How to Extract a Device Tree File from Android Firmware Files

Up to now, all our cheap Android devices were based on older Linux kernel (3.0.x, 3.4.x) that still used board files (arch/arm/board, but we’ve recently seen companies like Amlogic and Rockchip release source code with Linux kernel 3.10.x. One of the key differences between these version are the move from board files to flattened device tree and multi-platform support. If it is fully implemented, a single kernel image should be able to boot multiple hardware platforms, and all low level configuration handled by the device tree file. Since I’ve connected the serial port of Tronsmart Vega S89 for debugging, and it’s a slow news day, I thought I might try to boot the Linux kernel I compiled myself, but one of the challenge was to get the device tree file. I’ll show how to extract it from the firmware. It should also be possible to get it directly from the flash, but “cat /proc/mtd” does not show a complete list …

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How to Open Tronsmart Vega S89 (Elite) and Access the Serial Console

Tronsmart Vega S89 (Elite) is an Android TV based on Amlogic S802 quad core ARM Cortex A9 processor @ 2GHz, and is one of the fastest Chinese ARM box on the device, at least until Rockchip RK3288 and AllWinner A80 devices come to market. In my unboxing post, I mentioned the UART pins were available, and sometimes in March Amlogic released U-boot and Linux source code for M802/S808, so it’s likely some developers will play around, and eventually run Linux (Ubuntu, Debian, …) on the platform. So today, I’ve done some preliminary work by connecting a USB to serial debug board to my device. The steps to follow are straightforward, and should work on Beelink M8/S82, Jesurun S82, MBOX-S82, IdeaStar S82, etc… which are basically the same box with different names. Before accessing the serial port, we’ll need to open the box. Start by removing the 3 sticky pads at the bottom of the device with a flat-head screwdriver, and …

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Review of M8 Android Kitkat TV Box Powered by Amlogic S802 SoC

A few days ago, I wrote an Unboxing and Specs post about the M8, an Android TV Box powered by Amlogic S802 quad core Cortex A9 processor. The review took a little as I was waiting for a new firmware. I’ve now upgraded this S802 Box, and been able to complete a review. As usual , I’ll start by giving my first impressions, have a look at the user interface and settings, test different king of video files, evaluate Wi-Fi performance, and try to cover most hardware features including Bluetooth, external storage, USB webcam, and so on. The overall user’s experience, is very similar to Tronsmart Vega S89, but there are some notable differences I’ll go through during the review. First Boot, Settings and First Impressions Shenzhen Tomato sent me a sample unit which they call TM8 (Tomato M8?), but I’ll just refer to the device as M8 in the review. The device comes with a simple IR remote comes, …

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How to Upgrade Firmware in Amlogic S802 Devices

Shenzhen Tomato has finally sent me an updated firmware (password: 17r0) for M8 / TM8 Android TV box powered by Amlogic S802. This firmware is rooted, and adds support for Google Apps (Play Store, Gmail and so on), among others things. So it’s a good time to try out and write about the firmware update instructions which are very similar to AML8726-MX firmware instructions. Bear in mind that firmware is usually specific to a given hardware platform, and if you try it on another non-compatible S802 TV box, you may brick your device. Standard “OTA” Method Any Windows, Mac OS, Linux computer or even your own Android device should be able to handle is as you just need to download, extract and copy files to an SD card. I’ve done the procedure from a computer running Ubuntu 13.04: Download the firmware (e.g. TM8 ap6330_03102014A_0410_ROOT.rar), and extract it Copy the files (factory_update_param.aml, k200-ota-20140410.zip, and recovery.img) to the root of an SD …

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How to Root Amlogic S802 Android TV Boxes

I’ve received a Tronsmart Vega S89 Elite, and after publishing some pictures, I’m now testing the device. The firmware does not come rooted however, which can be a problem for screenshots, bluetooth gamepads, and a few other apps requiring root access. Geekbuying has published a guide to root the Vega S89, which should also work with other Amlogic S802 Android TV boxes, and devices. The instructions below require a PC or Virtual Machine running Windows XP/7/8. We need to make sure sure USB debugging is enabled in your Android device, and the developer options were not enabled in my firmware (with a Windows Metro like UI), so here are the first steps to follows: Go to Settings->Other->More Settings to access the default Android settings Go to “About Media” and click 7 times on “Build number” to enable the “Developer Options” Go to the “Developer Options” and make sure “USB Debugging” is ticked as shown below. Once this is done you …

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M8 Android TV Box Powered by AMLogic S802 (Unboxing)

Shenzhen Tomato Technology has send me a sample of their M8 Android TV Box based on the latest quad core AMLogic S802 processor which is said to run Android 4.4 Kitkat. In this post I’ll go through the specs, and show some pictures of the device, and internals. Later, I’ll write a full review with XBMC 13, which I’ve been told is pre-installed. I’ll also receive Tronsmart Vega S89 next week for unboxing and review. M8 Specifications M8 has more or less the same specs as other S802 Android TV boxes: SoC – AMLogic S802 quad core Cortex A9r4 processor @ 2GHz with Mali‐450MP6 GPU System Memory – 2GB DDR3 Storage – 8GB NAND flash + SD card slot Connectivity – 10/100M Ethernet, dual band Wi‐Fi (2.4GHz/5GHz), Bluetooth Video Output – HDMI 1.4b, AV. HDMI supports 1080p, 4K2K 30fps Audio Output – HDMI, AV, and optical S/PDIF Video Codecs and Containers – MPEG1/2/4, H.264, AVC, VC‐1, RM/RMVB, Xvid, DivX3/4/5/6, RealVideo8/9/10… …

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Amlogic GPL Source Code Release – Kernel 3.10, U-Boot, and Drivers (Wi-Fi, NAND, TVIN, Mali GPU)

Last month, I noticed Amlogic provided links to the Android SDK for S802 / M802 on their open source website, but the only way to get the source was to share your SSH public with Amlogic, so that they give you access. It did not happen, but the company has released the source for Linux 3.10.10, U-boot 2011.03, Realtek and Broadcom Wi-Fi drivers, NAND drivers, “TVIN”drivers, and kernel space GPU drivers for Mali-400 / 450 GPU. There are also some customer board files for Meson 6 only (AML8726-MX / M6) but they do not seem to match the kernel… If you want to build the kernel, including the drivers, you’ll need to download a bunch of files: wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/kernel/arm-src-kernel-2014-03-06-d5d0557b2b.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/rtk8192du-2014-03-06-7f70d95d29.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/rtk8192eu-2014-03-06-9766866350.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/rtk8192cu-2014-03-06-54bde7d73d.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/rtk8188eu-2014-03-06-2462231f02.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/brcmap6xxx-2014-03-06-302aca1a31.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/wifi/wifi-fw-2014-03-06-d3b2263640.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/modules/aml_tvin-2014-03-06-fb3ba6b1c8.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/modules/aml_nand-2014-03-06-39095c4296.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/customer/aml_customer-2014-03-06-76ce689191.tar.gz wget http://openlinux.amlogic.com:8000/download/ARM/gpu/gpu-2014-03-06-0425a1f681.tar.gz You’ll need to extract these tarballs in specific directories: You can also extract the customer file into the kernel directory to …

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AMLogic S802 TV Boxes Board Pictures

AMLogic S802 Android TV Boxes are currently available for pre-order, and are expected to ship by the end of the month. Last time I wrote Tronsmort Vega S89 and Eny ES8 featuring the latest quad core SoC from AMLogic. Geekbuying currently has test samples for both Vega S89 and M8 (similar to ES8), has open them, and taken some pictures of the boards. The good news, if you want to tinker, is that both of them appear to give relatively access to the UART port. Tronsmart Vega S89 Board There are two models: Vega S89 and Vega S89 Elite. The former is the high-end version with dual band Wi-Fi (2.4/5.0GHz) and 16 GB flash, and the latter only supports 2.4 GHz Wi-Fi and comes with 8GB flash. Price: $120 and $105. The serial port appears to be on the left side of the board (TBC), just above the two USB ports. You’d need to solder small cables to add a …

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