Novena/Debian installer

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Revision as of 08:00, 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 Win32DiskImager)
  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]