Debian (Headless) NAND Install on Cubieboard

Dude I though only Snow White goes into a glass coffin

Dude I thought only Snow White goes into a glass coffin

Since flashing an image to the Cubieboard using the provided LiveSuite sucks so much (actually the only thing the Linux 32 bit version does is killing the contents of your NAND), I was looking for an other way to get a decent OS on the NAND of that board.

By decent OS I mean Debian or something like that, not Android. After some search, I came across Cubian which is a  minimal Debian 7.0 image for the Cubieboard using one of the latest Sunxi Kernels (3.4.43), unlike others who only offer  corrupted gnuzip images (come on, how hard is it?). Update: retried the downloads today, worked (still not sure what prevented the gzips earlier from being downloaded correctely).

The image also comes with a NAND installer script which copies the SD-Card image to NAND. Anyways, the image comes with some minor strangeness which could be easily fixed (I will describe how just in a few seconds).

Getting the Image

Dowload the latest image from here. At the time of writing the latest image was Cubian-base-r2-arm.img.bz2.

Putting the Image on SD-Card

A 4GB SD-Card is needed. To unzip and write the image do the following (replace /dev/sdc with the path to your SD-card device, also make sure it is not mounted):

bunzip Cubian-base-r2-arm.img.bz2
dd if=Cubian-base-r2-arm.img of=/dev/sdc bs=4M

First Boot, First Strangeness

Put the SD into the board and power it up. Green blinking LED indicates bootprocess, then the blue led is starting to flash, actuelly it is trying to tell you the last three digits of the IP the board received from your DHCP in morse code. Nevertheless, at the moment the blue LED starts flashing, you are ready to connect to the board through ssh.

First Login, Second Strangeness

Now, you could use ssh to login to the board. But for some reason ssh daemon is NOT listening on the default port but on port 36000 (we will fix that later too). Thus, one needs to connect like so:

ssh -p 36000 cubie@YOUR_CUBIEBOARD_IP

Note: user and password are both cubie.

Flasing to NAND

Flashing to NAND is pretty simple. When logged into the Cubieboard, execute the following commands:

sudo ~/nandinstall/

When asked if you are sure to replace all content on NAND with Cubian press y+ENTER (thanks for asking, but LiveSuite already killed everything that was on NAND before). After some time flashing is complete, and you are asked to shutdown. Then remove the SD card, and boot from NAND (again that IP-morse thing will take some time). After that, you could login again to the board through ssh (note, that the ssh-key changed, and you need to remove the old one first).

When logged in first, it might be a good idea to update your system:

sudo apt-get update
sudo apt-get upgrade

Fixing Things

As mentioned above, there are some strangeness which could be fixed easily. First, lets put ssh daemon back on its default port (22).

sudo cp /etc/ssh/sshd_config /etc/ssh/sshd_config.orig
sudo sed "s/Port 36000/Port 22/g" sshd_config_config.orig > /etc/ssh/sshd_config

You might realize that locales are not setup properly for you, this could be fixed by selecting your locales with the following configuration command:

sudo dpkg-reconfigure locales

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