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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.

Models covered
TI BeagleBone

Overall Status

TI BeagleBone board is a development board. It is ARM architecture. The SoC is TI am335x.

System as sold

It comes with Angstrom OS on the 4G SDcard.

Update: As of March 2014 BeagleBoard officially provides Debian builds here.

Serial Console

The serial console is /dev/ttyUSB0. Baud rate is 115200 N 8.

Installation steps (with vmdebootstrap)

Important: The ?BeagleBone Black customisation script shipped by vmdebootstrap in Stretch is broken and results in an image that won't boot (bug#874535). It won't be fixed since vmdebootstrap isn't maintained anymore. Replacements suggested in the bug report are debos and vmdb2. Both are shipped starting with Buster; there's no backport for Stretch (as of 2019-01-25).

vmdebootstrap provides a wrapper for beaglebone-black:


The script uses a customise script and can be replaced by using the commands directly if you want different options:

sudo vmdebootstrap \
 --owner $(whoami) --verbose \
 --mirror \
 --log beaglebone-black.log --log-level debug \
 --arch armhf \
 --foreign /usr/bin/qemu-arm-static \
 --enable-dhcp \
 --configure-apt \
 --no-extlinux \
 --no-kernel \
 --package u-boot \
 --package linux-image-armmp \
 --distribution sid \
 --serial-console-command "'/sbin/getty -L ttyO0 115200 vt100'" \
 --customize "" \
 --bootsize 50m --boottype vfat

The customise script creates the u-boot configuration:

With this in place, a simple dd to an SD card and the BBB boots directly into Debian ARMMP.

Installation steps (by linaro-image-tools)


Please use Debian sid or Debian Wheezy or any later versions because we need the latest linaro-image-tools and live-build.

We also need an armel build environment. I am using qemubuilder to create a native build environment. Cross-compilers should work too. We don't want to describe the steps here because it is off-topic. Please read qemubuilder. And if you decide to use cross-compilers, please read EmdebianToolchain.

Prepare Debian binary rootfs

In this section we create a Debian Sid armhf rootfs.

  1. There is a bug of the live-build.

  2. We use live-build to create Debian binary rootfs. The first step is make an empty directory, for example, "/tmp/live_cd"

  3. Enter the created directory by "cd /tmp/live_cd"

  4. Execute
    • lb config --apt-indices none --architectures armhf --binary-images tar --binary-filesystem ext3 --bootloader "" --cache false --chroot-filesystem none --debian-installer-gui false --distribution sid --parent-distribution sid --parent-debian-installer-distribution sid --gzip-options '--best --rsyncable' --initramfs none --linux-flavours none --linux-packages none --bootstrap-qemu-arch armhf --bootstrap-qemu-static /usr/bin/qemu-arm-static
  5. Create ./config/includes.chroot/sbin/auto-serial-getty as an executable shell script:

    • #!/bin/sh -e
      for arg in $(cat /proc/cmdline)
          case $arg in
                  case $tty in
                      tty[a-zA-Z]* )
                          # 8bit serial is default
                          [ -z $BITS ] && BITS=8
                          [ 8 -eq $BITS ] && GETTY_ARGS="$GETTY_ARGS -8 "
                          [ -z $SPEED ] && SPEED='115200,57600,38400,19200,9600'
                          exec /sbin/getty $GETTY_ARGS
  6. Create ./config/includes.chroot/etc/init/auto-serial-getty.conf

    • start on stopped rc RUNLEVEL=[2345]
      stop on runlevel [!2345]
      exec /sbin/auto-serial-getty
  7. Create ./config/hooks/01_set_root_passwd.hook.chroot as an executable shell script:

    • #!/bin/sh
      echo "I: update password"
      echo "root:linaro" | chpasswd
  8. Run "chmod a+rx ./config/hooks/* ./config/includes.chroot/sbin/*"

  9. Re-run "lb config"

  10. Run "sudo lb build"

    • And we should have a live-image-armhf.tar.tar generated now and must use xz to convert it to live-image-armhf.tar.tar.xz.

  11. Run "xz -9 live-image-armhf.tar.tar"

Prepare U-boot package

The U-boot of BeagleBone is still not upstreamed yet. So we have to get it from git://

To simplify this step, I've made a Debian package already for you. You can download the source package by the following commands. And build it from source by qemubuilder.

If you are lazy, you can just use the following command to get the binary package I've made.

Build U-boot

If you're using the package I made, you can skip this section.

Here we provide some information to people who want to work hard to do everything from source. Remember, you should do these commands inside armel environment. Or by setting ARCH and CROSS_COMPILE env to use cross compilers.

Prepare the kernel

The kernel for am335x is also not yet upstreamed. The git tree is at git://

For convenience, I made the kernel package by make-kpkg. Please look at You need to download linux-*.deb

Build the kernel

You can skip this section if you download the binary packages I made.

After a long build, you should get the following binary packages:

Make a hwpack

In this section we create a hwpack that contains the kernel we just built and the am33x u-boot.

  1. create a config file "/tmp/linaro-debian-am335x" as following:
    • [hwpack]
      maintainer=Ying-Chun Liu (PaulLiu) <>
      extra_serial_options=console=tty0 console=ttyO0,115200n8
      sources-entry= sid main
  2. Copy those kernel Debian packages and U-boot Debian packages to /tmp. (The .deb files)
  3. Run "linaro-hwpack-create --local-deb u-boot-am33x_0+git20111206_armel.deb --local-deb linux-image-3.1.0.paulliu-1-am335x_3.1.0-1_armel.deb --local-deb linux-headers-3.1.0.paulliu-1-am335x_3.1.0-1_armel.deb --local-deb linux-doc-3.1.0.paulliu-1-am335x_3.1.0-1_all.deb --local-deb linux-manual-3.1.0.paulliu-1-am335x_3.1.0-1_all.deb --local-deb linux-source-3.1.0.paulliu-1-am335x_3.1.0-1_all.deb linaro-debian-am335x 1"

Now we have a good hwpack for Debian image

Build the image

We can use linaro-media-create to build the Debian image.

And now we got an image file called linaro-debian-beaglebone.img. Just use dd to write it to a microSD card.


Just insert the microSD card into BeagleBone board and boot. After several seconds we'll get a login prompt from the serial console. And then we use root to login. The root password is "linaro".