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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.


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 should run fine from the eMMC internal storage, most people 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.

Overall Status

To get an overview of mainline kernel support, see the status matrix of the linux sunxi community.

Core Components


Boot Standard Kernel:

{OK} - since Buster

Detect mmc:


Extra Features

CPU Frequency Scaling




Sleep / Suspend

{OK} - since Linux 4.19



- OpenGL


- Resize-and-Rotate(randr)


Switch to External Screen

{X} - only with non-Mainline patches e.g. included in Olimex images


- Built-in (Touchpad)




Keyboard's Hotkeys


Legend :
{OK} = OK ; {X} Unsupported(No Driver) ; /!\ = Error (Couldn't get it working); [?] Unknown, Not Test ; [-] Not-applicable
{i} = Configuration Required; X-( = Only works with a non-free driver and or firmware


The laptop is sold as a kit for self-assembly. Here we assume that it is completely assembled and confirmed working correctly with the preinstalled system.

Image install

Several images exist for directly writing to your microSD card:

For links, further information and discussion see the dedicated thread at the olimex forum.

Manual install

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.

device tree

Buster and newer ships with working device-tree (DT) file for the teres.

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:



Stage 1 and 3 of bootstrapping the hardware is U-boot.

mainline u-boot still (as of release 2019.04) misses a few bits including the sun50i-a64-teres-i.dtb device tree file with hints to enable the pwm driver (to get display backlight up).

The debian package u-boot-sunxi since release 2019.01+dfsg-5 includes a patch enabling support Teres I except USB support, which implies that the built-in USB keyboard is not usable until Linux has loaded (proposed fix at 935035).

The included patch is currently being proposed mainlined into u-boot.

Pre-built u-boot binaries are available.


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. 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

There is no support in the official installer yet. However it might be possible to copy the arm64 installer files and a suitable device tree file onto a microSD card with a bootloader from external sources. If you try that approach, please share your experience.

One successful case of installing vanilla Debian onto the TERES-I eMMC:

1. Download and configure the installation image:

wget -nd
wget -nd
zcat firmware.teres_i.img.gz partition.img.gz > complete_image.img

2. Burn the installation image to a microSD card:

sudo dd bs=4M if=/path/to/complete_image.img of=/dev/sdX status=progress oflag=sync

3. Insert the microSD image into the TERES-I and power on the device.

4. Proceed through the installer, and install the system to eMMC (onboard storage). If you receive a "bad mirror" error, try using an RJ45-to-USB adapter and try again.

5. At the conclusion of the installation, you will be prompted to remove the installation media. If you do this and reboot the laptop, you will likely experience the laptop showing a blank screen (see Troubleshooting section below). Leave the microSD card inserted instead. Reboot the device with the installation media inserted and, when the debian-installer boot menu appears (like it did when you were intentionally installing Debian), remove the microSD card. The computer may look like it doesn't like this because it will be unable to locate required files, but will then continue to boot onto the freshly-installed Debian system residing on local eMMC storage.


If the screen remains blank or the system doesn't boot (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.



LCD works with simplefb framebuffer.

Backlight is adjustable by echo'ing values 0-10 to /sys/class/backlight/backlight/brightness since Linux 5.2.

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 19.2 onwards.

Possibly use of Mali GPU additionally requires X11 driver fbturbo, not currently packaged for Debian (see 760025).

Video decoding/encoding accelerator Video Engine is supported since Linux 5.0. Use of Video Engine however requires Cedrus (and wrappers e.g. for vdpau and ffmpeg) not currently packaged for Debian.


Power Management

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

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.

System Summary


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.

  • [get | view] (2018-04-07 09:22:19, 0.2 KB) [[attachment:boot.txt]]
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