Replacing an Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite 3 flash drive

Wow, it’s been a while since I’ve dropped by here. But it’s all worth it as I want to share my experience in replacing my Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite 3 flash drive. It has been a rather long journey, so I thought I’d share my experience.

I will not enter into all the technical details but here is a rough list of what I used. This was done on a laptop running with Ubuntu Bionic.

  • A USB to RJ-45 console cable
  • minicom with the suggested setup from the official doc (115200-8bits-No parity-1 stop)
  • tftpd-hpa : the tftp server

Diagnostic

Coming back from my summer vacation, I found my ERL 3 no longer working. After trying the official documentation and seeing that no IP address was set on ports ETH0 / EHT1  as outlined in the doc, I elected to check the console port.

My first try gave me this :

For some reason, only garbage came out of the console port. An hour of googling lead me to believe that the USB console cable was the culprit. A colleague lent me another cable and I got this which was already much better :

At this point, I should have been a bit more attentive on the message displayed. I got distracted by the fact that some USB Device was seen by the firmware as seen in :

USB: (port 0) No USB devices found.
0

The next two lines clearly indicated that the firmware was not able to access the partitions on the flash drive :

** Partition 1 not valid on device 0 **

** Unable to use usb 0:1 for fatload **

Setting up the TFTP server

This is not the topic of this article, but in short, on Ubuntu you need to install the tftpd-hpa package and you are all set. The image files to be served by TFTP are to be copied in /var/lib/tftpboot.

Identifying the real problem

After some more googling, I found this very good article that, while not being specific on the flash drive replacement, explains very well how to use a TFTP server to load : Recovering an unresponsive Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite router. My own article uses portion of this post so I am very thankful to Darren Scott for writing this.

For me, the most useful instructions on this article is how to set the Ubiquiti firmware to be able to fetch a file using tftp. Remember that, so far, I have not been able to reach my router on the network. Even setting up my laptop nic with a 192.168.1.10 ip address did not let me reach the supposed 192.168.1.20 ip address configured on the ETH0 port of the router. I supposed that this is setup by the Ubiquiti firmware stored on the flash drive. Using the following commands, I was able to trigger a TFTP download from my laptop :

# set ipaddr 192.168.1.20
# set netmask 255.255.255.0
# set serverip 192.168.1.10
# set bootfile ER-e100.recovery.v2.0.6.5208553.190708.0607.16de5fdde.img.signed
# tftpboot

I tried his method using the ERLite-3 / ERPoE-5 (e100) image proposed in the official documentation but got the following :

Octeon ubnt_e100# set ipaddr 192.168.1.20
Octeon ubnt_e100# set netmask 255.255.255.0
Octeon ubnt_e100# set serverip 192.168.1.10
Octeon ubnt_e100# set bootfile ER-e100.recovery.v2.0.6.5208553.190708.0607.16de5fdde.img.signed
Octeon ubnt_e100# tftpboot
Interface 0 has 3 ports (RGMII)
Using octeth0 device
TFTP from server 192.168.1.10; our IP address is 192.168.1.20
Filename 'ER-e100.recovery.v2.0.6.5208553.190708.0607.16de5fdde.img.signed'.
Load address: 0x9f00000
Loading: octeth0: Up 1000 Mbps Full duplex (port 0)
#################################################################
#################################################################
#################################################################
#################################################################
#################################################################
#################################################################
#################################################################
#################################################################
#################################################################
#################################################################
######
89 MB received
#################################################################
#################################################################
########
done
Bytes transferred = 113549500 (6c4a0bc hex), 7316 Kbytes/sec
WARNING: Data loaded outside of the reserved load area, memory corruption may occur.
WARNING: Please refer to the bootloader memory map documentation for more information.

The indication WARNING: Data loaded outside of the reserved load area, memory corruption may occur. Made me think that the image was too big to fit in the boot memory section. So this was not the solution.

Finding the EdgeMax Rescue Kit

Darren Scott’s blog post refers to another Ubiquiti Community post called EdgeMax rescue kit (EMRK). This is the kit used to reset the router in Darren’s article. Unfortunately, the links given to download EMRK are all dead. After some research, I was able to locate this EMRK download link : https://downloads.vyos.io/?dir=tools/emrk/0.9c. Let’s home that is remains available.

Using this image, I was able to get the EMRK running but still no luck in reinstalling the firmware.
 

Replacing the flash drive

During my hours of googling, I read a few articles on replacing the Ubiquiti flash drive. So I decided to crack the router open and see what I find. Opening the ERL 3 is rather simple : just remove the three screws on the side of the router where the AC connector is and that’s it.
 
There is a silver USB connector that hosts the USB flash drive.
 
Just remove this original one and replace it with a new flash drive with sufficient capacity. Mine is an 8 Gb USB drive.
Once this is done, put the router cover back in place and secure it with the three screws. Plug back the console RJ45 cable along with the network cable connecting the system where you have installed the TFTP server.
 

Reinstalling Ubiquiti firmware

The rest of the procedure is identical to what is described in Darren Scott’s blog but I will repeat it here :
 
Looking for valid bootloader image....
Jumping to start of image at address 0xbfc80000


U-Boot 1.1.1 (UBNT Build ID: 4670715-gbd7e2d7) (Build time: May 27 2014 - 11:16:22)

BIST check passed.
UBNT_E100 r1:2, r2:18, f:4/71, serial #: 44D9E79B45CB
MPR 13-00318-18
Core clock: 500 MHz, DDR clock: 266 MHz (532 Mhz data rate)
DRAM: 512 MB
Clearing DRAM....... done
Flash: 4 MB
Net: octeth0, octeth1, octeth2

USB: (port 0) No USB devices found.
0
** Partition 1 not valid on device 0 **

** Unable to use usb 0:1 for fatload **
argv[2]: coremask=0x3
argv[3]: root=/dev/sda2
argv[4]: rootdelay=15
argv[5]: rw
argv[6]: rootsqimg=squashfs.img
argv[7]: rootsqwdir=w
argv[8]: mtdparts=phys_mapped_flash:512k(boot0),512k(boot1),64k@1024k(eeprom)
## No elf image at address 0x09f00000
Octeon ubnt_e100# set ipaddr 192.168.1.20
Octeon ubnt_e100# set netmask 255.255.255.0
Octeon ubnt_e100# set serverip 192.168.1.10
Octeon ubnt_e100# set bootfile emrk-0.9c.bin
Octeon ubnt_e100# tftpboot
Interface 0 has 3 ports (RGMII)
Using octeth0 device [30/71]
ur IP address is 192.168.1.20
Filename 'emrk-0.9c.bin'.
Load address: 0x9f00000
Loading: octeth0: Up 1000 Mbps Full duplex (port 0)
#################################################################
#############################################
done
Bytes transferred = 15665511 (ef0967 hex), 7369 Kbytes/sec
Octeon ubnt_e100# bootoctlinux $loadaddr
ELF file is 64 bit
Allocating memory for ELF segment: addr: 0xffffffff81100000 (adjusted to: 0x1100000), size 0xe83940
Allocated memory for ELF segment: addr: 0xffffffff81100000, size 0xe83940
Processing PHDR 0
Loading e23d80 bytes at ffffffff81100000
Clearing 5fbc0 bytes at ffffffff81f23d80
## Loading Linux kernel with entry point: 0xffffffff81105ca0 ...
Bootloader: Done loading app on coremask: 0x1
Linux version 2.6.32.13-wau (dmbaturin@v-dev) (gcc version 4.3.3 (Cavium Networks Version: 2_0_0 build 95) ) #81 SMP Tue Jul 23 13:51:58 PDT 2013
CVMSEG size: 2 cache lines (256 bytes)
Cavium Networks SDK-2.0
bootconsole [early0] enabled
CPU revision is: 000d0601 (Cavium Octeon+)
Checking for the multiply/shift bug... no.
Checking for the daddiu bug... no.
Determined physical RAM map:
...

Loading EMRK 0.9a [107/666]
Mounting filesystems
Bringing up eth0
Checking boot partition
Boot partition is missing or has wrong filesystem type!

Checking root partition
Root partition is missing or has wrong filesystem type!

**********************************************
Welcome to EdgeMax Rescue Kit!

This tool is distributed under the terms of
GNU General Public License and other licenses

Brought to you by SO3 Group

WARNING: This tool is not developed, officially
supported or endorsed by Ubiquiti Networks!

Using it may lead to destroying your router
configuration or operating system

Ubiquiti Networks support will not help you
with using it or fixing consequences of
using it.

This tool itself is distributed without any
warranty and authors are not liable for
any damage it may cause

By using this tool you agree you are doing
it at your own risk and understand what
you are doing

*********************************************


Enter 'Yes' to proceed, 'No' to reboot
yes or no: yes

Do you want to configure network via DHCP?
yes or no: no

Do you want to configure network statically?
yes or no: yes
Enter IPv4 address in CIDR format (e.g. 192.0.2.10/24): 192.168.1.20/24
Enter IPv4 gateway address: 192.168.1.1
Enter DNS server address: 192.168.1.1

EMRK provides some scripts for automated
recovery procedures:

emrk-factory-reset -- reset config to factory default
emrk-remove-user-data -- remove all the user data including
config and everything
emrk-reinstall -- reinstall EdgeOS from scratch
(wipes any user data too)

Enter 'reboot' to reboot your router


BusyBox v1.17.1 (Debian 1:1.17.1-8) built-in shell (ash)
Enter 'help' for a list of built-in commands.

ob control turned off
EMRK>emrk-reinstall
WARNING: This script will reinstall EdgeOS from scratch
If you have any usable data on your router storage,
it will be irrecoverably destroyed!
Do you want to continue?
yes or no: yes

Re-creating partition table
Creating boot partition
Formatting boot partition
mkfs.vfat 3.0.9 (31 Jan 2010)
Creating root partition
Formatting root partition
Mounting boot parition
Mounting root partition
kjournald starting. Commit interval 5 seconds
EXT3 FS on sda2, internal journal
EXT3-fs: mounted filesystem with writeback data mode.
Enter EdgeOS image url: tftp://192.168.1.10/ER-e100.v1.10.11.5274249.tar

% Total % Received % Xferd Average Speed Time Time Time Current
Dload Upload Total Spent Left Speed

Unpacking EdgeOS release image
Verifying EdgeOS kernel
Copying EdgeOS kernel to boot partition
Verifying EdgeOS system image
Copying EdgeOS system image to root partition
Copying version file to the root partition
Creating EdgeOS writable data directory
Cleaning up
Installation finished
Please reboot your router

Once this is completed you can reboot your Ubiquiti EdgeRouter Lite 3. After the boot sequence you should see the well known :

Welcome to EdgeOS ubnt ttyS0

By logging in, accessing, or using the Ubiquiti product, you
acknowledge that you have read and understood the Ubiquiti
License Agreement (available in the Web UI at, by default,
http://192.168.1.1) and agree to be bound by its terms.

ubnt login:

Voilà !

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