Android NXP Guide

From Variscite Wiki
VAR-SOM-MX8 - Android 11.0.0_1.0.0 Developer Guide


This page describes how to build and deploy Android 11 on the VAR-SOM-MX8.
It is based on NXP's i.MX android-11.0.0_1.0.0 release


The objective of this document is to guide VAR-SOM-MX8 Android developers to obtain Android 11 sources, setting up host environment, compilation, and deployment.

This document contains instructions for:

  • Hardware and software requirements.
  • Setup the hardware.
  • Setup the toolchain.
  • Download & build the sources.
  • Install the binaries on the VAR-SOM-MX8 SOM and variants.

Supported hardware and features

SOM support
Carrier Board support
Symphony Board (VAR-SOM-MX8 only) VAR-SP8CustomBoard (SPEAR-MX8 only)


up to 64GB
LPDDR4 size support configuration
up to 8GB
SD card
Wired Network
10/100/1000 Mbps Ethernet
Wireless Network
Support for LWB5, 802.11 ac/a/b/g/n STA, AP, & Wi-Fi Direct Mode SmartConfig
4.2 / BLE
USB host
Host and Device
x4, up to 4 Mbps.
Display LVDS Dual 1920×1080 24-bit
MIPI-DSI 1920×1080 24-bit
HDMI V2.0a up to 4Kp60
eDP1.4/DP1.3 up to 4Kp60
Audio Line IN / HP
Camera 2x MIPI-CSI2

Hardware Requirements

You will need the Variscite VAR-SOM-MX8 based evaluation kit.

Host (PC) setup requirements

The host development environment for Android is based on Ubuntu, please install one of the following Ubuntu versions:

If you are running Linux in a virtual machine you need at least 16GB of RAM and 32 GB of swap.
The build process requires ~250GB of free storage space. Before starting a build, make sure you have adequate free space available.

Note: Do not use other Ubuntu releases other than the ones recommended above. Variscite provides Docker containers that can be used for a development environment as an alternative to using a virtual machine or a dedicated computer.

To learn more, please see Variscite's Docker Build Environment guide.

Windows with WSL/WSL2 is not supported for Android BSP

Install required packages on host PC

$ sudo apt-get -y install gnupg flex bison gperf build-essential zip gcc-multilib g++-multilib 
$ sudo apt-get -y install libc6-dev-i386 lib32ncurses5-dev libncurses5-dev x11proto-core-dev libx11-dev lib32z-dev libz-dev libssl-dev
$ sudo apt-get -y install ccache libgl1-mesa-dev libxml2-utils xsltproc unzip bc
$ sudo apt-get -y install uuid uuid-dev zlib1g-dev liblz-dev liblzo2-2 liblzo2-dev lzop git curl lib32ncurses5-dev libncurses5-dev 
$ sudo apt-get -y install u-boot-tools mtd-utils android-tools-fsutils device-tree-compiler gdisk m4 dwarves libgnutls28-dev
$ sudo apt-get -y install libelf-dev cpio lz4

For Ubuntu 20.04 and above:
The package android-tools-fsutils is obsolete and has been replaced by android-sdk-libsparse-utils.

$ sudo apt-get -y install android-sdk-libsparse-utils

Configure Git

$ git config --global "Your Name"
$ git config --global "Your Email"

Install the OpenJDK

To install it:

$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install openjdk-8-jdk

If your Ubuntu version is missing the package (which shouldn't happen), add the PPA repository and run the previous commands again:

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:openjdk-r/ppa

Update the default Java version by running:

$ sudo update-alternatives --config java
$ sudo update-alternatives --config javac

Note: The build process requires about 500GB of free space.

Check python version

In the next steps, we will download (from Google repositories) the command repo, used to download all the Android source repositories.

Certain tools like bpttools requires python2 which is not available default on Ubuntu 20.04 or 22.04 LTS.
Ubuntu 20.04/22.04 LTS users can install it running

$ sudo add-apt-repository ppa:deadsnakes/ppa
$ sudo apt-get update
$ sudo apt-get install python3.6 python2
Make sure you use latest repo tool for all bug fixes

Obtain source code

Variscite's Linux kernel and U-Boot are available through Github.
Required patches for the Android file system are under: in Variscite's FTP


  • imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0.tar.gz - NXP's Android 11.0.0_1.0.0 original BSP patch files.

Get NXP's Android Release Package

$ mkdir ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0
$ cd ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0
$ curl -o ~/Downloads/imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0.tar.gz
$ tar xvf ~/Downloads/imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0.tar.gz

Download Google Android 11.0.0_r4

Important update:

As of March 31, 2023, all repositories have been migrated to other platforms and the project has been shut down.
For more information, please visit:

In this context, errors may occur when downloading the source code running the script, such as:
fatal: unable to look up (port 9418) (No address associated with hostname)

Variscite has updated all relevant software repositories. Please re-download and the full Android source code from Variscite FTP

$ mkdir -p ~/bin
$ curl -o ~/bin/repo
$ chmod a+x ~/bin/repo
$ export PATH=~/bin:$PATH
$ cd ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0
$ source imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/

Note: Wait for the script to finish running, and it should create following folders

$ ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build/device/variscite/
$ ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build/vendor/variscite/kernel_imx and
$ ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build/vendor/variscite/uboot-imx

Apply Variscite's i.MX platforms patches

$ cd ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build/device
$ variscite/scripts/

Build Android Images

Change to Android top level directory.

$ cd ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build
$ source build/
$ lunch som_mx8qm-userdebug

Note: userdebug build creates a debuggable version of Android.

$ export PATH=/usr/lib/jvm/java-8-openjdk-amd64/bin:$PATH

Switching from eMMC build to SD card build and vice versa

Unlike previous Android BSPs, the boot media is autodetected at boot time.

Build Android

./ -j4 2>&1 | tee build1-1.log

Images created by the Android build

The resulted images are located in out/target/product/som_mx8qm.

u-boot-imx8qm.imx U-Boot for eMMC/SD card boot.
SOM agnostics.
boot.img Android kernel image file.
SOM agnostics.
system.img Android system image file.
SOM agnostics.
vendor.img Android vendor image file.
SOM agnostics.
vendor_boot.img A composite image, which includes another part of ramdisk and boot parameters.
SOM agnostics.
configuration dependent
where <name> can be: imx8qm-var-som-dp - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM with DP
imx8qm-var-som-dp-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM M4 with DP
imx8qm-var-som-hdmi - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM with HDMI
imx8qm-var-som-hdmi-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM M4 with HDMI
imx8qm-var-som-lvds - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM with LVDS
imx8qm-var-som-lvds-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM M4 with LVDS
imx8qm-var-spear-dp - Supports SPEAR-MX8QM with DP
imx8qm-var-spear-dp-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QM M4 with DP
imx8qm-var-spear-hdmi - Supports SPEAR-MX8QM with HDMI
imx8qm-var-spear-hdmi-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QM M4 with HDMI
imx8qm-var-spear-lvds - Supports SPEAR-MX8QM with LVDS
imx8qm-var-spear-lvds-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QM M4 with LVDS
imx8qp-var-som-dp - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP with DP
imx8qp-var-som-dp-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP M4 with DP
imx8qp-var-som-hdmi - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP with HDMI
imx8qp-var-som-hdmi-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP M4 with HDMI
imx8qp-var-som-lvds - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP with LVDS
imx8qp-var-som-lvds-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP M4 with LVDS
imx8qp-var-spear-dp - Supports SPEAR-MX8QP with DP
imx8qp-var-spear-dp-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QP M4 with DP
imx8qp-var-spear-hdmi - Supports SPEAR-MX8QP with HDMI
imx8qp-var-spear-hdmi-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QP M4 with HDMI
imx8qp-var-spear-lvds - Supports SPEAR-MX8QP with LVDS
imx8qp-var-spear-lvds-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QP M4 with LVDS

Boot options

Boot options of the Android:
1. Directly from SD card
2. U-Boot boots from on-SOM eMMC

Flash and boot Android from SD card

Create a bootable SD card

Partition and format SD card, and copy all images

$ sudo ./ -f <name> /dev/sdX;sync

Boot From SD card

  • Power-off the board.
  • Insert the SD card into the SD card slot of the carrier board (DVK)
  • Make sure the Boot Mode is set to SD card: see Setting the Boot Mode section
  • Power up the board - it will boot into Linux from the SD card

Flash and boot Android from eMMC

Preparing images

The default super.img, vendor_boot.img format is suitable for flashing using fastboot, and must be modified for flashing using 'dd'.

$ cd out/target/product/som_mx8qm
$ simg2img super.img super_raw.img

Flashing Android from Linux shell (when the primary installation android)

An example of flashing eMMC, can be found here.

Follow the following steps instructions above:

1. Preparing a rescue SD card;

2. Flash from command line (use the script)

Further, follow the steps described in paragraph "Flashing Android with USB Fastboot"

Flashing Android with USB Fastboot

Install tools on host

$ sudo apt-get install android-tools-adb android-tools-fastboot

Note: Make sure you built Android for eMMC
Connect the target with host PC at fastboot mode:

  1. Connect a USB OTG cable from the target board OTG port to a your host machine USB HOST port.
  2. Power up the board and hit return/space to stop the boot at U-Boot.
  3. type fastboot 0 in the U-Boot command line.

On the Host PC:

$ sudo `which fastboot` flash dtbo_a out/target/product/som_mx8q/dtbo-<name>.img
$ sudo `which fastboot` flash dtbo_b out/target/product/som_mx8q/dtbo-<name>.img
$ sudo `which fastboot` flash boot_a out/target/product/som_mx8q/boot.img
$ sudo `which fastboot` flash boot_b out/target/product/som_mx8q/boot.img
$ sudo `which fastboot` flash vendor_boot_a out/target/product/som_mx8q/vendor_boot.img
$ sudo `which fastboot` flash vendor_boot_b out/target/product/som_mx8q/vendor_boot.img
$ sudo `which fastboot` flash super out/target/product/som_mx8q/super.img
$ sudo `which fastboot` flash vbmeta_a out/target/product/som_mx8q/vbmeta-<name>.img --disable-verity
$ sudo `which fastboot` flash vbmeta_b out/target/product/som_mx8q/vbmeta-<name>.img --disable-verity
$ sudo `which fastboot` reboot

Replace <name> with the actual desired setup name according to the table in the "Images created by the Android build" section.

Update Android firmware

Generate OTA packages

For generating "OTA" packages, use the following commands:

$ cd ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build
$ source build/ 
$ lunch PRODUCT=som_mx8qm-userdebug
$ ./ bootloader kernel -j4
$ make otapackage -j4 2>&1
Install OTA package to device
  • Extract payload.bin and payload_properties.txt from OTA zip file
  • Push payload.bin to board's /data/ota_package dir: adb push payload.bin /data/ota_package/ .
  • Open payload_properties.txt on an editor to copy its content, lets suppose it's like in the NXP manual:
 Android 12

Android 12

After issuing the command, nothing seems to happen on the device, but you can monit logcat for operation progress. After a successful update you can reboot into the updated version.

You can check chapter 7 of official NXP "Android User Guide" for further "Over-The-Air (OTA) Update" examples.

Manual operations

Build boot.img

When you perform changes to the kernel, you may build boot.img solely instead of building the whole Android.

$ cd ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build
$ source build/
$ lunch som_mx8qm-userdebug
$ ./ kernel -j4

Toolchain setup for manual build

Setup the toolchain path to point to arm-linux-androideabi- tools in prebuilts/gcc/linux-x86/aarch64/aarch64-linux-android-4.9/bin

$ export ARCH=arm64
$ export CROSS_COMPILE=~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build/prebuilts/gcc/linux-x86/aarch64/aarch64-linux-android-4.9/bin/aarch64-linux-android-

Unlock device for fastboot

Our build behaves like any other standard Android device.

To use fastboot, you should go through the following steps

  • Settings => System => About Tablet => Build number
  • keep on tapping until you see a prompt that says "You are now a developer!"
  • Settings => System => Advanced => Developer options => OEM unlocking
  • reboot to bootloader
  • type "fastboot 0" in the U-Boot command line
  • run "sudo `which fastboot` oem unlock" from the Host PC
  • wait until the unlock process is complete
  • proceed for flashing

Flashing Using NXP MFGTools - UUU (Universal Update Utility)

To flash Android OS without using a recovery SD card, UUU (MFG Tools 3.0) can be used.
Please refer to Flashing Android OS using UUU - USB Boot.

Running a M4 demo

Please choose one of the below options while flashing Android from Linux shell

imx8qm-var-som-dp-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM M4 with DP
imx8qm-var-som-hdmi-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM M4 with HDMI
imx8qm-var-som-lvds-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM M4 with LVDS
imx8qm-var-spear-dp-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QM M4 with DP
imx8qm-var-spear-hdmi-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QM M4 with HDMI
imx8qm-var-spear-lvds-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QM M4 with LVDS
imx8qp-var-som-dp-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP M4 with DP
imx8qp-var-som-hdmi-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP M4 with HDMI
imx8qp-var-som-lvds-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP M4 with LVDS
imx8qp-var-spear-dp-m4 - Supports VAR-SOM-MX8QP M4 with DP
imx8qp-var-spear-hdmi-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QP M4 with HDMI
imx8qp-var-spear-lvds-m4 - Supports SPEAR-MX8QP M4 with LVDS

Running a demo from Linux

Boot Android to the shell

Increase kernel loglevel while debugging:

 sysctl kernel.printk=7;

Check the state of the m4, it should be running already by U-Boot

cat /sys/class/remoteproc/remoteprocX/state

If the state is 'running', stop the m4

echo stop > /sys/class/remoteproc/remoteprocX/state

Note: Replace 'X' with 0 or 1.

Load new firmware (.elf file must already exist in /lib/firmware directory)

echo cm_rpmsg_lite_pingpong_rtos_linux_remote_m4X.elf > /sys/class/remoteproc/remoteproc0/firmware

Change the state to running

echo start > /sys/class/remoteproc/remoteprocX/state

Copy and run demo module

From Host PC
$ adb root
$ adb push ~/var_imx-android-11.0.0_1.0.0/android_build/out/target/product/som_mx8q/obj/KERNEL_OBJ/drivers/rpmsg/imx_rpmsg_pingpong.ko /data

From device shell

$ su
$ cd /data
$ insmod imx_rpmsg_pingpong.ko