Novena/Debian installer

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Revision as of 07:58, 13 September 2013 by Xobs (talk | contribs) (Installing Debian onto a SATA driver (over serial/SSH))
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The installer resides on the internal MMC, and will activate if:

  1. A boot image cannot be found (e.g. fatload fails)
  2. If the recovery button is held down during boot

The installer consists of an initrd and a command line tailored to boot it. It will perform a network install, using either Ethernet port or the wifi card. A preconfiguration file is present to add the Kosagi Debian mirror to the selection process, which adds support for the Novena U-Boot and kernel packages, as well as (possibly) non-free binaries.

There are multiple install methods, and there will be separate boot images for each. Possible options include:

  • Serial port interface
  • LCD/LVDS interface
  • HDMI interface

The various interfaces will be identical, only command line arguments will change.

Installing Debian onto a SATA driver (over serial/SSH)

To install Debian onto an SSD, you will need the following:

  • MicroSD card with at least 128 MB
  • SATA drive
  • Serial access to Novena
  • Internet access (Ethernet or wifi)
  • A terminal that supports extended graphics (e.g. NOT GNU screen)
  1. Download the Debian boot image
  2. Write the image to the MicroSD card using dd (or [1])
  3. Attach the SATA drive to Novena, and insert the MicroSD card in the internal slot
  4. Boot Novena. You should be prompted to select a language.

Many of the installation steps are self-explanatory. There are, however, a few notes:

  • After configuring the network, you will be prompted to connect via SSH. This can be useful for debugging, or if you'd like a colour install terminal.
  • If you're located in Singapore, when prompted to select a mirror, choose the top option to "enter information manually". The server hostname is, and the path is /debian/.
  • Since you're installing to a SATA disk, ensure the root partition "/" is on /dev/sda2.
  • You cannot install Debian to the internal MMC card.

To actually load the Debian installer rfs, kernel, and device tree file, use the following U-Boot script:

setenv mmcdev 1
mmc rescan
mmc dev ${mmcdev}
fatload mmc ${mmcdev} 0x11ff0000 /d/uimage.dtb
fatload mmc ${mmcdev} 0x12000000 /uimage-novena.bin
fatload mmc ${mmcdev} 0x12a00000 /d/uinitrd
setenv bootargs initrd=0x12a00000 console=ttymxc1,115200 consoleblank=0
bootm 0x12000000 0x12a00000 0x11ff0000

Signing packages

Packages live on To add a package to the repo, run this command:

reprepro -b /mnt/var/spool/kosagi-deb/ -A armhf -V includedeb wheezy [path-to-deb-to-add]