Linux user guide

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This guide provides information which will help you get started with rockchip opensource linux. If you have any questions, please report to us on github project issue page.

We are providing 3 ways to build rootfs including prebuilt Debian, Yocto, Buildroot. You can choose the way you prefer. 

You will need below firmware/image for a full Linux OS and flash them to different locations:

  • U-Boot SPL/Rockchip miniloader
  • U-Boot
  • ARM Trusted Firmware(only need in arm v8)
  • boot(including kernel, dtb and config file)
  • rootfs(Debian, Ubuntu, etc.)


Note that our development environment is Ubuntu, you can use 16.04 or later version(with downgraded arm gcc).

Debian-9  and Docker-Rockchip are also available.

Ubuntu 14.04 is deprecated, we don't guarantee that Linux SDK can work on it.

Here are some necessary packages for building the project.

$ sudo apt-get install git-core gitk git-gui gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf u-boot-tools device-tree-compiler gcc-aarch64-linux-gnu mtools parted libudev-dev libusb-1.0-0-dev libssl-dev pv e2fsprogs build-essential fakeroot devscripts

If you insist on developing on your own environment, please make sure the version of gcc-arm-linux-gnueabihf and gcc-aarch64-linux-gnu is less than 6.

Getting the Sources

The rockchip linux SDK source tree is located in multi Git repository hosted by Github. The SDK uses repo to sync down source code.
Create an empty directory to hold your working files.

mkdir rk-linux
cd rk-linux

To initialize Linux SDK source tree, you need to get repo first

sudo apt-get install repo

There are three Linux SDK, You can choose one of them.

The rockchip linux SDK source tree is located in multi Git repository hosted by Github. The SDK uses repo to sync down source code.

Basic Linux SDK/Debian

Standalone u-boot/kernel/rootfs, help you do developments like bringup new boards/hardware.

Debian rootfs with RK packages installed, help you do evaluation quickly.

repo init --repo-url= -u -b master
repo sync


Yotco can generate both rootfs image and gpt image included kernel/u-boot.

For serious project, it's recommended to use yocto.

repo init --repo-url= -u -b yocto
repo sync


Buildroot support rk3399, Yocto and Buildroot both have same ability.(RK3288 don't have buildroot support, please use yocto.)

repo init --repo-url= -u -b buildroot
repo sync

Below guides are based on basic Linux SDK, guides for yocto/buildroot could be found in the separate page.

Quick start

We have provide build scripts which essentially wraps the commands, so you can quickly start your development by them.

Please note that those scripts are assumed your directory structure is same with the one created by manifest.

choose/add board-config

We use rk3288-firefly as example. You can change rk3288-firefly to any other board supported.

Before starting to develop, please refer to board config and how-to to choose a most matching config as the foundation.

compile kernel

This command will compile kernel and copy kernel-image/dtb to "out/kernel" and create a fat image "out/boot.img" which contains kernel-image/dtb/extlinux.conf.

build/ rk3288-firefly

compile uboot

This command will compile u-boot and copy all binarys to "out/u-boot".

If u-boot is stuck in SPL, please choose a most matching board-config!  If it's still stuck in SPL, please use old ddr.bin to replace u-boot SPL.

Please see u-boot page for more infos.

build/ rk3288-firefly

build debian rootfs image

It's better to download prebuilt debian image at first, and build rootfs later, since many users have complain to us that they waste a lot of time to build debian image(mostly environment problem).

Pack all parts to a complete image

`s` is size in Mbyte, `r` is your rootfs image location. Here we use rk3288 as example. You can change it to any other supported chips(ie. rk3399, rk3328).

build/ -c rk3288 -t system -r rk-debian-build/linaro-rootfs.img

flash image

eMMC (Ensure the board is in maskrom mode. maskrom, Not rockusb! ):

build/ -c rk3288 -p system -i out/system.img

SD Card:
`d` is your target device

build/ -c rk3288 -p loader -i out/u-boot/idbloader.img -d /dev/sdb

Please refer to AndroidFlashTool for flashing image on Windows. (For the first time, it's recommended to use a linux host, to save the time.)

Please note there is no parameter! The system image created by linux SDK is a pure GPT formatted image, burned to spefic offset in flash.

It's recommended to read partition, rockusb, boot to understand how it works if you failed to flash image.

bringup(burn kernel, uboot, gpt)

build/ rk3288-firefly
build/ rk3288-firefly
build/ -c rk3288 -t system -r rk-debian-build/linaro-rootfs.img
build/ -p system -i out/system.img

update kernel

build/ rk3288-firefly
build/ -p boot -i out/boot.img

update uboot (armv7)

build/ rk3288-firefly
build/ -p loader1 -i out/u-boot/idbloader.img -c rk3288

update uboot(armv8 with miniloader)

build/ rk3399-excavator
build/ -p loader1 -i out/u-boot/idbloader.img -c rk3399
build/ -p loader2 -i out/u-boot/uboot.img -c rk3399
build/ -p atf -i out/u-boot/trust.img -c rk3399

Before asking questions, please, read references and follow the setp by setp guide to boot your device.

Step By Step

Building the sources

Building uboot

Installing the build tools and download source

Compile the Uboot

CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf- make evb-rk3288_defconfig all

You can get spl/u-boot-spl.bin(if there is) and u-boot.bin when build complete, we will use these files to generate idb.img or uboot.img

See U-Boot page for more detail.

There are two feasible ways to boot to U-Boot.
1. RK SPL bin(DDR.bin, miniloader)
2. U-Boot SPL

See boot option page for more detail.

Building kernel

Compile the kernel:

For ARM v7

make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf- rockchip_linux_defconfig
make ARCH=arm CROSS_COMPILE=arm-linux-gnueabihf- -j4

For ARM V8

make ARCH=arm64 CROSS_COMPILE=aarch64-linux-gnu- rockchip_linux_defconfig
make ARCH=arm64 CROSS_COMPILE=aarch64-linux-gnu- -j4

You can get zImage/Image and dtbs when build complete, we will use these files to generate boot.img for boot partition.

See Rockchip kernel for more detail.

Building rootfs


See debian-guide for detail.

You should get xxx-rootfs.img.


See yocto-user-guide for detail.

You should get xxx.ext4 rootfs image.


See buildroot-user-guide for detail.

You should get rootfs.img in this step for the Linux OS.

Booting the Board

Then you can chose a suitable way for you to boot the board with flash all the image to media device.

See also

U-Boot guide

Rockchip kernel guide

Yocto guide

Buildroot guide