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Booting Armbian from USB when it's already installed on eMMC


Massive Box
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Hello there :)

I've installed Armbian on my MXQ Pro 4K 5G TV box's eMMC, but now I want to upgrade to a better external storage.

I've flashed Armbian on it and done the usual configuration but I always boot into the eMMC's Armbian.

I've read that one way to fix this is to restore Android with the Amlogic USB Tool, but I found that my board has no reset button, not even hidden inside the jacks. So I'm afraid I won't be able to enter recovery mode to flash the default Android image.

Here are some pics of the board:

2416fa97a2ef1bcde87d0.jpg

1f3efc6ea4a6e1046fe9a.jpg

7571b415b7fe11ce29118.jpg

Is there any other way to force boot from USB, or force recovery mode?

Thank you!

 

I've found a solution: Read more in the bottom part of this comment: https://forum.armbian.com/topic/19431-booting-armbian-from-usb-when-its-already-installed-on-emmc/#comment-132620

 

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What version do you currently have installed?  (armbian and kernel versions)

If you don't have a reset button, how did you enable multiboot in the first place?

Have you ever run armbian from usb on this box? (not all boxes will support booting from usb)

Does booting armbian from sdcard work?

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1 hour ago, SteeMan said:

What version do you currently have installed?  (armbian and kernel versions)

If you don't have a reset button, how did you enable multiboot in the first place?

Have you ever run armbian from usb on this box? (not all boxes will support booting from usb)

Does booting armbian from sdcard work?


I'm running balbes' Armbian_20.10_Arm-64_bullseye_current_5.9.0.img from here: https://disk.yandex.ru/d/_rQgn_FosYuW0g/20.10/20201014/Armbian_20.10_Arm-64_bullseye_current_5.9.0.img.xz

I got Armbian working by using the "Updates" app method, I flashed it on a SD card and installed to eMMC.

I've never tried booting from USB, but I think I've read somewhere that it's supposed to work.

Thank you for responding :D

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20 hours ago, chinhhut said:

if you want to install fresh updated Armbian, you can try rkdeveloptool from pinned topic off RK322X. Try to clock pin and follow the guide similar to the way to unbrick the board. 

 

It's an Amlogic board. Rockchip developer tools won't work as far as I know.

The board showed in the instructions to short the pins also looks very different from mine... I'm scared I might short some wrong contacts and fry my board forever.

Is there, perhaps, some way to edit the boot order from Armbian itself?

 

I've found in my armbian-config settings an "Edit boot.ini script", which currently shows this:

image.png.d31ee8aa6d2019967d20b75bb22ebb57.png

Could this be the way?

 

Upon further testing, I tried plugging in my SD card I've originally used for flashing Armbian to the eMMC and it does boot from the SD itself.

So I think the boot order is:

- SD Card

- eMMC

- USB(?)

I'm not sure USB is even possible, since I can't just unplug the eMMC. I hope somebody who has worked on this firmware will be able to tell me.

I'm also wondering - Is it possible to flash the stock Android rom on an SD Card? Then I could run the Updates app from the SD.

 

Another update: I was finally able to boot into what I think is recovery mode.

After shorting these two spots, the LED stays blue instead of turning red shortly after the "Android" screen disappears.

What is weird is that some guides mention that I should see an Android robot, but I don't see it, my TV just doesn't get any signal.

image.thumb.png.5b3a245796c7740d5213d2ce11de9ab9.png

My Linux computer also recognized the device as "Amlogic, Inc. GX-CHIP", and the Windows utility I'm running in a Virtual Box with USB passthrough installed some WorldCup drivers which had never been previously installed, which is a good thing. But at this point, I see the amlogic toolkit fails to recognize my TV box, even after loading the image and following this tutorial, when I plug in again the box in recovery mode it just doesn't get recognized.

I'm also afraid I might not have the correct firmware image - there are many sites offering downloads for some, but none of them shows the board and since there are tons of different revisions I'm scared I could flash a wrong ROM.

 

PS: I read on the section for another SBC on this forum that a way to enable USB boot is, in fact, having it to be the only device with a bootable partition. So I wonder if I could just erase the boot partition on my eMMC, but again I'm afraid it wouldn't work and since I can't even get Amlogic usb burning utility to work, that'd be a problem.

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13 hours ago, Massive Box said:

So I wonder if I could just erase the boot partition on my eMMC

Do not do that as you will brick your box.  Amlogic based TV Boxes only boot from emmc (except in rare cases).

 

20 hours ago, Massive Box said:

I've found in my armbian-config settings an "Edit boot.ini script", which currently shows this:

image.png.d31ee8aa6d2019967d20b75bb22ebb57.png

Could this be the way?

No.  boot.ini isn't even used by the balbes multiboot process.

 

I asked earlier if you could boot from an sd card (as that should work since you originally booted that way before installing on emmc).  Again, I will repeat myself, don't expect to be able to boot from usb, that doesn't work on many amlogic based boxes.

 

 

13 hours ago, Massive Box said:

the Windows utility I'm running in a Virtual Box with USB passthrough

What utility are you running?

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On 12/5/2021 at 5:57 PM, SteeMan said:

I asked earlier if you could boot from an sd card (as that should work since you originally booted that way before installing on emmc).  Again, I will repeat myself, don't expect to be able to boot from usb, that doesn't work on many amlogic based boxes.

 

Yes, as I've said here:

I am able to boot from SD. Am I wrong for hoping that the boot order is SD, eMMC, USB; or is it known to be SD, USB, eMMC on supported devices?
Thank you for your useful replies. I'm really hoping I can get USB boot because I've just got a USB-SATA connector and I was hoping to have my OS on an actual SSD (I know the USB speed is basically capped so I wouldn't benefit from the speeds, but it'd be still better in terms of reliability).

 

On 12/5/2021 at 5:58 PM, SteeMan said:

What utility are you running?

I'm running Amlogic USB Burning Tool v2.0.5.15-build7. I found it packed with a random firmware for (supposedly) my box (although the board revision no. wasn't listed so I'm not sure at all).

Please, if you know let me know if there's a place to find a firmware I can trust will work.

 

Solution here!

@SteeManI was able to boot from USB!

It took a bit of cursing and a lot of anxiety from when it was expanding the filesystem and I thought it was going to break.

Here's how I did it:

 

1. Powered the box off, restarted it and pressed a key to stop autoboot

2.

setenv boot_targets "romusb usb0 usb1 usb2 usb3 mmc0 mmc1 mmc2 pxe dhcp"

3.

boot

 

This works completely fine, but it needs to be done every starup. In order to make the changes persistent:

1. Mount the eMMC's boot partition to a random location of the USB drive

2. Add a file called uEnv.txt in the boot partition's root with the content:

boot_targets=romusb usb0 usb1 usb2 usb3 mmc0 mmc1 mmc2 pxe dhcp

Save and reboot. Done!

 

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