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DART-MX8M - Debian Stretch 9.8 with imx_4.14.78_1.0.0_ga_var01 Linux release

1 Overview

This page describes how to build and install Debian distribution (Stretch) on Variscite boards with DART-MX8M.

These instructions were tested on an Ubuntu 16.04 x64 host PC. When using other distributions, there may be problems.

Please note that the build script is based on debootstrap. As described in the following instructions, it's kindly suggested to create the build folder on the main Ubuntu volume on your host PC rather than an external media.
Using an external media, although automatically mounted, will cause debootstrap to complain about access rights (even when running the script with sudo).

2 Create build environment

2.1 Installing required packages

On Ubuntu building machine:

$ sudo apt-get install binfmt-support qemu qemu-user-static debootstrap kpartx \
lvm2 dosfstools gpart binutils git lib32ncurses5-dev python-m2crypto gawk wget \
git-core diffstat unzip texinfo gcc-multilib build-essential chrpath socat libsdl1.2-dev \
autoconf libtool libglib2.0-dev libarchive-dev python-git xterm sed cvs subversion \
coreutils texi2html bc docbook-utils python-pysqlite2 help2man make gcc g++ \
desktop-file-utils libgl1-mesa-dev libglu1-mesa-dev mercurial automake groff curl \
lzop asciidoc u-boot-tools mtd-utils device-tree-compiler

2.2 Deploy source

Download archive containing the build script and support files for building Debian Stretch for this board:

$ cd ~
$ git clone -b debian_stretch_mx8m_var01 var_mx8m_dart_debian

Create environment (Internet connection should be available):

$ cd ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian
$ ./ -c deploy

This environment prepared to build.

3 Make Debian

3.1 Build all

Internet connection should be available

$ cd ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian
$ sudo ./ -c all | tee 2.log

3.2 Build by parts

3.2.1 Build bootloader

$ cd ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian
$ sudo ./ -c bootloader

3.2.2 Build kernel, dtb files and kernel modules

$ cd ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian
$ sudo ./ -c kernel
$ sudo ./ -c modules

3.2.3 Build rootfs

Internet connection should be available

$ cd ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian
$ sudo ./ -c rootfs

3.2.4 Pack rootfs

To create the root file system archive (rootfs.tar.gz), run the following commands:

$ cd ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian
$ sudo ./ -c rtar

4 Create boot SD card

  1. Follow the above steps for make rootfs, kernel, bootloader;
  2. Insert the SD card to card reader connected to a host system;
  3. Run the following commands (Caution! All data on the card will be destroyed):
$ cd ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian
$ sudo ./ -c sdcard -d /dev/sdX

where '/dev/sdX' path to the block SD device in your system.

5 Boot the board with a bootable SD card

Note: The WiFi is not operational when booting from SD card, as the WiFi and SD card are using the same SDIO interface.
A typical use-case is to boot from an SD card, flash the eMMC, and re-boot from the eMMC to have the WiFi operational.

5.1 Setting the Boot Mode

Make sure the BOOT SELECT DIP switch on the carrier board is set correctly before you power on the board.

 0 : Boot from SD card
 1 : Boot from eMMC

5.2 Device tree selection in U-Boot

As shown in the Build Results table above, we have different kernel device trees, corresponding to our different H/W configurations (sometimes they are renamed without the "zImage-" prefix).

In U-Boot, set the device tree file manually:

$ setenv fdt_file=YOUR_DTB_FILE
$ saveenv

6 Build Results

The resulted images are located in ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian/output/.

Image name
How to use
rootfs.tar.gz Root filesystem tarball used for installation on SD card and eMMC
Image.gz Linux kernel image
imx-boot-sd.bin U-Boot built for SD card and eMMC
Device Tree name
fsl-imx8mq-var-dart-emmc-wifi-dual-display.dtb DART-MX8M with HDMI+LVDS, eMMC and WiFi (SD card disabled)
fsl-imx8mq-var-dart-emmc-wifi-hdmi.dtb DART-MX8M with HDMI, eMMC and WiFi (SD card disabled)
fsl-imx8mq-var-dart-emmc-wifi-lvds.dtb DART-MX8M with LVDS, eMMC and WiFi (SD card disabled)
fsl-imx8mq-var-dart-sd-emmc-dual-display.dtb DART-MX8M with HDMI+LVDS, eMMC and SD (WiFi card disabled)
fsl-imx8mq-var-dart-sd-emmc-hdmi.dtb DART-MX8M with HDMI, eMMC and SD (WiFi card disabled)
fsl-imx8mq-var-dart-sd-emmc-lvds.dtb DART-MX8M with LVDS, eMMC and SD (WiFi card disabled)

7 Linux console access

User name User password User descriptor
root root system administrator
user user local user
x_user used for X session access

Please note: Vivante libraies for this release do not support X11, only weston backend is provided

8 Flash images to eMMC

To install Debian to the on-SOM eMMC, run the following command as root:

# -d <lvds|hdmi|dual-display>

where the "-d" option set display type, default is lvds. The above script is located in /usr/sbin in the rootfs of the SD card used to boot Debian.

9 How-to: Test and use an interface

Please see this section in the Yocto developer guide page. It is the same for Debian.

10 How-to: Modify the kernel configuration

To modify the kernel configuration (add/remove features and drivers) please follow the steps below:

1. $ cd ~/var_mx8m_dart_debian/src/kernel
2. $ sudo make ARCH=arm64 mrproper
3. $ sudo make ARCH=arm64 imx8_var_defconfig
4. $ sudo make ARCH=arm64 menuconfig
5. Navigate the menu and select the desired kernel functionality
6. Exit the menu and answer "Yes" when asked "Do you wish to save your new configuration?"
7. $ sudo make ARCH=arm64 savedefconfig
8. $ sudo cp arch/arm64/configs/imx8_var_defconfig arch/arm64/configs/imx8_var_defconfig.orig
9. $ sudo cp defconfig arch/arm64/configs/imx8_var_defconfig
10. Follow the instructions above to rebuild kernel and modules, repack rootfs images and recreate SD card

11 Build a sample C "Hello, world!" program

Create a file called myhello.c with the following content:

#include <stdio.h>

int main() {
	printf("Hello, World!\n");
	return 0;

Export the C (cross-)compiler path:

$ export CC=~/var_mx8m_dart_debian/toolchain/gcc-linaro-6.3.1-2017.05-x86_64_aarch64-linux-gnu/bin/aarch64-linux-gnu-gcc


$ $CC myhello.c -o myhello

Now you should have an app called myhello, that can be run on your target board.
You can add it to your rootfs image or copy it directly to the rootfs on the board (using scp, for example).