I was introduced to the idea of over-the-air (OTA) updates when Particle Industries (then Spark) ran their kickstarter for WiFi-connected microcontroller.
It soon became a must-have as I am spoiled with the convenience of updating application code at the comfort of my desk!
However, things are not quite the same for embedded linux. There is only one that I am aware of is https://resin.io who started off with application upgrading (ie. upgrading docker images). Still, not a full OS update until they recently made it happen!
You can read more about how it is done here: https://docs.resin.io/updates/update-process/
Recently, I came to know about https://mender.io. Very cool from the initial looks but the documentation on getting the server running etc was kind of daunting with limited tinkering time. Luckily, they beta-ed the server side of things and I signed up for an account. :)
- Getting started
You will receive an email with some guide on getting your virtual or physical devices started. I have a Raspberry Pi 3 handy so why not!
- Burning the OS to the microSD card
Nothing too fancy here. The usual
dd-ing to the microSD and done.
$ gunzip mender-raspberrypi3_master.sdimg.gz $ diskutil list /dev/disk2 (internal, physical): #: TYPE NAME SIZE IDENTIFIER 0: FDisk_partition_scheme *15.9 GB disk2 1: Linux 104.9 MB disk2s1 2: Linux 2.1 GB disk2s2 3: Linux 2.1 GB disk2s3 4: Linux 2.1 GB disk2s5 $ sudo dd if=mender-raspberrypi3_master.sdimg of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=1M && dd $ diskutil unmountDisk /dev/disk2 Unmount of all volumes on disk2 was successful $ sudo dd if=mender-raspberrypi3_master.sdimg of=/dev/rdisk2 bs=1m && sudo sync 388+0 records in 388+0 records out 406847488 bytes transferred in 28.284105 secs (14384316 bytes/sec) KENMBP:mender-test kennethlimcp$ sudo dd if=mender-raspberrypi3_master.sd
- Logging in to https://hosted.mender.io
- Authorizing a device
You will see the device trying to connect...
and finally load all the details such as client version and more.
- Uploading an artifact (aka newer image)
You will start of clean...
Let us upload an artifact provided to us in the download link
- Doing a deployment
You can selectively deploy to different groups of devices but I only have one so
The device will start downloading but there is some bug where the bar will keep showing 10% without any progress
and jump to 80% where the device will reboot
- Checking that the device has the new artifact
DEVICES tab, I checked that the device is indeed running the new artifact,
- Main dashboard
On the main tab, there will be a summary of the past deployments and those in progress.
Simple and straightforward.
- Attempts to corrupt the artifact to simulate a fail deployment
I tried to tweak some parts of the artifact in hopes that
mender does not find out during the uploading process.
However, it seems like there are some checksum and integrity verification going on when artifacts are uploaded.
- Some information about the microSD
root@raspberrypi3:~# fdisk -l Device Boot Start End Sectors Size Id Type /dev/mmcblk0p1 * 24576 106495 81920 40M c W95 FAT32 (LBA) /dev/mmcblk0p2 106496 319487 212992 104M 83 Linux /dev/mmcblk0p3 319488 532479 212992 104M 83 Linux /dev/mmcblk0p4 532480 794623 262144 128M 83 Linux root@raspberrypi3:~# df -h Filesystem Size Used Avail Use% Mounted on /dev/root 97M 91M 0 100% / devtmpfs 460M 0 460M 0% /dev tmpfs 464M 0 464M 0% /dev/shm tmpfs 464M 18M 447M 4% /run tmpfs 464M 0 464M 0% /sys/fs/cgroup tmpfs 464M 0 464M 0% /tmp tmpfs 464M 224K 464M 1% /var/volatile /dev/mmcblk0p1 40M 13M 28M 32% /uboot /dev/mmcblk0p4 120M 5.3M 106M 5% /data
It only took me a couple of minutes to download and burn the image to get going. Most of the time is spent on the Dashboard and having it hosted (ie. up and running with zero effort) reduces the barrier to tinker.
Although I have not tried creating my own artifacts and running applications on the base image provided, the overall experience is great for something tagged as
I will be sending feedback to
mender and propose to have an
artifact that will simulate a failed deployment to cover the case that demonstrates the failover mechanism.
Looking forward to see what the team at
mender is pipelining and maybe do a couple of personal projects with their platform.
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