eMMC is wired to the same PINs as the SD card would be. However the SD card has an additional indicator pin showing whether a card is present. You might be lucky inserting a dummy card into the slot or go the clean route and remove the pin specification from the device tree.

--- a/arch/arm/dts/armada-388-clearfog.dts
+++ b/arch/arm/dts/armada-388-clearfog.dts
@@ -306,7 +307,6 @@

                        sdhci@d8000 {
                                bus-width = <4>;
-                               cd-gpios = <&gpio0 20 GPIO_ACTIVE_LOW>;
                                pinctrl-0 = <&clearfog_sdhci_pins

Next Up is flashing the U-Boot to eMMC. This seems to work with the vendor U-Boot but proves to be tricky with mainline. The fun part boils down to the fact that the boot firmware reads the first block from eMMC, but the second from SD card. If you write the mainline U-Boot, which was written and tested for SD card, to eMMC the SPL will try to load the main U-Boot starting from it's second sector from flash -- obviously resulting in garbage. This one took me several tries to figure out and made me read most of the SPL code for the device. The fix however is trivial (apart from the question on how to support all different variants from one codebase, which I'll leave to the U-Boot developers):

--- a/include/configs/clearfog.h
+++ b/include/configs/clearfog.h
@@ -143,8 +143,7 @@
 #define CONFIG_SYS_MMC_U_BOOT_OFFS             (160 << 10)
-                                                + 1)
 #define CONFIG_SYS_U_BOOT_MAX_SIZE_SECTORS     ((512 << 10) / 512) /* 512KiB */
 #define CONFIG_FIXED_SDHCI_ALIGNED_BUFFER      0x00180000      /* in SDRAM */


Now we have a System booting from eMMC with mainline U-Boot (which is a most welcome speedup compared to the UART and TFTP combination from the beginning). Getting to fine-tune linux on the device -- we want to install the armmp Debian kernel and have it work. As all the drivers are build as modules for that kernel this also means initrd support. Funnily U-Boots bootz allows booting a plain vmlinux kernel but I couldn't get it to boot a plain initrd. Passing a uImage initrd and a normal kernel however works pretty well. Back when I first tried there were some modules missing and ethernet didn't work with the PHY driver built as a module. In the meantime the PHY problem was fixed in the Debian kernel and almost all modules already added. Ben then only added the USB3 module on my suggestion and as a result, unstable's armhf armmp kernel should work perfectly well on the device (you still need to patch the device tree similar to the patch above). Still missing is an updated flash-kernel to automatically generate the initrd uImage which is work in progress but got stalled until I fixed the U-Boot on eMMC problem and everything should be fine -- maybe get debian u-boot builds for that board.

Pro versus Base

The main difference so far between the Pro and the Base version of the ClearFog is the switch chip which is included on the Pro. The Base instead "just" has two gigabit ethernet ports and a SFP. Both, linux' and U-Boot's device tree are intended for the Pro version which makes on of the ethernet ports unusable (it tries to find the switch behind the ethernet port which isn't there). To get both ports working (or the one you settled on earlier) there's a second patch to the device tree (my version might be sub-optimal but works), U-Boot -- the linux-kernel version is a trivial adaption:

--- a/arch/arm/dts/armada-388-clearfog.dts
+++ b/arch/arm/dts/armada-388-clearfog.dts
@@ -89,13 +89,10 @@
                internal-regs {
                        ethernet@30000 {
                                mac-address = [00 50 43 02 02 02];
+                               managed = "in-band-status";
+                               phy = <&phy1>;
                                phy-mode = "sgmii";
                                status = "okay";
-                               fixed-link {
-                                       speed = <1000>;
-                                       full-duplex;
-                               };

                        ethernet@34000 {
@@ -227,6 +224,10 @@
                                pinctrl-0 = <&mdio_pins>;
                                pinctrl-names = "default";

+                               phy1: ethernet-phy@1 { /* Marvell 88E1512 */
+                                    reg = <1>;
+                               };
                                phy_dedicated: ethernet-phy@0 {
                                         * Annoyingly, the marvell phy driver
@@ -386,62 +386,6 @@
                tx-fault-gpio = <&expander0 13 GPIO_ACTIVE_HIGH>;

-       dsa@0 {
-               compatible = "marvell,dsa";
-               dsa,ethernet = <&eth1>;
-               dsa,mii-bus = <&mdio>;
-               pinctrl-0 = <&clearfog_dsa0_clk_pins &clearfog_dsa0_pins>;
-               pinctrl-names = "default";
-               #address-cells = <2>;
-               #size-cells = <0>;
-               switch@0 {
-                       #address-cells = <1>;
-                       #size-cells = <0>;
-                       reg = <4 0>;
-                       port@0 {
-                               reg = <0>;
-                               label = "lan1";
-                       };
-                       port@1 {
-                               reg = <1>;
-                               label = "lan2";
-                       };
-                       port@2 {
-                               reg = <2>;
-                               label = "lan3";
-                       };
-                       port@3 {
-                               reg = <3>;
-                               label = "lan4";
-                       };
-                       port@4 {
-                               reg = <4>;
-                               label = "lan5";
-                       };
-                       port@5 {
-                               reg = <5>;
-                               label = "cpu";
-                       };
-                       port@6 {
-                               /* 88E1512 external phy */
-                               reg = <6>;
-                               label = "lan6";
-                               fixed-link {
-                                       speed = <1000>;
-                                       full-duplex;
-                               };
-                       };
-               };
-       };
        gpio-keys {
                compatible = "gpio-keys";
                pinctrl-0 = <&rear_button_pins>;


Apart from the mess with eMMC this seems to be a pretty nice device. It's now happily running with a M.2 SSD providing enough storage for now and still has a mSATA/mPCIe plug left for future journeys. It seems to be drawing around 5.5 Watts with SSD and one Ethernet connected while mostly idle and can feed around 500 Mb/s from disk over an encrypted ethernet connection which is, I guess, not too bad. My plans now include helping to finish flash-kernel support, creating a nice case and probably get it deployed. I might bring it to FOSDEM first though.

Working on it was really quite some fun (apart from the frustrating parts finding the one-block-offset ..) and people were really helpful. Big thanks here to Debian's arm folks, Ben Hutchings the kernel maintainer and U-Boot upstream (especially Tom Rini and Stefan Roese)

Tags: arm, debian, linux.

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