Android Fastboot


The protocol that is used over USB and UDP is described in [1].

The current implementation supports the following standard commands:

  • boot

  • continue

  • download

  • erase (if enabled)

  • flash (if enabled)

  • getvar

  • reboot

  • reboot-bootloader

  • set_active (only a stub implementation which always succeeds)

  • ucmd (if enabled)

  • acmd (if enabled)

The following OEM commands are supported (if enabled):

  • oem format - this executes gpt write mmc %x $partitions

  • oem partconf - this executes mmc partconf %x <arg> 0 to configure eMMC with <arg> = boot_ack boot_partition

  • oem bootbus - this executes mmc bootbus %x %s to configure eMMC

  • oem run - this executes an arbitrary U-Boot command

  • oem console - this dumps U-Boot console record buffer

Support for both eMMC and NAND devices is included.

Client installation

The counterpart to this is the fastboot client which can be found in Android’s platform/system/core repository in the fastboot folder. It runs on Windows, Linux and OSX. The fastboot client is part of the Android SDK Platform-Tools and can be downloaded from [2].

Board specific

USB configuration

The fastboot gadget relies on the USB download gadget, so the following options must be configured:


NOTE: The CONFIG_USB_GADGET_VENDOR_NUM must be one of the numbers supported by the fastboot client. The list of vendor IDs supported can be found in the fastboot client source code.

General configuration

The fastboot protocol requires a large memory buffer for downloads. This buffer should be as large as possible for a platform. The location of the buffer and size are set with CONFIG_FASTBOOT_BUF_ADDR and CONFIG_FASTBOOT_BUF_SIZE. These may be overridden on the fastboot command line using -l and -s.

Fastboot environment variables

Partition aliases

Fastboot partition aliases can also be defined for devices where GPT limitations prevent user-friendly partition names such as boot, system and cache. Or, where the actual partition name doesn’t match a standard partition name used commonly with fastboot.

The current implementation checks aliases when accessing partitions by name (flash_write and erase functions). To define a partition alias add an environment variable similar to:

fastboot_partition_alias_<alias partition name>=<actual partition name>

for example:


Raw partition descriptors

In cases where no partition table is present, a raw partition descriptor can be defined, specifying the offset, size, and optionally the MMC hardware partition number for a given partition name.

This is useful when using fastboot to flash files (e.g. SPL or U-Boot) to a specific offset in the eMMC boot partition, without having to update the entire boot partition.

To define a raw partition descriptor, add an environment variable similar to:

fastboot_raw_partition_<raw partition name>=<offset> <size> [mmcpart <num>]

for example:

fastboot_raw_partition_boot=0x100 0x1f00 mmcpart 1

Variable overrides

Variables retrived through getvar can be overridden by defining environment variables of the form fastboot.<variable>. These are looked up first so can be used to override values which would otherwise be returned. Using this mechanism you can also return types for NAND filesystems, as the fully parameterised variable is looked up, e.g.:


Boot command

When executing the fastboot boot command, if fastboot_bootcmd is set then that will be executed in place of bootm <CONFIG_FASTBOOT_BUF_ADDR>.

Partition Names

The Fastboot implementation in U-Boot allows to write images into disk partitions. Target partitions are referred on the host computer by their names.

For GPT/EFI the respective partition name is used.

For MBR the partitions are referred by generic names according to the following schema:

<device type><device index letter><partition index>

Example: hda3, sdb1, usbda1.

The device type is as follows:

  • IDE, ATAPI and SATA disks: hd

  • SCSI disks: sd

  • USB media: usbd

  • MMC and SD cards: mmcsd

  • Disk on chip: docd

  • other: xx

The device index starts from a and refers to the interface (e.g. USB controller, SD/MMC controller) or disk index. The partition index starts from 1 and describes the partition number on the particular device.

Alternatively, partition types may be specified using U-Boot’s partition syntax. This allows specifying partitions like 0.1, 0#boot, or :3. The interface is always mmc.

Writing Partition Table

Fastboot also allows to write the partition table to the media. This can be done by writing the respective partition table image to a special target “gpt” or “mbr”. These names can be customized by defining the following configuration options:


In Action

Enter into fastboot by executing the fastboot command in U-Boot for either USB:

=> fastboot usb 0

or UDP:

=> fastboot udp
link up on port 0, speed 100, full duplex
Using ethernet@4a100000 device
Listening for fastboot command on

On the client side you can fetch the bootloader version for instance:

$ fastboot getvar version-bootloader
version-bootloader: U-Boot 2019.07-rc4-00240-g00c9f2a2ec
Finished. Total time: 0.005s

or initiate a reboot:

$ fastboot reboot

and once the client comes back, the board should reset.

You can also specify a kernel image to boot. You have to either specify the an image in Android format or pass a binary kernel and let the fastboot client wrap the Android suite around it. On OMAP for instance you take zImage kernel and pass it to the fastboot client:

$ fastboot -b 0x80000000 -c "console=ttyO2 earlyprintk root=/dev/ram0 mem=128M" boot zImage
creating boot image...
creating boot image - 1847296 bytes
downloading 'boot.img'...
OKAY [  2.766s]
OKAY [ -0.000s]
finished. total time: 2.766s

and on the U-Boot side you should see:

Starting download of 1847296 bytes
downloading of 1847296 bytes finished
Booting kernel..
## Booting Android Image at 0x81000000 ...
Kernel load addr 0x80008000 size 1801 KiB
Kernel command line: console=ttyO2 earlyprintk root=/dev/ram0 mem=128M
   Loading Kernel Image ... OK

Starting kernel ...

Running Shell Commands

Normally, arbitrary U-Boot command execution is not enabled. This is so fastboot can be used to update systems using verified boot. However, such functionality can be useful for production or when verified boot is not in use. Enable CONFIG_FASTBOOT_OEM_RUN to use this functionality. This will enable oem run command, which can be used with the fastboot client. For example, to print “Hello at 115200 baud” (or whatever CONFIG_BAUDRATE is), run:

$ fastboot oem run:'echo Hello at $baudrate baud'

You can run any command you would normally run on the U-Boot command line, including multiple commands (using e.g. ; or &&) and control structures (if, while, etc.). The exit code of fastboot will reflect the exit code of the command you ran.