How can i install Debian on Colibri VF61?

I am wondering if i could install another operative system (debian) different than armstrong or windows in my Colibri VF61. I know how to install n a PC, but i think it´s a little bit different in this case.

Thank you

Also important to note - the Debian rootfs may not play well with the specific version & configuration of the Toradex Vybrid kernel. In some cases reconfiguration and/or patching of the kernel may be required for some package/utility compatibility.

One can unpack a Toradex Image and replace the content of the rootfs folder with the Debian rootfs and then use the update procedure as described here to deploy U-Boot, kernel and rootfs onto the SD Card for either flashing purposes or booting from SD card.

In case of deploying rootfs to internal NAND flash, /etc/issue in the rootfs would have to be replaced on below lines

Debian GNU/Linux 7 \n \l


for update scripts to work while preparing the SD card.

In case of booting from SD card, with SD card prepared with our format_sd script as

./ -f -d /dev/mmcblk0

the rootfs partition on SD card can be replaced with debian rootfs after formatting.

Also note that depending upon the particular rootfs distribution in question, one might not get a serial debug console.

For Vybrid, you also need to extend /etc/securetty to also support Vybrids LP UART driver. Just add ttyLP0/ttyLP1/ttyLP2 to the end of the file.

The ARM world is very diverse, and there is no such thing as a standardized installer… Also, Colibri VF61 uses RAW NAND flash, which is quite different from storage typically used in the PC world (the storage is not just a block device, its an MTD device…). The recommendation using our image and installation scripts we use for our standard image and just replace the rootfs subfolder with a Debian rootfs is known to work (see Sanchayans answer below).

Thank you!!
You solved my problem

Hi. I’m curious. Were you able to then use the debian package manager to upgrade applications?

Of course, why should that not be possible?

Note however that the U-Boot boot loader as well as the Linux kernel won’t be upgradeable like that as they are hardware specific and not provided as part of Debian’s package management.

No reason. In fact this is great. Think I’m going to give it a shot.

We succesfully install a Debian 8.6 on a colibri vf61… the only “problem” that we have is the initial size of ubifs.img. We can only flash the nand if the image is about 237M. If we try to flash a bigger image (266M) the installer hangs on:

Colibri VFxx # run setupdate
reading flash_blk.img
654 bytes read in 11 ms (57.6 KiB/s)
## Executing script at 80008000
reading colibri_vf/flash_blk.img
1761 bytes read in 15 ms (114.3 KiB/s)
## Executing script at 80008000
enter "run update" to update the entire module
Colibri VFxx # run update
reading colibri_vf/u-boot-nand.imx
453400 bytes read in 48 ms (9 MiB/s)

NAND erase.part: device 0 offset 0x20000, size 0x160000
Erasing at 0x160000 -- 100% complete.

NAND erase.part: device 0 offset 0x180000, size 0x80000
Erasing at 0x1e0000 -- 100% complete.

NAND write: device 0 offset 0x20000, size 0x160000
 1441792 bytes written: OK
reading colibri_vf/ubifs.img

If the size is reduced to 237M all goes well. When the install completes and boots Debian we can see about 50% of disk usage. So for the installer to work we need to uninstall a lot of packages from the rootfs to generate ubifs.img and after the first boot reinstall it.

How can we increase this limit to flash 400 or 500M?


This has to do with our regular update script for raw NAND based modules having to first load the complete UBIFS image into RAM for subsequent flashing. Unfortunately splitting is not easily possible and directly flashing would only be supported by e.g. DFU. Alternatively one could boot into a minimal e.g. initrd based Linux and directly flash from there like e.g. our upcoming Toradex easy installer will do.

its ok… thank you very much

Hi guys! @marcel.tx @zausan @stefan.tx @brandon.tx I have the same need to install a Debian OS in Colibri VF61 with 256MB NAND. I generated several rootfs folders but all of them have more than 800MB. How could one create a minimal Debian rootfs with less than 230 MB to fit on VF61 NAND?

Thank you very much!
Best regards


We do not have experience in creating a small size debian rootfs. So you will have to experiment with whatever tools debian provides.


Ok! Thank you @max.tx ! I’ll try more times to install what I need in Angstrom to do not need to move to Debian
Best regards