I'm trying to get a flashing station up and running on a Raspberry Pi using Raspbian Jessie (latest stable release, Kernel Version 4.4).

However, I want to make use of the four USB ports, and to do so, I'll be using Ethernet over USB (since u-boot uses Ethernet to check the tftp server).

Pre-requisites and configuration

Here is the things I installed on the Raspberry Pi :

  • isc-dhcp-server
  • xinetd

I configured several files :


log-facility local7;
ddns-update-style none;
default-lease-time 600;
max-lease-time 7200;

subnet netmask
  range dynamic-bootp;
  if substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 10) = "AM335x ROM"
    filename "u-boot-spl-restore.bin";
  elsif substring (option vendor-class-identifier, 0, 17) = "AM335x U-Boot SPL"
    filename "u-boot-restore.img";
    filename "zImage";


The four first lines being there by default.


service tftp
  socket_type = dgram
  protocol = udp
  wait = yes
  user = root
  server = /usr/sbin/in.tftpd
  server_args = -s /tftpboot
  disable = no

This file didn't exist, so I had to create it. It's included like other services by /etc/xinetd.conf.


Created this folder, executed these commands on it :

  • sudo cp /path/to/boot/files/* /tftpboot/
  • sudo chmod -R 777 /tftpboot/
  • sudo chown -R nobody:nogroup /tftpboot


Added usb0 to the list of interfaces :



Created an interface for usb0 :

allow-hotplug usb0
iface usb0 inet static
    up /etc/network/if-up.d/usb-interfaces


Created the following script, referenced by /etc/network/interfaces :


if [ "$IFACE" = usb0 ]; then
    sudo service isc-dhcp-server restart

Restart all the services!

sudo /etc/init.d/tftp-hpa restart
sudo /etc/init.d/xinetd restart

Tests and results

Let's call the Raspberry Pi the host and the linux I want to flash the target.

So, for this, I had all the logs on the host, and had a serial console on the target (which means that I can access the boot logs from the kernel).

What happens basically :

  • From the target's PoV : nothing in particular displays on the serial log. It just blocks for a bit then boots, normally.
  • From the host's PoV : here is the complete log. It stops after the usb0 interface disappears, when the Linux system starts booting. As you can see, there is a BOOTREQUEST followed immediately by a BOOTREPLY. At this point, the target knows the name of the file it must get from the tftp server (specified in the /etc/dhcp/dhcpd.conf file), so a tftp request should follow... But nothing happens.

I've tested the tftp server running on the Raspberry Pi both from the target and from my computer, and in both cases, I can get the files correctly. I also tried with different files, and was able to confirm that the files used (inside of my /tftpboot/ folder) are correct and functional.

What I thought about and tested :

  • The power supplied by the Raspberry Pi's USB ports isn't enough. Tested through a USB 2.0 independently-powered hub, results were exactly the same.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  • Please provide a complete log from the target console as well, thanks!
    – Tom Rini
    Feb 13 '17 at 13:38
  • @TomRini, Here is the log. As you can see, it boots from the NAND, doesn't do anything with TFTP.
    – Nepho
    Feb 13 '17 at 14:33
  • yes, with the log it's clear that it's not even trying network, and I assume that this means you didn't change anything in the U-Boot environment in order to have it try and use network? I don't see anything in the above post indicating as such and there's lots of general information on how to network boot in U-Boot elsewhere.
    – Tom Rini
    Feb 13 '17 at 22:39
  • @TomRini, the U-boot from the target is correctly configured to try a network boot when possible. We actually got it to work by changing exactly the same files and using the same applications on a Ubuntu 12. But this issue is still open since we'd really like to get it to run on the rasp pi.
    – Nepho
    Feb 14 '17 at 7:19
  • your U-Boot log is showing that it's not trying to do any sort of network commands at all. You're implying via the dhcp fragment that both SPL and U-Boot self are loading via network and your host log shows that only. In fact, what is confusing here now is that 'usb0' (per your syslog) is not a USB-Ethernet adapter, but the am335x bringing up a USB Gadget interface as ethernet to your RPi.
    – Tom Rini
    Feb 14 '17 at 15:05

Turns out that the issue was that there were several TFTP servers running on my system, and I wasn't configuring the correct one.

To anyone with this issue, I suggest running a command similar to ps ax | grep tftp. It will often also tell you which directory is used as the root for the TFTP server.

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