BeagleBone first troubles & resolutions

So, for Fall semester 2012, I’m taking a class focusing on embedded Linux systems using the BeagleBone. I thought it would be worthwhile to jot down the issues I come across and the solutions I find.
I have an A6 revision BeagleBone. I purchased the “kit” sold at Adafruit because I’m always excited to have extras for the projects I imagine I’ll get around to at some point. :) Also, the kit comes with a power supply, which I wanted to have simply because I didn’t want to leave a computer running simply to power the BeagleBone (seems kind of silly to power a low power device with a high power one, especially when I’d like to have it accessible all the time).

First things first, I perused the Adafruit tutorial and the GigaMegaBlog setup post.

First trouble: Installing BeagleBone Drivers on Windows fails!

I wanted to install the drivers on both a Windows Vista Enterprise 32 bit computer and a Windows 7 64 bit computer. Neither worked. After some searching, the best hint I had was to do with the PID (Product ID), but it took me a while longer to sort out a solution. Here’s what I came up with (as copied from a post to the class messageboard):

The easiest place to get the complete set of driver files is from the mass storage the BeagleBone presents itself as when first connected. Make a copy of the BB:\Drivers\Windows folder on your host machine, wherever you like to organize such things.
Next, open the two .inf files found in Windows\src\files\FTDI\ and do a find and replace: A6D0 -> 6010. A6D0 is the PID for BeagleBone revisions A4 and older, 6010 is the PID for BeagleBone revisions A5 and newer.

Next, make sure to uninstall any drivers you tried already to install. I would also suggest disconnecting the BeagleBone at this point.

The most sure fire way from here, I think, to get the drivers to connect correctly, is to explicitly use the “have disk” option to install. Once you’ve reconnected the BeagleBone, ydevice and select “Update Driver”, then “Browse”, then “Let me pick”, then just skip the selection, then “I have a disk”, then select the modified .inf files in Windows\src\files\FTDI\. I’m not completely sure if there’s any requirement that you select them in specific, but I used ftdiport.inf for USB Serial port, and ftdibus.inf for XDS100v2 compatible USB Serial Converter A & B.

Hopefully this will work for you if you’re trying to get the drivers working with Windows!

Second trouble: Cannot SSH into BeagleBone after restarting!

Having played around, setting up dynamic DNS on my router and checking things out via SSH several times, there was some reason I decided I needed to restart (shutdown -r now). Later, I decided to check in on my BeagleBone and couldn’t reach it! I hooked up the trusty USB cable and poked around, coming up with nothing. A thought occurred to me, and I decided to try to restart DropBear (the SSH service). Lo and behold, it said it found no instances to restart (but claimed to restart anyway). This did not start DropBear, somewhat to my surprise, so I took a guess and tried starting DropBear via:

/etc/init.d/dropbear start

It worked! I haven’t restarted since, so I haven’t sorted out whether it was a fluke that it didn’t start, and I haven’t found anything specific in my searching about why this might have happened. Perhaps an update to this post will be forthcoming.