Armbian Builds Currently Broken

I received two ROCK Pi N10s this week, and despite my best efforts, I have been unable to boot any Armbian images, whether built by myself, or downloaded.

The board never displays anything on HDMI.

I’ve tried installing to eMMC, and SD card, and have had no success with either.

The one thing that I noticed that seems a little suspect is that the Armbian images have no FAT partition, only an EXT4 partition. I’m not sure if that’s expected, or the result of some other issue.

Expected. Only Raspberry Pi requires FAT boot partition to boot.

This board has “community support” status, which means someone, long time ago, sent a build config and perhaps someday it was working. Community creations are not tested nor are in official R&D / maintain loop. Since maintaining is not possible to cover in endless capacity without someone covering the time lost on that, things remain … broken. Amateur Linux distributors never goes this far. If things works in mainline OOB, they “support” that hardware, else not. In tl;dr; form.

Since N10 was never maintained by Armbian team it is not surprising that it doesn’t work without additional investment into R&D. Perhaps its a small problem?

In general - a lot of effort and time is needed to keep hardware functional, stable and up to date. If you cover developers time, things can change, if not, wait that someone else decides to cover or sponsor.

First off, I understand that the board only has “community support”. However, Radxa does link to Armbian image from the Wiki, right next to the official images, and the images are hosted on Radxa’s github, implying that they’re at least partially “supported” by Radxa.

Now, in regards to the images not working. I was unable to find any images that were functional out of the box. I tried the oldest image I could find on Radxa’s github, and had the same issues there, so it looks like it’s been at least partially broken for a while.

I did however have some potentially helpful observations. First of all, when booting the Armbian images, nothing is printed to the debug serial port. From this observation, I believe it’s likely that the first stage bootloader for the Armbian images is at fault. It’s possible that the second stage has issues as well.

I was able to boot into Armbian by writing the Armbian image to the flash, and then building a buildroot image and writing that to the SD card. It seems like by doing so, I can get the board to use the bootloader from the buildroot installation to launch the kernel on the eMMC. Not entirely sure what’s going on here, but that’s the only way I’ve been able to get any signs of life out of any of the Armbian images. I’ve tried manually flashing u-boot to the board after writing the Armbian images, and while this is enough to get the board to at least print out some info on the serial port while booting, it never successfully makes it past the kernel into the init process, even with my best attempts. I’ll admit to not being an expert at this yet, but it feels like it’s probably best to pick one of the other Radxa boards with more community support so I won’t have to spend so much time getting things off the ground.

It feels like the Rock 5 has a lot of momentum, hopefully it won’t be too much longer before they’re ready for production.

That is on Radxa to remove / adjust.

I can assure that nobody from Armbian team didn’t know about having links as we have nobody working on this hardware and thus we have no idea about the status. Most me2 distributions are happy they got listed or at least ignorant, so nobody really care about. Sadly this is a common practice vendors have. I have been asking to remove links from vendors sites in several occasions. Some responded with respects, some are ignoring.

Sadly we need more then that to move somewhere. We have our own community full of helpful ideas, hints and observations. What we don’t have is man power to implement them. Ratio is extreme and absurd. We can’t hire as you expect everything for free …

If you care to implement fixes, start here:

If you can do something useful for community on a long term: