Note: there’s now a semi-automated script to install Debian to the eMMC of the Beaglebone Black.
You need AT LEAST a 4 GB micro SD card to do this!
This procedure assumes you’re on a Linux laptop. Although we will copy the image to eMMC, we do it from a micro SD card.
On laptop PC, download the Debian Beaglebone Black (BBB) image.
For an old 2 GB Beaglebone, use the
lsblk, note which drives are listed, then insert the SD card into your laptop and type
lsblk again–the new item is your SD card. We assume
Extract image to SD card:
xz -cd BBB-*.img.xz > /dev/mmcblk0
Extraction takes about 5 to 20 minutes at ~ 5 MB/sec, writing uncompressed ~ 2 GB to the SD card.
[optional] monitor data writing to SD card with
Ensure writing has completed with
Insert micro SD card into the (non-powered) BBB and then apply
Beaglebone four onboard LEDs flash back and forth in a “cylon”
or “knight rider” pattern. During this time, the micro SD card program
is flashing the onboard eMMC automatically for you. If you have an FTDI
to USB adapter that fits onto J1, you can watch this process via the
The automatic flashing to eMMC process should complete in about 10-20
When it’s done, for Debian Wheezy (7.x) the BBB shuts itself down (no
LEDs on). For Debian Jessie (8.x) the BBB 4 LEDs are all on constantly
(instead of the cylon pattern).
Once the BBB has shut down, REMOVE the micro SD card from the BBB. Reset the power or push the onboard POWER button next to the Ethernet jack.
Boot from eMMC
There is an SSH server running by default available through the mini-USB port.
Find the IP address of the BBB on your LAN (plug the BBB into your Ethernet). Assuming local network IP addresses 192.168.1.xxx, from your laptop:
nmap -p 22 192.168.1.* --open
This command lists SSH servers on your network, so do it once with the BBB unplugged from the network, then again with the BBB plugged in. If you don’t have nmap available on your PC, you can use my findssh program that uses plain Python to find SSH or other servers.
Assuming BBB is at 192.168.0.5, from your laptop:
Now you’re running with the latest kernel off the eMMC. When I type
I see I have 89% free eMMC space, using the 3.8.13-bone70 kernel as determined by
If you have timezone or locales issues, on your Beaglebone Terminal:
dpkg-reconfigure tzdata apt install locales dpkg-reconfigure locales