I am following the book "Mastering Embedded Linux Programming - Second Edition" trying to boot up the Linux kernel mounting a ramdisk.

I have U-boot 2020.01 working and the Linux kernel image made. I have made a file system on my computer where I have added busybox and the libraries required by it manually as so files. Here is summarized copy of tree in my filesystem.

├── bin
│   ├── arch -> busybox
│   ├── busybox
│   ├── cat -> busybox
├── dev
├── etc
├── home
├── lib
│   ├── ld-2.30.so
│   ├── ld-linux-armhf.so.3 -> ld-2.30.so
│   ├── libc-2.30.so
│   ├── libc.so.6 -> libc-2.30.so
│   ├── libm-2.30.so
│   ├── libm.so.6 -> libm-2.30.so
│   ├── libresolv-2.30.so
│   └── libresolv.so.2 -> libresolv-2.30.so
├── linuxrc -> bin/busybox
├── proc
├── sbin
│   ├── acpid -> ../bin/busybox
├── sys
├── tmp
├── usr
│   ├── bin
│   │   ├── [ -> ../../bin/busybox
│   ├── lib
│   └── sbin
│       ├── addgroup -> ../../bin/busybox
└── var
    └── log

I have created my ramdisk image following the snippet:

cd ~/rootfs
find . | cpio -H newc -ov --owner root:root > ../initramfs.cpio
cd ..
gzip initramfs.cpio
mkimage -A arm -O linux -T ramdisk -d initramfs.cpio.gz uRamdisk

I have placed all the needed files in the SD card and in u-boot in the Beaglebone black tried to boot as:

fatload mmc 0:1 0x80200000 zImage
fatload mmc 0:1 0x80f00000 am335x-boneblack.dtb
fatload mmc 0:1 0x81000000 uRamdisk
setenv bootargs console=ttyO0,115200 rdinit=/bin/sh
bootz 0x80200000 0x81000000 0x80f00000

The problem is after the bootz it complains about my ramdisk image being wrong.

=> fatload mmc 0:1 0x80200000 zImage
7109016 bytes read in 464 ms (14.6 MiB/s)
=> fatload mmc 0:1 0x80f00000 am335x-boneblack.dtb
34220 bytes read in 5 ms (6.5 MiB/s)
=> fatload mmc 0:1 0x81000000 uRamdisk
2828897 bytes read in 185 ms (14.6 MiB/s)
=> setenv bootargs console=ttyO0,115200 rdinit=/bin/sh
=> bootz 0x80200000 0x81000000 0x80f00000
Wrong Ramdisk Image Format
Ramdisk image is corrupt or invalid

As I am starting with Linux on embedded devices I am completely out of ideas on how to solve the issue. I have found the reason is that the filesystem image has been created wrong. I have tried to use mkimage with -c none to no avail. I have tried using the mkimage inside my u-boot copy instead of the one that you can install in Ubuntu (with sudo apt-get install u-boot-tools).

Before mkimage is called initramfs.cpio.gz looks as as follow:

Ramdisk compressed file before mkimage is used

Am I missing some folders/files in my filesystem? Is it a problem my computer has ext4 but the boot partition uses fat32? Do I need to use a different mkimage toolset? What could be the problem?

2 Answers 2


Simple answer

You need to enable CONFIG_LEGACY_IMAGE_FORMAT in U-Boot:

  1. Go to the u-boot source directory.
  2. Type: $ make menuconfig
  3. In Boot images -> Enable support for the legacy image format
  4. Exit and save, then build U-Boot again

Now it will be able to load your uRamdisk :-)

Longer answer

The book was written using U-Boot v2017.01 and configuration am335x_boneblack_defconfig. U-Boot version v2020.01 does not have that configuration file. Instead it has am335x_boneblack_vboot_defconfig, which works fine except that it does not enable support for the mkimage format.

Speaking as the author of the book, I can only say that it is hard to write detailed instructions that will work for all future versions of software. But I do try.

  • 1
    Thank you for the answer and thank you for the book - it helps a lot as an introduction. Regarding the question I managed to get it to work at the end by updating uBoot and using a newer defconfig. There was a version of U-boot or the kernel I could not use as in the book as one of the sources was missing and could not download the libraries to compile so I had to update. Later I had some problems starting the kernel and I solved it by updating to a newer version of the kernel. So in my little experience if something doesn't work I try to get a newer version and hopefully it is fixed :)
    – Carlos
    Commented Jul 21, 2020 at 14:16

I used mkimage -A arm64 -T ramdisk -d busybox-1.32.1/initramfs.cpio.gz initrd.img to make ramdisk.

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