Cheap MIPS/MIPSEL development machine

In addition to the ARM platform, it is now possible to emulate a MIPS (big endian) or MIPSEL (little endian) machine running Debian under QEMU. It could be used as a cheap MIPS/MIPSEL development machine to test your packages, provided that you have a not to slow i386, AMD64 or PowerPC computer.

Running on an Athlon 64 X2 3800+ the emulated system is around 10% faster than my SGI Indy R4400SC 200MHz and possibly with much more RAM (my emulated system has 512 MB of RAM). Also for the ones who know about the Indy SCSI controller, the transfer rate is around 13 MB/s on the emulated system.

I have written a small howto explaining how to install Debian Etch on such an emulated MIPS or MIPSEL machine, using Debian-Installer RC1, which has just been released.

Thanks to Daniel Jacobowitz who has recently improved QEMU/MIPS a lot, and to Thiemo Seufer who has started the integration of the MIPS QEMU platform in Debian-Installer and in the Debian kernel.

Note 1: I have written this howto very quickly, so there are probably some mistakes. Comments are welcome.
Note 2: I have updated the ARM howto to take in account improvements from Debian-Installer RC1

4 Responses to “Cheap MIPS/MIPSEL development machine”

  • Marco says:

    Many thanks for the nice howto :)
    One question:
    qemu-img manpage says about qcow:
    “Old QEMU image format. Left for compatibility.”

    Is there an advantage to using qcow or is that a typo?


  • Marco says:


    i wanted to say:
    Is there an advantage to using qcow over qcow2 …


  • aurel32 says:

    Well, no real advantage, except that qcow2 is very new (only QEMU CVS supports it), and not supported by other softwares.

    Anyway qemu-img allows the conversion between a few formats, including these two.

  • Whats the difference between qcow1 and qcow2? Thanks so much and great article!

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