Rockchip provides 2 tools to update the flash:
- RkBatchTool – Used to upgrade firmware with a single file
- RkAndroidTool – Used to flash the NAND flash with image corresponding to particular partition, e.g. system.img. kernel.img, boot.img. recovery.img. etc…
One problem is that the company only provides these tools for Windows, so if you’re using a Linux based operating systems, you’d have to run a Windows XP or 7 virtual machine in VirtualBox or VMWare, which is an inconvenience, and requires a license in theory. To work around this issue, I’ve tried to use ReactOS, an open source operating systems compatible with Windows XP, but although the USB drivers appeared to install properly, RKAndroidTool failed to recognized my device (MK908). But a member of Mini PCs community informed me about a tool called RkFlashKit, written in Python and using GTK, that can flash firmware to Rockchip RK3066 and RK3188 devices in Linux, so I’ve given it a try.
In order to install RkFlashKit in Debian or Ubuntu, you need to get the source code, build it, and install the package:
git clone https://github.com/linuxerwang/rkflashkit
sudo apt-get install python-gtk2
sudo dpkg -i rkflashkit_0.1.1_all.deb
In Ubuntu, you can just go to the dash to find rkflashkit, and run it (You’ll need to be sudo).
The tool is similar to RkAndroidTool as it can burn partition images to specific partitions. You’ll need to enter recovery mode just like you would do in Windows, by pressing the recovery button, before powering the device via the USB port, and connect the USB cable to your PC. RkFlashKit should automatically find your device, so you just have to select the correct NAND partition, select the image file to flash, and click on Flash image.
This is very easy to use thanks to the user interface. However, it currently lacks support for the parameter file, as well as Rockchip Loader, which means it will not work if those two files are changes, and you may brick your device if the partition table has changed for example. It’s normally possible to recover with RKAndroidTool if your device is bricked, so you may still want to have a Windows device or Virtual Machine ready in case something does wrong.
Another problem is that firmware updates are often distributed using RKBatchTool file format, which can not be directly handled by RkFlashKit. Luckily, there are some other tools available to extract the partitions file from such firmware. I used one of the latest MK908 firmware (update_mk908_106j2107_04.img) to try it out.
You’ll first need to build rk-tools:
git clone https://github.com/rk3066/rk-tools.git
sudo apt-get install libssl-dev libcrypto++-dev
./img_unpack update_mk908_106j2107_04.img update_mk908_106j2107_04_unpack.img
rom header code: 1060000
rom version: 4.1.1
build time: 2013-09-07 10:39:22
Finally, run afptool to extract the files from the resulting file into “firmware” directory:
./afptool -unpack update_mk908_106j2107_04_unpack.img firmware
------- UNPACK -------
package-file 0x00000800 0x00000242
RK3188Loader(L)_V1.20.bin 0x00001000 0x0002F8AE
parameter 0x00031000 0x00000264
Image/misc.img 0x00031800 0x0000C000
Image/boot.img 0x0003D800 0x00A2C000
Image/recovery.img 0x00A69800 0x00BFC000
Image/system.img 0x01665800 0x1A630000
backupimage/backup.img 0x1BC95800 0x01665004
update-script 0x1D2FB000 0x000003A5
recover-script 0x1D2FB800 0x0000010A
Now that we’ve got our partition files, simply use RkFlashKit as mentioned above.
Since the steps above may fail, I’ll just quickly mention a method that should unbrick the device in Windows with RKAndroidTool.
- Download RKAndroidTool, and extract the file. Installing 7-Zip may be required to uncompress the file.
- Installed the USB drivers for Windows
- Run RKAndroidTool.exe in RkAndroidToolv1.37 directory
- Connect you device USB OTG port to your PC USB port, and enter recovery mode.
- Load all the available files, and make sure they are ticked on the left
- Click on “Erase IDB”, then “Run” to complete the recovery
Jean-Luc started CNX Software in 2010 as a part-time endeavor, before quitting his job as a software engineering manager, and starting to write daily news, and reviews full time later in 2011.
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