68 March 2014
Loading the BeagleBone Black
The Bone comes loaded with the Angstrom
distribution. So, instead of experimenting with a different
Linux distribution, we will walk down the well-known
Angstrom road. That doesn’t mean we can’t repave it
before we set out. I proceeded to download the latest
Angstrom distribution. Let’s walk through the steps I took
to install it.
Unlike the Pi, the Bone has the ability to store the
Linux kernel in onboard non-volatile Flash. With that, the
Bone images I downloaded must be processed to make
them suitable for installation. The Bone Angstrom
distribution downloads as Bone-eMMC-flasher-
2013.09.04.img.xz. We can use Linux or Windows to
perform the image conversion required to load the Bone.
Let’s use Linux this time around.
We can convert the downloaded image using the
Ubuntu Archive Manager. Linux prompts me by asking if I
want to use Archive Manager, and I agree. This kicks off
the process captured in Screenshot 1. As you can see in
Screenshot 2, the result is a 373.9 MB Flashable image
The Bone is equipped with a microSD interface that is
primarily intended for loading Flashable Linux images.
With a little bit of extra work, the microSD card can also
be used to store data. We’ll get to that after we do what
we’ve set out to do here.
Our newly converted image must be moved from our
Linux-based PC to a microSD card. Right now — as
Screenshot 3 depicts — the Bone-eMMC-flasher-
2013.09.04.img file resides on the Linux PC. It is possible
to move the file to a microSD card using Linux, but it is a
much simpler process to use a couple of Windows
applications. Recall that the Linux machine speaks fluently
with Windows on the EDTP LAN, so I used LAN resources
to copy the Bone-eMMC-flasher-2013.09.04.img file over to
my Windows laptop.
Before we can move the Angstrom image to the
microSD card, we must be sure that the card is properly
formatted. Some of the best computing things in life are
free, as is the SDFormatter application featured in
Screenshot 4. I unleashed SDFormatter on a 4 GB
microSD card. I started with the size value shown in the
left window and ended up with the size value you see in
the right window.
Once the microSD card has been properly formatted,
we can place the Bone Angstrom image on the microSD
■ Screenshot 1. Linux is "family oriented," no
matter the size of the installation or the complexity
of the hardware.
■ Screenshot 2. This looks familiar, does it not? It looks
like Windows but smells like Ubuntu.
■ Screenshot 3. Believe it or not, this is the Linux
directory view. As time moved on, I found myself
becoming very comfortable with Ubuntu and Linux to the
point of performing some tasks with the Linux machine
that I normally do with my Windows laptop.
■ Screenshot 4. Moving from left to right, you can
see that the SDFormatter Windows application got
everything it could out of the 4 GB microSD card.
■ Screenshot 5. This tool is specifically designed
to read and write raw disk images.