MIPS Linux

Linux on MIPS provides a complete Linux system for MIPS based processors, with support included in the Linux kernel and distributions including DebianOpenWRT, BuildrootYocto and GENTOO.

Imagination supports the development of Linux on MIPS through their in-house Linux kernel, toolchain and distribution teams, by support to the MIPS processor based open source community and through the prpl foundation.

MIPS Linux Kernels

The Linux kernel team at Imagination actively upstreams patches for released kernels, current cores and semiconductor devices based upon them to head of tree at kernel.org. New developments should use the newest stable kernel version available on kernel.org, where applicable.

New features are developed and tested as ‘Engineering Kernels’. These are hosted on in-house repositories before upstreaming.

The following sites host Linux on MIPS kernels:

HostVersionCores supported
kernel.orgv4.8+Released kernels, released coresinterAptiv, microAptiv, P5600 I6400, P6600, M6250
linux-mips.orgStaging repository for MIPS patches
IMG engineering kernelsv4.x basedNew feature support before upstreaming.
‘eng’ branch at linux-mips.org
I6400, P6600, M6250
IMG backported kernelsv3.18 + patches from 4.xCore support from 4.x added for projects based upon v3.18 kernel, e.g. Android, openWrt
IMG hosted (For access contact your local sales office)
I6400, P5600, interAptiv

Support for Imagination processor cores and development systems is included in the following kernel releases

CorePlatformLinux KernelHostStatus
interAptivMaltav4.4.1+kernel.orgReleased kernel
microAptivSEAD-3v4.4.1+kernel.orgReleased kernel
P5600Maltav4.4.1+kernel.orgReleased kernel
P6600Bostonv4.8‘eng’ branch at linux-mips.org

Released kernel
For latest updates use Engineering Kernel
I6400Boston, Maltav4.8‘eng’ branch at linux-mips.org
Released kernel on kernel.org
For latest updates use Engineering Kernel
M6250SEAD-3v4.8‘eng’ branch at linux-mips.org
Early support in v4.4 on kernel.org
For latest updates use Engineering Kernel

The Imagination Creator Ci20 development board is supported in Debian and Creator Ci40 is supported in OpenWRT, Debian and Brillo.

Linux on MIPS is available under the terms of the GNU General Public License Version 2

Kernel Source Download

To download the latest stable source code for the Linux kernel, either

  1. download the source tarball from kernel.org, or
  2. clone the git repository

The compressed source tarball is downloaded and then extracted using tar.

$ tar xvf linux-x.y.z.tar.xz

This uncompresses and untars the source to the directory linux-x.y.z.

Alternately, the latest stable git repository may be cloned with the following command:

git clone git://git.kernel.org/pub/scm/linux/kernel/git/stable/linux-stable.git

After cloning the git repository, you can then locally check out the branch you are going to work from.

For example, to start developing with the 4.8 branch, do the following:

cd linux-stable

git checkout –b stable v4.8

This creates a local branch ‘stable’ that is a copy of the v4.8 branch that tracks the remote branch in the repository that you cloned from.

You can then configure and build the kernel.

make ARCH=mips CROSS_COMPILE=mips-img-linux-gnu- malta_defconfig 

make ARCH=mips CROSS_COMPILE=mips-img-linux-gnu- menuconfig 

make -j4 ARCH=mips CROSS_COMPILE=mips-img-linux-gnu- 


  1. ARCH and CROSS_COMPILE variables may also be set in the environment or defined in the makefile.
  2. The gcc cross compiler toolchain prefix will be mips-mti-linux-gnu or mips-img-linux-gnu depending on architecture of the target

MIPS Linux Kernel Patches

MIPS Linux patches that have been submitted but not yet included in a kernel release can be viewed at patchwork.linux-mips.org. You should always check pending patches before submitting a new patch request. For instructions on submitting patches, read the wiki page here.

MIPS Linux Kernel Mailing List

Developments for Linux on MIPS are discussed on the MIPS Linux kernel mailing list, where patches are also submitted and reviewed by the developers.

MIPS Linux Distributions

Linux on MIPS is supported by a number of open distributions including DebianOpenWRT, BuildrootYocto and Gentoo.

MIPS Linux - third party