Compiling Firmware

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Revision as of 12:39, 29 September 2018 by Meklort (talk | contribs) (Testing the firmware)
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The following steps can be used to compile and update the firmware on Talos™ II-based solutions. It's maintained by both Raptor CS and community members.


  • At least 25GB of free hard drive space
  • 16GB of free RAM

Operating System

The build system (op-build) has been primarily tested using Debian stretch. If you are on a different operating system such as Fedora 28, a Debian chroot should be used:

sudo yum install debootstrap dpkg
sudo debootstrap stretch debian-chroot
sudo mount -t proc none debian-chroot/proc/
sudo mount -o bind /sys/ debian-chroot/sys/
sudo mount -o bind /dev/shm/ debian-chroot/dev/shm/

Enter the chroot and install the needed packages:

sudo chroot debian-chroot/
apt-get install software-properties-common locales
# Packages needed for PNOR builds
apt-get install cscope ctags libz-dev libexpat-dev \
          python texinfo \
          build-essential g++ git bison flex unzip \
          libssl-dev libxml-simple-perl libxml-sax-perl libxml2-dev libxml2-utils xsltproc \
          wget bc rsync
# Packages needed for OpenBMC builds
apt-get install git build-essential libsdl1.2-dev texinfo gawk chrpath diffstat

Create a chroot user:

useradd -m build-user -s /bin/bash
su build-user

You can now use the chroot to build the firmware.

To enter the chroot in the future, you can run the following from a regular terminal:

sudo chroot debian-chroot/
su build-user

Building the PNOR Firmware

Grabbing the sources

Raptor CS maintains a public git repository containing the complete source code for the firmware. To download the source code:

git clone -b raptor-v1.05 --recursive

Note: The master branch is often in a non-functional state. The latest firmware branch (raptor-v1.05 at the time of this update) should be used instead.

Building the firmware

Before building the firmware, all needed support packages must be installed. Please see the file for directions on installing the needed packages.

Once the packages are installed, the firmware can be build using the following commands:

cd talos-op-build
. op-build-env
op-build talos_defconfig

To rebuild an individual package (such as hostboot) and recreate the pnor image, the following can be run:

op-build hostboot-rebuild openpower-pnor-rebuild

Updating the firmware

Copy the firmware to the BMC

scp ./output/images/talos.pnor root@<talos-openbmc>:/tmp/

At this point, you should connect two SSH sessions to OpenBMC. In the first session, run the following to display the console during bootup:

ssh -p 2200 root@<talos-openbmc>

The console log will be useful in debugging any issues with the firmware that could occur.

In the second BMC session, ensure the system is off by running obmcutil. You should see the following:

ssh root@<talos-openbmc>
root@talos:~# obmcutil state
CurrentBMCState     : xyz.openbmc_project.State.BMC.BMCState.Ready
CurrentPowerState   : xyz.openbmc_project.State.Chassis.PowerState.Off
CurrentHostState    : xyz.openbmc_project.State.Host.HostState.Off

The CurrentHostState must be Off before continuing with the procedure. If the CurrentHostState is not Off, please turn off the machine:

obmcutil chassisoff

Testing the firmware

In order to test the firmware, a modified mboxd[1] binary can be used.

First, mboxd must be terminated:

systemctl stop mboxd

Next, restart mboxd with the additional -b argument:

mboxd -f 64M -w 1M -b /tmp/talos.pnor

Finally, you can test the update pnor image by starting the machine:

obmcutil poweron

Once you've verified that everything is working, stop the machine:

obmcutil poweroff

NOTE: The system must be in the off state before proceeding. This should be verified with obmcutil state as shown earlier.

Before continuing to flash the new pnor image, the original mboxd must be started. Ctrl^C can be used to terminate mboxd. Once done, restart it using systemctl:

systemctl start mboxd

You can now proceed with flassing the firmware.

Flashing the firmware

Once off, perform the update:

pflash -E -p /tmp/talos.pnor

Start the machine:

obmcutil poweron

Note: the machine may reboot multiple times after the initial flash.


Always upgrade PNOR and BMC together

Many mismatched PNOR/BMC version combinations lead to weird failures.

Try downgrading the PNOR+BMC firmware

Firmware package 1.04 seems the most reliable at updating the SBE SEEPROM inside the POWER9 chip package.

Always use PROC 0 socket for SBE updates

The BMC firmware and/or FSI driver seem to either forget to update the SBE SEEPROM in the PROC1 (secondary) socket, leading to a bootup with only PROC0 active. When you get a brand new chip you need to install it in PROC0 leaving PROC1 empty, wait for the double-reboot to update the SEEPROM, and then you can move that chip to the PROC1 socket if you like.

Try unplugging the HSF fan power during SBE update

Not kidding about this. The BMC is insanely complicated -- it's got an entire operating system in there for some reason. It even has systemd. The BMC's systemd often gets into a funky loop restarting Hwmon over and over and over, interrupting the SBE SEEPROM reflash every time it does this. Unplugging the PROC0 HSF 4-pin connector gets it to fail hard (due to inability to read the tachometer) and stay failed so the SBE update can proceed. Ugly as this is, it's easier than trying to figure out what systemd thinks it's doing.


If you see the following message reported in the console, then the SBE update process did not work as expected:

 16.74709|Error reported by sbe (0x2200) PLID 0x90000008
 16.74823|  SBE Image Version Miscompare with Master Target
 16.74824|  ModuleId   0x0d SBE_MASTER_VERSION_COMPARE
 16.74825|  ReasonCode 0x2215 SBE_MASTER_VERSION_DOWNLEVEL
 16.74826|  UserData1  Master Target HUID : 0x0000000000050000
 16.74826|  UserData2  Master Target Loop Index : 0x0000000000000000

The machine needs to be reset to finish the update proceedure using the following:

obmcutil chassisoff
systemctl stop xyz.openbmc_project.State.Host.service
systemctl start xyz.openbmc_project.State.Host.service
obmcutil poweron

The update should now complete as expected.

A bug report is open[2] to track this issue.

internal compiler error: Killed

Building the hostboot source code requires a large amount of ram. If your machine runs out, you may see an error similar ot the following:

powerpc64le-buildroot-linux-gnu-g++.br_real: internal compiler error: Killed (program cc1plus)

To continue you have a few options:

  • Reduce the number of parallel jobs being run by appending -j<num> to you build command line
op-build -j4
  • Increase the swap space
  • Install additional RAM

Building the OpenBMC firmware

Grabbing the sources

Raptor CS maintains a public git repository containing the complete source code for the firmware. To download the source code and check out the tag:

 git clone
 cd talos-openbmc
 git checkout raptor-v1.07

Building the firmware

Before building the firmware, all needed support packages must be installed. Please see the file for directions on installing the needed packages.

Once the packages are installed, the firmware can be build using the following commands:

cd talos-openbmc
export TEMPLATECONF=meta-openbmc-machines/meta-openpower/meta-rcs/meta-talos/conf
. openbmc-env
bitbake obmc-phosphor-image

The resulting firmware can be found in the tmp/deploy/images/talos/ directory.

If mboxd fails to build, you may need to patch

Updating the firmware

Once firmware has been built, the resulting kernel and rofs binaries need to be copied over to the /run/initramfs/

scp tmp/deploy/images/talos/image-rofs tmp/deploy/images/talos/image-kernel root@<talos-openbmc>:/run/initramfs/

Once the images have been transferred, reboot the BMC:

root@<talos-openbmc> reboot

OpenBMC may take a while to reboot. Once complete, you will be able to log back in via ssh.

BMC Recovery procedure via U-Boot


This guide explains how to debrick the BMC when the BMC has been rendered inoperable, for example due to a defective firmware update.


All RCS OpenPOWER systems.


There are three means of debricking the BMC:

  • Remove the BMC SPI flash chip and reflash it with a flash programmer
  • Flash new BMC firmware via U-Boot TFTP (requires that U-Boot is still intact on the flash)
  • Flash new BMC firmware via serial port (requires proprietary BMC chip vendor tool)

Flash new BMC firmware via U-Boot TFTP

Note: While these instructions have been successfully applied in practice, they are still preliminary. Ask questions in IRC if you are unclear on what to do!

In the event of a failure when updating the BMC, but with a functioning U-boot, you can still recover by using U-Boot to manually bootstrap the BMC by manually loading a boot image over the network or the BMC serial port.

If your BMC flash is corrupted to the extent that U-Boot does not load properly, these instructions will not work; you will need to remove and reflash the BMC flash chip externally, or flash new firmware via serial port.

  • Prepare a TFTP server, and place image-bmc, image-rofs, and image-kernel in the root.
  • Connect a serial console to the BMC serial port (J7701, serial port bracket required). The serial port configuration is 115200,8n1.
  • Disconnect and reconnect power to the machine to force a BMC restart. Press a key to interrupt auto-boot when prompted.
  • If you are having trouble with U-Boot resetting while you are trying to run these steps, have a slow network, or you are going to be loading over serial, you can disable the FPGA watchdog.
  • Run dhcp x.x.x.x:image-bmc, replacing the IP address of your TFTP server. This will load a copy of the stock boot image into RAM.
  • Run bootm 83080000. This will prepare and boot off of the loaded virtual image.
  • If your rofs partition is not functional, you will be dropped into the systemd emergency shell at this point. Try both the password you set as well as the default 0penBmc, it may be one or the other depending on the state of the rwfs partition. If it boots up properly instead of dropping you into the emergency shell, the problem is probably in your kernel partition and you can retry flashing your image-kernel using the normal procedure. (The rest of these instructions are for the systemd emergency shell.)
  • mount -t tmpfs none /tmp
  • run udhcpc to get an IP address. (TODO: verify that this is the actual command that you run. Do you have to specify the network interface too?)
  • cd /tmp
  • tftp -g -r image-rofs x.x.x.x
  • tftp -g -r image-kernel x.x.x.x
  • IMPORTANT: Use md5sum, sha1sum, or sha256sum to verify successful transfer of image-rofs and image-kernel! tftp is a very barebones protocol and relies on transport layer checksumming, which is optional and not always available in UDP!
  • Verify that the output of cat /sys/class/mtd/mtd3/name is kernel and the output of cat /sys/class/mtd/mtd4/name is rofs. We will be flashing mtd partitions directly in the next step and this is the last chance to verify that they will be flashed to the correct partition.
  • flashcp -v image-kernel /dev/mtd3
  • flashcp -v image-rofs /dev/mtd4
  • (TODO: Describe how to reset rwfs in case it was damaged as well?) note: the kernel param for bypassing rwfs is "overlay-filesystem-in-ram". Append it to the existing boot-args before running the bootm command. This can also be used as part of a password reset procedure.
  • After the flash is complete, you can run restart the BMC and it should boot successfully.
  • (TODO: Discussion of using Kermit to upload the image without network access) note: I (Bdragon) have successfully done a ram-only boot using cu's built in xmodem support (escape sequence ~X) to do an image transfer into RAM over the BMC serial interface.
  • (TODO: Discuss using u-boot's built in cmp tool to perform basic validation of the u-boot image against a second copy loaded into RAM.)
  • (TODO: Load recovery images over USB?) note: The onboard USB port is connected to the USB switch after all, so this might be problematic.
  • (TODO: Discussion of u-boot memory map) Short version is: flash lives at 0x20000000 and default base address for the memory loading tools is 0x83000000. So add 0x63000000 to any flash address to get the eqivilent address for an image-bmc file loaded into RAM. For example, the bootable image of a loaded image-bmc is at 0x83080000.

Flash new BMC firmware via serial port

This method was discovered by Centurion Dan as an alternative to pulling and reflashing the BMC SPI chip after a failed update had corrupted/wiped U-Boot.

Tools required:

  • BMC serial port
  • An x86 computer with a serial port (usb to serial works fine) - preferably running linux.



  1. Unzip the SOC FLASH Utility on your other computer, and unzip the appropriate SOC Flash Utility bundle for that computer.
  2. Extract the BMC firmware bundle.
  3. Run the following command ./socflash -s option=u comport="4" cs=0 if=image-u-boot gpio_b=S71 gpio_a=S70 option=f
    • You can drop the option=f for a slower but verified write process
    • if your serial interface can handle the baudrate 921600 add the parameter: baudrate=921600
    • if you want to see what is going on, you can strace it by prepending: strace -e trace=open,close,read,write to the command above.
  4. Be Patient: it took me about 45 minutes to complete the flash process.


  • gpio_b=S71 and gpio_a=S70 are used to turn of the fpga watchdog timer before the flash process and then re-enables it after it's completed.