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Return to Manuals/dfu-util.

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This manual describes the usage of Dfu-util.

Reference Documentation

To run dfu-util, you need to have /proc/bus/usb mounted and working. The terminal command "ls /proc/bus/usb" should return something similar to, "001 002 003 004 005 devices", it shouldn't be empty. If it is empty, use this command:

sudo mount -t usbfs usbfs /proc/bus/usb

You can permanently add it in your fstab so that it automatically mounts. You can use emacs to edit you fstab using the command "sudo emacs /etc/fstab -nw" in your terminal window. Add the below line to your fstab:

usbfs   /proc/bus/usb   usbfs   defaults

Before using dfu-util

You'll need to boot your phone into the NOR Boot Menu:

  • Ensure your phone is connected directly to the host computer by USB (not the USB-charger! :)
  • Ensure that you execute all dfu-util commands as root
  • Power off the phone
  • Hold down AUX
  • Press POWER and hold it
  • Release AUX, hold POWER until you see the menu
  • Connect your Neo to your computer directly (Using a hub in between could cause problems with the hub and the usb reset)

see also Booting the Neo FreeRunner

Note: Some myth existed that dfu-util is not worked with sudo. This is not true of course. It is working from both sudo and su sessions. --Gena2x 12:30, 20 July 2010 (UTC)

Command-line options


dfu-util - (C) 2007 by Openmoko Inc.
This program is Free Software and has ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY

Usage: dfu-util [options] ...
-h --help                     Print this help message
-V --version                  Print the version number
-l --list                     List the currently attached DFU capable USB devices
-d --device vendor:product    Specify Vendor/Product ID of DFU device
-c --cfg config_nr            Specify the Configuration of DFU device
-i --intf intf_nr             Specify the DFU Interface number
-a --alt alt_nr               Specify the Altseting of the DFU Interface
-t --transfer-size            Specify the number of bytes per USB Transfer
-U --upload file              Read firmware from device into <file>
-D --download file            Write firmware from <file> into device
-R --reset                    Issue USB Reset signalling once we're finished


With the -a switch you specify the location on the device you want to write to or read from. However, for most cases, kernel and rootfs will be enough.

See partitions for a list. You may also use the --list switch (see below), to get an online list.


Using the --list option, you can list the available DFU capable devices, their configuration, interface and altsettings. Below is an example for a current Neo1973 phone in u-boot Runtime Mode

# ./dfu-util --list
dfu-util - (C) 2007 by Openmoko Inc.
This program is Free Software and has ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY

Found DFU Runtime: [0x1457:0x5119] devnum=0, cfg=0, intf=2, alt=0, name="USB Device Firmware Upgrade"

Below is an example for a current Neo1973 phone in u-boot DFU Mode

# ./dfu-util --list
dfu-util - (C) 2007 by Openmoko Inc.
This program is Free Software and has ABSOLUTELY NO WARRANTY

Found DFU: [0x1457:0x5119] devnum=16, cfg=0, intf=0, alt=0, name="RAM 0x32000000"
Found DFU: [0x1457:0x5119] devnum=16, cfg=0, intf=0, alt=1, name="u-boot"
Found DFU: [0x1457:0x5119] devnum=16, cfg=0, intf=0, alt=2, name="u-boot_env"
Found DFU: [0x1457:0x5119] devnum=16, cfg=0, intf=0, alt=3, name="kernel"
Found DFU: [0x1457:0x5119] devnum=16, cfg=0, intf=0, alt=4, name="splash"
Found DFU: [0x1457:0x5119] devnum=16, cfg=0, intf=0, alt=5, name="rootfs"

This shows you six interfaces, all in configuration 0 and interface 0, with altsetting 0...5, for RAM and each partition.


You can specify the USB Vendor and Product ID of the device you want to program:

dfu-util --device 0x1457:0x5119

If you only have one standards-compliant DFU device attached to your PC, this is optional. However, as soon as you have multiple DFU devices, dfu-util will detect this and abort, asking you to specify which device it shall use.


Specifies the size of each individual USB transfer. If you don't use it, the maximum possible size for your combination of host operating system and USB device is chosen (for optimal performance).


download the given file into the device.


upload from the DFU device into the given file[name].

NOTE: Upload support is currently broken - #676


There's no full-fledged manual yet. Instead, some examples:

Flashing the rootfs

dfu-util -a rootfs -R -D /path/to/openmoko-devel-image.jffs2

Flashing the kernel

dfu-util -a kernel -R -D /path/to/uImage

Flashing the bootloader

dfu-util -a u-boot -R -D /path/to/u-boot.bin

Flashing the splash image

dfu-util -a splash -R -D /path/to/splash.gz

see also Configuring_the_boot_splash_screens

Copying a kernel into RAM

dfu-util -a 0 -R -D /path/to/uImage

Once this has finished, the kernel will be available at the default load address of 0x32000000 in Neo1973 RAM.

NOTE: You cannot transfer more than 2MB of data into RAM using this method

Troubleshooting notes

If during flashing of an image using dfu-util you're consistently getting an error -110 message, check that the size of the destination NAND partition is big enough to hold the image. For example the kernel partition is only 2 MB big by default and a kernel with debugging info compiled-in can often exceed this. It's possible to change the partition layout to enlarge a given partition and shrink other partitions but you have to remember to reflash all partitions whose start offset has changed afterwards. To adjust partitions layout use the mtdparts u-boot command.

If in turn you're facing errors in seemingly random places during the flashing of images, most likely the USB hub or cable through which your Neo1973 is connected, is of too poor quality. It is recommended that you always connect the phone directly to the host when using dfu-util.

If dfu-util reports a message like the following, before it starts flashing:
Resetting USB...
not at least 2 device changes found ?!?
Lost device after RESET?
retry the command - it should work on a second run.

If dfu-util complains about not being able to program the device while in runtime mode, do the following: while in the boot menu, remove the usb cable and insert it again. Depending on the version of uBoot it should display somewhere in the menu that it is now in DFU mode. Now dfu-util should be able to continue.

If dfu-util is too slow on Windows, that's a known bug. A suggestion is to run Linux on a virtual box. An full root image 97MB that is 776Mbit, the USB 1.1 on the Neo FreeRunner is capable of either 1.5 Mbit/s (Low-Speed) and 12 Mbit/s (Full-Speed). So flashing it should take less than 9 minutes with low speed and a bit more than a minute with full-speed. Plus transfer overhead, plus decompression on the Neo side.

Note that any error messages indicate a probable failed transfer, despite latter messages emitted about success, etc.