5.1. Booting the Installer on ARM

5.1.1. Booting from TFTP

Booting from the network requires that you have a network connection and a TFTP network boot server (DHCP, RARP, or BOOTP).

The installation method to support network booting is described in Section 4.3, “Preparing Files for TFTP Net Booting”.

5.1.2. Booting from CD-ROM

The easiest route for most people will be to use a set of Debian CDs. If you have a CD set, and if your machine supports booting directly off the CD, great! Simply insert your CD, reboot, and proceed to the next chapter.

Note that certain CD drives may require special drivers, and thus be inaccessible in the early installation stages. If it turns out the standard way of booting off a CD doesn't work for your hardware, revisit this chapter and read about alternate kernels and installation methods which may work for you.

Even if you cannot boot from CD-ROM, you can probably install the Debian system components and any packages you want from CD-ROM. Simply boot using a different media, such as floppies. When it's time to install the operating system, base system, and any additional packages, point the installation system at the CD-ROM drive.

If you have problems booting, see Section 5.4, “Troubleshooting the Installation Process”.

5.1.3. Booting from Firmware

There is an increasing number of consumer devices that directly boot from a flash chip on the device. The installer can be written to flash so it will automatically start when you reboot your machines.


In many cases, changing the firmware of an embedded device voids your warranty. Sometimes you are also not able to recover your device if there are problems during the flashing process. Therefore, please take care and follow the steps precisely. Booting the SS4000-E

Due to limitations in the SS4000-E firmware, it unfortunately is not possible to boot the installer without the use of a serial port at this time. To boot the installer, you will need a serial nullmodem cable; a computer with a serial port[2]; and a ribbon cable with a male DB9 connector at one end, and a 10-pin .1" IDC header at the other[3].

To boot the SS4000-E, use your serial nullmodem cable and the ribbon cable to connect to the serial port of the SS4000-E, and reboot the machine. You need to use a serial terminal application to communicate with the machine; a good option on a Debian GNU/Linux is to use the cu program, in the package of the same name. Assuming the serial port on your computer is to be found on /dev/ttyS0, use the following command line:

cu -lttyS0 -s115200

If using Windows, you may want to consider using the program hyperterminal. Use a baud rate of 115200, 8 bits word length, no stop bits, and one parity bit.

When the machine boots, you will see the following line of output:

No network interfaces found

EM-7210 ver.T04 2005-12-12 (For ver.AA)
== Executing boot script in 1.000 seconds - enter ^C to abort

At this point, hit Control-C to interrupt the boot loader[4]. This will give you the RedBoot prompt. Enter the following commands:

load -v -r -b 0x01800000 -m ymodem ramdisk.gz
load -v -r -b 0x01008000 -m ymodem zImage
exec -c "console=ttyS0,115200 rw root=/dev/ram mem=256M@0xa0000000" -r 0x01800000

After every load command, the system will expect a file to be transmitted using the YMODEM protocol. When using cu, make sure you have the package lrzsz installed, then hit enter, followed by the ~< escape sequence to start an external program, and run sb initrd.gz or sb vmlinuz.

Alternatively, it is possible to load the kernel and ramdisk using HTTP rather than YMODEM. This is faster, but requires a working HTTP server on the network. To do so, first switch the bootloader to RAM mode:

fis load rammode

This will seemingly restart the machine; but in reality, it loads redboot to RAM and restarts it from there. Not doing this step will cause the system to hang in the necessary ip_address step that comes next.

You will need to hit Ctrl-C again to interrupt the boot. Then:

ip_address -l -h
load -v -r -b 0x01800000 -m http /initrd.gz
load -v -r -b 0x01008000 -m http /zImage
exec -c "console=ttyS0,115200 rw root=/dev/ram mem=256M@0xa0000000" -r 0x01800000

Where is the IP address of the installed system and the IP address of the HTTP server containing the kernel and ramdisk files.

The installer will now start as usual.

[2] A USB serial converter will also work.

[3] This cable is often found in older desktop machines with builtin 9-pin serial ports.

[4] Note that you have only one second to do so; if you miss this window, just powercycle the machine and try again.