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This program looks up a device-specific serial number and prints it. The original use was to provide some non-changing and unique material for dynamically creating device names on a local LAN.

Supported boards:

If your board isn't listed above, it may be supported via one of the generic mechanisms:

  • Reading a serial number from /proc/cpuinfo
  • The default Raspberry Pi eth0 and wlan0 MAC addresses
  • Reading the MAC address of eth0
  • Reading bytes from a file
  • Reading a key from the U-Boot environment
  • Reading an ATECC508A/608A's serial number via an I2C bus
  • Reading the serial number stored in a NervesKey's OTP memory
  • Reading the serial number from SMBIOS/DMI
  • Reading the serial number via the device tree

If your board isn't supported, please consider sending a pull request.


Run make. To run the unit tests, run make check.


Usage: boardid [OPTION]...

  -b <board/method> Use the specified board or detection method for
                    reading the ID.
  -f <path>         The file to read for the 'binfile'/'uenv' methods
  -k <offset>       The offset in bytes for the 'binfile'/`uenv' methods
  -l <count>        The number of bytes to read for the 'binfile'/'uenv' methods
  -u <varname>      U-boot environment variable name for the 'uenv' method
  -n <count>        Print out count characters (least significant ones)
  -p <string>       Prefix an ID with the specific string
  -a <i2c address>  I2C address for the `atecc508a`/`nerves_key` methods
  -r <prefix>       Root directory prefix (used for unit tests)
  -v                Print out the program version

'-b' can be specified multiple times to try more than one method.

Supported boards/methods:
  rpi          Raspberry Pi (all models)
    rpi_eth0   Raspberry Pi eth0 MAC address
    rpi_wlan0  Raspberry Pi wlan0 MAC address
  ev3          Lego EV3
  chip         Next Thing Co - C.H.I.P.
  cpuinfo      Read /proc/cpuinfo
  jetson       nVidia Jetson
  device_tree  Read /proc/device-tree/serial-number
  bbb          Beaglebone Black
  macaddr      Read eth0's MAC address
  linkit       LinkIt Smart (WLAN MAC address)
  binfile      Read '-l' bytes from the file '-f' at offset '-k'
  uboot_env    Read a U-Boot environment (file '-f', offset '-k', length '-l') and use the variable '-u'
  atecc508a    Read an ATECC508A (I2C device '-f', I2C address '-a')
  nerves_key   Read a NervesKey (I2C device '-f', I2C address '-a')
  dmi          Read the system ID out of the SMBIOS/DMI
  force        Force the ID (Specify ID with '-f')

Without the `-b` option, `boardid` will try a few methods of determining an ID.

## Example

Here's an example run on a Lego Mindstorms EV3 brick running ev3dev:

robot@ev3dev:~$ boardid

Config file

It's possible to come up with fairly long and complicated commandlines for some devices. boardid supports reading arguments from /etc/boardid.config so that you need not duplicate the commandline arguments everywhere boardid is used. A config file can have comments. Here's an example:

# /etc/boardid.config

# Try the nerves_serial_number environment variable first
-b uboot_env -u nerves_serial_number

# Try the legacy serial_number environment variable
-b uboot_env -u serial_number

# Check the EEPROM for a serial number (BBB and BBG)
-b bbb -n 4

# If the EEPROM wasn't programmed, use the MAC address
-b macaddr -n 4


This utility doesn't provide any assurance of the uniqueness of returned IDs. It is not unheard of for board manufacturers to accidentally reuse IDs or forget to program them entirely. Additionally, these IDs may even be guessable so using them in a cryptographic sense is not advised without an understanding for how they're assigned.


Print out a platform-specific board serial number





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