Beaglebone Black Debian

Board description

BeagleBone Black is a low-cost, community-supported development platform for developers and hobbyists. Boot Linux in under 10 seconds and get started on development in less than 5 minutes with just a single USB cable.


Test results

The Debian releases in the table below have been tested by the Mender community. Please update it if you have tested this integration on other Debian releases:

Debian Build Runtime
bone-debian-9.5-iot-armhf-2018-10-07-4gb :test_works: :test_works:

Build Means that the image generation completes without errors and outputs images.
Runtime Means that Mender has been verified to work on the board.

Getting started

Convert your own image


  • A Linux-based laptop/workstation (Ubuntu has been verified to work)
  • You need to install Docker Engine to use
    this tutorial

Build Docker image for mender-convert

Open a terminal and clone the mender-convert repository, e.g.

git clone -b 2.0.x

Enter your mender-convert environment:

cd mender-convert

There is a utility script which can be used to generate the appropriate docker image to run mender-convert:


This will create a container image you can use to run mender-convert.

Download the latest stable BeagleBone raw disk image

Download the raw BeagleBone disk image into a subdirectory input:

mkdir -p input
cd input

Extract the raw BeagleBone disk image:

xz -d bone-debian-9.5-iot-armhf-2018-10-07-4gb.img.xz && cd ..

Convert the Beaglebone disk image to support Mender

With the raw disk image and the container configured above, we can convert the

You can get your hosted Mender tenant token at the My organization page in hosted Mender.

Configure the Mender client for hosted Mender server:

./scripts/ \
    --output-dir ${PWD}/rootfs_overlay_demo \
    --tenant-token "Paste token from hosted Mender"

There are additional scripts in the scripts/ directory to configure with a local demo server, or production server.

Run mender-convert inside the container by running:

MENDER_ARTIFACT_NAME=release-1 ./docker-mender-convert \
    --disk-image input/bone-debian-9.5-iot-armhf-2018-10-07-4gb.img \
    --config configs/beaglebone_black_debian_sdcard_config \
    --overlay ./rootfs_overlay_demo

Conversion will take 10-15 minutes, depending on your storage and resources available.


You will need an SD card with an capacity of at least 8GB when using the default arguments. The SD card layout will be the following using the default arguments:

Part Type Purpose Size Configure size
mmcblk0p1 vfat Store the bootloader 44MB MENDER_BOOT_PART_SIZE_MB
mmcblk0p2 ext4 Store the root file system and kernel (active) 3908MB MENDER_STORAGE_TOTAL_SIZE_MB 1
mmcblk0p3 ext4 Store the root file system and kernel (inactive) 3908MB MENDER_STORAGE_TOTAL_SIZE_MB 1
mmcblk0p4 ext4 Store persistent data, preserved during Mender updates. 128MB MENDER_DATA_PART_SIZE_MB 2

1. The rootfs partition size is calculated using the following formula:

 (storage-total-size-mb - data-part-size-mb - boot-part-size) / 2

2. You rarely need to adjust the data part size using MENDER_DATA_PART_SIZE_MB as this will expanded on first boot to occupy the remaining free blocks of the SD card.

You can read more about the partition layout required for Mender here

Use the output images

After a successful conversion, the images and artifacts are:

  • deploy/bone-debian-9.5-iot-armhf-2018-10-07-4gb-beaglebone-sdcard-mender.img.gz
  • deploy/bone-debian-9.5-iot-armhf-2018-10-07-4gb-beaglebone-sdcard-mender.ext4
  • deploy/bone-debian-9.5-iot-armhf-2018-10-07-4gb-beaglebone-sdcard-mender.mender

The disk image (with .sdimg.gz suffix) is used to provision the device storage for devices without Mender running already. You can write write the sdimg.gz image to an SD card using the following command:

zcat deploy/bone-debian-9.5-iot-armhf-2018-10-07-4gb-beaglebone-sdcard-mender.img.gz | sudo dd of=<path to device> bs=4M && sudo sync

Be careful! If you point to the wrong <path to device> when executing the above command, you risk overwriting your workstation’s local or connected storage devices.

On the other hand, if you already have Mender running on your device and want to deploy a rootfs update from this conversion, you should use the Mender Artifact files, which have .mender suffix. You can either deploy this Artifact in managed mode with the Mender server (upload it under Releases in the server UI) or by using the Mender client only in Standalone deployments.

Boot from the SD card and connect to your Mender server

Ensure your device has Internet connectivity (e.g. through Ethernet cable with DHCP support).

After provisioning a SD card with the converted disk image (.sdimg) above, boot your device from it.

After about 10 minutes, you should see your device Pending authorization under the Devices tab in your Mender server. Authorize your device to join your Mender server.

You can now deploy software updates to your device using the Mender server!

An improved workflow to generate Artifacts

The workflow of using an emulated device works for testing purposes, but it might have some limitations as we are emulating and not logged in to a real device or user.

When working with real deployments the recommended workflow is to have one golden device, that has not been converted to support Mender. On this device you carry out all the modifications you need, and then use the resulting SD card to create Mender Artifact files, in summary:

  • flash vanilla Rasbian to the SD card
  • boot the SD card, log in and make any modifications needed
  • copy the SD card into an image on your workstation (e.g. using dd)
  • run mender-convert with the --disk-image option to generate a Mender
    Artifact (like above)
  • upload the Artifact to your Mender server
  • deploy it to your devices

Note that your golden device or SD card is not running Mender and is not modified during deployments. It is simply the “source” for generating the Artifacts that you deploy to the devices in the field.


  • The documentation on Building a Mender Debian image contains more information about using Mender with the Debian family of distributions.

  • The official Mender documentation explains how Mender works. This is simply a board-specific complement to the official documentation.

Known issues

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