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Re: Providing (armhf) u-boot images together with d-i images?

On 2014-12-03, Karsten Merker wrote:
> several armhf systems do not have u-boot (or another firmware) in
> non-volatile (i.e. ROM/Flash) memory, but instead store their
> system firmware on a removable medium such as an SD card.
> Debian provides appropriate u-boot images for several supported
> systems in the u-boot-{exynos,imx,omap,sunxi} packages, but those
> are not easily accessible to somebody who does not already run a
> Debian/armhf system (or at least Debian on another architecture),
> so I am wondering whether we should offer these u-boot images
> (in unpacked form) together with the d-i images, similar to what
> we do with the device-tree files extracted from the linux-image
> package.

Simply extracting the relevent u-boot files doesn't seem like enough to
me. They still need to be installed at particular offsets to the raw SD
card, or in some cases, to a fat partition on the SD card, though may be
fussy about exactly where on the fat partition it resides in a rather
hair-pulling way... so providing just the binaries makes it a little
easier, but not a whole lot.

Providing complete u-boot images for each platform would be 19 images
for jessie, though each one is fairly small (each between
0.5-1M). Though I don't think we've consolidated all documentation
needed to generate all those platforms with the correct offsets (though
many are all the same, such as sunxi).

For images such as hd-media, we'd ideally want to provide complete
u-boot + kernel + initrd ( + gtk initrd) images, which would grow each
image considerably.

Could provide images that get concatenated together, one for the u-boot,
and one for the partition... netboot images could probably get away with
just u-boot, or u-boot with some text files (uEnv.txt) to edit.  It
would be fairly easy to write a script to handle that for Debian. Not
sure how feasible it would be to write scripts for other GNU/Linux
systems, Windows or MacOS to handle that...

If we limited full images to known-tested platforms, we'd still get a
decent spread of images; I have tested wandboard-quad, cubox-i (i4pro),
beaglebone black, cubieboard and bananapi, and all either work or have
patches pending.

I'd be happy to put a bit more time into it, especially if we can get
support in for Jessie's debian-installer.

live well,

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