How to boot from USB? - Printable Version

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How to boot from USB? - kendew - 09-10-2020

I'm trying to troubleshoot an unusable PPB I've just received.  I've read here:
Quote:The Pinebook Pro is capable of booting from eMMC, USB 2.0, USB 3.0, or an SD card. It cannot boot from USB-C. The boot order of the hard-coded ROM of its RK3399 SoC is: SPI NOR, eMMC, SD, USB OTG.
But I can't find any info about how to boot from USB 2.0.  Does anyone know about this?  I'd like to boot a PBP Arch or Fedora image to see if my problems persist.


RE: How to boot from USB? - Arwen - 09-11-2020

The booting is a bit complex, compared to x86/x64, as the x86/x64 BIOS hides a lot of the CPU booting issues. ARM & ARM64 don't have a standard BIOS, yet. We use U-Boot which is pretty primitive still, (though progressing).

So, the chip used in the Pinebook Pro is a Rockchip RK3399 SoC and only boots from specific devices, starting with the first. If that device does not have software loaded, then the CPU moves on to the next device. Here are the devices: SPI NOR, eMMC, SD & USB OTG. That USB OTG is NOT a normal boot. I don't understand it, but my understanding is that it won't boot a USB flash drive.

That leaves a Micro SD card as your best bet. If you don't have one, then you basically NEED one for any recovery.

However, the software in the SPI NOR or eMMC "may" allow booting to a normal USB flash drive. BUT, and be very clear it's a MAYBE, it's up to the software version loaded on SPI NOR or eMMC. (And then the distro on the USB flash drive needs to support USB too.) Booting off normal USB flash drives was a highly desired feature, and has been added to the U-Boot used on many Pinebook Pro Linux distros.

Eventually we will see better initial booting support. I have tested a version of U-Boot with more features, including NVMe support and boot time display menu, but it's not stable.

RE: How to boot from USB? - xmixahlx - 09-11-2020

mmm i thought usb boot worked with mrfixit v2.0 uboot, but i have not tried it myself.

RE: How to boot from USB? - wdt - 09-11-2020

>mmm i thought usb boot worked with mrfixit v2.0 uboot
Hit and miss, sometimes, (I think) depends on usb stick,,
and not in usb2 port, at least one test
(armbian5.7, boots ok in usb3 port, nothing in usb2, a usb2 key!!, not that slow)
Nothing boots uSD in carrier/dongle

RE: How to boot from USB? - kendew - 09-23-2020

Quote:Booting off normal USB flash drives was a highly desired feature, and has been added to the U-Boot used on many Pinebook Pro Linux distros.

Thanks to all who contributed.  I will try some other PBP distros.  If anyone has a suggestion on which and a link to download the image, that could save me time.  Otherwise, I'll mark it as solved, with the humble wish that the wiki was a little more clear on this point.
I've coughed up enough to get a MicroSD, and I'm having an issue I'm trying to understand, but decided to open a new thread for it here in this same category, if anyone is interested in helping me with it.

RE: How to boot from USB? - MarcoRss87 - 10-07-2020

I have also another doubt on Usb boot: is it available for 3.0 port?

On Wiki is reported:
- that is possible on bootable storage chapter (
- that is not possible on expansion port chapter (

RE: How to boot from USB? - wdt - 10-07-2020

What is said in the wiki is only partly right
I just did some experiments, it was a bit variable, armbian I think
My setup is perhaps unique, emmc uboot blank, for this mrfixit uboot on blank SD
So, I can't say anything about other uboot versions
Somewhat reliable booting from usb3,, no boots at all from usb2
Both usb3 and usb2 sticks
And, never a boot from uSD in a carrier/dongle
If you really want to know, uboot order is called "target",, so...
strings u*boot*|grep _target
And, you can always "yank" uboot out of media, starts 8M, about (or<) than 2M long,, so..
dd (appropriate if,of) bs=1M skip=8 count=2

RE: How to boot from USB? - Arwen - 10-08-2020

The SoC can not boot to USB flash drives directly, like it can SPI, eMMC or SD card.

Booting to USB flash drives, (USB 2 or 3), is U-Boot dependent. If the U-Boot code supports booting off USB 3 ports, then it will work.

We do need to update the Wiki on that subject.