Upgrading your GTA02 u-boot in 20 easy steps

Werner Almesberger werner at openmoko.org
Tue Jan 29 16:48:28 CET 2008

There have been the following major changes to u-boot in the last

- We have a new partition layout on GTA02, with a larger kernel
  partition and a new "factory" partition. Unfortunately, upgrading to
  the new layout will require deleting the entire NAND content.

- "mtdparts" now correctly reflects the NOR, without needing any extra
  fiddling. Since the boot parameter line is now very long and kept on
  getting truncated, I've also increased the maximum u-boot command
  length (which also limits the length of variables) from 256 characters
  to 1024.

- On GTA02, u-boot now uses the USB vendor ID of OpenMoko. This means
  that "old" and this "new" u-boot will not recognize each other's
  UDFU signatures and thus refuse attempts to "dfu-util -a u-boot -D"
  the respective other version.

- When booting from NOR, the u-boot environment in NAND is ignored, and
  the default environment built into u-boot is used instead.

Since some of these changes mean that this is a fairly disruptive update,
I'd suggest to just replace the entire NAND content. At the same time,
we set up u-boot in NOR, so future updates should be more convenient.

NOTE: All this is only about GTA02. For GTA01, nothing changes.
(I hope ;-)

GTA02 upgrade

Here are the step-by-step instructions for making the upgrade. Please read
them carefully before starting.

 1) build the latest u-boot, e.g., using

    WARNING ! Make sure your u-boot is configured for the correct hardware.
    You can check this with

    host# cat u-boot/include/config.h

    This update process does not include the sanity checks that normally
    prevent accidents during u-boot updates.

 2) build a recent 2.6.24 kernel, e.g., using
 3) obtain a recent rootfs image, e.g.,

 4) start the GTA02 and halt it in u-boot, pressing a key at the
    respective console when u-boot asks for it, e.g.,

    host# neocon -t 30 /dev/ttyACM{0,1,2}
    (start the GTA02)
    (keep pressing keys on the host until "neocon" says "[Open]")
    Hit any key to stop autoboot:  3
    (press one more key)
    GTA02v3 #

    "neocon" is in http://svn.openmoko.org/developers/werner/neocon/

 5) install the kernel on the GTA02, e.g., with
    host# dfu-util -a kernel -R -D linux-2.6.24/arch/arm/boot/uImage

 6) install the rootfs on the GTA02, e.g., with
    host# dfu-util -a rootfs -R -D openmoko-devel-image-fic-gta02.jffs2

 7) boot the GTA02 into Linux, e.g.,
    GTA02v3 # boot

    (If "neocon" is already running, press a key to make it reconnect
    after the DFU sessions.)

 8) set up "Ethernet over USB" networking, e.g.,
    host# ifconfig usb0 up

 9) transfer a copy of u-boot to the GTA02, e.g.,
    host# scp u-boot/u-boot.udfu
    Password: [Hit enter]

10) log on to the GTA02, e.g.,
    host# ssh root at
    root at fic-gta02:~$

11) write the u-boot binary to NOR, e.g.,
    root at fic-gta02:~$ flash_unlock /dev/mtd0
    root at fic-gta02:~$ flash_eraseall /dev/mtd0
    root at fic-gta02:~$ cat u-boot.udfu >/dev/mtd0

12) restart the GTA02 while holding down the AUX button, e.g.,
    root at fic-gta02:~$ /sbin/reboot -f

    The u-boot start messages should look like this:

    NAND:  128 MiB
    NOR boot, using default environment
    mtdparts variable not set, see 'help mtdparts'
    mtdparts variable not set, see 'help mtdparts'

13) access the u-boot console, e.g.,
    host# neocon -t 30 /dev/ttyACM{0,1,2}

    (Or, if "neocon" is already running, press a key to reconnect.)

14) check that the environment is the default environment, e.g.,
    GTA02v3 # echo ${mtdparts}

    This must yield an empty line. If you get different output, you
    didn't boot from NOR. Please return to step 7) and retry.

15) erase the Flash and set up a new environment, e.g.,
    GTA02v3 # nand erase
    Really erase everything ? <y/N>
    GTA02v3 # dynpart
    GTA02v3 # dynenv set u-boot_env
    GTA02v3 # saveenv

16) upload u-boot to NAND, e.g.,
    host# dfu-util -a 1 -R -D u-boot/u-boot.udfu

17) reset the GTA02 and watch it try to boot:
    Bad Magic Number
    GTA02v3 # 

    You'll notice that the kernel now loads more slowly than before.
    This is because we load the content of the entire partition, which
    has grown as a result of the upgrade. We'll fix this later.

18) install kernel and rootfs, as described in steps 5 and 6.
    If you're ambitious, you could also install a splash image.

19) reset the GTA02 and watch it boot into Linux.

20) Have a beer :-)

Recovery using NOR

In the future, if the device is "bricked", performing steps 12 through
20 (or a subset/variation thereof, depending on how much needs fixing)
will let you restore the GTA02, without even opening the case.

(Note: in these development prototypes, the hardware write protection
of the NOR Flash is not active yet. This means that is could be
clobbered by accident.)

Going back

If there's a major problem with u-boot, this is how one can roll back
to an older version:

 1) bring up u-boot (from NAND or NOR) and halt it

 2) upload u-boot to RAM:
    dfu-util -a 0 -R -D u-boot/u-boot.udfu

 3) at the u-boot console, enter
    GTA02v3 # dynpart
    GTA02v3 # nand write.e 0x32000000 u-boot

It may look like a brick, but ...

Is the device completely bricked and even NOR is dead ? No problem.

 1) connect the debug board.

 2) power up the GTA02.

 3) fire up OpenOCD, e.g.,
    host# cd /where/openocd.cfg/lives

    An example openocd.cfg can be downloaded from

 4) connect to OpenOCD and bring up u-boot:

    host# telnet localhost 4444
    > reset halt
    > wait_halt
    > load_binary u-boot/board/neo1973/gta02/lowlevel_foo.bin 0
    > bp 0x33f80000 4 hw
    > resume
    > wait_halt
    > load_binary u-boot/u-boot.udfu 0x33f80000
    > resume

    The download should take about 30 seconds.

 5) u-boot is now starting. Get its attention and perform the

That's all folks ! Have fun ! :-)

- Werner

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