Easy firmware updating tool from Hexxeh

Hexxeh has been hard at work doing development with his Raspberry Pi, and has had to reinstall the firmware onto a blank image quite frequently. So he’s written a tool to do it for him; and it’ll work for you too. If you’re not a developer, his rpi-updater is still something you might want to download, just in order to make sure you always have the latest firmware and kernel version for your Raspberry Pi.

Head over to Hexxeh’s blog for a download link and instructions.


Ypnose avatar

Do we have to upgrade this firmware? It’s really needed by the Raspberry?

JamesH avatar

If yours is working fine, then you don;t need it. However as time goes by fixes/improvements are made to the code, and eventually, you will either need to reimage your SD card with the latest and greatest from the downloads page. Or you could get just the firmware a bit earlier by using this. Like I said, if all is working fine, don’t worry about it, and just wait until the next full image is released which will contain all the latest firmware anyway.

Guilherme de Sousa avatar

ArchLinux has rolling release cycle. Do we also have to worry about this in arch?

Tomas avatar

I have the same question. Shouldn’t we Archers automatically have the latest firmware buy just doing a pacman -Syu?

JamesH avatar

No. That updates all your Linux stuff, not the GPU blob or the boot firmware.

EarthlyPangaea avatar

How could I make a backup of my current SD card image just in case rpi-updater breaks it?

stevepdp avatar

On a typical Linux system, you could use the command “dd” to back up the device. I understand that dd has been ported to Windows and should be available on Mac devices out of the box too.

Look up “how to back up with dd” in your favourite search engine. You’ll find loads of tutorials out there that cover how to do it.

EarthlyPangaea avatar

Thanks, I got my SD card backed up to my Lubuntu netbook in the end.

zag avatar

I’m also a bit confused…

Raspberry PI firmware is different to the OS?

JamesH avatar

Yes. The firmware is the code that starts up the device, and is loaded on to the GPU to make it work. It then hands control to the OS. A bit like the BIOS on a desktop.

Lobster avatar

Is this firmware code included in a Qemu running image?

JamesH avatar

You don’t need the firmware if using QEMU. AFAIK!

Kris Chaplin avatar

Just to clarify. Is the firmware something that stays stored on the SD card, or is it something that ends up in non-volatile storage on the Pi itself. I guess my main question is:
If I update the firmware, is it only for the current SD card image, or does it affect my pi, and any card placed into it?


Hexxeh avatar

It only affects the SD card you run it with, since the firmware is stored on the SD card.

Kris Chaplin avatar

Thanks, so at the end of the day, we’re not going to irrevokably break something here, that could not be fixed with a reimage of the SD card. I’m comfortable with that – thanks.

Ben avatar

Thanks – looks nice! Am I right in thinking the Chromium OS builds are http://chromeos.hexxeh.net/ – or are they X86 only?

Abhi avatar

Those builds are only for x86. He distributes pre-build images of ChromeOS. Though, I was also wondering if he plans for R-pi build/port.

stevepdp avatar

Thanks for the update Liz, and thanks Hexxeh for all your efforts.

I updated yesterday and it solved the problem which prevented me from being able to use my collection of Sandisk 8GB class 6 cards (B11201421964G). Quite an upgrade from the class 2 “Wii” branded card I had been using :-)

JonB avatar

Still waiting for my Pi but I had a look at the code. Very nice coding style. One thing to note is it will pull the update from Hexxeh’s own git repo (and it is hardcoded) – is this going to be the official source of updates, or does the Foundation plan on setting one up?

Grumpyoldgit avatar

Are you really sure that this should be on the front page? There is already a plea from Gert to try and separate out the absolute beginners from intermediate and perhaps have an advanced. There is already a posting from a chap who can’t get his Pi to boot but wants to upgrade the firmware. Is it possible to clarify whether updating the firmware is something people should have a go at or really should be filed under Advanced? I notice that there is a disclaimer that the updater is experimental and could break your image.

Grumpyoldgit avatar

Sorry. Didn’t recheck before posting. Too many alreadys!

Liam McLoughlin avatar

You can’t damage your Pi by updating the firmware, at worst, you might make it so your SD card doesn’t boot and needs to be reflashed.

SonicBroom avatar

Sweet. I’m going to try this tonight, i’m hoping new firmware will resolve some SD card issues i’m having. My 4 gig card works fine but I have a nice fast 16gig sandisk sd card which only boots half way on the Rpi. Fingers crossed! Thanks.

Grumpyoldgit avatar

Ahh. I see there are comments on here about the firmware resolving card issues. If a card won’t work in the Pi how would you get the new firmware on it. A sort of Catch 22!

Grumpyoldgit avatar

Trying to resolve my own question. If the person with the problem gets a working SD card, images that, updates the firmware, copies image back to hard drive, then images suspect card, would that potentially work, or is there a simpler way?

SonicBroom avatar

Yes i imagine this would be a 2 card job. Use a working SD card and perform the update. Then backup that image (somehow, a bit of trial and error no doubt haha) and then transfer the backup image to the better (but troublesome) SD card.

Does anyone else have some suggestions?

Grumpyoldgit avatar

I thought that was what I just said?

AndrewS avatar

I don’t expect anyone to see this reply ;) but just for the record rpi-update now includes an “offline” mode I added to side-step this Catch-22 situation :-D

Stan Chelchowski avatar

I am not sure whether I am a beginnner or intermediate but I experienced mass-panic when I couldn’t log in to my nice new Pi……..
First education lesson provided by my Pi – there is a “P” in the password raspberry!!!
– Doh!!!

Grumpyoldgit avatar

Can I have a P, Bob?

Joe avatar

Off topic, but what happened to the Fedora Remix?

Neil avatar

I was typing in the long command line and instead of typing in the short url http://goo.gl/1BOfJ which leads to

I typed in a 0 instead of a O which leads to
[Liz edit – something else entirely NSFW]

maybe the zero should be replaced with a 8 and is the 1B0fJ case sensitive?

JanS avatar

Today I tried to update firmware in my Pi, but I received the response:
Bash: /usr/bin/rpi-update: Permission denied
I have already adjusted correct time and actual certificates.
Do you have some idea what I did bad?

ukscone avatar

you’ll need to do chmod 777 rpi-update to make it excutable

Clive Cooper avatar

Used the updater on my ArchlinuxArm RPi install and all went well with no errors at all.

jmzc avatar

Good tool.

Where I can see how booting works ? I always thought that firmware was store into ROM on motherboard, but about previous comments , firmware is stored into SD card.
And this firmware is code to make work GPU

How I can know how all these parts works together ?


JamesH avatar

Please read the Wiki, all the information is one there.

mrZoSo avatar

Is this still viable?
The link leads to Hexxeh’s blog, but there is no information or mention of rpi-updater.
Is there another method available?


Ben Falk avatar

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