Xen ARM with Virtualization Extensions/Chromebook

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Revision as of 11:06, 9 April 2013 by Anthony (talk | contribs) (Debug)
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Getting Xen on the Chromebook is not an easy task, there is no serial port easily accessible. This page will try to get you to run Xen on the Samsung ARM Chromebook.

Running a simple Linux distribution

We should start with running a simple Linux on a SD card (not ChromeOS). There is plenty of doc on internet, show your <your-favorite-search-engine>-skill. To simplify the Xen developpement, make sure to have 2 kernel partition on your sd-card, so you will be able to switch between the Xen kernel and the Linux kernel with more ease.

There is some information about the ChromeOS developer mode and the boot sequence on their wiki page Samsung ARM Chromebook.




Tree based on the kernel tree from the ChromiumOS project.



Branch: chromebook-2013-03-22

And follow the guide to build Xen on ARM with the dtb found at linux.git/arch/arm/boot/exynos5250-snow.dtb


To start a kernel, the chromebook need the kernel image to build in a specific manner.

So put the following "script" in a file, and replace the few paths to Xen and linux images:

 / {
   description = "Chrome OS kernel image with one or more FDT blobs";
   #address-cells = <1>;
   images {
     kernel@1 {
       data = /incbin/("$path_to_xen_tree/xen/xen.bin");
       type = "kernel";
       arch = "arm";
       os = "linux";
       compression = "none";
       load = <0x80200000>;
       entry = <0x80200000>;
     kernel@2 {
       data = /incbin/("$path_to_linux_tree/arch/arm/boot/zImage");
       type = "kernel_noload";
       arch = "arm";
       os = "linux";
       compression = "none";
       load = <0>;
       entry = <0>;
     fdt@1 {
       description = "exynos5250-arndale.dtb";
       data = /incbin/("$path_to_linux_tree/arch/arm/boot/exynos5250-arndale.dtb");
       type = "flat_dt";
       arch = "arm";
       compression = "none";
       hash@1 {
         algo = "sha1";
   configurations {
     default = "conf@1";
     conf@1 {
       kernel = "kernel@1";
       fdt = "fdt@1";


 mkimage -f "$path_to_the_previous_script" output_dir/xen-chromebook-image

In order to be validated, the image need to be signed, which will do using the developper keys. The most simple way is to do that under ChromeOS:

 vbutil_kernel --keyblock /usr/share/vboot/devkeys/kernel.keyblock --version 1 --signprivate /usr/share/vboot/devkeys/kernel_data_key.vbprivk --config=$file_linux_cmdline --vmlinuz output_dir/xen-chomebook-image --arch arm --pack output_dir/signed-xen-chromebook-image

This long line have three to be change: - $file_linux_cmdline is a file with a linux command line. The command line is not used by Xen, but I never tried without. - output_dir/xen-chomebook-image is the image priviously made by mkimage. - output_dir/signed-xen-chromebook-image is where you want your signed image to be copied.

Once done, dd the image to the kernel partition you've dedicated to Xen (dd if=output_dir/signed-xen-chromebook-image of=/dev/mmcblk1pX).

Next step, ask the chromebook to start Xen. You probably know about cgpt after you've installed your own linux:

 cgpt add -i X -P 15 -S 0 -T 1 /dev/mmcblk1

Here, we ask to start the Xen kernel partition, we set the highest priority (15), and it will be only started once (-S success=0, -T tries=1), on a reboot, your linux will hopefully start.


Getting debug output from Xen on the chromebook is not an easy task, there is serial port that we can use (for early output), and Xen does not know how to drive the screen. But there is a workaround! Write to a specific memory space from Xen, read it back from Linux!

There is a memory region that is not erase across reboot and it's used by ChromeOS to collect kernel OOPS, it's also called RAMOOPS.

The Xen tree provided earlier have got some commits to write its log to this area.

To retrieve thoses logs, you will need to reboot the chromebook under Linux and

 mount -t pstore xenlog /mnt

You will have all does /mnt/dmesg-ramoops-? file which will contain Xen logs, hopefully.


The ChromiumOS project.


http://chromeos-cr48.blogspot.co.uk/, but not sure which posts are relevant.