debos image for HummingBoard Edge


In my previous posts I have shared my first experience with debos and how to run debos in a container. In today’s post, I’d like to present how can we use all of that to generate base Debian image for an ARM board. My board of choice for this particular example will be the HummingBoard Edge.

The post is inspired by the feedback from the new users (such as this one) that there are no end-to-end examples how to quickly start using this tool.

HummingBoard Edge upstream support

The Hummingboard Edge is described in the Linux by the hummingboard2 devicetree. It is supported since the 4.16 Linux release. I have decided to use the sid flavor of Debian in order to get quite recent kernel version (4.18+98 at the moment of writing).

debos recipe

The full recipe and all other files are available in the 3mdeb/debos-recipes repository on github.

I wanted to create a really base system image, just to try out that it boots properly. I took the existing RPI3 recipe as a starting point.

As stated in the previous paragraph, the sid flavor of Debian will be used, hence following action in the recipe file appears:

  - action: debootstrap
    suite: "sid"
      - main
    variant: minbase

Some of the following actions are:

  • setting the hostname with a run action:
  - action: run
    description: Set hostname
    chroot: true
    command: echo HummingBoard2 > /etc/hostname

note that we can decide with the chroot flag whether the command shall be executed on the host or in the chrooted environment

  • copying over extlinux config files with an overlay action:
  - action: overlay
    description: Install U-boot extlinux menu file
    source: u-boot

The extlinux config I came up with could have been definitely improved (e.g. to be autogenerated, to use UUID for root partition etc.), but is perfectly enough for the purpose of this demonstration.

  • installation of the Linux and U-Boot packages:
  - action: apt
    description: Install Linux and U-Boot packages
    recommends: false
      - linux-image-armmp
      - u-boot-imx

Another important action is the image-partition. We can specify there the final image size, partitions to be created as well as their mount points. Note that the /etc/fstab entries will be automatically added for created partitions.

  # leave 4MB offset at the image start for U-Boot installation
  - action: image-partition
    description: Create partitioned image
    imagename: {{ $image }}
    imagesize: 1GB
    partitiontype: msdos
      - mountpoint: /
        partition: root
      - name: root
        fs: ext4
        start: 4MB
        end: 100%
        flags: [ boot ]

The substantial difference from the RPI3 recipe is the bootloader. Unlike many other ARM boards, RPI3 does not use the U-Boot installed directly (into not partitioned area) at the start of the image file (or block device).

As shown in the mx6cuboxi README, SPL U-Boot shall be installed into the device as follows:

sudo dd if=SPL of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=1k seek=1; sync
sudo dd if=u-boot.img of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=1k seek=69; sync

In debos, we can use the raw action and use build-in sector keyword to install binaries at required offsets:

  # 'filesystem' origin points to the target root filesystem
  # 2 sectors = 1K
  # bs=1K seek=1
  - action: raw
    description: Install SPL to the image
    origin: filesystem
    source: /usr/lib/u-boot/mx6cuboxi/SPL
    offset: {{ sector 2 }}

  # bs=1K seek=69
  - action: raw
    description: Install U-Boot to the image
    origin: filesystem
    source: /usr/lib/u-boot/mx6cuboxi/u-boot.img
    offset: {{ sector 138 }}

Note that we can use filesystem as an argument for the origin in order to gain access to files located in the filesystem we have generated in the previous steps. This feature does not seem to be documented somewhere, but I found such map in the code. Other useful arguments might be: artifacts or recipe.

The final actions include deploying filesystem to image and compressing the final image. Optionally, the bmap file can be generated.

  - action: filesystem-deploy
    description: Deploy filesystem to the image

  - action: run
    description: Create bmap file
    postprocess: true
    command: bmaptool create {{ $image }} > {{ $image }}.img.bmap

  - action: run
    description: Compress image
    postprocess: true
    command: gzip -f9 {{ $image }}

Image building

I’ve used our debos docker container to perform debos build. I chose to save the run script in my PATH for easy execution:

debos-docker debimage-hb2.yaml

The end result looks like:

< truncated >
2018/09/19 19:07:19 ==== Install SPL to the image ====
2018/09/19 19:07:19 ==== Install U-Boot to the image ====
2018/09/19 19:07:19 ==== Deploy filesystem to the image ====
2018/09/19 19:07:20 Setting up fstab
2018/09/19 19:07:20 Setting up /etc/kernel/cmdline
Powering off.
2018/09/19 19:07:21 ==== Create bmap file ====
2018/09/19 19:07:26 ==== Compress image ====
2018/09/19 19:08:35 ==== Recipe done ====

And we should have a final image file:

-rw-r--r-- 1 maciej root   143M wrz 21 11:51 debian-hb2.img.gz

Image flashing

The usual way

No explanation needed for the dd command:

gzip -cdk debian-hb2.img.gz | sudo dd of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=16M status=progress

The fancy way

Thanks to the bmap file we created, we can use bmaptools to flash the image. Explanation of this tool could be itself a story for another post. More details can be found in the bmaptool documentation.

We might need to install the tool first:

sudo apt install bmap-tools

Image can be flashed with following command:

bmaptool copy --bmap debian-hb2.img.img.bmap debian-hb2.img.gz /dev/mmcblk0


It is a good opportunity to show a quick comparison between those two:

  • dd - 1 minute 18 seconds
time sh -c 'gzip -cdk debian-hb2.img.gz | sudo dd of=/dev/mmcblk0 bs=16M status=progress && sync'
1000000000 bytes (1,0 GB, 954 MiB) copied, 32 s, 31,2 MB/s
0+27202 records in
0+27202 records out
1000000000 bytes (1,0 GB, 954 MiB) copied, 78,7137 s, 12,7 MB/s
sh -c   6,62s user 1,27s system 10% cpu 1:18,73 total
  • bmaptool - 38 seconds
time sudo sh -c 'bmaptool copy --bmap debian-hb2.img.img.bmap debian-hb2.img.gz /dev/mmcblk0 && sync'
bmaptool: info: block map format version 2.0
bmaptool: info: 244141 blocks of size 4096 (953.7 MiB), mapped 110274 blocks (430.8 MiB or 45.2%)
bmaptool: info: copying image 'debian-hb2.img.gz' to block device '/dev/mmcblk0' using bmap file 'debian-hb2.img.img.bmap'
bmaptool: info: 100% copied
bmaptool: info: synchronizing '/dev/mmcblk0'
bmaptool: info: copying time: 38.0s, copying speed 11.3 MiB/sec
sudo sh -c   8,48s user 1,26s system 25% cpu 38,209 total

Image running

The boot log:

U-Boot SPL 2018.05+dfsg-1 (May 10 2018 - 20:24:57 +0000)
Trying to boot from MMC1

U-Boot 2018.05+dfsg-1 (May 10 2018 - 20:24:57 +0000)

CPU:   Freescale i.MX6DL rev1.3 996 MHz (running at 792 MHz)
CPU:   Commercial temperature grade (0C to 95C) at 38C
Reset cause: POR
Board: MX6 Hummingboard2
DRAM:  1 GiB
Loading Environment from MMC... *** Warning - bad CRC, using default environment

Failed (-5)
No panel detected: default to HDMI
Display: HDMI (1024x768)
In:    serial
Out:   serial
Err:   serial
Net:   FEC
Hit any key to stop autoboot:  2  1  0
switch to partitions #0, OK
mmc0 is current device
Scanning mmc 0:1...
Found /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf
Retrieving file: /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf
498 bytes read in 110 ms (3.9 KiB/s)
U-Boot menu
1:    Debian GNU/Linux kernel
2:    Debian GNU/Linux kernel (rescue target)
Enter choice: 1:    Debian GNU/Linux kernel
Retrieving file: /initrd.img
17499178 bytes read in 1028 ms (16.2 MiB/s)
Retrieving file: /vmlinuz
4174336 bytes read in 395 ms (10.1 MiB/s)
append: root=/dev/mmcblk1p1 ro rootwait console=ttymxc0,115200
Retrieving file: /boot/dtbs/imx6dl-hummingboard2.dtb
39570 bytes read in 120 ms (321.3 KiB/s)
## Flattened Device Tree blob at 18000000
   Booting using the fdt blob at 0x18000000
   Using Device Tree in place at 18000000, end 1800ca91

Starting kernel ...

[    0.000000] Booting Linux on physical CPU 0x0
[    0.000000] Linux version 4.18.0-1-armmp ( (gcc version 7.3.0 (Debian 7.3.0-29)) #1 SMP Debian 4.18.6-1 (2018-09-06)
[    0.000000] CPU: ARMv7 Processor [412fc09a] revision 10 (ARMv7), cr=10c5387d

< trucated >

Starting Update UTMP about System Runlevel Changes...
[  OK  ] Started Update UTMP about System Runlevel Changes.

Debian GNU/Linux buster/sid HummingBoard2 ttymxc0

HummingBoard2 login: user
Linux HummingBoard2 4.18.0-1-armmp #1 SMP Debian 4.18.6-1 (2018-09-06) armv7l


As I have shown in this post, debos can be quite easily used for building Debian image for an ARM platform. This is especially true if such board has good mainline support and the Linux and U-Boot packages for it are already available in the Debian package feed. I hope that my post can be helpful for new debos users and that my recipe gets merged into the debos-recipes, so it can be easily accessible.

Maciej Pijanowski
Embedded Systems Engineer with over two years of professional experience. Extremely focused explorer of embedded Linux build systems. Yocto expert and acumen of upgrade systems with built-in signing and encryption.


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