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Open source OTA software targets Linux devices

Mar 31, 2017 — by Eric Brown 2,997 views

Mender’s open source, Yocto-optimized OTA updater for embedded Linux devices features a dual A/B rootfs partition layout with automatic rollback support.

After a two-year develop cycle, Mender has released the first production-ready version of its eponymous over-the-air (OTA) updating software for embedded Linux devices. The software is promoted as being the only OTA product that offers open source licensing for both the client installed on the device and the management server.

Common on smartphones, OTA is increasingly seen as a way to keep embedded Linux devices updated with bug fixes, new features, and fresh security protections. Having an OTA strategy in place for IoT rollouts can also significantly reduce maintenance time once a product has been deployed, says Mender.

Mender data flow
(click image to enlarge)

The Apache 2.0 licensed Mender firmware provides full image-based updates using a dual A/B rootfs partition layout with rollback support. Client server communications are protected via secure TLS technology, and image artifacts are signed and verified for authenticity. Mender enforces secure HTTPS connections and “has zero open ports on the embedded device,” says the company.



Mender can run under any Linux distribution using a meta-mender layer, but is optimized for Yocto Project stacks. Reference devices include the QEMU emulator and the BeagleBone Black SBC. A community project has ported Mender to the Raspberry Pi.

A management server lets users manage device deployments and run reports using Mender’s default UI layer or via REST APIs. You can group devices for controller rollouts, and view device status at a glance, says Mender.

Mender dashboard
(click image to enlarge)

The software is free, and includes a test environment where users can deploy their first update within an hour, claims Mender. The company also offer an optional subscription service that starts at $99 per month for up to 100 devices, and discounts for larger volumes. Professional services are also said to be available.

Mender demo on YouTube

Further information

Mender is available now for free download, with an optional subscription service that starts at $99 per month. Much more information may be found on the Mender website.

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