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Banana Pi M2+EDU Resources

Introduction: Debian on the Banana Pi M2+EDU

Link overview
While the scripts presented here have all ben run at some time, their most recent release was not tested thoroughly yet. Be aware that there might be simple errors like e. g. syntax errors in there, resulting from too little testing. If you discover such a thing, do not hesitate to send an e-mail to

The Banana Pi M2+EDU is a cheap ARM board supporting Gigabit Ethernet. This article describes means of getting to run Debian (and Docker) on the Banana Pi M2+EDU.

Debian is the OS used for all computers and thus it seemed to be a good idea to attempt to get to run an unmodified Debian on the Banana Pi M2+EDU as well.

This proved to be difficult and thus, some minor modifications were accepted in the end. Still, the result is closer to a stock Debian compared to most other approaches.

The necessity for a recent kernel
The first approach was to use the vendor-supplied tools in addition to a debootstrap-created Debian root directory (cf. section Debian + Vendor Supplied Legacy Kernel). This proved unable to run Docker and was thus replaced by the approach presented in Debian + Armbian Kernel.

These solutions to Debian on the Banana Pi M2+EDU currently exist:

  1. Debian-Images from the official Banana Pi website: These images are larger than necessary and only available with old kernels. Also, it is a bit unclear how those images can be created/customized.
  2. armbian: These images are of good quality and best if you want an image optimized for the ARM platform. They are, however, heavily customized and as of this writing, there is no Debian + recent Kernel.

If one is looking for an easy solution, the armbian-Images can be recommended. The following sections present an approach which comes closer to an unmodified Debian and allows maximum control over the packages present in the image.

All of the approaches presented here, as well as the armbian images, work with microSD cards of any size (tested for 128 GB).

Debian + Vendor Supplied Legacy Kernel

This approach produces an image suited for a microSD card which contains a Debian installation equipped with the officially supplied Banana Pi M2+ kernel. This supports HDMI and Gigabit Ethernet but is based on a kernel 3.4.39 and thus too old to run Docker.

First, clone the repository as follows:

git clone
System requirements
  • Docker
  • POSIX make

Configuration is similar to the appraoch presented in section Debian + Armbian Kernel, but there is no hack needed. Also, an additional variable called MA_HOOK_PREPARE is available:

Contains code to be executed for preparation (e.g. providing .tar.xz files). This is set to : (or true) if not used.

Be aware that unlike Debian + Armbian Kernel, this approach creates four containers which exchange intermediate results in form of .tar.xz-files. External resources are downloaded in step 0 if not already present in $(WRKROOT)/in.

To run the build, use make as described in section Debian + Armbian Kernel. It makes sense to use make -j10 ... (or a larger number if you want to use more processes) to parallelize kernel and u-boot compilation.

Partition the microSD card as follows:

_100 MiB of leading free space
  50 MiB of FAT32 storage (label=BPI-BOOT, flags=lba, boot)
  XX MiB of EXT4 storage  (label=BPI-ROOT)
1024 MiB of SWAP storage
Hint: To backup & restore the partition layout, use sfdisk as follows
  • save: sfdisk -d /dev/sdj > file
  • restore: sfdisk /dev/sdj < file
  • This is of course only necessary if you want to re-create partitioning from a previously partitioned microSD card.

Run these commands (assuming /dev/sdj is your microSD card device node) to establsih the partition filesystems and labels. The flags will need to be set separately (e. g. with gparted).

mkdosfs -F 32 -n BPI-BOOT /dev/sdj1
mkfs.ext4 -L BPI-ROOT /dev/sdj2
mkswap /dev/sdj3

Once the build has completed successfully, use the resulting files from below $(WRKROOT)/out as follows (assuming /dev/sdj is your microSD card device node):

unxz < f100mod.img.xz | dd bs=1k seek=8 skip=8 of=device
mount /dev/sdj1 /mnt && tar -C /mnt -xpf fat32.tar.xz && umount /mnt
mount /dev/sdj2 /mnt && tar -C /mnt -xpf ext4.tar.xz && umount /mnt

Debian + Armbian Kernel

This approach produces an image suited for a microSD card which contains a Debian installation equipped with the Armbian Bootloader and a recent Kernel like 4.10. The resulting system will support the Gigabit Ethernet port but not display anything via the HDMI output. Also, there will be no documented/automatic means of upgrading the kernel without re-generating the image.

The steps used to build the image are formalized in the associated GIT Repository. It is recommended that you clone the repository as follows:

git clone
System requirements
  • xz-utils (or prepared .tar.xz archives)
  • Docker
  • POSIX make
External Resources

Obtain the files from the sources listed. Other versions might also work but have not been tested. If you want to use the hack for direct invocation (the system is also prepared to perform fully-automatic processing), provide the files downloaded in the armbian directory in the repository.

Next, the image to be created has to be confgiured. This is done by creating a file ending with, e.g. and a hostconfig directory. A minimal hostconfig and are already supplied with the repository. You are suggested to add your own separate hostconfig, e.g. myhostconfig which may contain files below fsroot which will be copied to the root file system (after the hooks from postinst.d have been executed) and postinst.d which contains scripts/programs to be called from inside the prepared root filesystem.

Assuming you followed the instructions so far, you might put the following in

# Changed Sample Settings
MA_HOSTCONFIG = hostconfig myhostconfig
MA_IMAGEPREFIX = masysmalocal
WRKROOT = /var/tmp

The settings can be described as follows:

Configures the debian mirror to be consulted for image generation.
If this is 1, a hack to build .tar.xz files from armbian and hostconfig directories is enabled. This makes it easier to amend the configuration from the hostconfig directories but makes pipeline-automation more difficult. If you want to provide the armbian and hostconfig directories as .tar.xz archives, you can set this to 0 and provide said archives in $(WRKROOT)/in, e.g. /var/tmp/in. Also, there is no need to specify $(MA_HOSTCONFIG) if the hack is not used and the directories armbian and hostconfig need not be present separately.
Contains a space-separated list of directories to compose a single hostconfig (files are added in order which means you can override files from a pervious hostconfig by creating a file in myhostconfig with the same name as in hostconfig).
Set this to 1 to build an own docker image to do the processing. If it is 0, docker will attempt to pull the image $(MA_IMAGEPREFIX)/bpi-build-armbian-debootstrap from Docker Hub or other configured repositories.
Declare a prefix for the docker image to use. If you want to use an existing image, you can set this to masysma. For this case set MA_IMAGEBUILD = 0.
A working-root directory for intermediate files. Chose a directory large enough to take about twice the size of your target image.

If you want to build a (boring) image with just SSH, Aptitude and VIM, you do not need to provide a myhostconfig and can go with the sample settings provided.

Having prepared as described, call the build as follows:


If you chose not to provide an own, a simple make is enough.

Make sure your microSD card is MBR formatted, the first partition has the ext4 file system, starts at sector 2048 and is large enough to take the crated root filesystem. You can check this with fdisk -l. If you are using the fstab supplied with the given hostconfig, you will also need to have a second partition containing a swap area. There is no technical need for a swap partition – if you do not want it, just copy the prepared fstab to myhostconfig/fsroot/etc/fstab and remove the last line containing swap.

Once the build has completed, you will find two files below $(WRKROOT)/out:

This is the bootsector for your microSD card. Apply it to a given microSD card as follows: unxz < u-boot-sunxi-with-spl.bin.xz | dd of=/dev/sdj bs=1024 seek=8 where /dev/sdj is your microSD card device node.
This contains the root filesystem to be used. Extract it to a mountpoint where the first partition of your microSD card is mounted (e.g. /mnt) as follows: tar -C /mnt -xpf ext4_main.tar.xz.

Umount your microSD card, put it into the Banana Pi M2+EDU, connect the Banana Pi M2+EDU to the eternet network and then power on the Banana Pi M2+EDU and be patient for about 30 seconds. You should then see lights at the ethernet port. If not wait a little longer and if nothing happens, something is wrong. Such issues are best debugged using the serial console, search the web for how to do this.

If the startup succeeded and you left that part of the default hostconfig intact, you might login at the Banana Pi M2+EDU using ssh linux-fan@IP with password testwort. The IP address will be taken from DHCP – you may find out about it using nmap -sn NETWORK where NETWORK is your network like e. g.

Additional notes and hints
  • To delete intermediate results, call make clean. If you also want to remove the docker image used, use make dist-clean instead.
  • If you intend to change the build process, the main part of it is implemented in the Makefile which is called from inside the container (but outside the target root filesystem).

Getting to run Docker on the Banana Pi M2+EDU

In order to run Docker on the Banana Pi M2+EDU, create a directory, e..g. docker_arm with these contents:


For you might want to use this:

#!/bin/sh -e
addgroup docker

The files for docer.service and docker.socket may be obtained from the docker sources. The binaries for /usr/bin may be taken from the official Docker downloads.

From the running system, it is then a matter of systemctl enable docker.service && systemctl start docker.service to get to run the docker daemon.

Further Ideas

In the future, the system presented here should be incorporated into an MDVL build process and customization should not be done using fsroot and postinst.d but with Debian packages instead.

Also, tests of all the different variants should be performed and code to enable newer kernels (which never worked) should be removed from the legacy build system.


The scripts to build Debian images for a Banana Pi M2+EDU are licensed under GPLv3.

This program is free software: you can redistribute it and/or modify
it under the terms of the GNU General Public License as published by
the Free Software Foundation, either version 3 of the License, or
(at your option) any later version.

This program is distributed in the hope that it will be useful,
but WITHOUT ANY WARRANTY; without even the implied warranty of
GNU General Public License for more details.

You should have received a copy of the GNU General Public License
along with this program.  If not, see <>.

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