Upgrading u-boot on OpenRD

This page describes how to install a new version of U-Boot on your OpenRD.

First of all, check which version of U-Boot is installed on your plug computer to find out whether you should perform this upgrade. Connect to U-Boot using the serial console and type:


This will show the version of U-Boot on your plug computer. Two different (and slightly incompatible) variants of U-Boot are commonly used on plug computers. When Marvell introduced the first plug computers a few years ago, they created their own variant of U-Boot to add support for plug computers. This work has been integrated into the official U-Boot variant in the meantime. The advantages of the official U-Boot variant (sometimes known as DENX) is that it is much more rapidly developed and therefore offers features and bug fixes not found in the Marvell variant. We will use the DENX variant.

When you type version in U-Boot, you can easily spot if you're using the Marvell version. It shows the U-Boot version 1.1.4 plus a separate Marvell version, as in this example:

U-Boot 1.1.4 (Oct 27 2009 - 21:57:24) Marvell version: 3.4.19

On the other hand, the version string of the DENX variant looks like this:

U-Boot 2016.03+dfsg1-6 (Jun 28 2016 - 07:38:27 +0000)

In other words, U-Boot is followed by a date and there is no Marvell version.

If your OpenRD is using the Marvell variant of U-Boot, you may want to upgrade. On the other hand, you may want to stay on the Marvell version if it works for you.

If you're upgrading from the Marvell to the DENX variant, issue the following command and write down your MAC address. This step is important because all U-Boot configuration data (including your MAC address) is lost when upgrading from the Marvell to the DENX U-Boot.

print ethaddr
print eth1addr  # On Client and Ultimate

In fact, it's best to store a copy of your whole U-Boot configuration:


Obtain the U-Boot binary for your device and save it as u-boot.kwb. Please note that since the boot loader interacts with the hardware, you have to use the correct u-boot binary for your device.

You have to complete three steps in order to install the new U-Boot. First, you have to load the new U-Boot to your plug computer, either via USB or TFTP:

  • USB: First of all, copy the U-Boot binary u-boot.kwb to a USB stick formatted with the FAT filesystem. Then plug the USB stick into your plug computer, connect the serial console and type the following commands:
    usb start
    fatload usb 0:1 0x0800000 u-boot.kwb
  • TFTP: If you have a TFTP server, copy the file u-boot.kwb to your TFTP server. Then start your plug computer, connect the serial console and type the following commands:
    setenv serverip # IP of your TFTP server
    setenv ipaddr
    tftpboot 0x0800000 u-boot.kwb

Second, you have to flash the new U-Boot:

nand erase 0x0 0x60000
nand write 0x0800000 0x0 0x60000

Finally, you now have to restart your machine to activate the new version of U-Boot:


If you upgraded from the Marvell to the DENX variant, you now have to set your MAC address (replace the MAC address in the example with the one you wrote down before):

setenv ethaddr 00:50:43:01:c0:ab

You also have to restore eth1addr on OpenRD-Client and OpenRD-Ultimate.

In order to boot Debian, you have to set bootcmd, bootargs_console and one of bootcmd_sata, bootcmd_usb or bootcmd_mmc. Please see the installation page for detailed instructions.