Debian Build Release

From Variscite Wiki

DART-MX8M-PLUS - Debian Bullseye 11 with lf-5.10.y_var03 Linux release


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

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).

Create build environment

These instructions were tested on Ubuntu 18.04/20.04 x64 host PCs. When using other distributions, there may be issues.

Note: 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 development

Installing required packages

On Ubuntu building machine:

$ sudo apt-get install binfmt-support qemu qemu-user-static debootstrap kpartx \
lvm2 dosfstools gpart binutils bison git lib32ncurses5-dev libssl-dev gawk wget \
git-core diffstat unzip texinfo gcc-multilib build-essential chrpath socat libsdl1.2-dev \
autoconf libtool libglib2.0-dev libarchive-dev xterm sed cvs subversion \
kmod coreutils texi2html bc docbook-utils 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 flex cmake zstd udisks2  libgnutls28-dev \
python-pysqlite2 python-git python-m2crypto python-pyelftools

While installing the packages, Ubuntu 20.04 users may receive the warning

Package python-git is not available, ...

Since the package is only available in up to Ubuntu 18.04, just ignore it and run:

$ sudo apt-get install python3-git python3-m2crypto python3-pyelftools

Note: If you are using Ubuntu 20.04 the QEMU package must be updated to latest version (>= 1:4.2-3ubuntu6.19).
To check the currently installed version of the qemu-user-static package on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS, use the below command:

$ apt list qemu-user-static

Deploy source

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 deploying the Debian sources, such as:
fatal: unable to look up (port 9418) (No address associated with hostname)

Variscite has updated all relevant software repositories. Please refer to the patch(es):

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

$ cd ~
$ git clone -b debian_bullseye_var01 debian_imx8mp-var-dart

Create environment (Internet connection should be available):

$ cd ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart
$ MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c deploy

This environment prepared to build.

Make Debian

Build all

Internet connection should be available

$ cd ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart
$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c all |& tee build.log

Build by parts

Build bootloader

$ cd ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart
$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c bootloader

Build kernel, dtb files, kernel modules, and kernel headers

$ cd ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart
$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c kernel
$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c modules
$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c kernelheaders

Build rootfs

Internet connection should be available

$ cd ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart
$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c rootfs

Pack rootfs

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

$ cd ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart
$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c rtar

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 ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart
$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c sdcard -d /dev/sdX

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

Create a boot SD card image using a loop device

It is also possible to use the "MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./" script to create a boot SD card image, while using a loop device instead of attaching a real SD card.

Create an empty file using the following command:

$ dd if=/dev/zero of=imx8mp-var-dart-debian-sd.img bs=1M count=3720

The above command creates a 3700MiB file representing the SD card.

Attach the first available loop device to this file:

$ sudo losetup -Pf imx8mp-var-dart-debian-sd.img

To find the actual loop device being used, run:

$ losetup -a | grep imx8mp-var-dart-debian-sd.img

Write the content to the loop device to generate the SD card image:

$ sudo MACHINE=imx8mp-var-dart ./ -c sdcard -d /dev/loopX

(Replace /dev/loopX with your actual loop device, e.g. /dev/loop0)

Detach the loop device from the file:

$ sudo losetup -d /dev/loopX

To compress the SD card image file use the following command:

$ gzip -9 imx8mp-var-dart-debian-sd.img

To write the SD card image to a real SD card device use the following command:

$ zcat imx8mp-var-dart-debian-sd.img.gz | sudo dd of=/dev/sdX bs=1M && sync

(Replace /dev/sdX with your actual SD device, e.g. /dev/sdb)

Boot the board with a bootable SD card

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

Automatic 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 "Image.gz-" prefix).

We implemented a script in U-Boot's environment, which sets the fdt_file environment variable based on the detected hardware.

Enable/Disable Automatic Device Tree selection

To enable the automatic device tree selection in U-Boot (already enabled by default):

$ setenv fdt_file undefined
$ saveenv

To disable the automatic device tree selection in U-Boot, set the device tree file manually:

$ setenv fdt_file YOUR_DTB_FILE
$ saveenv

Build Results

The resulted images are located in ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart/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
imx8mp-var-dart-dt8mcustomboard.dtb Device tree blob for DART-MX8M-PLUS on DT8MCustomBoard V2.x
imx8mp-var-dart-dt8mcustomboard-legacy.dtb Device tree blob for DART-MX8M-PLUS on DT8MCustomBoard V1.x
imx8mp-var-dart-symphony.dtb Device tree blob for VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS on Symphony-Board
imx8mp-var-dart-symphony-2nd-ov5640.dtb Device tree blob for VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS on Symphony-Board with a 2nd OV5640 camera
imx8mp-var-dart-dt8mcustomboard-m7.dtb Device tree blob for DART-MX8M-PLUS with Cortex-M7 on DT8MCustomBoard V2.x
imx8mp-var-dart-dt8mcustomboard-legacy-m7.dtb Device tree blob for DART-MX8M-PLUS with Cortex-M7 on DT8MCustomBoard V1.x
imx8mp-var-dart-symphony-m7.dtb Device tree blob for VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS with Cortex-M7 on Symphony-Board
imx8mp-var-dart-symphony-2nd-ov5640-m7.dtb Device tree blob for VAR-SOM-MX8M-PLUS with Cortex-M7 on Symphony-Board with a 2nd OV5640 camera

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

Flash images to eMMC

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


The above script is located in /usr/sbin in the rootfs of the SD card used to boot Debian.

How-to: Test and use an interface

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

How-to: Modify the kernel configuration

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

1. $ cd ~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart/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

How-to: Build and install a custom device tree

To build and install a custom device tree, add the filename to G_LINUX_DTB in

Upgrading Debian Packages

To update the packages either at runtime or build time, refer to Upgrading Debian Packages

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=~/debian_imx8mp-var-dart/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).

Running X11 Applications via Xwayland

Since Vivante libraries for this release do not support X11 backend, only weston backend is provided, so if you want to run x11 based application
refer to XWayland Example