This distribution is a software kit, which allows you to run a functional Linux system on the Microblaze FPGA soft processor, using the Xilinx SP605 hardware evaluation kit for Spartan-6. The distribution is also available for ML605, which is based upon Virtex-6. All components necessary to build it are available for download at no cost, partly from this site, and partly from Xilinx’.

The steps to reaching a functional system include installing pieces of software, and perform specific operations as described in detail. No prior knowledge on either FPGA nor Linux is necessary. Your computer may run either Windows or Linux for running this through.

This distribution allows you to

  • Run a Linux system which is ready for working with, including a DHCP client, telnet, ftp, a small web server, mounting of NFS as well as Windows (SMB) shares. The CompactFlash card will also serve as the local disk which can be written to.
  • Easily compile your own user-space applications in with GNU make and gcc. Compilation is possibly dynamic against libraries which are part of the distro.
  • Easily develop your own Linux-reachable peripherals on the FPGA using the Xillybus IP core, and transport data between the FPGA and Linux user space applications with minimal effort.

Required hardware

Before starting, please make sure you have the following equipment:

  • A Xilinx SP605 evaluation kit or ML605 ditto.
  • A Sandisk CompactFlash card, with at least 512 MB. Let me emphasize this: Make it a Sandisk card, and nothing else. You may get away with using other cards for a one-off loading with data and multiple reads, but the Linux system is going to use this storage as its hard disk. Based upon testing, it's clear that anything else than Sandisk, including the card which comes with the evaluation kit itself, will most likely to have reliability problems. These will give you a very wrong impression about the Linux system’s stability. Also, try to make the card not bigger than 8 GB, as the SysACE chip’s support for larger cards is questionable.
  • A CompactFlash to USB adapter. There is no special requirement here, as long as your operating system recognizes it, and it’s reliable. Which holds true even for those cheap universal card readers available on Ebay.


This is the list of relevant documents, in logical order.

Allowed Use

The mini-distribution comprises of free software (GPL) and is hence not limited for use and copying. The FPGA bundle includes a sample Xillybus proprietary IP core. Users who wish to do so, may change this core’s connection in the FPGA sources , for the sake of evaluating Xillybus as a solution for easy development of Linux compatible peripherals. This includes connecting the core to your own logic and transport application data between the FPGA and the Linux processor.

Users of the mini-distro who ignore the Xillybus IP core (i.e. don’t edit the FPGA code explicitly for using the IP core, or choose to remove it completely) may use the Xillybus mini distro with no restrictions imposed by Xillybus (i.e. only GPL Free Software license needs to be respected).