Using fwupdmgr to update NVME firmware

The fabulous fwupdmgr provides the ability to easily update firmware that is published to Linux Vendor Firmware Service (LVFS) but it can also be used to apply updates that aren’t necessarily in LVFS. One type of firmware that it supports updating is NVME firmware, that’s basically any NMVE, because the standard specifies a standardised mechanism for updating the firmware on all NVME devices.

I had a need to update a NVME firmware in an aarch64 device to see if it fixed an issue I was seeing. The Crucial P2 supported options were of course x86 only. The ISO download actually contained a little LinuxOS in an initrd on the .iso. The advice from Richard the fwupd technical lead was to “Look for a ~4mb high entropy blob” so mounting it up, I mounted the iso, extracted the initrd, and then used fwupdmmgr to apply the new firmware.

Find the NVME and check the firmware version:

$ cat /sys/class/nvme/nvme0/firmware_rev 

So once I’d downloaded the update file I did the following to extract and update the firmware. Note I did this all as root, you can do most of it as non root.

# unzip
# mount -o loop iso_p2cr012.iso /mnt/
# mkdir ~/tmp
# cp /mnt/boot/corepure64.gz tmp/
# cd tmp
# gunzip corepure64.gz
# cpio -iv < corepure64
# fwupdtool install-blob opt/firmware/P2CR012/1.bin
Loading…                 [-                                      ]
Loading…                 [-                                      ]
Choose a device:
0.	Cancel
1.	71b677ca0f1bc2c5b804fa1d59e52064ce589293 (CT250P2SSD8)
2.	2270d251f7c1dc37a29a2aa720a566aa0fa0ecde (spi1.0)
Waiting…                 [************************************** ] Less than one minute remaining…
An update requires a reboot to complete. Restart now? [y|N]: y

And away it goes, a reboot later and did it work?

$ cat /sys/class/nvme/nvme0/firmware_rev 


Using nmcli to configure a static dual stack wired network interface

I recently managed to break the network on my VM that hosts this blog. Basically I removed the NetworkManager-initscripts-ifcfg-rh package because I don’t use the old style ifcfg configuration anywhere else and I had forgotten how long I’d had this VM. So I went into the web console, manually bought up the network with ip commands and reinstalled the package but it made no difference. Oh well! Time to just move it to the new config so I just worked out the nmcli options for all the bits in the old ifcfg. This VM network is nothing special, it’s basically dual IPv4/IPv6 interface with associated DNS.

Step 1: Show existing connections:

$ sudo nmcli c
NAME  UUID                                  TYPE      DEVICE 
eth0  a603bba7-fad8-3c71-9d4c-2cd5dc50e114  ethernet  eth0   

Step 2: Delete existing connection:

$ sudo nmcli c del a603bba7-fad8-3c71-9d4c-2cd5dc50e114

Step 3: Create a new connection (Note the IP addresses are random, the DNS servers are the Google public ones):

$ sudo nmcli c add type ethernet ifname eth0 con-name eth0 mac 80:00:00:ab:cd:ef ip4 gw4 ip6 fe80::b257:377c:e7b3:29ed/64 gw6 2A03:B0C0:0003:00D0:0000:0000:0000:0001 ipv4.dns "" ipv6.dns "2001:4860:4860::8888 2001:4860:4860::8844"

Now the blog is back! The new connection is stored in /etc/NetworkManager/system-connections/eth0.nmconnection

Short history of ARMv7/armhfp/arm32 in Fedora

Back in mid November I proposed a change for Fedora 37 to retire ARMv7 as an architecture, FESCo accepted the proposal. Per the Fedora 36 schedule we branched Fedora 36 this week. Last night I enacted the last of the process to disable it in rawhide so to quote “It’s dead Jim”. The last release of Fedora to support ARMv7 AKA armhfp AKA arm32 will be Fedora 36 which will go end of life around June 2023.

I thought I’d cover a few of the things we achieved with Fedora ARM and some of the impact it’s had on the wider Linux on ARM ecosystem which people may not have realised.

First a little bit of ARM history in the Fedora ecosystem. The beginnings of ARM support actually precedes Fedora all the way back to 1998 with a fork of Red Hat Linux 4.2 and more officially with Red Hat Linux 5.1 on the Corel Netwinder (I always wanted one of those but they weren’t available in Aus).

In Fedora itself the earliest details I remember was that Marvell bootstrapped ARMv5 in Fedora 7 and continued to build and support it through to Fedora 12. This “software architecture” was known as softfp. It was optimised for the ARMv5 architecture which didn’t have a hard requirement on a floating point unit so emulated it when it was needed hence “software floating point”. In Fedora 13 Seneca College took over the ARMv5 infrastructure and building from Marvell. I officially got involved in the Fedora 14 build process and soon after was also contracted by OLPC to drive Fedora on OLPC for their ARM based XO laptops as well as work on their i686 devices to have a single OS for all of them.

In mid 2011, the Fedora 15 timeframe, a small Red Hat team started to do a ARMv7 hard floating point, AKA hardfp or armhfp, bootstrap as ARM’s new v7 mandated a floating point unit. The bootstrap included the core toolchain (binutils/gcc/glibc/elfutils and friends) and ultimately the entire distribution, I drove this effort from a community, build and packaging perspective. This required 100s of patches to upstream projects that made many assumptions about ARM only being softfp, but it also allowed us at the time to fix many general architecture assumptions in these projects. The hard floating point bootstrapping was useful for the wider community too, it was used by Nokia as the base of it’s hardfp efforts for Maemo, plus other distros used it as as it’s much easier/quicker if you already have a full distro running the architecture you wish to boostrap. What wasn’t generally known at the time was also the first new architecture that has been bootstrapped in the Fedora/RHEL ecosystem since x86_64 a long time before and it allowed Red Hat to refresh it’s memory on how to do this in preparation of the then unannounced aarch64 architecture and the POWER Little Endian intentions, basically it provided a cover story. We also worked to get other languages such as Fortran, golang, rust and others building and working on armhfp and those other architectures. The final piece of this was ARMv7 being promoted to a primary Fedora architecture in Fedora 20. This then later went on to my proposal to redefine secondary architectures in Fedora.

In the wider community of Linux Fedora ARM was the first distribution to adopt the kernel “multi platform” work enabling us to go from building 5 different kernels to support a handful of arm devices to a single kernel supporting 100s of devices in a very short period of time. I worked with closely Arnd Bergmann from Linaro on issues with the early pieces of the multiplatform work. In upstream U-Boot we posted the first distro_boot patches to support booting Linux in the same way across all the devices we actively supported so we didn’t need specially wrapped kernels and know exact offsets for every SoC or device. The distro_boot support evolved, working with SUSE, into UEFI support in U-Boot further standardising the ARM boot process by abstracting the pieces that were different and letting the firmware deal with them. This work ultimately evolved into EBBR and the ARM System Ready IR spec. In Fedora 34 we moved to soley supporting UEFI on both ARM architectures. A lot of Linux distros still have specific kernels for each device and use non standard boot methods for devices and hence have an image for each device/use-case they wish to use. This was something Fedora identified very early on as something that would not scale!

Fedora also leads a lot of things in the gcc toolchain stack across all our supported architectures, we’ve actively enabled a lot of security features and other things like LTO early on. As the Fedora gcc maintainers, employed by Red Hat, are also key upstream GCC maintainers we’re almost always the first distribution to rebase onto a new release before it’s a stable release, for example Fedora 36 had just had a mass rebuild against a gcc-12 pre release snapshot. This builds all of the 50k or more source packages with the pre-release of the new toolchain making for a much better release for the wider GCC community because this picks up a number of bugs/regressions in both the general support but also in the architectures Fedora supports which means the ARMv7 hardfp support in GCC has benefited from 100s of bugs we’ve detected in gcc/binutils/glibc etc before they land in a stable gcc release. With the retirement of ARMv7 in Fedora this is going to be something the wider ARMv7 community is going to have to pick up post the GCC-12 release.

Over the subsequent 11 years of ARMv7 support in Fedora, and much longer if you include the early ARMv5 the distribution has also enabled a number of other innovative features like support for containers, support for devices like the Raspberry Pi 2 and 3 in Fedora 25. as mentioned various toolchains, and fun things like robots. Of course we also lose some things too. Devices like the BeagleBone don’t yet have a 64 bit sibling, but there’s less and less 32 bit devices coming out and the use of armhfp is waning quickly and the maintenance cost is rising as the industry moves more generally to 64 bit even in embedded use cases and the fact is with devices like the $15 Raspberry Pi Zero 2W it makes less and less sense even if I do still actively run BeagleBones, a Panda-ES and 3 different i.MX6 devices.

So I engaged with the wider Arm ecosystem and it made sense to finally sunset our ARMv7 32 bit support. We’re of course leaving it in good shape with things like gcc-12, the latest rust and golang toolchains and 5.17 kernels, much newer by the time F-36 goes EOL in June 2023, it will be in good shape if people wish to use it as the basis of some form of continuing ARMv7 supported Linux distribution.

Sail off into the sunset friend, it’s been a fun 12 years of hacking on those projects!

Fedora on NVIDIA Jetson Xavier

The last two years or so I’ve been working with NVIDIA on general distro support including UEFI and ACPI for their Jetson Xavier platforms. Their Xavier platform, except a few quirks, are mostly SystemReady-ES compliant, so having a SBBR compliant firmware goes quite some way to having a widely available, relatively affordable, platform that “just works” for the arm ecosystem. I was very excited to finally have NVIDIA finally release the first version in March this year. This firmware is a standard UEFI firmware based on the open source TianoCore/EDK2 reference firmware, it allows booting in either ACPI or Device-Tree mode and supports all the basic things needed. The ACPI mode is not as fully featured as the Device-Tree mode as yet. In ACPI you get compute (cpu/memory/virt etc), PCIe, USB, network, which is just fine if you’re just looking for standard server or for testing a SystemReady system but there’s no display or accelerator support as yet. The Device-Tree mode is more feature full but both work pretty well with upstream kernels and NVIDIA are improving and upstreaming more things regularly.

For flashing with the latest Fedora releases you’ll want the Linux for Tegra (L4T) R32.6.1 release and the latest UEFI firmware (1.1.2 ATM). The R32.6.1 release fixes issues with python3.9 and later so you’ll need that for Fedora. The following will extract everything into a directory called Linux_for_Tegra. Note the release for Xavier is different to the L4T for the TX1/TX2 series of devices such as the nano.

$ tar xvf Jetson_Linux_R32.6.1_aarch64.tbz2
$ tar xvf nvidia-l4t-jetson-uefi-R32.6.1-20211119125725.tbz2
$ cd Linux_for_Tegra

To flash either the Xavier AGX or NX you need to put them into recovery mode and connect a USB cable, USB-C for AGX or micro-USB for NX. Once you’re in recovery mode you can flash them.

For the Xavier AGX:

$ lsusb | grep -i NV
Bus 001 Device 086: ID 0955:7019 NVIDIA Corp. APX
$ sudo ./ jetson-xavier-uefi-min external

For the Xavier NX:

$ lsusb | grep -i NV
Bus 001 Device 089: ID 0955:7e19 NVIDIA Corp. APX
$ sudo ./ jetson-xavier-nx-uefi-acpi internal

There will be a bunch of output and it will eventually return to the prompt and reset the device. You can now install Fedora on the device. You can use any of the pre-canned aarch64 image or traditional installer available from the fedora website. When running in ACPI mode you don’t get display output so you’ll need to use a serial console, in both ACPI and Device-Tree mode there’s not currently support for accelerated GPU graphics/AI/ML support. If you want to be able to easily switch between ACPI/Device-Tree modes you’ll want to install the dracut-config-generic package to have a generic initrd to make it easy to reboot between both modes.

SystemReady ES support for MacchiatoBin

I’ve had a MacchiatoBin Double Shot board for some time. It runs various services for my local network and generally just works. I run a TianoCore EDK2 firmware on it using ACPI. It’s purely a network device so I don’t bother with any form of graphics and in the very few occasions I need to access it locally I do so via the built in USB serial TTL.

Recently Solid Run announced the MacciatoBin is now SystemReady ES certified. Excellent news! I’ve worked with Arm for some time on both the SytemReady ES (Embedded Server) and SystemReady IR (IoT Ready) standards and recently the certification program has been finalised so it’s nice to start to see the fruits from all the hard work myself, and may others, have done over a number of years appear.

The EDK2 firmware I was running was coming up to two years old and there’s been a number of enhancements to the various components of the firmwares that make up a complete update so I decided to download the latest firmware and update it. Eventually I am sure Solid Run will have these published to LVFS to make the process even easier but I know that to get to this stage has been a LOT of effort so it’s still a great step forward.

The first step of updating a EDK2 firmware is to download it and put it on the EFI partition:

peter@macbin:~ $ wget
peter@macbin:~ $ sudo mv flash-image-a8k-mcbin.bin_r20210630 /boot/efi
peter@macbin:~ $ sudo reboot

On reboot you’re given a prompt to interrupt the boot process. From the menu select the option for the shell:

Shell> fs0:
FS0:\> ls
Directory of: FS0:\
04/06/2021  19:08          4,096  EFI
07/25/2021  17:01           2,855,040  flash-image-a8k-mcbin.bin_r20210630
          1 File(s)   2,855,040 bytes
          1 Dir(s)

FS0:\> fupdate flash-image-a8k-mcbin.bin_r20210630
Detected w25q32bv SPI NOR flash with page size 256 B, erase size 4 KB, total 4 MB
Updating, 99%
fupdate: Update 2855040 bytes at offset 0x0 succeeded!
FS0:\> reset

It then reboots and we’re done, you see a very similar output to previously with some updated versions of various firmware and before long you’re back through grub and running Fedora again. Painless!

I’m really happy to see this is such a straightforward process, and I’m looking forward to seeing more features, enhancements and fixes to the firmware including capsule updates and the associated LVFS/fwupdmgr support, and improvements around firmware security (fwupdmgr –force security). Top marks to the Solid Run team!

Installing Fedora on the NVIDIA Jetson nano

Updated – Aug 2021
You now used the latest R32.6.1 release and it now works with the latest Python releases. Some minor edits below.

Nvidia launched the Jetson Nano Developer Kit in March 2019, since there there’s been a few minor refreshes including a just announced cheaper 2Gb model. I received the original 4Gb rev A device shortly after they were launched.

Over the last year or so as part of my role at Red Hat I started working with some of the NVidia Tegra team to improve support for the Jetson devices. This work has been wide ranging and though it’s taken awhile, with Fedora 33 we’re starting to see the fruits of that collaboration. The first is improved support for the Jetson Nano. The official L4T (Linux 4 Tegra) Jetson Nano images look a lot like an Android phone with numerous partitions across the mSD card. This makes it harder to support a generic Linux distribution like Fedora as there are assumptions by distributions of control they can have over the storage, so while it was certainly possible to get Fedora to run on these devices it generally wasn’t for the faint of heart. As of the recent L4T releases, you definitely want R32.4.4, it’s now a supported option to flash all the firmware to the onboard SPI flash enabling the use of the entire mSD card for the OS of your choice, which as we all know will be Fedora 😉 but the instructions here should be adaptable to work for any distribution.

Before we begin
We do it in two stages, first is to flash the new firmware to the SPI over the micro USB port, second we’ll prepare the Fedora OS for the mSD card. For the first stage you’ll need the latest L4T Release R32.6.1 and the Fedora U-Boot builds installed locally.

Before we get started you’ll need the following:

  • A USB-A to micro USB cable for flashing
  • A HDMI monitor and a USB keyboard
  • A jumper, a jumper wire or something to close the connection on the FRC pins for recovery mode
  • A 3.3v USB Serial TTY (optional)
  • An appropriate 5v barrel PSU (optional)

If you wish to use a serial TTY there’s a good guide here for connecting it to the RevA nano, the RevB has two camera connectors so they’ve moved the serial console headers to near the mSD card slot. The command to see serial output is:

screen /dev/ttyUSB0 115200

Flashing the Jetson Nano
So let’s get started with flashing the firmware. This step with the firmware on the SPI doesn’t have to be done often. First we’ll extract the L4T release and get all the bits installed that we need to flash the firmware:

sudo dnf install -y usbutils uboot-images-armv8 arm-image-installer
tar xvf ~/Downloads/Jetson-210_Linux_R32.6.1_aarch64.tbz2
cd Linux_for_Tegra
cp /usr/share/uboot/p3450-0000/u-boot.bin bootloader/t210ref/p3450-0000/

Next, based on instructions from the NVidia Jetson Nano Quick Start Guide, we need to put the Jetson Nano into Force Recovery Mode (FRC) to prepare for flashing the firmware:

  1. Ensure that your Jetson Nano Developer Kit is powered off. There’s no need for a mSD card ATM, we’re just writing to the SPI flash.
  2. Connect the Micro-USB OTG cable to the Micro USB port on the Nano. Don’t plug it into the host computer just yet.
  3. Enable Force Recovery mode by placing a jumper across the FRC pins of the Button Header on the carrier board.
    a. For carrier board revision A02, these are pins 3 and 4 of Button Header (J40) which is located near the camera header.
    b. For carrier board revision B01, these are pins 9 and 10 of Button Header (J50), which is located on the edge of the carrier board under the Jetson module.
  4. Only if you wish to use a separate PSU place a jumper across J48 to enable use of a DC power adapter.
  5. Connect a DC power adapter to J25. The developer kit powers on automatically and enters Force Recovery mode. Note it may be possible to do this with USB power but I’ve not tested it.
  6. Remove the jumper from the FRC pins of the Button Header.
  7. See if you can see the Jetson Nano is in recovery mode by running:
    lsusb | grep -i nvidia

Now we can actually flash the firmware (make sure you’re still in the Linux_for_Tegra directory):

sudo ./ p3448-0000-max-spi external

You will see a lot of output as the command runs, and if you have a serial TTY you’ll see some output there but eventually you’ll be returned to the command prompt and the system will reset. If you have a HDMI monitor attached you’ll see the NVidia logo pop up, if you have a serial console you’ll see a bunch of output and eventually the output of U-Boot and the associated U-Boot prompt.

Jetson TX1 and TX2
You can basically follow the same instructions above for the older TX1/TX2 devices except for two things. For the TX1 you can use the same L4T release, for the TX2 you need to download a different L4T release.

For the U-Boot copy there’s a different U-Boot for each device which needs to be copied to a different location. For the firmware copy I treat the eMMC as if it was the SPI flash, and run the OS off a SD card, it’s not the most efficient but it keeps things more straight forward:


cp /usr/share/uboot/p2371-2180/u-boot* bootloader/t210ref/p2371-2180/
sudo ./ jetson-tx1 mmcblk0p1


cp /usr/share/uboot/p2771-0000-500/* bootloader/t186ref/p2771-0000/500/
sudo ./ jetson-tx2 mmcblk0p1

Getting Fedora running
Now we have the firmware flashed we can prepare Fedora for the mSD card. Download the Fedora Workstation for aarch64 raw image. You can of course also use XFCE, Minimal or Server images. Put the mSD card in reader and after unmounting any filesystem run the following command (look at the help for other options around users/ssh-keys):

sudo arm-image-installer --media=/dev/XXX --resizefs --target=none --image=~/Downloads/Fedora-Workstation-33-1.3.aarch64.raw.xz

Note you need to replace XXX with the right device, and you don’t need a target option as we’re not writing the firmware to the mSD card.

Once that completes you should be able to pop the mSD card into your Jetson Nano and reset the device and see it boot. You will see all the output if you have a serial console attached. If you’re using HDMI it may take a little while once the NVidia logo disappears for the GNOME first user setup to appear.

Also note that while a lot of things work on this device, like the nouveau driver for display, it’s not perfect yet and we’re actively working to fix and improve the support for the Jetson Nano, most of these will come via the standard Fedora update mechanism. If you have queries please engage in the usual ways via the mailing list or #fedora-arm on Libera.Chat.

Using ZRAM as swap on Fedora

One of the changes I did for Fedora 29 adding using ZRAM as swap on ARM. The use of compressed RAM for swap on constrained single board computer devices has performance advantages because the RAM is an order of faster than most of the attached storage and in the case of SD/emmc and related flash storage it also saves on the wear and tear of the flash there extending the life of the storage device.

The use of ZRAM as swap isn’t limited to constrained SBCs though, I also use it on my x86 laptop to great effect. It’s also very simple to setup.

# dnf install zram
# systemctl enable zram-swap.service
# reboot

And that’s it! Simple right? To see how it’s being used there are three commands that are useful:

# systemctl status zram-swap.service
● zram-swap.service - Enable compressed swap in memory using zram
   Loaded: loaded (/usr/lib/systemd/system/zram-swap.service; enabled; vendor preset: disabled)
   Active: active (exited) since Tue 2018-10-09 22:13:24 BST; 3 days ago
 Main PID: 1177 (code=exited, status=0/SUCCESS)
    Tasks: 0 (limit: 4915)
   Memory: 0B
   CGroup: /system.slice/zram-swap.service

Oct 09 22:13:24 localhost zramstart[1177]: Setting up swapspace version 1, size = 7.4 GiB (7960997888 bytes)
Oct 09 22:13:24 localhost zramstart[1177]: no label, UUID=d79b7cf6-41e7-4065-90a9-000811c654b4
Oct 09 22:13:24 localhost zramstart[1177]: Activated ZRAM swap device of 7961 MB
Oct 09 22:13:24 localhost systemd[1]: Started Enable compressed swap in memory using zram.
# swapon
/dev/zram0 partition 7.4G 851.8M   -2
# zramctl
/dev/zram0 lz4           7.4G 848.3M 378.4M 389.9M       8 [SWAP]

When I was researching the use of ZRAM there was a lot of information online. A lot of implementations sliced up the zram into multiple slices to enable the balancing of the slices across CPUs, but this is outdated information as the zram support in recent kernels is now multi threaded so there’s no performance advantage to having multiple smaller swap devices any longer, and having a single larger swap space allows the kernel to be more effective in using it.

In Fedora all the pieces of the Fedora implementation are stored in the package source repo. So those that are interested in using zram for other use cases are free to test it. Bugs and RFEs can be reported as issues in pagure or in RHBZ like any other package.

Fedora on the UP Squared

With the IoT Working Group and Edition moving forward I’ve been looking for an x86_64 device suitable for testing IoT related use cases. I was originally planning on using the MinnowBoard or Joule but given Intel has killed those product lines off it was back to the drawing board. I eventually settled on the UP², in particular I chose the UP² Pentium-4GB-32GB-PACK as it had everything I wanted in one box.


The on paper hardware specs show a recent generation Intel Apollo Lake core, reasonable memory and storage options, an onboard FPGA, USB-3, dual ethernet and various other bits. The kit comes with options for active or passive cooling and the later the heatsink is massive, for the moment I’m running it on the passive cooling. The case is OK, I wouldn’t rave about it though. The power connector on the other hand is terrible, the PSU cable doesn’t seat well into the board and I’ve bumped it already and had it lose power, the power button is also tiny, so small in fact I mistook it for a reset button.

Fedora support

As you would expect the support in Fedora 27 is decent, accelerated 4K graphics, wired RealTek ethernet NICs, Intel m.2 PCI-e WiFI/Bluetooth, although the later is only 4.2 for IoT I would have appreciated Bluetooth 5, all work out of the box as expected. The firmware is uEFI and in theory supports secure-boot but I couldn’t work out how to turn it on in the firmware menus as it was greyed out, it also has a TPM2 module I’ve not had time to investigate. They eagle eyed would also note that I mention Fedora 27 even though Fedora 28 has been out a few days. Well for some reason F-28 doesn’t boot, I tried the network installer and the Workstation live image, they both get to the grub menu, then I get no output and nothing for a moment then it resets and we start again. I need to investigate this further but Fedora 27 Workstation livecd booted and installed fine so that’s what it’s got for the moment. Ultimately this is going to a host to test Fedora IoT so while I tested the general support this is fine.

IoT support

There’s a number of reasons I chose this particular device as an IoT test device:

  • Reasonably priced with a reasonable feature set.
  • Intel hasn’t killed it off yet like they’ve done with the Joule platform and Minnowboard 3 so I could actually buy it 🙂
  • Multiple network interfaces, reasonable WiFi and Bluetooth support.
  • Industrial IO sensors via an onboard Intel Sensor Hub. lsiio is reporting 9 sensors of various types. I’ve not checked this further yet.
  • USB-3, a Raspberry Pi HAT compatible connector and other options to add IoT related functionality or interfaces.

FPGA support

I’ve not looked at the FPGA support at all. The upstream kernel now has a FPGA Manager Framework and there’s a bunch of Altera FPGA support there but I’m not sure how it maps to this device. I also have to investigate open source toolchains for FPGA bitstreams as a lot of them just aren’t, I’ll likely do the HW enablement side of things and leave the toolchain bits to people that understand them. I also have the 96boards Ultra96 board so FPGA investigation was already on my Fedora 29 To Do list, and a lot of other people seem quite interested in them of late, no idea why 😉

The Raspberry Pi 3 B+ in Fedora

So I’m sure none of you are surprised to hear that I’ve been asked a bunch about support for the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ in Fedora. Well the good news is that it’ll be supported in Fedora 28. Most of the bits were there for the official Fedora 28 beta, it just needed a minor work around, but nightly images since Beta have had all the bits integrated so the upcoming Fedora 28 GA release will support the Raspberry Pi 3 B+ to the same levels as the original 3 B on both ARMv7 and aarch64. The Fedora Raspberry Pi FAQ has now been updated with all the details of both the RPi3+ and Fedora 28.


As with the original 3 there’s files with the firmware we can’t redistribute. The details are documented in the Fedora Raspberry Pi FAQ.

You can grab the files like for the 3 although there’s now an extra one, which you don’t really need, but it gives you all the 802.11a frequencies:

$ sudo curl -o /lib/firmware/brcm/brcmfmac43455-sdio.txt
$ sudo curl -o /lib/firmware/brcm/brcmfmac43455-sdio.clm_blob

I’ve also done a rpm of the files for both editions of the RPi3 (plus a few other brcm adapters used on ARM boards). You can either just grab the rpm or setup the repo if you want to get the latest if I update it:

$ sudo curl -o /etc/yum.repos.d//wireless.repo
$ sudo dnf install brcm-firmware


Like all new things there’s often a few teething problems. Over all the support for the new RPi 3 B+ is relatively solid but like all new devices there’s some bits still bedding down, and the combination of a new device and new OS there’s been a few minor issues that have been seen in some circumstances. We pulled in the latest firmware just before GA to fix some issues but no doubt as it gets wider testing both in Fedora and in the wider Raspberry Pi community more issues may well come up.

The ones we’re aware of are:

  • The new USB hub and gigbit ethernet interface have seen a few issues in some cases. We’ve pulled in quite a few patches to help stabilise the NIC in Linux and it now mostly works in the vast majority of use cases.
  • The USB hub in u-boot, uEFI and grub on aarch64 can cause some issues. If there’s too many USB devices connected it sometimes won’t boot or will do so really slowly. The work around for the moment is to disconnect all the USB devices until Fedora has started to boot and then plug them in.

In Fedora we’ll deliver updates and fixes by the usual updates, in particular as fixes land upstream we’ll review and land them where useful into Fedora, more than likely via a kernel update. If you see a uboot-tools or a bcm283x-firmware update you’ll want to run the rpi-firmware-update command to update the firmware and then reboot for it to take effect.

Older releases

We won’t be supported the new device in the older releases. Why I hear you say? Well it’s possible but it needs update to the firmware, U-Boot and kernel to work. The Raspberry Pi foundation respun Raspbian to support it and basically it’s not straight forward. Much better to have a new shiny Fedora for a new shiny device!

Getting started with Fedora on the 96boards Dragonboard

Support for this board has been a long time coming, it was originally announced in March 2015 and shipped later that summer. Two years on we can finally add support for it to Fedora. The enablement here will also assist us with supporting the newly announced 600c and 820c boards more quickly. We’re not all the way there yet, there’s still some firmwares that needs to go upstream into linux-firmware, but the improvement is fantastic and it’s been a pleasure working with the 96boards and Qualcomm teams getting to where we are today.

At the moment we support running Fedora off either an micro SD card or a USB stick. We don’t currently support running off the eMMC and currently basically treat that as the location of the firmware. Anyway lets get started!

Updating the firmware

You’ll want to update to the latest firmwares, my board originally had an old firmware without support for PSCI and so it didn’t bring up all four cores or support reboot. OOPS! You’ll need the latest linux rescue images from the 96boards download site. As I write this the latest is the 17.09 release (version 88). Create a directory for this file before you unzip it because it’ll expand all into the current directory. While there we also need a u-boot build that’s prepared for flashing, the upstream support isn’t quite complete, we add a few patches to the Fedora build to get everything working nicely. You can grab a pre-built version here and also get LK firmware build which enables display output.

You’ll need a host with the fastboot utility, in Fedora this is found in the android-tools package, and a micro USB cable. This process is very similar to flashing a phone with a new image, not surprising given the chipset really. If you have a serial console on the board you can follow along on the console but it’s not required for this board.

To put the board into fastboot mode we hold down the volume down button, labeled as ‘(-)’ near the middle USB port and then power it on. Wait around 30 seconds to ensure it’s booted to fastboot. You can test this with the fastboot devices command. You’ll likely want to run the next commands as root, or use sudo, and be in the directory you created with the extracted firmware and u-boot build:

sudo ./flashall
sudo fastboot flash aboot emmc_appsboot.mbn
sudo fastboot flash boot u-boot.img
sudo fastboot oem select-display-panel adv7533_1080p

The flashall command runs a series of fastboot command to write out various early boot firmware to the eMMC, then we write u-boot out to the boot partition, and finally ensure that output is configured to appear on the HDMI port. Assuming you don’t get any errors from fastboot that should be all the firmware done and in place.

Fedora image and further setup

Next up is the Fedora image. I chose the Workstation image, but we also have a Minimal Image and a traditional Server image. GNOME not the fastest in the world as 1Gb of RAM isn’t really enough for GNOME-3 anymore, but it works well enough. On a USB stick or Micro-SD card (I’ve tried both). We need to write out the image, then expand the rootfs (Note: update XXX for the device you’re writing to):

xzcat Fedora-Workstation-27-1.6.aarch64.raw.xz | sudo dd status=progress bs=4M of=/dev/XXX
sudo gparted /dev/XXX (expand the last partition)

Next up we need to adjust the kernel command line slightly, mount up the first partition and edit /EFI/fedora/grub.cfg and search for the string cma=256MB and delete it, then add in it’s place the following console=tty1 console=ttyMSM0,115200n8. Next mount the boot partition (partition 2) and create a sym link

ln -s dtb-4.13.9-300.fc27.aarch64 dtb

. Unmount the partitions and we should be good to go on the Dragonboard.

Plug in a keyboard, mouse (and/or a usb cable for the serial console if you’re going that route) and a HDMI cable, plug in the USB stick or SD card and power it up. If you’re following along on the serial console you should see output straight away, screen might take a little longer.

Once you’ve booted you should be able to complete initial-setup (text or the one from Workstation) and login. To get the WiFI and Bluetooth working you need to install a Radio (WiFi and friends) firmware package which I’ve made into a rpm you can grab from here until it lands into linux-firmware.

What next?

The DragonBoard 410c is pretty functional. I’ve not widely tested sound, the Venus media offload components (we have all the firmware and kernel bits for this), the GPS or some of the other more advanced components but I’ll have more details about those soon. I’ll be documenting the above plus other bits on the Fedora ARM wiki so keep an eye on that or get involved and help out 😛