We’ve already seen how it was possible to boot Linux or Android on Rockchip RK3288 devices from an SD card, which involved getting the stock firmware and running some scripts in Linux. Today, Freaktab member no_spam_for_me found out how to create a bootable SD card for Tronsmart Draco AW80 Meta, and other Allwinner A80 devices using PhoenixCard 3.09 tools for Windows (The latest version should be available @ http://dl.cubieboard.org/model/cc-a80/Tools/Flash-firmware-tools/).
There may also be a way to use LiveSuit tools for Linux, but this have not been tested.
Once you have installed the tools, start it, and load the firmware by clicking on “Img File” button (Here Draco AW80 Finless 1.1 firmware was used). Then press DiskCheck to scan for storage devices, and select your SD card in the drop-down menu “disk” (not sure why it’s blank in the screenshot above), select “Startup !” write mode, and click on the “Burn” button.
Once it’s done, just insert the SD card into your Allwinner A80 device, power it your device and it should boot from SD card. The first boot is quite slow, allegedly because the system converts the FAT32 file system to EXT-3, but subsequent boots are relatively fast (one minute or so) depending on the SD card.
The screenshot above have been taken in Draco AW80 Meta (with 16GB eMMC) booted from a 32GB SD card. So booting from SD card is nice to get more storage, and trying out firmware before flashing a new one as it does not affect your current installation. Just make sure you use a fast SD card (Class 10 or greater) or the system may feel very slow.
This method should also work for other Allwinner processors (A31, A20, etc…). It looks like it might only work for Android firmware, and not Linux based distributions like Ubuntu/Lubuntu (TBC).
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.