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Booting Turris MOX over serial⚓︎

Warning

The procedure described on this page is for developers and really advanced users only and you normally shouldn’t be in a position to need it. If your router works, do not attempt to reflash it.

Warning

This howto works only on a Linux computer. If you are using another operating system, the easiest way to execute the procedure described here is via Ubuntu installed in VirtualBox.

If you somehow managed to brick the U-Boot bootloader in your MOX and the device cannot boot, there is a way to stop the booting procedure even before U-Boot is loaded and upload another U-Boot via UART.

There are several ways how the bootloader on your board could have become broken, including:

  • You could have written an invalid image (for example U-Boot) into the secure-firmware MTD partition. In this case the board won’t display anything on the UART console after power up.
  • You could have written a broken U-Boot into the u-boot MTD partition. In this case the boards may or may not display some U-Boot prompts on the UART console.

Connecting the UART adapter⚓︎

You will need a 1.8V USB TTL serial cable. Connect the Tx, Rx, GND and potentially VCC signals to pins 13, 14, 5 and 6 respectively, as described here.

After connecting the cable to correct pins and the USB connector of the UART adapter to your PC, your system should create a device file in /dev directory with a name beginning with ttyUSB followed by a number. If you have several such files in /dev, the correct one is the one which was created only after you stuck the UART adapter into the PC.

Getting the recovery utility⚓︎

You will need the mox-imager utility. You can either download precompiled binaries (for x86 and amd64 only) or download mox-imager‘s source code and compile it.

Downloading precompiled binaries⚓︎

$ cd /tmp
$ mkdir mox-imager
$ cd mox-imager
$ wget https://gitlab.nic.cz/turris/mox-imager/uploads/ad55930e732f0689ded2933fc860e9c5/mox-imager-v0.1-binary-x86-amd64.tar.gz
$ tar xf mox-imager-v0.1-binary-x86-amd64.tar.gz
$ rm mox-imager-v0.1-binary-x86-amd64.tar.gz
$ ls
mox-imager.amd64  mox-imager.x86  trusted-uart-image.bin

Later you will use either the mox-imager.amd64 or mox-imager.x86 binary, depending on your architecture.

Compiling from source⚓︎

The mox-imager utility depends on glibc and openssl/libressl. For building you will also need build essentials installed. On Ubuntu, this means installling packages build-essential and libssl-dev.

$ cd /tmp
$ wget https://gitlab.nic.cz/turris/mox-imager/-/archive/v0.1/mox-imager-v0.1.tar.gz
$ tar xf mox-imager-v0.1.tar.gz
$ rm mox-imager-v0.1.tar.gz
$ cd mox-imager-v0.1
$ make

After a successful build the directory should contain mox-imager binary.

Getting the original bootloader images⚓︎

Since the current bootloader in your device is broken, you will have to get the original bootloader images. Download secure-firmware.bin and uboot and either place them into /tmp, put then on your MicroSD card or on a USB flash disk.

Other requirements⚓︎

You will also need a serial communications program, like minicom or PuTTY. In the examples below we will use minicom.

Recovering⚓︎

Uploading U-Boot via UART⚓︎

Now that the recovery utility is prepared and the correct device file for the UART adapter is known (in following examples we will use /dev/ttyUSB0), the recovery procedure may begin. Please replace mox-imager with mox-imager.amd64 or mox-imager.x86 if you’ve downloaded the precompiled binary of this utility.

  1. Make sure that you MOX board is not powered.
  2. Run ./mox-imager -D /dev/ttyUSB0 -E trusted-uart-image.bin && minicom -D /dev/ttyUSB0 -b 115200
  3. After 2-4 seconds power up your MOX and wait.
  4. If the command fails or hangs for more than 20 seconds, power off your MOX and go to step 1. (This may happen several times.)
  5. Otherwise the utility should print progress of image upload into the device. After successful upload the command from step 2 should start minicom which will print U-Boot loading messages. Interrupt U-Boot’s booting procedure with a keystroke and you should be left in U-Boot’s command prompt.
  6. Flash the original bootloader images from MicroSD card, USB flash disk or from your PC, as described in the Flashing sections below.

Video⚓︎

In the following video the download (via git) and compilation of mox-imager sources, and execution of steps 1-5 from previous section is shown:

Flashing bootloader images from a MicroSD card⚓︎

If you put the original bootloader images on a MicroSD card, put the card into MOX and execute the following commands in U-Boot (the output is shown as well):

=> ls mmc 0
<   >     853552  Tue Apr 28 20:31:14 2020  uboot
<   >     131072  Tue Apr 28 20:31:26 2020  secure-firmware.bin
=> load mmc 0 0x10000000 secure-firmware.bin
131072 bytes read in 31 ms (4 MiB/s)
=> sf probe
SF: Detected w25q64dw with page size 256 Bytes, erase size 4 KiB, total 8 MiB
=> sf update 0x10000000 0 0x20000
device 0 offset 0x0, size 0x20000
32768 bytes written, 98304 bytes skipped in 0.859s, speed 156067 B/s
=> load mmc 0 0x10000000 uboot
853552 bytes read in 63 ms (12.9 MiB/s)
=> sf update 0x10000000 0x20000 0x160000
device 0 offset 0x20000, size 0x160000
1323008 bytes written, 118784 bytes skipped in 27.176s, speed 54325 B/s
=>

Flashing bootloader images from a USB flash disk⚓︎

If you put the original bootloader images on a USB flash disk, connect it to MOX and execute the following commands in U-Boot (the output is shown as well):

=> usb start
starting USB...
Bus usb@58000: Register 2000104 NbrPorts 2
Starting the controller
USB XHCI 1.00
Bus usb@5e000: USB EHCI 1.00
scanning bus usb@58000 for devices... 2 USB Device(s) found
scanning bus usb@5e000 for devices... 1 USB Device(s) found
       scanning usb for storage devices... 1 Storage Device(s) found
=> ls usb 0
   131072   secure-firmware.bin
   853552   uboot

2 file(s), 0 dir(s)

=> load usb 0 0x10000000 secure-firmware.bin
131072 bytes read in 6 ms (20.8 MiB/s)
=> sf probe
SF: Detected w25q64dw with page size 256 Bytes, erase size 4 KiB, total 8 MiB
=> sf update 0x10000000 0 0x20000
device 0 offset 0x0, size 0x20000
32768 bytes written, 98304 bytes skipped in 0.859s, speed 156067 B/s
=> load usb 0 0x10000000 uboot
853552 bytes read in 16 ms (50.9 MiB/s)
=> sf update 0x10000000 0x20000 0x160000
device 0 offset 0x20000, size 0x160000
1323008 bytes written, 118784 bytes skipped in 27.176s, speed 54325 B/s
=>

Flashing bootloader images uploaded via UART⚓︎

If you put your bootloader images into /tmp directory on your PC, it is possible to upload them into the running U-Boot on MOX via UART, via the YMODEM protocol. This text shows how to do this with minicom.

  1. Run loady 0x10000000 command in U-Boot. This should print something like Ready for binary (ymodem) download....
  2. Press [CTRL+a], then [z]. The Minicom Command Summary window will be displayed.
  3. Press [s] to send files. Upload window shall appear.
  4. Select the ymodem option with arrow keys and confirm with [Enter]. A file selection window will appear.
  5. Press [Enter]. Another window, titled No file selected - enter filename shall appear.
  6. Write /tmp/secure-firmware.bin and press [Enter]. minicom shall start uploading the file. After the file is uploaded, a Transfer complete message will be displayed in the file uploading window.
  7. Press any key to exit the file uploading window.
  8. Run sf probe and then sf update 0x10000000 0 0x20000 to flash secure-firmware.bin image.
  9. Execute steps 1-8, but in step 6 use file /tmp/uboot instead of /tmp/secure-firmware.bin.
  10. Run sf probe and then sf update 0x10000000 0x20000 0x160000 to flash uboot image.

Last update: 2020-07-03