Ubuntu provides the riscv64 architecture for the RISC-V platform since the release of Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.


Preinstalled Server Images

Server Install Image

If you want to install Ubuntu on a disk drive, use the server install image.

A tutorial is available at https://ubuntu.com/tutorials/install-ubuntu-server.

A description of the installation process is also available at https://discourse.ubuntu.com/t/ubuntu-installation-on-the-sifive-hifive-unmatched-board-using-a-server-install-image/27804.


We currently don't provide a desktop image for RISC-V. But you can install package ubuntu-desktop to get a GNOME desktop. As of 2022 due to performance restrictions the only hardware usable for a desktop is the SiFive HiFive Unmatched board.


You can discuss Ubuntu on RISC-V over at the Ubuntu Server forums.

Booting with QEMU


  • apt install qemu-system-misc opensbi u-boot-qemu qemu-utils

For booting Ubuntu 22.04 (Jammy) or later images use u-boot-qemu from release Ubuntu 22.04 or later.

After installing the above prerequisites, one can use the above preinstalled images for the HiFive Unmatched to boot a virtual machine.

First unpack the image

xz -dk ubuntu-22.04-preinstalled-server-riscv64+unmatched.img.xz

Optionally, if you want a larger disk, you can expand the disk (the filesystem will be automatically resized too).

qemu-img resize -f raw ubuntu-22.04-preinstalled-server-riscv64+unmatched.img +5G

Next use OpenSBI bootloader & u-boot-qemu to boot the virtual machine

Working example with all the options is:

qemu-system-riscv64 \
-machine virt -nographic -m 2048 -smp 4 \
-bios /usr/lib/riscv64-linux-gnu/opensbi/generic/fw_jump.elf \
-kernel /usr/lib/u-boot/qemu-riscv64_smode/uboot.elf \
-device virtio-net-device,netdev=eth0 -netdev user,id=eth0 \
-drive file=ubuntu-22.04-preinstalled-server-riscv64+unmatched.img,format=raw,if=virtio

The important options to use are:

  • QEMU's generic virtual platform is selected by -machine virt

  • The first stage firmware booted by QEMU is OpenSBI as specified by the -bios option. This option is not needed with QEMU 7.0 or higher. It cannot be used with KVM.

  • The second stage firmware U-Boot is loaded into memory via -kernel /usr/lib/u-boot/qemu-riscv64_smode/uboot.elf

One can use pass through networking, adjust memory (-m) & cpu counts (-smp) as needed.

Watch the serial console output and wait for cloud-init to complete. It will show a line with the text 'Cloud-init finished' like:

[   68.346028] cloud-init[703]: Cloud-init v. 22.2-0ubuntu1~20.04.3 finished at Thu, 22 Sep 2022 11:35:28 +0000. Datasource DataSourceNoCloud [seed=/var/lib/cloud/seed/nocloud-net][dsmode=net].  Up 68.26 seconds

Then login using ubuntu:ubuntu. See the cloud-init section below to further customise the first boot behaviour with cloud-init.

Booting on SiFive HiFive Unmatched board

The preinstalled server image has U-Boot SPL loader as well as SiFive U-Boot to boot on the board.

Set jumpers to boot from the microSD by setting MSEL=1011 (MSEL2 to the outside of the board, the rest to the inside).

You can then use "Gnome Disks" app to restore img.xz image onto the microSD card, plug it into the board and boot.

You can also use cmdline to extract the image and dd it.

xz -dk ubuntu-22.04-preinstalled-server-riscv64+unmatched.img.xz
dd if=ubuntu-22.04-preinstalled-server-riscv64+unmatched.img of=/dev/disk/by-id/<TAB><TAB>complete-to-sdcard-device

Monitor serial console, wait for cloud-init to complete, then login using ubuntu:ubuntu. See the cloud-init section below to further customise the first boot behaviour with cloud-init.

cloud-init integration

The image has a fallback cloud-init datasource that configures sudo user ubuntu with password ubuntu and DHCP networking. You will be asked to change the password on first login.

The image has CIDATA partition which can be used as a valid datasource to adjust cloud-config metadata. If you wish to customize user password, networking information, add ssh keys, etc. Please mount CIDATA partition rename meta-data and user-data files and adjust them to taste. You can use network-info to configure networking if something more sophisticated than just DHCP is desired.

For example ssh keys, disabling interactive login, and so on. See https://cloudinit.readthedocs.io/en/latest

RISC-V (last edited 2022-09-22 11:54:27 by xypron)