Mender support on i.MX8 platforms

Published on February 16, 2021

We are pleased to announce a partnership with Mender and provide support for Mender on our Nitrogen8M and Nitrogen8M Mini platforms based on i.MX8 processors! We also plan to support Nitrogen8M Nano and Nitrogen8M Plus in the near future.

What is Mender? is a secure, robust and efficient end-to-end over-the-air (OTA) software update manager for embedded devices. It is open source with an active community supporting a large number of different hardware and operating systems. Visit and Mender Hub community to learn more.

How to Use Mender with Nitrogen8M

In this post, we will be using Mender in conjunction with Yocto to demonstrate a simple OTA update on our Nitrogen8M platform.  We will be using Nitrogen8M as an example, but the same applies for Nitrogen8M Mini.

1- Setup Mender trial server on

Sign up for a trial here

2- Grab Organization token

After signing up and logging in, click your email at the top right and then "My organization": Then click "COPY TO CLIPBOARD" next to Organization token. Temporarily copy this somewhere, as we will be using it in next step:

3- Build Procedure

We will be using the dunfell branch of our boundary-bsp-platform repository. To build the image, we recommend using a Docker Container so that you can build with a reproducible and stable build environment. Otherwise, you’ll need these packages installed as well as this repo tool that can be installed like this: ~$ sudo apt-get install repo Then create your build directory and initialize everything. ~$ mkdir ~/yocto-mender && cd yocto-mender ~/yocto-mender$ repo init -u -m mender.xml -b dunfell ~/yocto-mender$ repo sync Next, setup the environment for building. ~/yocto-dunfell$ source setup-environment-mender nxp Now we need to define a few things in local.conf. First, we need to specify our MACHINE and DISTRO in local.conf.  For this image we will be building our boundary-wayland distro for the nitrogen8m MACHINE ?= "nitrogen8m" DISTRO ?= "boundary-wayland" NOTE: There will be an existing MACHINE and DISTRO defined by default in local.conf. Please replace these definitions. Next, we need to copy the Organization token from the step above to local.conf. Copy the following to local.conf: MENDER_SERVER_URL = "" MENDER_TENANT_TOKEN = "<token_from_above_step>" Then, we need to define what Uboot binary to build. You can find out what Uboot needs to go on your board by seeing what "uboot_defconfig" is defined as in you board's uboot: => print uboot_defconfig uboot_defconfig=nitrogen8m In this case, we are building for nitrogen8m so define the following in local.conf: UBOOT_DTB_NAME = "imx8mq-nitrogen8m.dtb" BOUNDARY_DEVICES_UBOOT_DEFCONFIG = "nitrogen8m" NOTE: In this case, the MACHINE conf (nitrogen8m.conf) will specify to build this binary by default. However, there are several board variants one can build for, so the above variable definitions are required. Lastly, we need to accept the Freescale EULA located in "sources/meta-freescale/EULA’. Please read it and accept by adding the following to local.conf: ACCEPT_FSL_EULA = "1" Now bitbake boundary-image-multimedia-full which is equivalent to fsl-image-multimedia-full with Boundary-specific packages added such as BD-SDMAC support. ~/yocto-mender/build$ bitbake boundary-image-multimedia-full The image file will deploy to tmp/deploy/images/{MACHINE}/boundary-image-multimedia-full-{MACHINE}.sdimg

4- Flash image

You can program the SW to eMMC using the instructions below: programming-emmc-on-i-mx-platforms You can also program the SW to SD Card or USB Stick via zcat and dd under Linux: ~$ sudo dd if=*boundary-image*.sdimg of=/dev/sdX bs=1M && sync In addition, you can use the balenaEtcher utility to flash the eMMC, SD Card or USB stick via Windows or Linux: balenaEtcher

5- Boot device and upgrade uboot

The boot partition of the image will contain both the uboot binary and the upgrade.scr script required for updating the uboot. We will upgrade the uboot with "run upgradeu": => ls mmc 0 28801536 Image 4665 boot.scr 55674 imx8mq-nitrogen8m-edp.dtb 55803 imx8mq-nitrogen8m-m4.dtb 55722 imx8mq-nitrogen8m-tc358743.dtb 55670 imx8mq-nitrogen8m.dtb 51571 imx8mq-nitrogen8m_som-m4.dtb 51438 imx8mq-nitrogen8m_som.dtb 1278752 u-boot.nitrogen8m 5732 upgrade.scr 10 file(s), 0 dir(s) => run upgradeu starting USB... Bus usb@38100000: Register 2000140 NbrPorts 2 Starting the controller USB XHCI 1.10 Bus usb@38200000: Register 2000140 NbrPorts 2 Starting the controller USB XHCI 1.10 scanning bus usb@38100000 for devices... 1 USB Device(s) found scanning bus usb@38200000 for devices... 3 USB Device(s) found scanning usb for storage devices... 0 Storage Device(s) found scanning usb for ethernet devices... 0 Ethernet Device(s) found Device 0: unknown device switch to partitions #0, OK mmc0(part 0) is current device Scanning mmc 0:1... Found U-Boot script /upgrade.scr 5732 bytes read in 12 ms (465.8 KiB/s) ## Executing script at 40480000 cpu2=8M cpu3=8MQ 1278752 bytes read in 20 ms (61 MiB/s) switch to partitions #0, OK mmc0(part 0) is current device MMC read: dev # 0, block # 66, count 2498 ... 2498 blocks read: OK byte at 0x42000400 (0xd1) != byte at 0x42400400 (0x0) Total of 0 byte(s) were the same Need U-Boot upgrade Program in 5 seconds 5 4 3 2 1 MMC write: dev # 0, block # 66, count 2498 ... 2498 blocks written: OK switch to partitions #0, OK mmc0(part 0) is current device ---- U-Boot upgraded. The board will now reset. resetting ... after the board resets, reset the environment variables to default and reboot: => env default -a ## Resetting to default environment => savee Saving Environment to MMC... Writing to redundant MMC(0)... OK => reset

6- Accept Pending device in Mender Dashboard

After booting, make sure your device is connected to the internet. Now, it will show up as a Pending device in the Dashboard: Click the "+" icon under "Pending devices", then select your device and click the "+" icon in the lower right corner and accept: Now your device will show up in the Dashboard:

7- Prepare a release artifact

We are now ready to test a rootfs update. First, we need to prepare a release artifact in the yocto build. As a test, we can simply just increment the release number, but keep the same rootfs. We do this in local.conf. You will notice that the starting image has a software version name "release-1". Lets bump up to "release-2" by modifying the following line in local.conf: MENDER_ARTIFACT_NAME = "release-2" Now we can rebuild the image ~/yocto-mender/build$ bitbake boundary-image-multimedia-full The mender release artifact will deploy to tmp/deploy/images/{MACHINE}/boundary-image-multimedia-full-{MACHINE}.mender

8- Upload release artifact

Now let's take the release artifact from step 7 and upload to the Mender server. Navigate to the "Releases" tab and click "Upload" Select the artifact from step 7 and upload:

9- Deploy release artifact

Now let's deploy the release artifact to the Nitrogen8M. After the upload completes, it will show up as "release-2" under "Releases". We can now click "Create Deployment With This Release": Select "All devices" in the drop-down and click "Next". Click "Next" again then click "Create": The board will now being to update: Click on "View details" to see the update status: If the update was successful, you will see the following success output: Success! Now if we navigate to the "Devices" tab, we can see the Nitrogen8M is running software "release-2": There you have it! You can now integrate Mender into your Yocto BSP to perform seamless software updates.   If you have any issues, please email