Running Debian installer from SD card



I didn’t buy HiKey 970 board yet, but planning to do so in the near future (once I finish with finding a root cause for several Linux bugs I discovered last year). Upon reading 96boards documentations and this forum I find that several topics regarding this board are not clear to me.

  1. In Debian manual about installation on HiKey board process is really simple: “If your board comes with that then life is simple: put debian installer on an SD card, put the SD card in the device, plug in screen and keyboard and power up to run the installer.” I understand that HiKey 970 probably is far away from such simple installation, but I wondering - how far away, actually? What is missing? Debian arm64 netinst iso should ship with a kernel that include patches for hikey970 support or something else is necessary? Like, maybe some changes on UEFI side?

  2. It seems like it should be possible to install another kernel on hikey970 in the same it was done for hikey board - just by installing pre-build deb package. However, I not sure if /boot could contain several kernels, like on regular Linux installation, so there are options in GRUB that allow to pick up kernel I would like to boot, or such entries should be created manually?

  3. Linux 4.20 changelog mentions that HiKey 970 is supported now, yet seems like regular users wasn’t able to boot mainline kernel so far. If mainline kernel actually includes all patches necessary for this board, it should be possible to simply install 4.20 arm64 build from Canonical kernel PPA. Or this is not gonna work due to missing patch/config option/unsupported kernel installation method?


Hi @RussianNeuroMancer

HiKey970 has vendor UEFI support but the mainline kernel doesn’t include any support for non volatile memory to hold the Kernel and Root file system. Currently, I pushed out patchset which adds UFS support. So until we get either UFS/SD patches merged into mainline, you can’t boot debian straightaway.

You can have multiple kernels and GRUB will pick those by default.

As said above, mainline is still missing UFS/SD patches to be able to boot a distro.

Hope this clarifies!



Thank you for looking into my questions! :slightly_smiling_face:

So this three patches: 1, 2, 3 to get board booting from UFS. Is some changes to this config is required?

That good to know.

I see, so besides three patches above, also this four patches: 1, 2, 3, 4. In there anything else critical for installation and startup?


Yes, those 3 patches are enough. But the config doesn’t seems to have all Hikey970 releated stuffs enabled. Basically you need to enable(=y) all HISI/HI3670 Kconfig options.

Those patches are needed if you want SD support also. Ideally, either UFS or SD should be enough to boot a debian distro. This depends on your choice :slight_smile:


I see. Okay, when I will get board on my hands I will try to compile kernel with necessary changes and build debian installer iso, so I could try installation from SD card.

Thank you once again :slight_smile: