Building Kubos Linux for the Beaglebone Black


This supplementary document covers specific features and components of Kubos Linux for the Beaglebone Black.

The Kubos Linux Overview doc covers the major components of Kubos Linux.

Additionally, this document covers the steps required in order to build Kubos Linux.

Reference Documents

Kubos Documentation

Software Components

ROM Bootloader

The ROM bootloader lives in a small section of ROM space. It should come pre-loaded on the board and should not need to be modified. It selects the next bootloader depending on whether the boot mode button is being held. If not held, it attempts to run the next boot step from eMMC storage; otherwise, it attempts to boot from the microSD card.


This board utilizes U-Boot’s SPL feature. A small boot file called “MLO” is run and that file then loads the main U-Boot image into SDRAM.

The main U-Boot image iterates through the boot_targets variable to attempt to boot from an available MMC device. The partuuid of the first successful device is passed off to Linux to be used to mount the root filesystem.

By default, the microSD card slot will be checked first, followed by the eMMC. This behavior can be changed by setting the boot_dev value to 1 to indicate that the eMMC should be tried first.

Kubos Linux Build Process

If for some reason you want or need to modify and rebuild the Kubos Linux components, follow the steps in this section.


Kubos Linux should be built from within an instance of the Kubos SDK or some other native Linux environment.

Build the OS Files


The OS files cannot be built using a synced folder in a Vagrant box (or regular VM). VirtualBox does not support hard links in shared folders, which are crucial in order to complete the build.

SSH into a Kubos SDK box

In order to build Kubos Linux, two components are needed:

These components should be setup as children of the same parent directory. There are several commands and variables in the build process which use relative file paths to navigate between the components.

After the environment has been set up, all build commands will be run from the BuildRoot directory unless otherwise stated.

To set up a build environment and build Kubos Linux:

Create a new parent folder to contain the build environment

$ mkdir kubos-linux

Enter the new folder

$ cd kubos-linux

Download BuildRoot-2019.02.2 (more current versions of BuildRoot may work as well, but all testing has been done against 2019.02.2)


All Kubos documentation will refer to v2019.02.2, which is the latest version of the LTS release at the time of this writing.

$ wget && tar xvzf buildroot-2019.02.2.tar.gz && rm buildroot-2019.02.2.tar.gz

Pull the kubos-linux-build repo

$ git clone

Move into the buildroot directory

$ cd buildroot-2019.02.2

Point BuildRoot to the external kubos-linux-build folder and tell it to build for the Beaglebone Black.


You will need to build with sudo if you are using the default configuration, since it points the output toolchain to “/usr/bin/bbb_toolchain”, which is a protected directory.

$ sudo make BR2_EXTERNAL=../kubos-linux-build beaglebone-black_defconfig

Build everything

$ sudo make

The full build process will take a while. Running on a Linux VM, it takes about an hour. Running in native Linux, it took about ten minutes. Once this build process has completed once, you can run other BuildRoot commands to rebuild only certain sections and it will go much more quickly (<5 min).

BuildRoot documentation can be found **here**

The generated files will be located in buildroot-2019.02.2/output/images. The relevant files are:

  • uboot.bin - The U-Boot binary
  • kernel - The compressed Linux kernel file
  • beaglebone-black.dtb - The Device Tree Binary that Linux uses to configure itself for the Beaglebone Black board
  • rootfs.tar - The root file system. Contains BusyBox and other libraries
  • kubos-linux.tar.gz - A compressed file containing the complete Kubos Linux SD card image, kubos-linux.img. It has a disk signature of 0x4B4C4E58 (“KLNX”).
  • aux-sd.tar.gz - A compressed file containing the auxilliary SD card image which contains the upgrade partition and the kpack-base.itb file which is used for OS recovery. It has a disk signature of 0x41555820 (“AUX “).

The kubos-linux.tar.gz and aux-sd.tar.gz files are the two final files which will be used to install Kubos Linux onto your target board.

Changing the Output Toolchain Directory (optional)

If you would like to build your toolchain in somewhere other than the “/usr/bin/bbb_toolchain” directory, update the BR2_HOST_DIR variable in the “configs/bbb_defconfig” file.

If you would like BuildRoot to just build the toolchain locally, you may remove the BR2_HOST_DIR variable entirely. The toolchain will then be built under the main “buildroot-2019.02.2” directory in a new “output/host” folder.

Using Kubos Linux

For information on how to create and run applications on your new Kubos Linux system, see the Working with the Beaglebone Black guide.

Configuring Kubos Linux

For information on how to customize your build of Kubos Linux, see the Configuring Kubos Linux guide.

This guide covers things like including custom packages, enabling hardware services, and selecting a non-default version of the KubOS source.