Martin Michlmayr
SheevaPlug in my hand

Upgrading U-Boot on SheevaPlug and other plug computers

This page describes how to install a new version of U-Boot on your plug computer. U-Boot is the boot loader used on plug computers.

First of all, check which version of U-Boot is installed on your plug computer to find out whether you have to perform this upgrade. Connect to U-Boot using the serial console and type:


This will show the version of U-Boot on your plug computer. Two different (and slightly incompatible) variants of U-Boot are commonly used on plug computers. When Marvell introduced the first plug computers a few years ago, they created their own variant of U-Boot to add support for plug computers. This work has been integrated into the official U-Boot variant in the meantime. The advantages of the official U-Boot variant (sometimes known as DENX) is that it is much more rapidly developed and therefore offers features and bug fixes not found in the Marvell variant. We will use the DENX variant.

When you type version in U-Boot, you can easily spot if you're using the Marvell version. It shows the U-Boot version 1.1.4 plus a separate Marvell version, as in this example:

U-Boot 1.1.4 (Dec 27 2009 - 22:03:21) Marvell version: 3.4.27

On the other hand, the version string of the DENX variant looks like this:

U-Boot 2011.12 (Mar 11 2012 - 18:59:46)

In other words, U-Boot is followed by a date and there is no Marvell version.

If your plug computer is using the Marvell variant of U-Boot, you have to upgrade since the installation guide assumes that you're using the DENX variant. If you're already using the DENX variant, you can upgrade in case your U-Boot is older than the one above (i.e. older than 2011.12).

If you're upgrading from the Marvell to the DENX variant, issue the following command and write down your MAC address. This step is important because all U-Boot configuration data (including your MAC address) is lost when upgrading from the Marvell to the DENX U-Boot.

print ethaddr

Obtain the U-Boot binary for your device and save it as u-boot.kwb. Please note that since the boot loader interacts with the hardware, you have to use the correct u-boot binary for your device. If your device is not listed on this page, it is not safe to use another u-boot binary listed here!

You have to complete three steps in order to install the new U-Boot. First, you have to load the new U-Boot to your plug computer, either via USB or TFTP:

Second, you have to flash the new U-Boot:

Finally, you now have to restart your machine to activate the new version of U-Boot:


If you upgraded from the Marvell to the DENX variant, you now have to set your MAC address (replace the MAC address in the example with the one you wrote down before):

setenv ethaddr 00:50:43:01:c0:ab

Finally, if you have an eSATA SheevaPlug, you have to change some settings in u-boot so the device will boot the correct kernel for your device. This step is only required on the eSATA SheevaPlug and not on other plug computers. If you have an eSATA SheevaPlug, type:

setenv machid a76

These commands will put in the correct settings and then restart the device so the changes will take effect.

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