BeagleBone Black There are a lot of good tutorial on internet to start using BeagleBone Black (BBB) but after some tests and works I got "my way" to use BBB and I'll explain you how I do.

The first good starting point website is the official one: http://beagleboard.org/latest-images .

When you receive your BBB for the first time you already have a working Debian OS on your board but I like to start with a new and clean installation.

Get the image

You can download the official stable BBB image from http://beagleboard.org/latest-images but I usually don't need a graphic environment so I prefer the "testing images" from http://elinux.org/Beagleboard:BeagleBoneBlack_Debian#Debian_Image_Testing_Snapshots. At the time of writing this post (06/12/2015) there are the following versions:

  • Jessie Snapshot lxqt

    • Flasher: (lxqt-4gb) (BeagleBone Black/Green 4GB eMMC)
      • Flasher version with LXQt Desktop Environment for the BBB with 4G eMMC (the newer BBB version)
    • Flasher: (lxqt-2gb) (BeagleBone Black 2GB eMMC)
      • Flasher version with LXQt Desktop Environment for the BBB with 2G eMMC (the previous BBB version)
    • microSD/Standalone: (lxqt-4gb) (BeagleBone/BeagleBone Black/BeagleBone Green)
      • Standalone version with LXQt Desktop Environment for the BBB with 4G eMMC (the newer BBB version)
  • Jessie Snapshot console

    • Flasher: (console) (BeagleBone Black/Green eMMC)
      • Flasher version with a console environment for the BBB (all BBB version)
    • microSD/Standalone: (console) (BeagleBone/BeagleBone Black/BeagleBone Green)
      • Standalone version with a console environment for the BBB (all BBB version)

I usually don't need a graphic environment so I alway use the "console" version. The main differences between "flasher" and "standalone" versions are that with flasher version the system automatically install on the BBB internal memory when booting from SD card while the standalone version can run directly from SD card without modifying the internal BBB memory. I always start with the standalone version so that I can boot from SD card, add or remove same packages, set my configurations and the when I'm ok I flash my custom image on the BBB. That way I also have my custom image on the SD card and I can save it on my PC with "dd" command on linux (I'll explain leater, don't worry).

Ok, let's start downloading the microSD/Standalone: (console) (BeagleBone/BeagleBone Black/BeagleBone Green) version and extract the image:

wget https://rcn-ee.com/rootfs/bb.org/testing/2015-11-29/console/bone-debian-8.2-console-armhf-2015-11-29-2gb.img.xz
xz -d bone-debian-8.2-console-armhf-2015-11-29-2gb.img.xz

Now you only need to flash the image in a 2GB uSD card and run on the BBB.

To flash the image on the uSD you can use dd command : (MAKE SURE YOU KNOW YOUR SD CARTA DEVICE NAME OR YOU CAN DAMAGE YOU HARD DISK USING THE WRONG DEVICE NAME)

dd if=bone-debian-8.2-console-armhf-2015-11-29-2gb.img of=/dev/sdd oflag=sync bs=1M

this operation may take several minutes without any progress messages so wait with patience...

That's all!

Now you can boot your BBB with your new uSD card. Remember that the image we used isn't a "Flasher image" so nothing will be written on the BBB's eMMC. To start the BBB from uSD card you must press the USER/BOOT Button while connecting power tho the BBB. (You can find the required button in the BBB image included on the top of this post).

Whatever you do in the running BBB system (updating system, changing configuration files, adding packages etc...) will be on the running uSD so if you shutdown the BBB, extract the uSD and mount it on your PC you can see the changes.

When you've done with all your settings on the BBB's running image you can edit uEnv.txt file to enable the "flasher" script so that next boot the uSD image will be flashed on the eMMC internal memory.

To the end of uEnv.txt you can find:

#cmdline=init=/opt/scripts/tools/eMMC/init-eMMC-flasher-v3.sh

You only need to remove the # on the beginning of the line:

cmdline=init=/opt/scripts/tools/eMMC/init-eMMC-flasher-v3.sh

Next time you will boot your BBB from uSD (by pressing the USER/BOOT button while powering on) the BBB leds will start blinking in sequence for a while during flashing to eMMC memory process.

When blinking stops you can power off the BBB, remove the uSD and power on again.