Nard GNU/Linux is a software development kit
Unlike "ordinary" Linux distributions Nard is intended
entirely for the development of
MOTS embedded systems running
day and night for years in remote locations. And you are more or
less expected to add your unique custom application
on top of the Nard platform.
Nard operates in a Raspberry Pi like a
Live USB in a PC. During boot everything is
uploaded to RAM and executed from there. You may even remove/hot swap
the SD-card from a running system at any time and it will continue to
operate just fine! The SD-card is only accessed upon request by your
For the impatient here is a
pre-built image for the Pi model 1 B. However, if you have ever done
C/C++ compiling before; read on. You can
easily create your own image. After unpacking
the tarball you get
$ tar -xzf nard.tar.gz
# Applications (incl Linux kernel)
# The final output goes here
# Dir for each product and RPi model here
# Common make "library"
# Toolchain (compiler)
There are only a few directorys to keep things simple. Hold on with
delving into the tree – we will do it later on. Instead you should
now start building a product example:
$ cd nard
$ make skeleton
$ ls -l images/
# Finished outputs
The first run require half an hour or so to finish on a quad
core machine. Typical pre-requisites includes
automake etc. i.e the "usual"
tools for compiling software packages. They are available in all major
Linux distributions (Ubuntu, Fedora, Suse) should you need to install
them. Detailed help can be found in the
Trouble Shooting section.
Every product Nard can build has a recipe for what it's composed of.
Product and board recipes stack on top of each other. The generic board
recipes act as templates for the specifics. In the figure below
everything originates from default.
raspi_x_revx is an abbreviation for
Raspberry Pi all models all revisions. It extends the previous
recipe but may as well override it, should it need to.
raspi_b_rev2 is short for
model B revision 2. Products in the need of dual
I2C channels may for instance use this recipe
(revision 1 had only one channel). If you know object oriented programing
you will have no problem grasping these dependencies.
A recipe is a simple Makefile. It's self
explanory so here is a small example:
# The HW we will run on
export BOARD ?= raspi_b_revx
# List of applications this product needs. Packages
# will be built in the listed order (unless you
# explicitly define the dependencies). PKGS_APPS += linux-kernel/linux-rpi-3.10.y
PKGS_APPS += bftpd/bftpd-4.2
The variable PKGS_APPS
defines what should be installed in the target. The example above
adds Linux kernel 3.10.xx and a FTP server. Each layered recipe can
add additional applications and in fact you will by default (from
raspi_x_revx) also get a SSH server,
and some other tools one likely needs in an embedded system.
All applications added to PKGS_APPS
must reside in the apps directory.
Once the example product has finished building it's time to write your
custom image to a SD-card. Any SD-card of at least 2 GB size will
suffice (only 30 MB will become occupied). Warning, it will be
fully erased in the process! Insert the card in your
PC and run:
$ sudo -s
# Become root
$ zcat images/sdcard.img.gz >/dev/mmcblk0
# Your SD-card path
This image write is done only once. Next rebuild can be
upgraded via the network.
Easily log in to your board with a pre-setup custom SSH command.
From the build environment run:
$ make ssh
Your PC will then scan the local Ethernet subnet for targets running Nard
and automatically login with a key it recently built. If multiple Nard
boards are found you will get a list to choose from. Should it doesn't
work you can log in with telnet as well. The default credentials is
If your network setup is malfunctioning or you have a model A
Raspberry Pi you may login via a USB-to-Serial dongle as well:
Connect the dongle to the Raspberry Pi USB host port.
When Nard has booted up it's ready for remote unattended upgrades.
From your buildenvironment in your PC, run this command:
$ make upgrade
It will scan the local network subnet for your board and upload your
build with FTP firsthand and via SSH secondhand. A script in Nard
will verify the uploaded files, replace the SD-card contents and
reboot if everything was OK. When number of remote devices
becomes large though you might need automation separated from Nard:
These PC command will achieve an upgrade as well but is cross
platform, scriptable and independent of Nard installed. Thus
deployment to large sets can be done
using Windows as well. The
SSH key is copied from
intermediate/ and the tarball from
Unique device settings (such as static IP-address) for each of your
devices should be put in the directory
/settings in the FAT
partition of the SD-card. A field engineer can then easily
configure each device during deployment with a standard
Windows laptop. There are four small files
that optionaly need adaptions. They are well commented inside but
briefly described here too:
- Use static or dynamic (DHCP) IP address?
- WiFi password and SSID?
By default DHCP is used.
- Human readable description of device (optional)
- Manually assigned (optional) fixed ID
These optional values will help you separate your devices apart.
If you have many devices connected to the same network and all
of them use DHCP it's hard to identify a specific unit. In those
cases, run the command make scan from
within the development environment and you will get a list of
all nearby devices and their corresponding description/ID. Very
coveted by field service engineers.
Name of the device as used by the OS. Will show up in the list
when performing a make scan as well.
Defaults to the product name + cpu serial number if left empty.
An optional shell script executed at the end of the boot
process. Can for example launch a "master"
daemon in just one unit of a
Raspberry Pi cluster where as for the
rest all cluster units share the same SD-card image.
Add start-stop-daemon -bSx /opt/my-app
Modifications of the settings can be performed remotely as well.
Login with a serial cable or SSH, edit them with
vi /boot/settings/nodeid and issue a reboot.
Unpack the SDK archive to your local PC harddrive.
Don't use a network share, it's to slow. Even if you're on a fast
LAN it's still nothing compared to your local disk. Instead, let
the revision control system (git/svn) do the backup handling.
Neither GUI nor keyboard is available by default. In fact, you
may leave the HDMI unconnected because there is nothing to see
(exception mediaplayer). Instead, if you want a console, either
go for the
UART in the I/O expansion header P1 or connect
USB-to-Serial dongle to the Raspberry Pi USB port. You
may then connect a null modem cable between your PC and the
USB-to-Serial dongle to get a login prompt.
First check Trouble Shooting and then
Questions and Answers. If you can't find
what you need there then join
the mailing list and
ask for help there. Feedback and comments are welcome too! We
would like to know how you find Nard. Do you like it? Have a wish-list
etc? Commercial support can be arranged if necessary but is no
Nard is an unofficial SDK, not associated with the Raspberry Pi
Foundation and Raspberry Pi is a trademark of the Raspberry Pi
Foundation. Linux is the registered trademark of Linus Torvalds
in the U.S. and other countries. Nard SDK comes with ABSOLUTELY
NO WARRANTY, to the extent permitted by applicable law.