Building the kernel and u-boot for the CuBox-i and the HummingBoard

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Following are details on building u-boot and Freescale kernel 3.0.35 (BSP 4.1.0) for the CuBox-i and the HummingBoard


[edit] Building from sources

[edit] Preparations

You need to have installed arm-linux-gnueabi:

 sudo apt-get install arm-linux-gnueabi

If arm-linux-gnueabi is not located try:

 sudo apt-get install gcc-arm-linux-gnueabi

You also need to have u-boot-tools installed (for mkimage):

 sudo apt-get install u-boot-tools

You also need to have lzop installed (for "make zImage"):

 sudo apt-get install lzop

Set your environment variables:

 export ARCH=arm
 export CROSS_COMPILE=/usr/bin/arm-linux-gnueabi-

[edit] U-Boot

Originally there were two u-boot versions that are support; a patched version of Freescale u-boot (based on u-boot 2009.08) and second is a fork from upstream port.

All the development now is focused on the upstream port.

[edit] U-Boot Upstream

This version of U-Boot is a fork from the upstream and patched by Jon Nettelton. Main feature is addition of console on HDMI support, and the SPL support for Cubox-i. To build the bootloader, do:

 git clone
 cd u-boot-imx6
 make mx6_cubox-i_config

A successful build will create two files in the source tree directory, SPL and u-boot.img

  • SPL file is the actual machine detection and initialization and must be flashed on offset 1KByte of the boot micro SD.
  • u-boot.img is the second stage bootloader; it can be flashed at offset 42KByte from the starting of the boot micro SD; or alternatively can be put as-is on the first partition of the micro SD.

The general bootloader flashing procedure is:

  • Flashing SPL -
 sudo dd if=SPL of=/dev/sdX bs=1K seek=1
  • Flashing u-boot.img as raw to the micro SD -
 sudo dd if=u-boot.img of=/dev/sdX bs=1K seek=42

Notice that you need to replace 'sdX' with your micro SD block device.

Caution Putting the wrong 'sdX' might wipe your hard drive. Be sure that you're flashing u-boot to your micro SD and not another local drive.

ARM toolchain must be installed. If there is no such package in Ubuntu you can download it from the internet and add it to your $PATH.

Take a look at what is arm-linux-gcc.

During compiling it might be, that your makefile is looking for different filenames, than you have (for example in Ubuntu 14.04).

Try locating arm-linux-gnueabi-gcc file. Go to that directory and you may create links for each file with arm-linux-gnueabi- prefix. e.g.

 sudo ln -s arm-linux-gnueabi-gcc arm-linux-gcc
 sudo ln -s arm-linux-gnueabi-cc arm-linux-cc

You must do this for each file otherwise it will come to errors preventing you to compile right.

Alternatively, edit arch/arm/ and edit the line:

 CROSS_COMPILE ?= arm-linux-


 CROSS_COMPILE ?= arm-linux-gnu-


 CROSS_COMPILE ?= arm-linux-gnueabi-

depending on the name of your cross compiler.

[edit] uboot-env

For a program to read or set U-Boot environment variables in an image file, or (on a CuBox) the installed SD card, see This also has an alternative boot environment available.

[edit] Kernel

There are currently two supported kernels for the CuBox-i and HummingBoard -

  • Kernel 3.10 LTS - This kernel announced here. It is based on Linaro kernel 3.10 LTS, i.MX6 Freescale patches and patches from Russell King, Jon Nettleton and various other developers. This kernel is the main kernel to be used for end users and general availability.
  • The older 3.0.35 with BSP 4.1.0 kernel will be mainly used for Android drops and once kernel 3.10 LTS is ported to Android then it will become obsolete and not maintained anymore.

[edit] Kernel 3.10 LTS

The kernel can be built using the following instructions -

 git clone
 cd linux-linaro-stable-mx6
 make imx_v7_cubox-i_hummingboard_defconfig
 make zImage imx6q-cubox-i.dtb imx6dl-cubox-i.dtb imx6dl-hummingboard.dtb
 make modules

The generated files are -


The first one is the actual kernel, the other four are device tree files to be loaded by the boot loader according to it's configuration. Notice that using the maintained u-boot; an environment variable 'fdt_file' is automatically generated according to the board it is running on, and the processor configuration.

[edit] Kernel 3.0.35 (patched with BSP 4.1.0 and CuBox-i and HummingBoard support)

Kernel for the CuBox-i and HummingBoard is initially based on Freescale kernel 3.0.35 with BSP 4.1.0 patches.

 git clone
 cd linux-imx6
 make imx6_cubox-i_hummingboard_defconfig
 make uImage
 make modules

After successful build the output kernel is arch/arm/boot/uImage and kernel modules are scattered inside the build tree.

[edit] Ready to use binary images

You can alternatively download images from here

Download the u-boot and the uImage binaries; where the first one is the u-boot mentioned above but the uImage is a kernel with a buildroot based initramfs (root password '123456').

See this post for a newer version using the alternative SPL and u-boot.img.

[edit] Flashing U-boot and the kernel - full example

The Cubox-i is hard-programmed to boot from a MicroSD card. Even if you want to load the OS from another media (e.g. SATA or network), the bootloader must be loaded from the card.

  • The first stage bootloader (the SPL file generated by U-boot build) must reside at 1KByte offset from the beginning of the card
  • The second stage bootloader (the boot.img file generated by U-boot build) must reside at 42Kbyte offset from the beginning of the card

SPL and U-Boot, along with the save area for U-Boot environment variables, currently takes up 392K, or 784 sectors, so the first partition should be created beyond that point, usually 1024 or 2048 for the starting sector of the first partition, else your bootloader will overwrite your filesystem or vice versa.

For the following example, we will be assuming you are creating a single partition that occupies the whole card which will house your OS root filesystem, and that partition is /dev/sdX1

Caution Putting the wrong 'sdX' might wipe your hard drive. Be sure that you're using the device name that corresponds to your card.

Note that this procedure has been updated for the newer U-boot with SPL support; the previous procedure here was for the older U-boot, and was removed.

 fdisk /dev/sdX
 <Create primary partition 1, ensuring that the first begins at 1Mb (offset 2048);
 it will become /dev/sdX1>
 # Hat tip to hste and jas for this recipe
 mkfs.ext4 -O ^has_journal -E stride=2,stripe-width=1024 -b 4096 /dev/sdX1
 sudo mount /dev/sdX1 <mount point>
 mkdir <mount point>/boot
 # Install the kernel and its modules
 cd <linux tree>
 cp arch/arm/boot/uImage <mount point>/boot
 INSTALL_MOD_PATH=<mount point> make modules_install
 cd ..
 <copy the root filesystem and do any other modifications on the mounted partition>
 # Install U-boot and create uEnv.txt 
 dd if=<Uboot tree>/SPL of=$DEVICE bs=1K seek=1
 dd if=<Uboot tree>/u-boot.img of=$DEVICE bs=1K seek=42
 echo "bootfile=/boot/uImage" > <mount point>/uEnv.txt
 # In the line below, the root parameter reflects the name of the partition on which your
 # root filesystem resides as your kernel perceives it
 echo "mmcargs=setenv bootargs root=/dev/mmcblk0p1 rootwait video=mxcfb0:dev=hdmi \
 consoleblank=0" >> <mount point>/uEnv.txt
 umount <mount point>
 <wait for several seconds to compensate for the host OS, the card reader
 and the card's cleverness>

The micro SD should be ready. Before removing it make sure it's completely unmounted; put it in the micro SD slot in the HummingBoard or the micro SD slot beneath the HDMI port in CuBox-i and then power it up.

[edit] Booting the kernel

After powering up and serial console is set you should get the u-boot prompt. Now you can boot the kernel with the following command line -

 setenv bootargs 'console=ttymxc0,115200 video=mxcfb0:dev=hdmi,1920x1080M@60,if=RGB24,bpp=32'
 fatload mmc 0:1 0x10800000 /uImage
 bootm 0x10800000