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README.md

Android4Beagle

Android4Beagle aims to provide a vanilla AOSP-based Android for Beagleboard.org boards, starting with the BeagleBone Black. Hopefully I will get round to adding the other colours of BeagleBone later, and maybe even the BeagleBoard-xM and BeagleBoard-X15. All of these make great platforms for embedded Android, by which I mean Android being used to control ... I don't know ... a printer, a robot, maybe some kind of test or medical equipment.

If you would like to know how it is done, and how you can apply this knowledge to your own products, then you might be interested in what I do for my day-time job www.2net.co.uk/training.html

Board support matrix

Board AOSP Kernel Cape manager SGX Tag
BeagleBone Black 4.4.4 3.2 N Y android-4.4.4_r2
5.1.1 3.8 Y N android-5.1.1
6.0.1 4.1 Y N android-6.0

Preparation

Make sure that you have a system capable of building AOSP in a reasonable amount of time, as described here: http://source.android.com/source/building.html. Then set it up following the steps given here: http://source.android.com/source/initializing.html

You will need in addition the U-Boot mkimage tool. On Ubuntu run sudo apt-get install u-boot-tools

Getting Android4Beagle

The majority of the code comes directly from android.googlesource.com. The only board-specific components are U-Boot, the Linux kernel, the PowerVR SGX GPU driver and the scripts needed to put it all together.

Begin by getting the Android4Beagle repo, using the appropriate tag from the product matrix:

$ mkdir ~/a4b
$ cd ~/a4b
$ repo init -u https://github.com/csimmonds/android4beagle -b android-6.0
$ repo sync -c

The googlesource repositories are always growing. The last time I checked, the total download was 55 GiB, so please make sure that you have enough disk space, bearing in mind that the build will generate another 25 GiB of intermediate object files and the final images.

Building for BeagleBone Black

There are two product variants:

  • beagleboneblack_sd-eng: if you want to run from a micro SD card
  • beagleboneblack-eng: if you want to install Android in internal flash

Build

$ source build/envsetup.sh
$ lunch

Select either beagleboneblack-eng or beagleboneblack_sd-eng. Then

$ ./build-beagleboneblack.sh

The build will take at least one hour, possibly much longer if your build machine is a little below spec.

Running Android from the micro SD card

You will need a micro SD card of at least 4 GB. Ideally it should be class 10 or better.

Plug the card into your card reader. Run command lsblk to find which device it is. Then run the script below, giving the device name as the parameter. For example, if the card reader is /dev/mmcblk0, the command would be:

$ scripts/write-sdcard-beagleboneblack.sh mmcblk0

When done, plug the card into your BeagleBone Black, press the "boot" button and power up.

Running Android from internal eMMC flash memory

In this case, you begin by making a bootable SD card which contains only U-Boot. You boot from it, and then use fastboot to format the eMMC chip and then copy the Android images to it.

Plug a micro SD card into your card reader. Run command lsblk to find which device it is. Then run the script below, giving the device name as the parameter. For example, if the card reader is /dev/mmcblk0, the command would be

$ croot
$ scripts/write-fastboot-sdcard-beagleboneblack.sh mmcblk0

When done, plug the card into your BeagleBone Black, press the "boot" button and power up.

The "fastboot LED" (user LED0) should come on, indicating that it is in fastboot mode. Now use fastboot to program the internal flash:

$ croot
$ cd u-boot
$ fastboot oem format
$ fastboot reboot

This will force U-Boot to read the new partition table. When the fastboot LED comes on again, continue (still in directory u-boot/):

$ fastboot flash spl MLO
$ fastboot flash bootloader u-boot.img
$ fastboot flash userdata
$ fastboot flash cache
$ fastboot flash system
$ fastboot flash boot
$ fastboot flash recovery

Power off, remove the SD card and power on. It should boot Android...

If something goes wrong while flashing the images, the best diagnostic tool is to plug a serial to USB connector into the BeagleBone and see what U-Boot is doing. You can force it into fastboot mode from the U-Boot prompt by typing the command fastboot