Debian (Vanilla) on Rock64 and eMMC - how ? - Printable Version

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Debian (Vanilla) on Rock64 and eMMC - how ? - as365n4 - 09-07-2020

Hi all,

I have downloaded the 2 files (partition.img.gz + firmware.rock64-rk3328.img.gz) from and build the final image with zcat firmware.rock64-rk3328.img.gz partition.img.gz > debian_rock64.img and flashed that image to an SD-Card.
Inserted the SD-Card, installed an empty eMMC-Module, attached the serial cable to UART and powered-up the Rock64.

The Board boots from SD-Card into the Debian Installer and installs Debian onto the eMMC, once the installation is finished I remove the SD-Card and reboot the Rock64 and then the board is stuck and won't boot at all (no sign of life). Only if I reinsert the SD-Card and reset the board it then boots from eMMC, so the SD-Card has to be present otherwise it won't boot.

How can I setup the system so that it does not require the presence of an SD-Card to boot directly from the eMMC-Module?
Any ideas or adivce?

edit: attached the output of lsblk
Debian GNU/Linux bullseye/sid debian-rock64 ttyS2

debian-rock64 login: root
Linux debian-rock64 5.7.0-3-arm64 #1 SMP Debian 5.7.17-1 (2020-08-23) aarch64

The programs included with the Debian GNU/Linux system are free software;
the exact distribution terms for each program are described in the
individual files in /usr/share/doc/*/copyright.

Debian GNU/Linux comes with ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY, to the extent
permitted by applicable law.
Last login: Mon Sep  7 12:15:32 BST 2020 on ttyS2
root@debian-rock64:~# lsblk
mmcblk0      179:0    0 14.8G  0 disk
└─mmcblk0p1  179:1    0 81.7M  0 part
mmcblk1      179:256  0 14.5G  0 disk
├─mmcblk1p1  179:257  0  487M  0 part /boot
├─mmcblk1p2  179:258  0   13G  0 part /
└─mmcblk1p3  179:259  0  961M  0 part [SWAP]
mmcblk1boot0 179:512  0    4M  1 disk
mmcblk1boot1 179:768  0    4M  1 disk

RE: Debian (Vanilla) on Rock64 and eMMC - how ? - as365n4 - 09-18-2020

After many unsuccessful attempts in getting the Rock64 to boot from eMMC post Vanilla Debian install, it seems that the Debian installer is unable to flash a working u-boot to the eMMC.

Then I compiled U-Boot from scratch and flashed it to the eMMC which broke the Vanilla Debian installation, as Debian uses a similar setup to Arch with boot.scr file and U-Boot from scratch seems to expect a extlinux.conf file. :-\

So in the end I followed and amended this guide here so that it fits my needs.
Credit goes to user @kuleszdl

Now my Rock64 boots Debian from eMMC and works quite fine, except every time when UART0 is not connected the HDMI output is also not activated. When I attach UART0 my HDMI output comes back. Huh 

I suspect something is missing from my extlinux.conf file
DEFAULT debian

LABEL debian
KERNEL /vmlinuz
INITRD /initrd.img
APPEND console=tty1 console=ttyS2,1500000 root=LABEL=root rw rootwait

RE: Debian (Vanilla) on Rock64 and eMMC - how ? - kuleszdl - 09-19-2020

Happy to hear my guide helped you getting your rockpro64 running. However, especially regarding the rockpro64 (and pinebook pro) I also had strange behavior with the microSD card using the 5.7 kernel. Did this get better with the current 5.8 kernel?

Regarding the HDMI I really can't tell. You could try to leave out the following line:


Also, trying a newer uboot version (like the current RC version) might help. Good luck!

RE: Debian (Vanilla) on Rock64 and eMMC - how ? - as365n4 - 09-20-2020

Yeah 5.8 kernel is problematic as Arch and Manjaro also had issues after update to this Kernel.

Maybe that's causing my issue too but I am not sure. I am using Arm Trusted Firmware v2.3 and U-Boot v2020.07 at the moment.
I made a detailed write-up on github to document how things go.
Rock64 -->
H64B -->

RE: Debian (Vanilla) on Rock64 and eMMC - how ? - as365n4 - 09-21-2020

Upgraded to U-Boot v2020.10rc4 and removed console-ttyS2,1500000 from extlinux.conf but still no HDMI video when UART0 is not connected.
Will try again when U-Boot v2020.10 becomes available, also worth noting USB3 is not recognised. I think the dtb-file which comes with u-boot might be the culprit.

It turns out that the dtb-file provided by U-Boot is incomplete or they turnoff HDMI output.
As a workaround one can extract a working dtb-file from ArchLinuxARM-aarch64-latest.tar.gz provided by with the added benefit of USB3 fully working, downside is NO HDMI-Audio and the screen flickers a lot when any Desktop Environment is running, in Terminal it is just fine.