Installing debian on the 96boards poplar board

OK, I’ve received my 96Boards Poplar board. It comes with Android 5 pre-installed, and that’s not what I plan to use. I’d like to use Debian Linux instead to tinker a bit more with it.

The documentation is a bit hairy, and I was unable to directly install the Debian files on it so here are my notes to avoid other poplar beginners waste time.

  • Build Debian from sources as described in the documentation, steps 1..6
  • If you’re using Archlinux, then configure the TFTP server “tftp-hpa” and not “atftp” as this one has a limitation in the BLKSIZE and it simply serves truncated image files! And if you’ve disabled IPv6 on your Archlinux box, then add the -4 option to it’s options in the file /etc/conf.d/tftpd file

    TFTPD_ARGS=”–secure /srv/tftp/ -4″

  • Step 7 now becomes:

    cd ${TOP}/recovery
    sudo rm -rf /srv/tftp/recovery_files
    sudo cp -a recovery_files /srv/tftp
    sudo chown -R root:root /srv/tftp/recovery_files

  • The next steps about flashing the image won’t work. Or at least I was unable to make the board stop to the poplar# prompt as described there. Instead, use the USB stick method, but please use the prebuilt fastboot.bin and not the one you just built.Follow the Building recovery media instructions, only at “step 3: copy fastboot.bin” just copy the one downloaded from here
  • Now insert the stick in one of those 2 stacked USB ports, press the “usb_boot” switch and turn-on the board. Be vigilant to press a key when prompted in the `screen` terminal you’ve already started. If the board was already on, them press the “usb_boot” and while holding it depressed, press the “reset” button and keep the “usb_boot” depressed another second or two. Keep an eye on the screen terminal and press the key to interrupt the boot when prompted.
  • Now follow their instructions to flash Debian via TFTP and… have fun!