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UBIFS Support

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UBIFS is next generation Flash based file-system. Its bit different from other file-systems like JFFS2, YFFS2 because, JFFS2 file system works on top of MTD devices, but UBIFS works on top of UBI volumes and cannot operate directly on top of MTD devices. In other words, there are 3 subsystems involved:

  • MTD subsystem, which provides uniform interface to access flash chips. MTD provides an notion of MTD devices (e.g., /dev/mtd0) which basically represents raw flash;
  • UBI subsystem, which is a wear-leveling and volume management system for flash devices; UBI works on top of MTD devices and provides a notion of UBI volumes; UBI volumes are higher level entities than MTD devices and they are devoid of many unpleasant issues MTD devices have (e.g., wearing and bad blocks); see here for more information;
  • UBIFS file system, which works on top of UBI volumes.
And some in-depth background about UBIFS architecture is as presentation from UBI/UBIFS Authors @


How to enable UBI/UBIFS support in Linux Kernel ?

To enable UBIFS support, start the Linux Kernel Configuration tool:

  • Enabling UBI support on MTD devices.
 Device Drivers --->
     Memory Technology Device (MTD) support  --->
         Enable UBI - Unsorted block images  --->
  • Enabling UBIFS file-system support.
 File systems  --->
     Miscellaneous filesystems  ---> 
          UBIFS file system support

Note: Above configurations are enabled default in omap2plus_defconfig

How to enable UBI/UBIFS support in u-boot ?

The following macros need to be defined in the board config for enabling UBI/UBIFS in uboot

#define CONFIG_LZO

Note: Details of UBI command available in u-boot are given in $U-BOOT/doc/README.ubi

UBIFS User-space tools

UBI user-space tools, as well as other MTD user-space tools, are available as separate package called mtd-utils
  • Compiling UBIFS Tools

For instructions on compiling MTD-utils, refer

MTD User-space utilities for UBIFS

  • How to creating UBIFS image ?'
make ubifs

  • Booting with UBIFS as root file-system'
u-boot#> setenv bootargs 'console=ttyO0,115200n8 root=ubi0:rootfs rw ubi.mtd=<partion_id|or name>,2048 noinitrd rootfstype=ubifs mem=256M rootwait=1'
The value of PARTITION_ID depends on MTD device which holds the root filesystem. The below example assumes UBIFS file system is flashed on MTD partition 7.
One may instead pass in the name of the partition as set in the partition table for the device.
u-boot> setenv bootargs 'console=ttyO0,115200n8 root=ubi0:rootfs rw ubi.mtd=7,2048 noinitrd rootfstype=ubifs mem=256M rootwait=1'
  • Remotely updating UBI Volume [1]

Creating UBIFS file system

If the UBIFS image is flashed from u-boot using nand write command, then UBIFS image should be built with "white-space-fixup" feature enabled (mkfs.ubifs -F). For details refer

subpage support
Currently, OMAP NAND drivers do not support subpage, therefore while building and mounting UBI/UBIFS images

  • subpage-size should set same as page-size
  • offset-of-vid-header should also be set same as page-size

LEB Size Calculations
UBIFS adds two headers (erase-header and volume-id-header) at the start of each NAND block for block identification purposes.

  • When sub-page feature is not supported then
erase-header is written to '1st page' and
volume-id-header is flashed in '2nd page' of every block,
so remaining 'n-2' pages are available for user-data, Hence LEB_SIZE = $BLOCK_SIZE - (2 x $PAGE_SIZE)
  • When sub-page feature is supported then
both these headers are packed into '1st page' of the block and
remaining 'n-1' pages are available to store user-data. Hence LEB_SIZE = $BLOCK_SIZE - (1 x $PAGE_SIZE)

Flash space overhead

Using UBIFS file system

Preparing NAND partition

Kindly erase the NAND partition before using it for UBI file system. The partition can be erased from either u-boot or from Linux.

Follow below steps to erase.

  • From U-boot. Assuming NAND partition to be erased starts from "0x780000" and is of size "0xF880000".
 u-boot# nand erase 0x00780000 0xF880000
  • From Linux. Assuming MTD partition 7 needs to be erased and used for UBI file system.
 root@arago-armv7:~# flash_eraseall /dev/mtd7

Flashing UBIFS image to a NAND partition

We can Flash UBIFS image from either Linux Kernel or U-Boot.

Follow steps mentioned here to create an UBIFS image.

From U-Boot,

Get the UBIFS image to U-Boot from tftp or MMC/SD or UART. Lets consider an example of MMC card.

Since we copy the data to NAND, Empty/Erase the required RAM. Then, get the UBIFS image to U-Boot

 u-boot# mw.b 0x82000000 0xFF <filesystem_image_size> <=== filesystem image size is upward aligned to NAND block size,
                                                           This is required to get rid of "Empty Flash" JFFS2 during kernel boot.
 u-boot# mmc rescan
 u-boot# fatload mmc 0 0x82000000 ubi.img

Next, erase the and flash the UBIFS image to correct NAND partition.


On flashing UBIFS image from U-Boot, make sure that ECC selected is in sync with Linux



  1. NAND partition to be erased starts from "0x780000",
  2. NAND partition of size "0xF880000" and
  3. File system image size to be flashed is 0xFC0000 which is upward aligned to NAND block size
 u-boot# nand erase 0x780000 0xF880000
 u-boot# nand write 0x82000000 0x780000 0xFC0000

From Linux,

  • Flash the UBI file system image (ubi.img) to MTD partition "X"
ubiformat /dev/mtd<X> -f ubi.img -s <subpagesize> -O 2048

Here subpage size depends MTD driver. Find subpage size of MTD partition using

 mtdinfo /dev/mtd<X>

Assuming 7th mtd partition with 2048 byte subpage size, we can use the following command to flash the ubifs image to partition 7.

#ubiformat /dev/mtd7 -f ubi.img -s 2048 -O 2048

Using UBIFS image as root file system

  • Set up the bootargs environment variable as below to use the UBIFS file system image present in a MTD partition:
setenv bootargs 'console=ttyO0,115200n8 noinitrd ip=off mem=256M rootwait=1 rw ubi.mtd=X,YYYY rootfstype=ubifs root=ubi0:rootfs init=/init'

Where X is the MTD partition number being used for file system and YYYY is the NAND page size. make sure that an UBI file system is flashed into this partition before passing it as a boot partition for Linux.

Assuming 7th mtd partition,

#setenv bootargs 'console=ttyO0,115200n8 noinitrd ip=off mem=256M rootwait=1 rw ubi.mtd=7,2048 rootfstype=ubifs root=ubi0:rootfs init=/init'

On booting with UBIFS as rootfs, the first boot happens successfully. Before subsequent boot-ups, it is recommended to do a manual "sync" from the console. This allows UBIFS meta data properly updated on the partition. This initial sync will help later recovery.

Mounting UBIFS image as a regular NAND partition

Assuming UBIFS image is already flashed to a NAND Partition, follow below steps to mount the same.

  • Attach MTD device to UBI
ubiattach /dev/ubi_ctrl -m <X> -O 2048

Where "X" is the MTD partition number

Mtd device number 7 can be attached to ubi using

#ubiattach /dev/ubi_ctrl -m 7 -O 2048

  • Mount the UBIFS image
mount -t ubifs ubiX:NAME /mount/point

Where "X" - UBI device number and "NAME" - UBI volume name from ubinize.cfg file.

Assuming ubi device 0 and rootfs is the volume name given in ubinize.cfg, ubifs image can be mounted to /media/card using

#mount -t ubifs ubi0:rootfs /media/card


On mounting UBIFS as regular partition, it is recommended to do a manual "sync" from the console after mounting. This allows UBIFS meta data properly updated on the partition. This initial sync will help later recovery.

Mounting a NAND partition using UBIFS

We can mount a particular NAND partition with UBIFS file system in the following way

  • Format and attach the MTD partition
ubiformat /dev/mtd<X> -s <subpagesize> -O 2048
ubiattach /dev/ubi_ctrl -m <X> -O 2048

Where "X" is the MTD partition number and "subpagesize" determined using mtdinfo command

MTD partition number 7 with 2048 subpage size can be formatted and attched using

ubiformat /dev/mtd7 -s 2048 -O 2048
#ubiattach /dev/ubi_ctrl -m 7 -O 2048

  • Create an UBI volume - the created volume will be empty
ubimkvol /dev/ubi0 -N <label> -s XXMiB

Where "XX" is the size of the partition to be mounted and "label" is the name for the volume.

10 MB ubi volume can be created with label ubifs_volume as

ubimkvol /dev/ubi0 -N ubifs_volume -s 10MiB

Also, user can create a UBI volume with volume size set to maximum available size

ubimkvol /dev/ubi0 -N <label> –m

where "label" is the name for the volume.

ubimkvol /dev/ubi0 -N ubifs_volume –m

  • Mount the MTD partition
mount -t ubifs ubi0:<label> /mount/point 

Make sure that the "label" used during ubimkvol is passed as an argument here.

Mounting of ubi volume can be achieved using

#mount -t ubifs ubi0:ubifs_volume /media/card

On mounting NAND partition as UBIFS, it is recommended to do a manual "sync" from the console after mounting NAND partition. This allows UBIFS meta data properly updated on the partition. This initial sync will help later recovery.