Brussels / 3 & 4 February 2024


U-Boot for modern Qualcomm phones


Bootloaders are one of the biggest pain points when it comes to booting upstream Linux on Qualcomm devices, they require that distros support 5 versions of the Android boot image header, weird non-standard devicetree properties, and are generally a huge headache. As modifying the bootloader is out of the question, we can at least replace the environment it gives us with a more sensible one...

In this talk, I'll give a brief introduction to what an EFI bootloader actually is, how they work, and how U-Boot fits into the picture as a second-stage bootloader. I'll cover the work I've been doing to improve Qualcomm support in upstream U-Boot, and how we can drastically lower the barrier of entry for distro support on Qualcomm phones.

Lastly, I'll go over the new process for porting a Qualcomm SoC to U-Boot, and demo booting Linux with EFI runtime support on a Qualcomm phone.

I'll also give a sneak peak at what would be possible if we had greater ownership of our devices.

Why you should care

This talk is primarily aimed at the upstream community, if you work on upstream support for any Qualcomm devices - be it phone, tablet, Chromebook, or vehicle - then you can likely benefit from running U-Boot.

UEFI is now the lowest common denominator, and supporting it makes Qualcomm devices a viable target for more mainstream distros.


Photo of Caleb Connolly (they/them) Caleb Connolly (they/them)