Beaglebone Disk Image Notes

When creating the downloadable disk image for the Beaglebone Black ‘device-adapter’, we make several alterations to the default Debian Beaglebone disk image. This page summarizes those changes.

Setting up on embedded devices

The OpenICE software has been tested on BeagleBone Black and Raspberry Pi. But should run on any ARM device running a recent linux based on kernel 3.x and compiled for the ARM hard-float ABI. (This in addition to Intel x86 and x86_64 on mac/linux/windows). These instructions are specific to Debian 7 running on BeagleBone Black hardware; but they could be adapted for virtually any platform with JVM support.

Setting up a BeagleBoneBlack

latest images

Configure a microsd card with debian on another ubuntu computer

xzcat bone-debian-7.8-lxde-4gb-armhf-2015-03-01-4gb.img.xz | pv | dd of=/dev/sdX bs=1024K

Insert the microsd card into the BBB. Power up and this will boot Debian from the microsd card.

Change USB networking IP address

Change debian user password

sudo passwd debian

for consistency you might like to change the helpful hint in /etc/issue and /etc/


A lot of wifi adapters are supported out the box. The ones we use become interface ra1 so this block is helpful to add to /etc/network/interfaces

auto ra0
iface ra0 inet dhcp
        wpa-ssid "MDPNP-JSN"
        wpa-psk "********"

Set a hostname

echo HOSTNAME > /etc/hostname

save some aggravation and make sure the host name resolves by adding to /etc/hosts    localhost.localdomain localhost    my-machine


Update package information

sudo apt-get update

Install java

ACPI (power button)

ensure that the ACPId package is installed

sudo apt-get install acpid


now is a good time to install zip

sudo apt-get install unzip


To interpret data from devices that do not emit their timezone (most) one should configure the timezone on the ARM device.

dpkg-reconfigure tzdata

serial port permissions

For some reason ttyOx get root/dialout (like an external modem?) Until I figure out how to change default ownership/permissions I’ve been adding the debian user to the permissioned groups.

sudo usermod -a -G tty debian

sudo usermod -a -G dialout debian

device-adapter service

Add the new device to the targets file in the repo

  • execute ./
  • create a device.this file with domain and device information on the new device
  • create /home/debian/log for log files

Time Synchronization

Synchronizing time between devices enables a lot of powerful capabilities combined with things like DesinationOrder QoS and Lifespan QoS.

sudo apt-get install ntp to install ntpd and keep the device in sync. servers can then be specified in /etc/ntp.conf

we also specify a local NTP server on our lab network with DHCP option 42

enable private key ssh authentication

Copy public key to ~/.ssh/authorized_keys on the beaglebone

Ensure no read/write except for user on ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

On source computer with private key ID_RSA to access beaglebone at BEAGLEADDRESS create an entry in ~/.ssh/config

    IdentityFile ~/.ssh/ID_RSA

Disable serial console (getty) on ttyO0

Comment out this line in /etc/inittab

T0:23:respawn:/sbin/getty -L ttyO0 115200 vt102

Comment out this line in /boot/


Ok those were great but this actually does it because it’s launched by systemd

sudo systemctl stop serial-getty@ttyO0.service

sudo systemctl mask serial-getty@ttyO0.service

Startech USB31000SPTW support

Download the driver for AX88179

Install headers for most recent kernel

sudo apt-get install linux-headers-3.8.13-bone71

Extract driver, make, make install

Disable automatic start of window manager

Latest BeagleBone Linux builds getting started

Archive – no longer used

cpu governor

Under heavy load (stress testing) I’ve observed hangups due to CPU throttling. Enabling the ‘performance’ governor profile helps mitigate the problem.

sudo apt-get install cpufrequtils

sudo cpufreq-set -g performance

That’s not a permanent change. One way to ensure sysfs gets updated every time:

sudo apt-get install sysfsutils

Add a line at the end sudo vi /etc/sysfs.conf

devices/system/cpu/cpu0/cpufreq/scaling_governor = performance

move the ondemand script

sudo mv /etc/init.d/ondemand /etc/init.d/ondemand.bak


The latest 12.04.3 build from supports the realtek rtl8192cu chipset “out of the box”. we’ve had success using such adapters with beaglebone black via usb. Ensure the adapter is connected at power-on. Uncomment relevant wlan0 lines in /etc/network/interfaces. Execute sudo ifup wlan0 and wait a loong time. Eventually the adapter will come up!

Empirical power draw

In informal testing a beaglebone black using ethernet had an observed maximum current draw of 409 mA. With the 3” LCD cape the max was 469 mA. With an RTL8188S wifi dongle the max was 520 mA. With an RTL8192cu wifi dongle the max was 566 mA. With a 7” LCD cape the max draw was 1,010 mA. All at 5V.

RS-232 ttyO1 (if necessary)

Realtime Clock

similar works for the ds3231

swap space

This requires further exploration… but for TRANSIENT_LOCAL durability ResourceLimits will need to be tuned for available memory. In addition adding some swap space should enable larger writer caches.

backup the contents of the MMC

This is a super useful little image that will copy MMC to an sdcard and then can easily be configured to reverse the process.

enable sudo without entering password

sudo visudo

Add this line at the end (change “jerome” to your username):