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Some boards (like TI AM335x based ones) have quite big on-chip RAM and
have support for booting via network in ROM. The following describes
how to setup network booting and then optionally use this support to flash
NAND and bricked (empty) board with only a network cable.
I. Building the required images
1. You have to enable generic SPL configuration options (see
CONFIG_SPL_LIBCOMMON_SUPPORT in your board configuration file to build
SPL with support for booting over the network. Also you have to enable
the driver for the NIC used and CONFIG_SPL_BOARD_INIT option if your
board needs some board-specific initialization (TI AM335x EVM does).
If you want SPL to use some Vendor Class Identifier (VCI) you can set
one with CONFIG_SPL_NET_VCI_STRING option. am335x_evm configuration
comes with support for network booting preconfigured.
2. Define CONFIG_BOOTCOMMAND for your board to load and run debrick
script after boot:
"setenv autoload no; " \
"bootp; " \
"if tftp 80000000 debrick.scr; then " \
"source 80000000; " \
(Or create additional board configuration with such option).
3. Build U-Boot as usual
$ make <your_board_name>
You will need u-boot.img and spl/u-boot.bin images to perform
network boot. Copy them to u-boot-restore.img and
u-boot-spl-restore.bin respectively to distinguish this version
(with automatic restore running) from the main one.
II. Host configuration.
1. Setup DHCP server (recommended server is ISC DHCPd).
- Install DHCP server and setup it to listen on the interface you
chose to connect to the board (usually configured in
/etc/default/dhcpd or /etc/default/isc-dhcp-server). Make sure there
are no other active DHCP servers in the same network segment.
- Edit your dhcpd.conf and subnet declaration matching the address
on the interface. Specify the range of assigned addresses and bootfile
to use. IMPORTANT! Both RBL and SPL use the image filename provided
in the BOOTP reply but obviously they need different images (RBL needs
raw SPL image -- u-boot-spl-restore.bin while SPL needs main U-Boot
image -- u-boot-restore.img). So you have to configure DHCP server to
provide different image filenames to RBL and SPL (and possibly another
one to main U-Boot). This can be done by checking Vendor Class
Identifier (VCI) set by BOOTP client (RBL sets VCI to "DM814x ROM v1.0"
and you can set VCI used by SPL with CONFIG_SPL_NET_VCI_STRING option,
see above).
- If you plan to use TFTP server on another machine you have to set
server-name option to point to it.
- Here is sample configuration for ISC DHCPd, assuming the interface
used to connect to the board is eth0, and it has address
subnet netmask {
range dynamic-bootp;
if substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 10) = "DM814x ROM" {
filename "u-boot-spl-restore.bin";
} elsif substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 17) = "AM335x U-Boot SPL" {
filename "u-boot-restore.img";
} else {
filename "uImage";
2. Setup TFTP server.
Install TFTP server and put image files to it's root directory
(likely /tftpboot or /var/lib/tftpboot or /srv/tftp). You will need
u-boot.img and spl/u-boot-spl-bin files from U-Boot build directory.
III. Reflashing (debricking) the board.
1. Write debrick script. You will need to write a script that will
be executed after network boot to perform actual rescue actions. You
can use usual U-Boot commands from this script: tftp to load additional
files, nand erase/nand write to erase/write the NAND flash.
2. Create script image from your script. From U-Boot build directory:
$ ./tools/mkimage -A arm -O U-Boot -C none -T script -d <your script> debrick.scr
This will create debrick.scr file with your script inside.
3. Copy debrick.scr to TFTP root directory. You also need to copy
there all the files your script tries to load via TFTP. Example script
loads u-boot.img and MLO. You have to create these files doing regular
(not restore_flash) build and copy them to tftpboot directory.
4. Boot the board from the network, U-Boot will load debrick script
and run it after boot.