mobian installed to eMMC - how to install tow-boot
#1
I have an older version of mobian installed to the eMMC in my PinePhone. Currently the image still boots with the help of uBoot. I was planning on installing a newer version of mobian to SD card after seeing the changes in the OS and UI that I discovered when I had to reinstall my PinePhone Pro. But current mobian images now need tow-boot to be installed.

If I understand correctly on the standard PinePhone, tow-boot has to be installed onto the eMMC. There are some things that are not clear to me after reading the instructions I have found ( https://tow-boot.org/devices/pine64-pinephoneA64.html )

a) will installing tow-boot to the eMMC wipe my mobian image that I have installed on the eMMC?

b) is it possible install tow-boat to an SD card?

c) is it possible to boot an image that was designed to use uBoot after tow-boot has been installed?

d) if the mobian image on the eMMC is written over when installing can I use say dd to copy the eMMC image to disc before installing tow-boot and then copy it back to eMMC after tow-boot is installed?
  Reply
#2
a) no.
b) why?
c) yes. remove u-boot first utilizing sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/[DEVICE] bs=8k seek=1 count=4
Code:
# Startup order conflicts

The Allwinner SoC used in the Pinephone (A64) will always prefer starting
the platform firmware (U-Boot) from SD card when available.

When using some pre-built distribution images, it may be desirable to neuter
the U-Boot that is baked into the image.

With the usual U-Boot setup for Allwinner, the easiest way to strip U-Boot
from an eMMC or SD image is by running the following command, taking care
to replace `[DEVICE]` with the device for the storage device.

```
$ sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/[DEVICE] bs=8k seek=1 count=4
```

When running the command on the Pinephone (A64), *usually* the block device
for the SD card is `mmcblk0`, and the block device for the eMMC is `mmcblk2`.
You can use `lsblk` to look at the block devices available.

> **NOTE**: Make sure the operating system image has a baked-in U-Boot
> install before issuing the command, and that you are targeting the right
> storage device.
>
> Some distributions target UEFI boot, and use GPT. Issuing this command
> **will break the partition table**.

Finally, on distributions shipping U-Boot, it is prudent to disable the
package that provides the automatic upgrade facilities.

- For Manjaro and Arch Linux, the package is called `uboot-pinephone`.


## Additional features

The phone can be started in *USB Mass Storage* mode by holding the *volume up*
d) not needed. but dd backup for safety before upgrade. tow boot is small code written to start of eMMC.
  Reply
#3
Thanks for the answers. The issue was forced as an update in August stopped my PinePhone from booting. After backing up the data I installed tow-boot to the eMMC and then installed the latest version of Mobian.

After I posted my questions (and just before installing tow-boot) I finally found a web page that stated explicitly that a partition on the eMMC was reserved for the purpose of the boot loader and that Tow-boot would get installed there without affecting the partition where the OS was stored. That was what I needed clarifying.

The idea of putting tow-boot on an SD card is that it would allow for easy copying of the image using dd on a desktop computer and thus easy to have reserve emegency bootable images to hand. However, I was able to copy the contents of the eMMC by connecting the phone up to a Linux box. Although it is a bit more involved than putting in a new SD card after the OS gets borked by an update copying the eMMC is easy enough a process to use to save and restore images.
  Reply
#4
(07-09-2023, 01:33 AM)vusra Wrote: a) no.
b) why?
c) yes. remove u-boot first utilizing  sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/[DEVICE] bs=8k seek=1 count=4 
Code:
# Startup order conflicts

The Allwinner SoC used in the Pinephone (A64) will always prefer starting
the platform firmware (U-Boot) from SD card when available.

When using some pre-built distribution images, it may be desirable to neuter
the U-Boot that is baked into the image.

With the usual U-Boot setup for Allwinner, the easiest way to strip U-Boot
from an eMMC or SD image is by running the following command, taking care
to replace `[DEVICE]` with the device for the storage device.

```
$ sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/[DEVICE] bs=8k seek=1 count=4
```

When running the command on the Pinephone (A64), *usually* the block device
for the SD card is `mmcblk0`, and the block device for the eMMC is `mmcblk2`.
You can use `lsblk` to look at the block devices available.

> **NOTE**: Make sure the operating system image has a baked-in U-Boot
> install before issuing the command, and that you are targeting the right
> storage device.
>
> Some distributions target UEFI boot, and use GPT. Issuing this command
> **will break the partition table**.

Finally, on distributions shipping U-Boot, it is prudent to disable the
package that provides the automatic upgrade facilities.

- For Manjaro and Arch Linux, the package is called `uboot-pinephone`.


## Additional features

The phone can be started in *USB Mass Storage* mode by holding the *volume up*
d) not needed.  but  dd backup for safety before upgrade. tow boot is small code written to start of eMMC.


Hello, as someone new this, I'm also having a bit of a confusing time with this. 

The installation guide (https://tow-boot.org/devices/pine64-pinephoneA64.html) lists an image file (mmcboot.installer.img) that needs to be written to an sd card (I assume) from my pc onto the sd card. I looked for the image file on the listed github link at right--where is this file? 

After getting the image file and writing it to the sd card using dd, do I just take and load the sd card into the pinephone and start it up? Will there be any prompts to install Tow-Boot to the emmc module? Would this same installer allow one to wipe the memory of the emmc or is this a separate step?

I don't particularly care about what is on the pinephone emmc module, in fact, I'd prefer to wipe it clean so I can install, in this case mobian, which requres it to be loaded on the module instead of running off of the sd card directly. 
  Reply
#5
(11-21-2023, 01:05 AM)uncleanblessing Wrote: d) not needed.  but  dd backup for safety before upgrade. tow boot is small code written to start of eMMC.


Hello, as someone new this, I'm also having a bit of a confusing time with this. 

The installation guide (https://tow-boot.org/devices/pine64-pinephoneA64.html) lists an image file (mmcboot.installer.img) that needs to be written to an sd card (I assume) from my pc onto the sd card. I looked for the image file on the listed github link at right--where is this file? 

After getting the image file and writing it to the sd card using dd, do I just take and load the sd card into the pinephone and start it up? Will there be any prompts to install Tow-Boot to the emmc module? Would this same installer allow one to wipe the memory of the emmc or is this a separate step?

I don't particularly care about what is on the pinephone emmc module, in fact, I'd prefer to wipe it clean so I can install, in this case mobian, which requres it to be loaded on the module instead of running off of the sd card directly. 

The image file is actually dug into the tar.xz which you need to extract first, this caught me off as well (grab pine64-pinephoneA64.tar.xz on the latest release page, as of writing: https://github.com/Tow-Boot/Tow-Boot/rel...022.07-006).

Yet a further problem awaits, the installation of mobian. I cannot get mobian to boot from the sd disk and I do not know why.


Do I need to use the USB-selection feature (holding volume up) of tow-boot and use an usb stick? Is the latest release simply broken?
  Reply
#6
(11-22-2023, 10:20 AM)aLoop100o Wrote:
(11-21-2023, 01:05 AM)uncleanblessing Wrote: d) not needed.  but  dd backup for safety before upgrade. tow boot is small code written to start of eMMC.


Hello, as someone new this, I'm also having a bit of a confusing time with this. 

The installation guide (https://tow-boot.org/devices/pine64-pinephoneA64.html) lists an image file (mmcboot.installer.img) that needs to be written to an sd card (I assume) from my pc onto the sd card. I looked for the image file on the listed github link at right--where is this file? 

After getting the image file and writing it to the sd card using dd, do I just take and load the sd card into the pinephone and start it up? Will there be any prompts to install Tow-Boot to the emmc module? Would this same installer allow one to wipe the memory of the emmc or is this a separate step?

I don't particularly care about what is on the pinephone emmc module, in fact, I'd prefer to wipe it clean so I can install, in this case mobian, which requres it to be loaded on the module instead of running off of the sd card directly. 

The image file is actually dug into the tar.xz which you need to extract first, this caught me off as well (grab pine64-pinephoneA64.tar.xz on the latest release page, as of writing: https://github.com/Tow-Boot/Tow-Boot/rel...022.07-006).

Yet a further problem awaits, the installation of mobian. I cannot get mobian to boot from the sd disk and I do not know why.


Do I need to use the USB-selection feature (holding volume up) of tow-boot and use an usb stick? Is the latest release simply broken?

Actually you need to hold VOLUME DOWN (aqua LED) to boot from microSD card when you use Tow-Boot.

The other mode you mean, VOLUME UP (resulting in a blue LED), is actually for writing to the eMMC or microSD card via an USB cable connected to your computer, it is called "USB Mass Storage mode". It can not be used to boot from an USB stick.

Best if you join the community chat to get quick help, https://wiki.pine64.org/wiki/Main_Page#C...nd_Support
  Reply
#7
(11-22-2023, 11:43 AM)fxc Wrote: Actually you need to hold VOLUME DOWN (aqua LED) to boot from microSD card when you use Tow-Boot.

The other mode you mean, VOLUME UP (resulting in a blue LED), is actually for writing to the eMMC or microSD card via an USB cable connected to your computer, it is called "USB Mass Storage mode". It can not be used to boot from an USB stick.

Thank you, I completely missed that! I wonder how many other people have too
  Reply


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