I’ve got my hands on a brand new Banana Pi BPi R64 with a dual-core 64-bit ARM Cortex. The fact that it has multiple Ethernet ports makes it the perfect toy to build a router. This article covers the very basics of how to get started with the device. This article is intended as a more verbose version of the official getting started guide.

Download Linux image

Links to prebuild images for the Banana Pi can be found in the forum. It is very easy to get lost in the large number of different boards and OS configurations spread over many threads. You can download a suitable image for the R64 r64_buster_newatf_5.10.img.gz from the Google Drive of the maintainers.

Copy to SD card

The Banana Pi ecosystem has a dedicated, handy utility to copy drive images to an SD card. To install the tool, run

sudo apt install pv
curl -sL https://github.com/BPI-SINOVOIP/bpi-tools/raw/master/bpi-tools | sudo -E bash -

And finally, copy the image:

gzip -d r64_buster_newatf_5.10.img.gz
sudo bpi-copy r64_buster_newatf_5.10.img <device path>

Put the SD card into your Banana Pi.

Attach serial console

At this point, I expected the device to be ready to SSH into the box. However, by default, the Banana Pi does not enable the network interfaces at this stage.

The only way to get access is with a serial-to-usb converter. If you are lucky, such a converter came bundled with the Banana Pi. The image in the official guide might help where to connect the USB interface.

If the output of the converter is labeled with GND, TXD, and RXD, it’s usually (unless stated otherwise) your job to ensure that the TXD of the converter connects to the RXD of the BananaPi and the other way round. In practice, this means you need to cross the wires for TXD and RXD between Pi and converter:

Banana Pi Label Converter Label

There are several software options to install on your host system to connect to the serial terminal via USB. My recommendation is minicom:

sudo apt install minicom


Connecting the serial-to-usb converter does not power the device. Connect the Banana Pi to an external 12V power supply to boot it. Start minicom on your host system to monitor the boot process. The minicom defaults are usually fine. (To quit minicom, press CTRL + A followed by X.) Once the Banana Pi boot process succeeded, you should see

Debian GNU/Linux 10 bpi-r64 ttyS0

bpi-r64 login: 

The default username is root; the default password is bananapi.


Connect the Banana Pi to your local network via the leftmost of the four connected LAN ports on the board.

Photo of LAN port

In your system, this port is called lan0. Open /etc/network/interfaces with your favorite text editor (i.e., vi) and change the entire lan0 block to

iface lan0 inet dhcp

This will make your Banana Pi connect to the local network with DHCP.