A20 OLinuXino MICRO not booting FB image

Problem Description
I decided to turn a A20 OLinuXino MICRO into another Freedombox. The Freedombox image for the A20 OLinuXino MICRO does not seem to boot on it.

Steps to Reproduce

  1. Take one 2014 A20 OLinuXino MICRO (with attached LCD-OLinuXino-7" touchscreen). This was booting Debian from ancient vfat 4GB MicroSD card, so I’m pretty sure the hardware’s good.
  2. Download the stable-free_buster Freedombox image for the A20 OLinuXino MICRO.
  3. Unpack, check the checksum, all seems well.
  4. Plug a new 8GB MicroSD card into a USB converter, plug said converter into the USB slot on desktop or laptop.
  5. Carefully check which drive it is.
  6. Write image using:
    dd bs=1M if=/home/[blah_blah_path]/freedombox_Olinuxino/freedombox-stable-free_buster_a20-olinuxino-micro-armhf.img of=/dev/sd[x] conv=fdatasync status=progress
    …where the bits in square brackets are replaced with the appropriate strings for the desktop/laptop system.
  7. Unmount new FB card, plug it into the Olimex board, plug board into power and ethernet.

Expected Results
I expected it to boot, and the LED indicating that it had booted to come on, and the screen to come up with a command-line interface.

Actual results
It does not boot. The lights showing that it is connected to the net did come on.

Further attempts
I belatedly saw this Freedombox setup video tutorial, and I thought I might have powered the board up first, and then plugged it into the internet. So I overwrote any differences from the original on the card (I think there were none), and started over, careful to plug into the internet first, and left it overnight to be sure it had lots of time. It still did not boot.

If I take out the FB card, and insert the old Debian card (which may be an old version of the Olimex-supplied Debian image), the board boots just fine. If I do not insert any card it boots Android (!). The obvious next workaround is to install plain Debian on the card and then install Freedombox, but I’d like to figure out why the specialized image is not working. Any ideas?

Has anyone successfully booted this image?

There are a couple things that come to mind here. First of all, after briefly glancing over some of the documentation, with your board specifically, which is the same brand as the pioneer freedombox, it is noted that there have been some issues with first boot, in particular…
1.The screen not having the proper drivers to show the screen on boot, so you may need to try ssh’ing into it first. Because after all, it might be booted and you just don’t know it.
2. It definitely noted and stressed that the freedom box needs some “warm up time” of 10 minutes or so on first boot. I suspect, this may be due to the data partition not being fully expanded to its maximum size when you dd the freedombox image to your sd card, and your freedom box needs the extra time to self expand its data partition. If you want to manually remedy this, you can boot into linux, or a gparted live usb, plug in your freedombox sdcard, and use the gparted application to manually expand your sd cards data image.
3. There are also noted issues for the pioneer freedombox that specifically state the freedom box won’t boot first boot, but you must boot it once, and then power it off and boot it again.

So, my suggestions to start debugging this, would be to try the documented basics.

  1. Try DD’ing a new freedombox image to your usb card.
  2. Use gparted live to expand your data partition on your sdcard before first boot.
  3. Plug in your sdcard to freedombox and give it ten minutes to “warm up”, just in case.
  4. Unplug your freedombox (including a battery if you have one) and replug it in, then wait a minute or so for it to properly boot.

If this doesn’t work, then I’m at a loss of ideas.

Hope it does work though!

  • Dan

Thank you, Dan! Apologies for the slow reply, I somehow didn’t see your comment for a month. I rewrote the disc as you suggested, and expanded the partition, which was indeed half the size it could have been. Then I booted, left it for… a few days, due to life happening… and the touchscreen was blank but reacting to touch by flashing the internet traffic light. And then I shut it down (by unplugging) and restarted, and it booted. To Android. Just as if there were no bootable SD card inserted. I am puzzled.

I stupidly forgot to try to SSH in before the reboot. I could redo from start and try that.