Archive for September, 2010

Ubuntu 10.04 on Gumstix Overo

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I have installed Ubuntu 10.04 on a gumstix overo using a collection of instructions found online. A summary of the instructions is below for convenience. This is my first attempt and there are a few issues that I am going to try to resolve.

I used an ubuntu 10.04 desktop machine as my working environment for these instructions.

1. Install rootstock: ‘sudo apt-get install rootstock’

Rootstock is a utility used to make a rootFS for a port

2. make rootfs using rootstock. This may take several hours

I used the following command but doing ‘man rootstock’ will give you a list of advanced commands

I set my distribution with -d to lucid because I wanted ubuntu 10.04

the openssh-server will allow you to connect your gumstix to the internet and ssh in

‘sudo rootstock -f “Gumstix” -l “gumstix” -p “overo” -n “Gumstix Overo

Ubuntu” -s lxde,gdm,openssh-server,x11vnc -t “America/Vancouver” –serial ttyS2 -d lucid –locale en_US.UTF-8’

Note 1: the user gumstix and password overo do not work because the user does not get created properly. More on how to deal with that later

Note 2: my rootstock command threw a segfault near the end but still made the image. Everything appears to be working fine so far but I am going to try to figure out how to stop it from doing that

Note 3: the lxde,gdm is good for a minimal install for use on a small device with limited power and storage space. Good for a headless system.

Link for more info on making a rootfs

3. Get MLO and u-boot from this link

4. Get your kernel u-image This kernel is based on the 2.6.34 kernel. Newer and older kernels should work but you will have to find modules for that kernel. (see step 8 )

6. put MLO, u-boot, u-image on microSD card boot partition

7. extract generated rootfs to second partition

8. Download and extract modules and copy them to second partition (where you extracted the rootfs)

9. On the second partition open the /etc/shadow file. ‘sudo gedit /path/to/second/partition/etc/shadow’

Delete the ‘*’ for the root entry. This will allow you to login as root and create a user.

Note: remember to put the ‘*’ back after you have created a user so someone can’t login as root and screw up your system

10. open the ‘/etc/network/interfaces’ file. ‘sudo gedit /path/to/second/partition/etc/network/interfaces’

add the following code to the bottom

auto eth0

iface eth0 inet dhcp

You can now unmount the microSD card, place it in the gumstix and boot to it.

Login using serial console using the gumstix instructions in the link below or you can plug an ethernet card in and ssh in

11. login as root and then create a user for yourself and give yourself sudo

sudo adduser youruser

sudo adduser youruser sudo

sudo apt-get install nano

nano /etc/shadow

add the ‘*’ back in that we removed earlier

log out as root

12. log in as your user

open the /etc/apt/sources.list file

add the following lines if they are not present

deb lucid-updates main

deb lucid-security main

then close the file

sudo apt-get update && sudo apt-get upgrade

13. Have fun

email me at if you have any problems or have something you want to add that other people should know


Imagine Day Recruitment

Snowbots is a UBC student team that makes autonomous racing robots. We compete in the robot racing completion held every year during the summer. We won the 2010 Robot Racing competition in Windsor Ontario and are hoping to defend our title at this year’s competition which we hope will be at UBC.

We took two robots this year to Windsor, Blizzard and Oscar Jr and our recruitment goal for this year is to recruit enough people for 4-5 vehicles with 2-3 people per vehicle. With the amazing turnout on Imagine Day I am sure we will meet our goals and it will be an exciting year for snowbots.

We have our weekly meeting from 10 AM – 2 PM every Saturday and pizza arrives at around 12:30. Depending on the number of people, pizza normally costs each of us only a couple of dollars because of our sponsorship with Domino’s Pizza. We are currently meeting in Kaiser main atrium.

Kaiser is normally locked on weekends but CEME (Civil and Mechanical Engineering) is unlocked or you can bang on the door or call/email us to be let in. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions.

Thank you again for coming out on imagine day and I hope to see you all on Saturday morning.


Youtube videos:


Plans for a new year

This year Snowbots is starting of with renewed confidence from our outstanding win.  We plan this year to dramatically increase the number of robots we are fielding this year from 2 to six.  we also plan to start testing new technologies on our robot in the hopes of doing even better.  depending on where are interests lead us we will be fielding robots using cameras, stereo vision, lidar, and/or IR sensor arrays for navigation.  we plan to have sub-teams of 2-3 individuals working on each robot and we look forward to recruting mew members to fill in the ranks.

Snowbots Recruitment

As the school year is starting Snowbots is looking for new members to join.  We welcome anyone who commits to the club.  We know that some prospective members may feel that at the beginning of university they won’t have any useful skills. I can tell you that this is wrong. I joined Snowbots in the first year of university. At first it was true that I didn’t know much, but being in Snowbots taught me what I needed to know to be useful.  I ended up putting everything outside of the computer together for our winning robot from the modifications on the rc car to house our sensors to the microcontroller code.  Now I’m the Head of the mechanical design in Snowbots and can tell you that all you need is a strong interest in robotics to be a useful member of the team.

So if you would like to join Snowbots I ask you to fill out the form below.  Our meetings are on Saturdays from 10-2 and we will be taking part in an open house showcasing some of UBC’s amazing student teams where you can learn more about us.

signup sheet