DebianOn is an effort to document how to install, configure and use Debian on some specific hardware. Therefore potential buyers would know if that hardware is supported and owners would know how get the best out of that hardware.
The purpose is not to duplicate the Debian Official Documentation, but to document how to install Debian on some specific hardware.
If you need help to get Debian running on your hardware, please have a look at our user support channels where you may find specific channels (mailing list, IRC channel) dedicated to certain types of hardware.
- Overall Status
- System Summary
The Teres-I is a DIY open hardware laptop sold by Olimex. Olimex has stated that they intend the Teres-I to be very modular, allowing main boards built around different SoCs to be used interchangeably. However, the only main board available at the moment is based on the Allwinner A64 SoC with 2GB RAM and 16GB eMMC internal storage. The CPU is supported by the arm64 architecture in debian. armhf should work too, but is untested.
The laptop is sold with linux (ubuntu + vendor supplied kernel) preinstalled. Source code is only partially available for the vendor kernel, which means that users of the preinstalled system are permanently stuck with an old version of linux. On the other hand since a linux system is available, no external computer and no cross-compilation is required to bootstrap a debian system.
While debian runs fine from eMMC internal storage, it is common to install debian to an external microSD card (there is one slot available) to have both systems available. That's also what is described in this guide.
The device is fully Libre Open-Source Hardware and Software.
To get an overview of mainline kernel support, see the status matrix of the linux sunxi community.
Boot Standard Kernel:
CPU Frequency Scaling
Sleep / Suspend
Switch to External Screen
- Built-in (Touchpad)
- Since linux 4.11-rc4
Keyboard's Hotkeys (a.k.a. media keys)
- since udev 245
= OK ; Unsupported(No Driver) ; = Error (Couldn't get it working); [?] Unknown, Not Test ; [-] Not-applicable
= Configuration Required; = Only works with a non-free driver and or firmware
The laptop is sold as a kit for self-assembly. Here we assume that the kit is completely assembled and correctly functioning with the preinstalled system.
Several images exist for directly writing to your microSD card:
- Description: Fork of armbian by the device's maintainer focused to be as close to debian as possible with device-specific optimizations
Source: apt-based distributions + optional ?AerithForge repository
- Build: Mostly debootstrap + custom management
- Description: Rarely works due to trying to be "one image for all arm64 devices"
- Description: Framework used to build apt-based distributions
- Source: Debian (or Ubuntu) + optional Armbian repository
Build: debootstrap + custom scripts
- Description: Seems to be an abandonware, doesn't work anymore
- Source: Debian
Build: Boxer + qemu + multistrap + custom scripts
- Quirks: in addition to main purely Free Debian image, a separate nonfree image is provided with support for internal wifi
- Description: Very outdated and unmaintained image, kept for legacy and design reference
- Source: Ubuntu + Olimex + Olimex-maintained forks of kernel and bootloader
Build: qemu-debootstrap + custom scripts
- Description: Very broken, someone though it's good idea
- Source: Ubuntu + Armbian + Olimex + Olimex-maintained forks of kernel and bootloader
Build: qemu-debootstrap + custom scripts
- Description: Image developed during porting for parabola linux, abandoned due to upstream incompetence
- Source: Parabola GNU/Linux
- Build: Parabola build system
- Description: Official support on Parabola GNU/Linux
- Source: Parabola GNU/Linux
- Build: Parabola build system
- Description: Patch for an official support, never merged
- Source: GNU Guix
- Build: GNU Guile
For links, further information and discussion see the dedicated thread at the olimex forum.
Buster and newer include boot-loader, kernel and arm64 userspace tools working out of the box.
There are no real requirements for disk layout other than that the bootloader is stored in an area close to the start of the disk but outside any partition. Most microSD cards already come with a compatible partition layout, so you only have to change the type of the existing partition from Windows to Linux and format it with your favorite filesystem.
Buster and newer ships with working device-tree (DT) file for the teres.
Stage 1 and 3 of bootstrapping the hardware is U-boot.
mainline u-boot supports Teres-I since 2019.05, and the debian package u-boot-sunxi since release 2019.01+dfsg-5.
Built-in keyboard requires special care to get enabled in u-boot.
U-boot before v2020.01 fails to enable the built-in keyboard, and require this patch to be applied. U-boot since v2022.04 (possible earlier) again fails to enable the built-in keyboard, and require this patch to be applied. The issue is tracked at 935035.
arm trusted firmware
Stage 2 of bootstrapping the hardware is ARM Trusted Firmware.
The debian package arm-trusted-firmware has support for Teres I using this binary:
Debian-packaged u-boot embeds this firmware since release 2020.04+dfsg-1.
Follow the debootstrap chapter in the installation manual.
The default bootscript built into u-boot probably won't find all the files necessary to boot the system. The simplest way to fix this is to install u-boot-menu which should work out of the box.
Alternatively you can try write a custom bootscript and reformat it with mkimage from the package u-boot-tools:
mkimage -T script -d boot.txt /boot.scr
Here is a minimal example bootscript which assumes that /dtb, /vmlinuz and /initrd.gz are symlinks to the real files.
Using debian installer
Vanilla Debian may be installed onto the TERES-I using Debian-installer. The following procedure installs Debian onto internal eMMC storage.
Disclaimer: Mitigating a known issue
Following installation, the user will be greeted with a black screen every time the device is powered on or rebooted. Until this issue is patched upstream, the easiest workaround is to follow the procedure as described below in both the linked video and the section entitled "No output on monitor (black screen) when booting/rebooting".
1. Using a host computer, download and configure the installation image:
wget -nd https://deb.debian.org/debian/dists/stable/main/installer-arm64/current/images/netboot/SD-card-images/firmware.teres_i.img.gz wget -nd https://deb.debian.org/debian/dists/stable/main/installer-arm64/current/images/netboot/SD-card-images/partition.img.gz zcat firmware.teres_i.img.gz partition.img.gz > complete_image.img
2. On the same computer you used to create the image above, run the following command:
3. Still using the same host computer, insert a spare microSD card. This microSD card will be used to run debian-installer in order to install Debian onto the TERES-I local eMMC.
4. Run the following command again:
Verify that the device path of the microSD card is shown by comparing the output to the previously-issued command. The device path should look something like /dev/sdX (and NOT the path to a partition e.g. /dev/sdX1).
5. Run the following command to burn the installation image to the microSD card:
sudo dd bs=4M if=/path/to/complete_image.img of=/dev/sdX status=progress oflag=sync
6. Insert the imaged microSD card into the TERES-I and power on the device.
7. U-Boot will launch and the boot select menu will display Debian-installer as an option. Select your language, location, and keyboard settings. Select your desired host name and domain name. Network hardware will now be scanned and you may select your mirror and proxy settings. If you receive a "bad mirror" error, try using an RJ45-to-USB adapter and try detecting network hardware again via the "Go Back" menu option. Set up users and passwords, and choose a time zone. Choose a partitioning method. When you reach the "Partitioning disks" menu, you will be prompted to "select disk to partition." You should see two options:
- MMC/SD card #1 (mmcblk0) - XX.X GB SD XXXXX
- MMC/SD card #3 (mmcblk2) - 14.8 GB MMC B1J56L
Select the MMC option. Choose a partioning scheme. Select "Finish partitioning and write changes to disk" and select "Yes." Wait for a while. When you reach the software selection menu, toggle what software to install by pressing <Space> and "Continue" using <Enter>.
8. At the conclusion of the installation, you will be prompted to remove the installation media and either "Go Back" or "Continue". Leave the microSD card inserted and select "Continue" to reboot the device. You are now at the point where you must perform a known workaround to avoid a black/blank screen when booting the TERES-I. Please continue to the section below entitled "No output on monitor (black screen) when booting/rebooting".
No output on monitor (black screen) when booting/rebooting
1. Ensure that a bootable microSD card is inserted into the microSD slot on the device.
2. Power on or reboot the device.
3. When U-Boot appears (like it did when you were intentionally installing Debian), remove the microSD card.
4. Depending how long you wait to remove the microSD card, several errors may be shown due to missing files, but ignore them.
5. The TERES-I will continue to boot Debian normally from local eMMC storage.
If the screen remains blank or the system doesn't boot (e.g. is stuck in u-boot or initramfs), you can connect a serial console. The serial console is multiplexed with the headphone output. Instructions how to make or buy a proper connector are at the Olimex forum.
The backlight is adjustable by echo'ing values 0-10 to /sys/class/backlight/backlight/brightness since Linux 5.2.
Keys to control backlight (and other media keys) need udev 245 or newer.
Older udev can be taught as well: Add file /etc/udev/hwdb.d/70-keyboard.hwdb with this content:
########################################################### # Olimex ########################################################### # Teres-I evdev:input:b0003v15BAp003C* KEYBOARD_KEY_70066=sleep # Fn+F1 KEYBOARD_KEY_700f6=wlan # Fn+F2 KEYBOARD_KEY_700c7=f21 # Fn+F3 touchpad toggle KEYBOARD_KEY_7006f=brightnessdown # Fn+F7 KEYBOARD_KEY_70070=brightnessup # Fn+F8 KEYBOARD_KEY_7006e=switchvideomode # Fn+F9
One way to tie backlight keys to backlight control is with package backlightctl and adding the file /etc/udev/rules.d/90-brightnessctl.rules with this content:
ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="backlight", RUN+="/bin/chown nobody /sys/class/backlight/%k/brightness" ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="backlight", RUN+="/bin/chgrp video /sys/class/backlight/%k/brightness" ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="backlight", RUN+="/bin/chmod g+w /sys/class/backlight/%k/brightness" ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="leds", RUN+="/bin/chgrp nobody /sys/class/leds/%k/brightness" ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="leds", RUN+="/bin/chgrp input /sys/class/leds/%k/brightness" ACTION=="add", SUBSYSTEM=="leds", RUN+="/bin/chmod g+w /sys/class/leds/%k/brightness"
LCD works with simplefb framebuffer.
Mali-400 MP2 ("Utgard") GPU is recognized since Linux 5.2 but not yet used.
Use of Mali GPU requires the lima driver, developed as part of Mesa3d in (among others) package libgl1-mesa-dri, where the lima driver is expected enabled from release 4.19.2 onwards.
Possibly use of Mali GPU additionally requires X11 driver fbturbo, not currently packaged for Debian (see 760025).
As of 2021-09-22, direct uAPI support in GStreamer is possible but not quite available, and support via ?V4L2 requests for mpv is maybe usable too using experimental fork of libva-v4l2-requests driver.
Current stable release depends on package pulseaudio.
If used with pipewire then make sure that pipewire-pulse is installed.
Some systems might not work out of the box on pipewire+pulseaudio+alsa configuration in which case you need to install pavucontrol and make sure that the card profile is set on Pro Audio or use the command:
- $ pactl set-card-profile alsa_card.platform-sound pro-audio
Sleep is supported since Linux 4.19.
Battery status data is available since Linux 5.2, at non-standard path /sys/class/power_supply/axp20x-battery.
Realtek RTL8723BS, requiring non-free package firmware-realtek
NOTE: Since bookworm the package is present in the 'non-free-firmware' sub-repository see https://lists.debian.org/debian-boot/2023/01/msg00235.html
A possible race condition between wifi driver and mmc driver is avoided by adding "rtl8723bs" to the file /etc/initramfs-tools/modules and then regenerating initramfs with "update-initramfs -u". This issue and workaround was found here.
- (not covered yet)
lsusb -v | grep -E '\<(Bus|iProduct|bDeviceClass|bDeviceProtocol)' 2>/dev/null
Bus 002 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub bDeviceClass 9 Hub bDeviceProtocol 0 Full speed (or root) hub iProduct 2 SW USB2.0 'Open' Host Controller (OHCI) Driver Bus 001 Device 005: ID 15ba:003c Olimex Ltd. bDeviceClass 0 (Defined at Interface level) bDeviceProtocol 0 iProduct 2 TERES Keyboard+Touchpad (Bus Powered) Bus 001 Device 003: ID 1908:2311 GEMBIRD bDeviceClass 239 Miscellaneous Device bDeviceProtocol 1 Interface Association iProduct 2 USB2.0 PC CAMERA (Bus Powered) bDeviceClass 239 Miscellaneous Device bDeviceProtocol 1 Interface Association (Bus Powered) Bus 001 Device 002: ID 05e3:0608 Genesys Logic, Inc. Hub bDeviceClass 9 Hub bDeviceProtocol 1 Single TT iProduct 1 USB2.0 Hub bDeviceClass 9 Hub bDeviceProtocol 0 Full speed (or root) hub Bus 001 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub bDeviceClass 9 Hub bDeviceProtocol 0 Full speed (or root) hub iProduct 2 SW USB2.0 'Enhanced' Host Controller (EHCI) Driver Bus 004 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0001 Linux Foundation 1.1 root hub bDeviceClass 9 Hub bDeviceProtocol 0 Full speed (or root) hub iProduct 2 SW USB2.0 'Open' Host Controller (OHCI) Driver Bus 003 Device 001: ID 1d6b:0002 Linux Foundation 2.0 root hub bDeviceClass 9 Hub bDeviceProtocol 0 Full speed (or root) hub iProduct 2 SW USB2.0 'Enhanced' Host Controller (EHCI) Driver
Some configuration files and sample outputs.