How to install Lubuntu Server on Cubietruck from Mac OS X

This is how to install and set-up the latest Lubuntu software pack on to the NAND Flash on the Cubietruck  from a Mac OS X computer.



The Cubietruck is a 5V 2A single-board computer “SBC” / PC on Board “PCB” – much like the Raspberry Pi that has taken the World with a craze – but the Cubietruck is just faster, better and stronger..  In realty Cubietruck is more like a real Mini PC.

The Cubietruck is based on the dual core Cortex-A7 (912MHz each) ARM  Allwinner  CPU with 2 GB Ram. Cubietruck has 8 GB onboard bootable NAND flash memory and it is expandable with a micro sdcard up to 32GB. You can connect a monitor/TV via the VGA or HDMI interface. The Cubietruck comes equipped with both Wifi and Bluetooth, Gigabit Ethernet, 2 USB 2.0, 1 Micro USB, OTG, SPDIF, IR, and Headphone. You can easily add a and fit a 2.5 inch Hard Disk Drive to the Cubietruck out the box. Power:DC5V @ 2.5A with HDD and support Li-battery & Real Time Clock “RTC”.

The Cubitruck was released for sale on the 31th. of October 2013 from

Supported Operative Systems  “OS”:

  • Android
  • Fedora
  • Lubuntu
  • Lbuntu Server

BTW: I look forward to an Arch Linux distro for Cubietruck ( you can check here: )!

The Cubietruck comes with Android preinstalled on the NAND – and it works out the box. Cubietruck looks after a bootable OS on the Micro SDcard before it boots from the NAND flash memory.

There are 3 different ways to install and run Lubuntu on the Cubietruck:

  1. NAND flash
  2. Micro SD card
  3. 2.5 HHD / SSD ( or a 3.5 HHD with an external power supply )

1. NAND Installation of the Lubuntu Server

You need this in advance:

  • A Mac running a newer version of OS X with access to the Internet. I am doing this from a MacBook Pro Retina running OS X version 10.9 Mavericks.
  • An assembled Cubietruck with incl. cables with 2.5 HHD
  • USB Power supply 5v 2/2.5A.
  • An ethernet Internet connection.

Get the software

Download and install the LiveSuit NAND installer in your app folder:

Download the latest Lubuntu NAND image for Cubietruck: Cubietruck Lubuntu Desktop Releases or A20-Cubietruck Lubuntu Server Releases

Connect the mini USB to your mac (mac only).

Open LiveSuit and Select the downloaded Lubuntu NAND image (.img)

Cubietruck_FEL_buttonEnter FEL Mode

  1. Press FEL key and hold it in
  2. Plug in mini usb cable to the Cubietruck and wait for the prompt
  3. Release FEL key

Flash to Board

When you see the prompt, you have entered FEL mode. Select Yes to continue.

That’s it!

2. Customizing

Changing Boot Parameters

# mount /dev/nanda /mnt
# vi /mnt/uEnv.txt

Change it as you want!

# umount /mnt
# sync
# reboot

Update Lubuntu Sever

Normally its good practice to update and upgrade your system to the latest version.

# apt-get update; apt-get upgrade
# apt-get install python-apt

NB! You need to install the python-apt package to use do-release-upgrade.

# do-release-upgrade

Modify System Files

To change your local timezone, you need to edit the file /etc/timezone.

# ls /usr/share/zoneinfo

Ex.:  “Europe/Copenhagen”

Remove your old timezone link and make a new one.

# rm /etc/localtime

You can now create a symlink to the appropriate timezone information.

# ln -s /usr/share/zoneinfo/Europe/Copenhagen /etc/localtime

Change timezone ex. “Europe/Copenhagen”.

# nano /etc/timezone

( Use CTRL-x to exit, hit Y to save the file in nano. )

Change hostname /etc/hostname and the hosts file /etc/hosts .

# nano /etc/hostname

Change “Cubietruck” to the name you have in mind. I like cubietruck, so I keep it! 🙂

Edit the /etc/hosts file to reflect the hostname.

# nano /etc/hosts

Modify the line of the file to read: localhost yourhostname

If not already so replacing your hostname with the name you put in /etc/hostname.

Mac OS X specific linux software & daemons

In order for your Mac’s to automatically see and discover services on your Cubietruck it is convenient to install Apple’s zero conf network service “Bonjour” or “Rendezvous” and Netatalk AFP

#apt-get install avahi-daemon

You can verify the install of Bonjour on Cubietruck in your with ping on your Terminal App on your Mac OS X computer.

# ping cubietruck.local

If you want to connect you Cubietruck with Apple’s file service AFP “AppleTalk” so your Cubietruck automatically shows up in Finder, you need to install the open source version Netatalk.

#apt-get install netatalk

You will find the Netatalk config files in /etc/netatalk.


Its good practice to change the root password straight away.

NB! You should also remove the default user linaro and and disable ssh for root.

# passwd

Create a new regular user :

# adduser

Follow the prompts; use whatever username you’d like to log in. The next available UID is fine. Use the default users as the initial group.

Add the user to the Super User Do list.

Logout, and relogin as the regular user:

# logout
login: newuser
password: yourpassword

3. Moving Rootfs From Nandflash To Hard Drive


Prepeare the drive for rootfs

Th drive must have a primary partition formated with filesystem “ext4”. You can use the Linaro user interface DISK app, gparted or use the following shell commands to partition your HDD.

List all available drives:

# fdisk -l

Choose the drive you want to make changes to (e.g. sda):

# fdisk /dev/sda

Use “p” (print partition of a drive), “d” deletea partition or “n” (create new partition). The partition should be of type “83”.

Format the partition for rootfs with EXT4 filesystem:

# mkfs.ext4 /dev/sda1

Copying Rootfs

Assuming that /dev/sda is the hard drive we want to install.

$ sudo su - root
# dd if=/dev/nandb of=/dev/sda1 bs=1M

Changing Boot Parameters

$ sudo su - root
# mount /dev/nanda /mnt
# nano /mnt/uEnv.txt

extraargs=console=ttyS0,115200 disp.screen0_output_mode=EDID:1280x720p50 rootwait panic=10 rootfstype=ext4 rootflags=discard


Change the contents of uEnv.txt  from “nand_root=/dev/nandb” to “nand_root=/dev/sda1“. And check the changes with cat command.

# cat /mnt/uEnv.txt

Unmount the partition.

# umount /mnt

Flush the file system buffers with sync.

# sync
# reboot

That’s it!


Cubieboard3: Cubietruck is all ready with links software etc.
LiveSuit Guide
Moving Rootfs From Nandflash To Hard Drive
Tutorials for Cubietruck
FAQ specs and faq’s
A20-Cubietruck specs from SUNXI
Cubieforum for Q&A’s


The Debian Administrator’s Handbook by Raphaël Hertzog and Roland Mas
How to use Logical Volume Manager (LVM) to grow etx4 file systems online

InstallingANewHardDrive – Installing a new HHD,

By thomas

I am free and loving spirit roaming the world. Born in Copenhagen, Denmark. Entrepreneur, Idea maker, Creative Business Developer, IT specialist, Poet, Father, Martial Artist, Taoist wanderer and explorer. ILM from University of Copenhagen. Truth, harmony and compassion is the way.


  1. After copying the rootfs to your 2.5 HDD you should resize / grow the file system to fit your partition. You can use a tool like GParted or LVM.

  2. Nice article!

    I tried to install Lubuntu in SD, but I don`t get video. Neither HDMI or VGA. Do you know if this is an expected behavior when installing in SD or I did something wrong. Thanks.

  3. So far I have only installed Fedora on SD and it went without problems – until I tried to update the newly installed distro! No problems with HDMI. I do not use VGA. I have tried to install the Android and both the Lubuntu distro’s onto the NAND flash and again without any problems. There should not be a big difference between installing to NAND, SD or even HDD.

  4. Hello Vitalii… You are quite right there! It’s a typo. Thank you. There are 3 USB ports on the Cubietruck: 2xUSB 2.0/1xMini USB 2.0.

  5. NB! The Logitech K400 wireless keyboard in the picture above – that works with Raspberry Pi – currently only work with Fedora on the Cubietruck!

  6. I disagree with using dd to copy the root file system.

    Your instructions say to create your file system using mkfs.ext4 and then you completely overwrite that using dd. If you are going to copy the filesystem using dd, then you did not need to create a file system. It does not make sense.

    Also, if your partition was 15G, then your resulting file system is the size of nandb, around 2G, which is not big enough to put very much software on, which is why you probably made a 15G root partition in the first place.

    One should use tar, something like this:

    # cd /mnt/nandb ; tar cf – . | ( cd /mnt/sda1; tar xf – )

    The above command will copy the directory tree from nandb to sda1, without destroying the file system that you just created using mkfs, and allow use of the whole new root partition.

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