[Blend-tinker-devel] [REPORT] Successful image generation for a minimally modified Debian to run on Sinovoip Banana Pi M2+EDU (H3 SOC, armhf)

Linux-Fan Ma_Sys.ma at web.de
Sun Feb 23 21:23:15 GMT 2020

Hello Debian tinkerers,

I am writing this as a follow-up on an existing debian-user thread
and some private replies which suggested that the recommended place for
questions related to ARM SBCs would be here.

The goal behind the original question linked above was to get an
unmodified Debian 10 onto the SBC without any external sources

During the past days, I finally arrived at a means to generate an image
for Debian 10 on the Sinovoip Banana Pi M2+EDU (Allwinner H3 SOC,
512 MiB RAM). Before, I had a working process for Debian 8 with kernel
and bootloader taken from armbian and throughout the development, I
managed to upgrade the process to Debian 10 and then even use an
unmodified Debian armhf-lpae kernel. Additionally, due to the removal
of a dependency on docker and the use of `mmdebstrap` instead of
`debootstrap`, the building process could be simplified and is now
running much faster than before.

Unfortunately, the result is (still) not entirely “unmodified“.
For now, the following changes wrt. a “proper“ Debian exist:

 * u-boot (file `u-boot-sunxi-with-spl.bin`) is still taken from
   armbian. I could not get it to work with either “mainline“ u-boot
   which hangs at “Starting kernel...” or Debian's u-boot which
   turns on the display, but does not do any output and does not boot --
   no error message available...

 * The kernel-upgrade process needs an additional script to generate
   `uInitrd` and `boot.scr` files required by u-boot. I wrote that
   script as a sort of “heuristics“ for kernel upgrading. Currently,
   it lacks the Debian amd64's convenience of providing multiple
   bootable kernel versions at the same time.

Of course, I am always interested in means of reducing external
dependencies, i.e. replacing the bootloader (currently from armbian)
and kernel-upgrade script (currently “homegrown“) with “proper“ Debian
solutions. I dream of generating a bootable image from just a single
regular Debian mirror... :)

Additionally, I can tell that the new `mmdebstrap` really pays off
in terms of speed and less workarounds needed. It is, however, a little
difficult to get started (cf. linked debian-user thread) and I might
manage to reproduce the a bug regarding the use of mode `fakechroot` on
Debian stable (to be continued...)

In case you are interested in my scripts, they are all published on

To read the documentation, check the (updated) article on my website:

Feel free to ask if anything is unclear or documented incompletely. Seeing  
that it is fairly low-traffic, I have subscribed to the list (no need to CC).

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