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=== About the Pioneer Edition FreedomBox Home Server Kit === == Pioneer Edition FreedomBox ==

Pioneer Edition FreedomBox

Pioneer FreedomBox Home Servers are produced and sold by Olimex, a company which specializes in Open Source Hardware. The kit includes pocket-sized server hardware, an SD card with the operating system pre-installed, and a backup battery which can power the hardware for 4-5 hours in case of outages. It sells for €82. By purchasing this product, you also support the FreedomBox Foundation's efforts to create and promote its free and open source server software.

Pioneer Edition FreedomBox Home Server Kit

Product Features

The Pioneer Edition FreedomBox Home Server Kit includes all the hardware needed for launching a FreedomBox home server on an Olimex A20-OLinuXino-LIME2 board:

  • the A20-OlinuXino-LIME2,

  • a custom metal case with a laser-engraved FreedomBox logo,

  • a high-speed 32GB micro SD card with the FreedomBox software pre-installed,

  • a backup battery,
  • a power adapter, and
  • an Ethernet cable.

This is the hardware recommended for all users who just want a turn-key FreedomBox, and don't want to build their own one.

(Building your own FreedomBox means some technical stuff like choosing and buying the right components, downloading the image and preparing the SD card).


The Pioneer Edition FreedomBox Home Server is the first commercially available version of FreedomBox.

Hardware Specifications

  • Open Source Hardware (OSHW): Yes

  • CPU: Allwinner A20, ARM Cortex-A7 @ 1GHz dual-core
  • RAM: 1 GiB DDR3
  • Storage: 32GB class 10+ microSD card pre-loaded with FreedomBox

  • Battery: 3.3V Li-Po, 1400mAh (4-5 hours of backup without additional devices connected via USB)
  • Ethernet: 10/100/1000, RJ45 (1 meter cable included)
  • Power adapter: 110-220 V input, 5V output, EU style (with optional UK or US sockets)
  • Box: Custom metallic box with FreedomBox decal

The kits run entirely on Free Software. They work with Kernel and u-boot from Debian repositories. Even the boot firmware in ROM called BROM is free software (GPLV2+).


The kits come with an SD card pre-loaded with FreedomBox. There's NO need to download images.

However, if you wish to reset your devices to a pristine state, then you can do so with the the image provided. Follow the instructions on the download page to create a FreedomBox SD card and boot the device. Make sure to download the Pioneer Edition images. These SD card images are meant for use with the on-board SD card slot and won't work when used with a separate SD card reader connected via USB.

An alternative to downloading these images is to install Debian on the device and then install FreedomBox on it.

Build Image

FreedomBox images for this hardware can be built using Freedom Maker.

Known Issues

  • The image that shipped with the kits uses a slightly modified u-boot from Debian and not stock Debian like the rest of FreedomBox. So, if you wish to get the source code, please use the FreedomBox team's u-boot repository.

Obtaining Source Code

After you purchase and receive your Pioneer Edition FreedomBox, you may want to obtain the source code of the software running in it. Continue reading this section for instructions.

FreedomBox is fully free software and you can obtain the source code to study, modify and distribute improvements.

From within FreedomBox

FreedomBox is made up of several software programs and you can obtain the source code to any of them. These instructions are similar to obtaining and building source code for Debian since FreedomBox is a pure blend of Debian. Using this process you can obtain the source code to the exact version of the package you are currently using in FreedomBox.

  1. To see the list of software packages installed on your FreedomBox, run the following in a terminal:

    dpkg -l
  2. To obtain the source code for any of those programs, then run:
    apt source <package_name>

    This requires that the file /etc/apt/sources.list file contains the information about the source code repositories. These are present by default on all FreedomBox images. If you have installed FreedomBox using a package from Debian, you need to ensure that source repositories are added in the file.

  3. To build the package from source code, first install its dependencies
    apt build-dep <package_name>

    Switch to the source directory created by the apt source command:

    cd <source_directory>
    Then build the package
     dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc
  4. Install the package:
     dpkg -i ../<built_package>.deb

Other Ways to Obtain Source Code

  1. Source code for any of the packages can be browsed and searched using the web interface at sources.debian.org. For example, see the plinth package.

  2. Source code and pre-built binary package for any version of a package including historic versions can be obtained from snapshot.debian.org. For example, see the plinth package.

  3. You can also obtain the links to upstream project homepage, upstream version control, Debian's version control, changelog, etc. from the Debian tracker page for a project at tracker.debian.org. For example, see the tracker page for plinth package.

  4. You can build and install a package from its Debian's version control repository. For example,
     git clone https://salsa.debian.org/freedombox-team/plinth
     cd plinth
     apt build-dep .
     dpkg-buildpackage -rfakeroot -uc
     dpkg -i ../plinth*.deb

Building Disk Images

You can also build FreedomBox disk images for various hardware platforms using the freedom-maker tool. This is also available as a Debian package and source code for it may be obtained using the above methods. Build instructions for creating disk images are available as part of the source code for freedom-maker package.

FreedomBox disk images are built and uploaded to official servers using automated Continuous Integration infrastructure. This infrastructure is available as source code too and provides accurate information on how FreedomBox images are built.

U-boot on Pioneer Edition Images

There is one minor exception to the u-boot package present on the hardware sold as FreedomBox Home Server Kits Pioneer Edition. It contains an small but important fix that is not part of Debian sources. The fork of the Debian u-boot source repository along with the minor change done by the FreedomBox is available as a separate repository. We except this change to be available in upstream u-boot eventually and this repository will not be needed. This package can be built on a Debian armhf machine as follows (cross compiling is also possible, simply follow instructions for cross compiling Debian packages):

apt install git git-buildpackage
git clone https://salsa.debian.org/freedombox-team/u-boot.git
cd u-boot
pbuilder create --distribution=buster
gbp buildpackage --git-pbuilder

The u-boot Debian package will be available in u-boot-sunxi*.deb. This package will contain

mkdir temp
dpkg -x u-boot-suxi*.deb temp
unxz <lime2_image_built_with_freedom_maker>
dd if=temp/usr/lib/u-boot/A20-OLinuXino-Lime2/u-boot-sunxi-with-spl.bin of=<lime2.img> seek=8 bs=1k conv=notrunc

The resulting image will have the modified u-boot in it.








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