Some people are surprised when they find out how many Linux distributions are supported on MIPS processors.
Distributions that run on MIPS CPUs range from Buildroot and OpenWrt for routers and other networking devices to Debian for desktop and servers.
Debian is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to developing free software and promoting the ideals of the open source community. Debian distributions support both 32- and 64-bit MIPS-based processors.
OpenWrt is an embedded operating system based on the Linux kernel, and primarily used on MIPS-based embedded devices … to route network traffic. One of the first areas of focus for prpl is to enhance and complement OpenWrt and to drive its carrier grade features to the next level.
Buildroot is useful mainly for developers working with small or embedded systems, using CPU architectures like MIPS; it automates the building process of your embedded system and eases the cross-compilation process. Buildroot contains a set of makefiles and patches which can be used to easily generate a complete embedded Linux system. Buildroot can generate any or all of the elements required to run Linux on MIPS: a cross-compilation toolchain, a root filesystem, a kernel image and a bootloader image.
Another popular distribution for MIPS is Gentoo. Gentoo/MIPS is a port of the Gentoo GNU/Linux and the Gentoo Portage package management system to MIPS-based platforms. To strengthen our collaboration with Gentoo, Imagination has donated MIPS64-based platforms and offered software support for up-to-date root file system builds for MIPS. For those interested in running Gentoo/MIPS, you can get started by reading their handbook and the FAQ page; more help can be obtained by subscribing to the gentoo-mips mailing list.