Creating a Beaglebone SD Image

Beaglebone Black & Lock'n'Lock

Beaglebone Black & Lock’n'Lock


Some forewords regarding my development setup. I am using a MacBook Pro, but I have yet to figure out how to cross build anything ARM on it. That it not so say it cannot be done, but for various reasons I am not keen to go down this path. Instead I make use of virtual machines, either on the MacBook via VMware Fusion or remote via vSphere in a datacenter. Doing so has one drawback, I the development environment does not have direct access to a SD card. Instead of building images directly on SD I build images instead that can then be transferred to SD card.

I wrote about my experiences of building images for the Beaglebone here, here and here. Even with cut and paste, doing this gets pretty tedious after a while. So I set out and created a bunch of scripts to automate the building of Beaglebone images. The bone-debian-builder is hosted on GitHub.

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Building a Beagelbone rootfs using debootstrap

The instructions in my previous post about building an image for the Beagelbone Black rely on a pre-packaged root filesystem. Here are a few simple steps on how I build my own rootfs.

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Creating an OverlayFS Patch

I’ve been playing with the Beaglebone and Beaglebone Black once again. To increase the longevity of the SD card media it would make sense to have a read-only root filesystem. While it is not that hard to have a strictly read-only root filesystem, it would be nice to have the features of a union filesystem, where writing is not prohibited, but writes are directed to a dedicated filesystem (such as ramfs or another partition).

Hence the quest for an OverlayFS patch!

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Building Debian Wheezy (7.3) for Beaglebone Black

Beaglebone Black

Beaglebone Black


Just some quick and dirty instructions on how I built a Beaglebone Black disk image from scratch. A big thanks to Robert C. Nelson for the Open Source tools and instructions at ‘Linux Arm on Beaglebone Black’ that this relies on.

I am sharing the steps I performed here because I built a read-only root filesystem. It is not perfect as it throws a couple of errors during the boot sequence. But those errors are by no means fatal and can be ignored.

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The Issue With /etc/issue

I like VMware Fusion a lot. It’s a great tool to run various OS’s on my Mac. Even though the Mac underlying BSD like system works well for most of what I do, every once in a while having access to a native Linux environment is hard to beat. One issue that can be annoying is working in a bare bones Linux VM via the VMware console. It is not much fun, requiring manual mouse release and lacking cut and paste between host and VM. The easiest way to resolve this is to use ssh. However, what is the IP address of the VM? And oh, after months of not having used it, what is the login?

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Restoring the “traditional” Meaning of Home and End Keys on OS X Mountain Lion

The Home and End keys on Mac OS X work quite a bit different then one would expect coming from other operating systems. Instead of the familiar beginning of line and end of line behaviour Apple decided that it should put the courser at the beginning or the end of the document. I find this highly annoying to say the least. Fortunately it is easy enough to fix this.

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BeagleBone GPIO

BeagleBone GPIO

BeagleBone GPIO

Today I experimented with GPIO on the BeagleBone. After placing the BeagleBone inside a Lock & Lock container with a breadboard I wired up 4 LED. Each LED is driven by a transistor which in turn is driven by a GPIO pin. I used the Debian “Wheezy” install to conduct this experiment with.

The following source of information proved quite helpful in this adventure:

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Debian “Wheezy” On The BeagleBone

In my previous post about the BeagleBone I described how I installed Debian “Squeeze”. I had tried Debian “Wheezy” but it failed. Today I retried the install of Debian “Wheezy” with the difference being of using a 4GB micro SD card. Installing a different Debian release is very simple, just replace the mk_mmc.sh command with this instead:

./mk_mmc.sh --mmc /dev/sdb --uboot bone --distro wheezy-armhf

Since this is a netinstall procedure, it is important that the host system is prepared to provide ethernet connectivity via USB, or that an ethernet cable is connected to the BeagleBone.

BeagleBone First Impressions

BeagleBone

BeagleBone

I finally ventured into the world of embedded ARM and Linux on ARM. Having done a good share of embedded Intel i386 projects I am no stranger to embedded Linux. But it is my first adventure into the world of non-Intel Linux. I’ve looked at the Raspberry Pi but it has been an Unobtainium unless one wanted to pay exorbitant eBay prices. Regular sources seemed to be regularly out of stock. While not in the same price point at all, the BeagleBone appeared to be a very capable ARM Linux development board. I placed an order for a BeagleBoard with adafruit for the BeagleBoard and a couple of extras. It showed up less then 2 weeks despite cross border shipping. With Debian being my favourite Linux distribution, here are my first steps in getting Debian booted on a 2GB micro SD card.

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The New Repeater Controller

Repeater PC

A PC in a homebrew rack mount case.

I mostly completed the biggest overhaul of the VA3SLT repeater and IRLP Node 2590 to date. The old article of what I have done for an IRLP repeater is IRLP Now.

The old Pentium PC powering the repeater had been on its last legs for a while. The RedHat 5.2 OS running the system had been way past its expiry date for some time. About 2 years ago I invested in a new ITX motherboard and DC power supply. What I thought to be a quick and easy upgrade turned out to be quite a chore. The original system relied on dual ISA sounds cards. Those were supported by OSS. Dual sound cards were needed since IRLP, CW ID, courtesy tone all needed to access the sound hardware. The IRLP software accessed the parallel port using a dedicated custom driver.

Since then much has changed. Along came ALSA and the parport driver. But it by all tossed a big monkey wrench into the repeater controller software I put into production. Now, after 2 years, I’ve completed a major overhaul of the repeater controller and the tone generation processes it relies on.

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