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Roach NFS boot setup

This is a guide to set up a Network File Sharing (NFS) filesystem on a server, so the ROACH can boot off the network using BOOTP. It will take you through setting up a DHCP/DNS/TFTP server, as well as setting up an NFS share.

Some differences exist depending on the Linux OS you are using. Initially, this guide has been written for Ubuntu, here are some of the changes you should take into account to make it work with Scientific Linux (and the other RHEL based Linux):

  • sudo -> su (Just enter su, then your password, then the command which needed you to be root. To come back to normal user, enter exit, or press ctrl+D)
  • apt-get -> yum (yum is the command used by RHEL based Linux to install packages)

To run some Casper tutorials, you should have at least python-2.6 installed on your computer. If you don't, you can encounter some problems. Moreover, it is really difficult to update a previous python version to 2.6 (at least under SL). Python-2.6 comes with Scientific Linux 6.0 and above. For Ubuntu, it seems to be easier because even with the 9.04 version the default version is python-2.6, I didn't check for the older Ubuntu versions. So, before setting up the NFS filesystem and configuring everything, I advise you to make sure that your python version is 2.6 or above.

If you're staying connected to a live network, you may need to modify some parts of this guide. Also, make sure you don't accidentally override your college / company's DHCP server, as they probably wouldn't be happy.

What you'll need:

  • 1x Roach
  • 1x PC with Ubuntu
  • 1x Ethernet cross-over cable (or 2 straight Ethernet cables with a switch)

What would help a lot:

  • 1x Serial cable

Obligatory step

Connect the ROACH to your PC via an ethernet cable; you can use a crossover cable and just connect them to each other. Or connect both of them to the switch with 2 straight cables. Make sure you connect to the right ethernet port on the ROACH (it's the upside down one we want - the cable's pins face upward when connected).

Preliminary setup 1: The serial connection

The most basic connection you can make to the ROACH is the old-fashion serial connection. First, you'll need a serial cable. If your PC doesn't have a serial port, you'll also need a USB->Serial cable. Make sure you have a null modem cable, not a straight-through (ROACH is considered DTE, as is your PC).

Next, you'll need to figure out your serial device. You can check on the available tty by opening up the terminal and issuing

ls -al /dev | grep tty*

Find your serial port entry (it should have the property 'dialout', I'd try /dev/ttyS0 first). If you're using a USB->serial cable, the chances are ubuntu has the drivers already, and it's loaded up automatically to /dev/ttyUSB0.

Serial works over a program called minicom. To install it, open up a terminal and type

sudo apt-get install minicom

You might want to install lrzsz as well, which is used for y-modem file transfer:

sudo apt-get install lrzsz

Once these are installed, you need to set up minicom:

sudo minicom -s

Once it opens, go to "serial port setup" and change

  • "Serial Device" to /dev/ttyUSB0 or as you found above
  • "Bps/Par/Bits" to 115200 8N1, if it isn't already
  • "Hardware Flow Control" to No

Then save your setup as default (dfl) and exit from minicom. Next, open minicom from the terminal by typing


Finally, connect the ROACH and your computer together with the serial cable and turn on the ROACH. If you see:

U-Boot 2008.10-svn2338 (Oct  5 2009 - 15:27:43)                                 
CPU:   AMCC PowerPC 440EPx Rev. A at 495 MHz (PLB=165, OPB=82, EBC=82 MHz)      
      No Security/Kasumi support                                               
      Bootstrap Option H - Boot ROM Location I2C (Addr 0x52)                   
      32 kB I-Cache 32 kB D-Cache                                              
Board: Roach                                                                    
I2C:   ready                                                                    
DTT:   1 is 29 C                                                                
DRAM:  (spd v1.0) 512 MB                                                        
FLASH: 64 MB                                                                    
USB:   Host(int phy) Device(ext phy)                                            
Net:   ppc_4xx_eth0                                                             
Roach Information                                                               
Serial Number:    020208                                                        
Monitor Revision: 8.1.0                                                         
CPLD Revision:    8.0.1588                                                      
type run netboot to boot via dhcp+tftp+nfs                                      
type run soloboot to run from flash without network                             
type run mmcboot to boot using filesystem on mmc/sdcard                         
type run usbboot to boot using filesystem on usb                                
type run bit to run tests                                                       
Hit any key to stop autoboot:

then your serial connection is working.

serial loopback test

If you're having trouble, you can test to see if your cable is working by loading up minicom in the terminal


Next, touch pins 2 and 3 (see here) together with a paperclip or similar, to join transmit directly to receive. If you now type into minicom, you should see letters appear.

Once you've got serial working, leave it open and minimise it, as we'll be using it later on to check a few things.

Preliminary step 2: The USB/MMC connection

It's nice to be able to boot off USB/MMC/SD card, so we can do some debugging. Namely, we're going to use the mmcboot to test if DHCP server is working. See Enabling the MMC card slot for setup details. Once it's up and running, boot the ROACH with

run mmcboot

then log in as 'root'. Keep this screen open for later on.

Everything in its right place

Take care when you want to copy a file or a directory. Make sure to always use the command cp --preserve=all. The common command cp do not preserve the security context (which is active in SL, but maybe not in Ubuntu). If you move a file (mv command), it will preserve the security context, so you don't have to worry about it. For example, for the kernel file (uImage), if the security context is not good, it can block its access from minicom, even if it has the full access rights!

Before we start installing DHCP/TFTP and NFS, let's set up the filesystem. First, create the directory srv/ in the root directory, if it doesn't exist already. Then, create the directory /srv/roach_boot/, and the directory /srv/roach_boot/boot/.

sudo mkdir /srv
sudo mkdir /srv/roach_boot
sudo mkdir /srv/roach_boot/boot

The kernel

Download the kernel from here. Choose the latest kernel, download it and move it to the /srv/roach_boot/boot/ directory you just created. If you want to copy it instead, don't forget to preserve the security context, as written above.

mv uImage_you_just_downloaded /srv/roach_boot/boot/uImage

Check that the boot/ directory and uImage file have the necessary rights (ls -l). If not, give them the full rights with the following command:

sudo chmod -R 777 /srv/roach_boot/boot

We don't use the /tftpboot directory, as specified in this Guide previously, because the new dnsmasq.conf file is now looking for the uImage file in /srv/roach_boot/boot. If you want to put uImage in the tftpboot directory, you will have to edit the dnsmasq.conf file.

The filesystem

Next, download the filesystem there. Then, extract it inside the /srv/roach_boot/ directory.

tar -xzf where-you-downloaded-the-filesystem/filesystem_etch_someversion.tar.gz -C /srv/roach_boot/

It should create a new directory named usbstick/. Rename this new directory as etch/.

mv /srv/roach_boot/usbstick/ /srv/roach_boot/etch/

Once this is done, we can move on to installing the DHCP and NFS servers.

Installing dnsmasq

DNSMasq is a lightweight DNS/DHCP/TFTP server. To install it:

sudo apt-get install dnsmasq

After installing, you will need to edit the configuration file:

sudo gedit /etc/dnsmasq.conf

A simple configuration is shown below - copy this over to dnsmasq.conf and save the file (you might want to make a backup first).

# Configuration file for dnsmasq
# Edited for ROACH boot server

# We don't want dnsmasq to read /etc/resolv.conf or anything else

# Assign the ROACH an IP address manually, based on its MAC

# Have a DHCP address range for other things

# Set the location of the ROACH's root filesystem on the NFS server.

# Set the boot filename for BOOTP, which is what the ROACH boots over

# Enable dnsmasq's built-in TFTP server. Required for BOOTP.

# Set the root directory for files availble via FTP.

# Set the DHCP server to authoritative mode (then keep away from other networks!)

#Specify which ethernet interface you use to connect to the ROACH (eth0, eth1, eth2 ...)

#May be useful if you have several ethernet interfaces

To give a quick explanation: we are setting the ROACH to always be assigned an IP (you can set a different IP address if you want), our server is going to have the IP, we've enabled TFTP, set the dhcp-boot image name to uImage and the TFTP root to /srv/roach_boot/boot. An alternative and more complete example can be found here.

Make sure to edit the dhcp-host line according to your ROACH's MAC address. If you don't know it, maybe its name can help you. The name of the ROACHes (written on them) can be the end of their MAC address:

For example: roach030132 -> MAC = 02:00:00:03:01:32

If you decided not to put your uImage file in the boot directory, you must modify this line:

# Set the root directory for files availble via FTP.

Once you've saved the config file, you need to restart dnsmasq:

sudo /etc/init.d/dnsmasq restart

Then, bring up the ethernet interface (choose the correct one (eth0, eth1, eth2)), and specify the correct IP address:

sudo ifconfig eth0 netmask up

And check everything looks okay:


Next to the ethernet interface you chose, you should see the MAC address of the ROACH and the IP address you just assigned.

You should also edit the file /etc/hosts and add the line: 	roach030132

Write the ip address you chose for your ROACH instead of, and the name of your ROACH instead of roach030132.

If the command ifconfig is not accepted by the terminal, you need to enter /sbin/ifconfig (It means that /sbin/ is not defined in your PATH) or define it in your PATH by writing:


Testing DHCP

To test if DHCP is working, load up minicom, boot the roach off 'run mmcboot', and see if you get assigned an IP address. If not, log in as root, and try issuing the commands:

dhclient -r

which will release the current IP and request a new IP address. Then type:

ifconfig eth0 (or eth1 or eth2)

to see if you are assigned an address.

If the DHCP connection doesn't work maybe it is because your firewall is blocking some of the requests made by the ROACH. You can run tcpdump (has to be run as root), to see the DCHP requests being made by the ROACH. dnsmasq needs to have tcp port 53 and udp port 67 open for listening. To check if it is the case, you can issue the command:

netstat -l

If these two ports are closed in your firewall, you should open them.

Installing NFS

A good guide to NFS can be found here. Following this guide very closely, first we install the packages:

apt-get install nfs-kernel-server nfs-common

With Scientific Linux 6.1, (and maybe some more recent Ubuntu versions), you only have to install the packages:

yum install nfs-utils nfs-utils-lib	

This will start multiple services, including portmap and mountd, if you run:

rpcinfo -p

you'll see what's running. If you don't manage to issue rpcinfo, issue


Or edit the PATH.

Now we can modify /etc/exports to make our file system available to the ROACH:

sudo gedit /etc/exports

And add the lines:

# Share 'roach_boot' directory

Where is the subnet we assigned to the internal network (with all your ROACHes). This share will be available to all machines with 192.168.100.x IP addresses. Save and exit, then export the filesystem by issuing:

exportfs -a

Now if we run showmount -e, we'll see the filesystem available as an export:

# showmount -e
Export list for ROACH-dev:

If the command showmount -e returns an error, you have to issue the following command before:

service nfs start

We should now have all the necessary components installed, so it's time to test out to see if we can boot or not.

Booting from NFS

If the ROACH was already on, turn it off, launch minicom in a terminal

sudo minicom

Then, turn the ROACH on. Sometimes, there is an error if we turn the ROACH ON before launching minicom.

If you don't press any key, you will be running netboot because it is the default option. If all goes well, you should see:

DHCP client bound to address                                      
Using ppc_4xx_eth0 device                                                       
TFTP from server; our IP address is                 
Filename 'uImage'.                                                              
Load address: 0x400000                                                          
Loading: #######################################################

And the ROACH will boot. If the ROACH isn't getting an IP address assigned, check that your PC's eth interface is still up, by opening a seperate terminal and issuing:

sudo ifconfig eth0 netmask up

Replace eth0 by eth1 or eth2 if you don't use the same ethernet interface.

If everything goes all right, you will be able to login. If you can't write your login and password, it means that you forgot to set the 'Hardware Flow Control' option to 'no', in the minicom options configuration, as specified at the beginning of this Guide.

Permission and access problems

If minicom issues the following error, it can be because uImage doesn't have the the necessary rights, or because of a security context problem.

TFTP error: 'cannot access /srv/roach_boot/boot/uImage: Permission denied' (2)


First, try to set up the rights to the folder boot/ and to the file uImage.

chmod -R 755 /srv/roach_boot/boot

Security context

If it doesn't solve the problem, then, it should be a problem of 'security context'. Check the context of the uImage file by issuing

ls --context 

If you obtain


You have to change the type of the context which should not be 'default'. The easiest way can be to move the uImage file you downloaded, from the Downloads folder to the /srv/roach_boot/boot directory, or to copy it with the command cp --preserve=all. The command cp modifies the type of the security context so it can be the cause of the error.

mv uImage_file /srv/roach_boot/boot/uImage
cp --preserve=all uImage_file /srv/roach_boot/boot/uImage

The right context type should be tftpdir_t. You can also define the context type of the file manually with the command chcon:

chcon -t tftpdir_t /srv/roach_boot/boot/uImage

Check that the context of uImage is now unconfined_u:object_r:tftpdir_t:s0, by issuing the command:

ls --context

Getting started with CASPER tutorials

Now that your NFS server is configured, you should make sure that you can successfully use it with the ROACH. For example, you can try to do the tutorials you can find on Casper's website.

However, before you are able to run these tutorials, some more packages should be installed on your computer.

First, make sure that you have at least python-2.6 installed on your computer. If you don't, you can encounter some problems with some of the Casper's tutorials.

Hardware and software configuration

Here is the configuration I had when I did the tutorials. If you don't encounter the same errors or if the solutions I give do not work for you, it may be because your configuration is different.

Hardware configuration:

  • ROACH version: ROACH v1
  • ADC card: ADC2x1000-8 (iADC)
  • Connection pc-ROACH: Serial + Ethernet (2 straight cables + a switch)

Software configuration:

  • OS: Scientific Linux 6.1
  • Matlab: Matlab 2009b (including Simulink)
  • Xilinx ISE: Version 11.4
  • Kernel version: uImage-fallback-20110303
  • Filesystem version: filesystem_etch_2010-03-24_sd_shipping

With other ADC cards (e.g. KatADC) you may need to make some changes in the mdl files.

Install some complementary packages

Download the packages

To execute the .bof and .py files (tutorials 1 and 2), you should have the following packages installed:

  • spead-0.4.0
  • katcp-0.3.4
  • corr-0.6.7
  • construct-2.06
  • numpy-1.3.0
  • h5py-1.3.1

These versions were the latest ones in March 2012, if newer ones are available, you can use them.

For numpy and h5py, you should be able to install them as follow:

yum install numpy h5py		(Scientific Linux)
sudo apt-get install numpy h5py	(Ubuntu)

For the other ones, they may not exist in Linux repositories, so you should download them directly from their website:

Here are also the Internet addresses where you can find the two packages you should have already been able to install:

Download the latest version of these packages.

Install the packages

To install these packages, do as follow: Go to the directory where you downloaded them (e.g. Downloads):

cd your_home_directory/Downloads

Extract the packages one by one (e.g. spead-0.4.0.tar.gz):

tar xzf spead-0.4.0.tar.gz

It should extract the file in a folder, go inside (e.g. spead-0-4-0):

cd spead-0-4-0

There, run the file with python, and it will install the package on your computer:

python install

Proceed like that for all the packages. Now you should be able to execute the bof files and the python files.

CASPER tutorial 1

To test if the NFS server is working correctly with the ROACH and to see if we can execute the .bof files, let's try to complete the tutorial 1. You can access the latest version of the tutorial here. However, I have only tested the 2010 version, which can still be found here.

To go a bit faster, directly download the Matlab file (tut1.mdl) and compile it with with Xilinx ISE to create the tut1.bof file, as specified in the tutorial 1.

Once you have created the tut1.bof file, give it the execution rights:

chmod +x tut1.bof 

and move it in the following directory, where your ROACH will be able to access it:

mv tut1.bof /srv/roach_boot/etch/boffiles

Then, log in to the ROACH. You can use minicom or ssh. With ssh don't forget the -X option to be able to execute files:

ssh -X username@ROACH_ip

Once you are logged in to the ROACH, go to the directory where you put your tut1.bof file:

cd /boffiles

and execute tut1.bof:


This should program the FPGA of your ROACH. If the process is captured by your terminal, that means it is working correctly.

glibc.i686 problem

If you encounter the following error:

./gen_prog_files: ./mkbof: /lib/ bad ELF interpreter: No such file or directory
chmod: cannot access `implementation/system.bof': No such file or directory
cp: cannot stat `implementation/system.bof': No such file or directory

Error using ==> gen_xps_files at 689
Programation files generation failed, EDK compilation probably also failed.}

That means that you have to install the following package:

yum install glibc.i686

CASPER tutorial 2

To test if we can execute the python files (which will execute remotely a bof file) to program the ROACH, let's try to do the tutorial 2.

Download the Matlab and python files ( and tut2.mdl) from Casper website:

I had some problems using the python files from the 2011 workshop, the newest files should work fine, but if you encounter problems, I advise you to use the files from the 2010 workshop. Create the tut2.bof file with Matlab, give this file the execution rights and put it in the /srv/roach_boot/etch/boffiles directory, as you did for the tutorial 1. Then, you should edit the file in order to specify the name of your tut2.bof file.

gedit &

Line 28, you should see the following line: boffile = 'tut2_2010_Apr_02_1057.bof'

Replace the bof file name with your own bof file name and save the file. Give the execution rights and move it in the same directory as the tut2.bof file.

chmod +x
mv /srv/roach_boot/etch/boffiles

Then, you should be able to execute file:

python ROACH_ip_address -p

If you see 2 plots appearing, every thing worked all right! Congratulations! If you don't, check if you are encountering one of the following problems.

Possible problems with tutorials 2 and 3

10 GbE cable problem

Make sure you connected the 10 GbE ports 0 and 3 with a cable, as specified in the tutorial 2. You should obtain the following lines when executing

Port 0 linkup: True
Port 3 linkup: True

If you have a False instead of True, there is a problem with the cable (There is no cable or the cable is not connected to the right ports or the cable or/and the ports have a connection problem).

GTKAgg backend problem

If you cannot execute the python file and encounter the following error:

Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "", line 145, in <module>
  File "", line 138, in <module>
    fig.canvas.manager.window.after(100, plot_spectrum)
AttributeError: FigureManagerBase instance has no attribute 'window'
python: Python/pystate.c:595: PyGILState_Ensure: Assertion `autoInterpreterState' failed.

That means that it is a backend problem, as explained in the following webpage. You are using the GTKAgg backend (the default), whereas the script expects the TkAgg backend.

So, you should edit the matplotlibrc file, as follow. To find the matplotlibrc file, enter:

find / -name "matplotlibrc*"

Mine was located there:


Then, edit it by replacing the line:

backend      : GTKAgg
backend      : TkAgg

If you don't want to edit the matplotlibrc file, it should also be possible to run the script like this:

python ROACH_ip_address -p -dTkAgg 

However, I haven't tried.

tgtap and tcpborphserver2 problems

If you have an error with tgtap or if you see the following lines,

Programming FPGA... ok
Port 0 linkup:  True
Port 3 linkup:  True
Configuring receiver core... FAILURE DETECTED. Log entries: Starting thread Thread-1 #version poco-0.1 #build-state poco-0.2804 ?progdev tut2b.bof !progdev ok 546 Programming FPGA with tut2b.bof... ok. ?read gbe0_linkup 0 4 !read ok \0\0\0 ?read gbe3_linkup 0 4 !read ok \0\0\0

You should download the newest versions of tgtap and tcpborphserver2, as explained on this website. You can download them from the following websites:

Once you have downloaded them, you should replace the current ones. The tcpborphserver2 and tgtap files can be found in the following directories:


First, rename the current files by adding _old at the end of their name (do not delete them, maybe you will want to use them again later). Then, copy your new tcpborphserver2 and tgtap files to these directories (better use cp --preserve=all to be sure you will not encounter any security context errors). Finally, switch OFF and ON your ROACH to restart the minicom initialization, before trying to execute your file again.

Library path problem

When executing python files (tutorial 2 or 3 for example), the computer needs some packages you already installed but it also needs to access these packages' library files. Usually there isn't any problem, but sometimes it fails and these library files cannot be found. A common reason is that you have the good package, but not the expected library version.

As an example, I will present the problem we had recently. We installed the HDF5 package. Then, when we executed the python file (Casper tutorial 3), it failed and we had the following error:

python roach030287
Traceback (most recent call last):
  File "", line 13, in <module>
    import corr,time,numpy,struct,sys,logging,pylab,matplotlib
  File "/usr/lib/python2.6/site-packages/corr/", line 11, in <module>
    import cn_conf, katcp_wrapper, log_handlers, corr_functions, corr_wb, corr_nb, corr_ddc, scroll, katadc, iadc, termcolors, rx, sim, snap
  File "/usr/lib/python2.6/site-packages/corr/", line 9, in <module>
    import h5py
  File "/usr/lib64/python2.6/site-packages/h5py/", line 24, in <module>
    import h5
ImportError: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory 

The most important information is the last line: ImportError: cannot open shared object file: No such file or directory.

It means that the library file cannot be found. However, as the HDF5 package is installed, this library file should be present.

We searched the file on the computer.

find / -name "*"

We found it in one of the computer's directory, which was not /lib64/. As the computer is searching the library files in the /lib64/ directory (because we are using a 64-bit Linux distribution), we created a symbolic link named in the /lib64/ directory, linked to the real file.

ln -s /some_path/ /lib64/

If the library file needed by your program doesn't exist on your computer, you can also create a symbolic link linked to another version of the library file (the newest version present on your computer). For example, if we hadn't found on the computer, we would have created the symbolic link and linked it to the file (which was also found on the computer).

ln -s /some_path/ /lib64/
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