Boot Orange PI One from USB


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Dear All,
I wonder if its possible to boot the Orange PI One from USB without an SDcard.
In the description I found ( >  Linux Distributions for Orange PI H3 boards )
that "cmdline.txt must exist on BOOT (fat) partition on sd card "... for me that means I always
need to have the sdcard there to be able to restart?

I read some other posts ,which use one or other way U-Boot... would it help and how it should go step
by step to make it work.



Or is there any other possibilities to make the PI One boot/work without populating the
SDcard at all?

Under the description on the ">  Linux Distributions for Orange PI H3 boards"
I found the description how to backup the sdcard to different targets, but I am missing some information...
What software & script & image do I need to execute it... I tried to follow it, but "install_to_sdcard"
or any of the "install_to_" missing from my installation I made from ""image.
Any help here... what I missing on dont really catch from the description.

Thanks in advance /R


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Armbian is a community driven open source project. Do you like to contribute your code?

Or is there any other possibilities to make the PI One boot/work without populating the SDcard at all?


If you got an Orange Pi that has eMMC you can boot from eMMC, if not then you need an SD card (though you might be able to connect SPI flash or use FEL (then you can boot over USB but not from a passive disk but using a tool -- this is interesting for developers but no normal use case so I won't elaborate on that).


The boot priority is that simple:

  • SPI flash (if available -- no, not a single SBC seems to support that now)
  • SD card
  • eMMC

So at least the bootloader has to be there, then you can switch to any other device to put the rootfs on (USB for example -- all that's needed is execution of our script that moves contents and adjusts settings).


BTW: Armbian documentation is here: (and it really doesn't matter what's written on either in documentation section or the orphaned forums)

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57 minutes ago, olivluca said:

would it be possible to just install uboot on the sdcard and the rest on an usb stick (without installing everything to sd first)?


Sure, it requires you knowing what you do, an Armbian image you have to 'disassemble' yourself, then write the relevant parts to SD card, partition the USB device and follow the steps nand-sata-install is doing. You'll most probably fail a few times but will finally succeed if you have some technical understanding. In way less time you can also write the image to SD card, boot it and run nand-sata-install the usual way ;)


BTW: In the past I thought multiple times about starting to work on something that would allow to do exactly what you want but everytime decided against since waste of resources. Wrt boot situation we could already convince a few board makers to start to solder relevant amounts of SPI NOR flash to their devices. Goal is to ship SBC with a device specific boot loader in the SPI NOR flash so OS images can be device agnostic and living anywhere (SD card, eMMC, USB stick, network, whatever). And yeah, that's a long-term goal still 'a bit' away ;)


From an Armbian perspective something that would really be desirable would be a 'forked' nand-sata-install that is able to clone installations (the average user will call this 'backup') to allow people to insert another SD card in a card reader, call 'clone-armbian' and get a bootable clone on the external SD card 'just in case'. But when thinking about this such a cloning functionality living in initrd would be better since then able to work 100% perfectly.

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@tkaiser thank you. I took a look at the image and the script and I think I can manage it. When  my orange pi pc arrives I'll see if I can find one of the good sd cards around here or repurpose (just for the bootloader) a small one I already have.

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In the meantime my orangepi arrived and nobody around here has decent (or even not decent) 8GB sd cards (and not even 16, the minimum seems to be 32, and even 8 is overkill for my project).

For the time being I'm testing with a 4GB card I had lying aroung, later I'll see.

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