Mounting LittleFS on Linux Machine

Before we show how to mount LittleFS on Linux, let’s have a quick overview of its  benefits and  features. 

LittleFS solution is a small, fast, simple and open-source solution.  Perhaps the most significant LittleFS feature, which is very important when using file system with internal MCU flash, is wear leveling mechanism, while one of the major LittleFS advantage is PC Linux support tools. This tool allows users to mount, create and access files, created on MCU, on PC Linux machine. Also, this tool implements vice versa process (files created on PC side is accessible and editable on MCU side). More about LittleFS can be found here.

LittleFS Features

LittleFS PC mounting tool

A possible approach when using LittleFS is to create file system on MCU using available LittleFS function but that is not most efficient approach, especially when you want to access and explore file system data on MCU which are previously created on the PC side. LittleFS has especially useful tool which enables users to create, mount and explore file system content. Check out the steps how to use this tool below:

How to get and build the mounting tool

The first step is to check if we have FUSE on our Linux machine. Check this by using the following command:

				
					 1. fusermount
				
			

For successful use of LittleFS, you should have mounting tool FUSE version 2.6 or higher. However, if you do not have this version on you Linux machine you can download it with: 

				
					2. sudo apt-get install libfuse-dev
				
			

Now we need to create the directory, for example LittleFSImageTool, and to download littlefs-fuse tool in that directory using the following command:

				
					3. git clone https://github.com/ARMmbed/littlefs-fuse.git
				
			

After we download source code from git repository, enter in littlefs-fuse directory and run the following command:

				
					4. make
				
			

After this command is executed, lfs application is available at the same directory where we call make command. Now, we have everything we need to successfully build our first file system image.

Building and mounting LittleFS image

Finally, it’s time to create our first file system image. The first step is to create image file:

				
					5. dd if=/dev/zero bs=2048 count=256 | tr '\000' '\377' > FSImage
				
			

With this command we create FSImage image file which has 256 blocks where each block size is 2kB. This image represents our MCU embedded flash memory part which will be used with the file system. If we dump FSImage file content, we will see that this image file is empty, only fill with “1”, and it is not yet ready to be used on MCU.

In order to make properly formatted image file and mount that image file on Linux PC file system, we will use some of the available Linux loop device. You can view available loop device with the following command:

				
					6. sudo losetup -f
				
			

After running this command, the first available device will be printed and that device will be used as our file system loop device. In our case, the first available loopback device is /dev/loop17. Now, we need to make this device user accessible with the following command:

				
					7. sudo chmod a+rw /dev/loop17
				
			

Next, we will assign our FSImage file to the /dev/loop17 loop device with the following command:

				
					8. sudo losetup /dev/loop17 FSImage
				
			

After this, we need to format out loop device to be sure that loop device really acts as our MCU embedded flash memory. You can do this with the following command:

				
					9. ./lfs --block_size=2048 --block_count=256 --block_cycles=100 --read_size=8 --prog_size=8 --cache_size=8 --lookahead_size=8 --format /dev/loop17
				
			
At this point, file system is created and can be exported to the binary file with the following command:

				
					10. sudo dd if=/dev/loop17 of=FSImageOut.bin bs=2048 count=256 skip=0 | xxd -g1
				
			

However, before we explain how to program MCU with this file system, let’s see how to mount your file system to Linux machine. First, we will create directory with the following command:

				
					11. mkdir mount
				
			

Next, we want to make this directory our file system entry point on Linux PC. You can do this using the following command:

				
					12. ./lfs --block_size=2048 --block_count=256 --block_cycles=100 --read_size=8 --prog_size=8 --cache_size=8 --lookahead_size=8 /dev/loop17 mount
				
			

After this command is executed, we can use directory as any other Linux directory. For example, let’s create some content in mount directory using these commands:

				
					13.
cd mount/
mkdir TestDir1
mkdir TestDir2
mkdir TestDir3
echo "TestContent1">TestFile.txt
echo "TestContent2">TestFile1.txt
cd TestDir1

				
			

When the directory content is created, loopback device image is ready to be written to output binary image file using this command:

				
					14. sudo dd if=/dev/loop17 of=FSImageOut.bin bs=2048 count=256 skip=0 | xxd -g1
				
			

Now, using STM32Cube Programmer, or some other tool used for downloading flash content to MCU, we will program flash memory with our file system. This process is shown in the picture below:

STM32Cube Programmer Tool

How to check that mounting is completed

If the whole image create process is done successfully, we can restart our MCU and you should be able to see the content shown in the picture below.

Line interface after file system mounting

As it can be seen in the following image, the file system on MCU is now ready to use. For example, if we want to see root directory content, just enter ls command in CLI and content created on PC will be now available on MCU command line. The image below illustrates execution of some of the available commands from the command list. Users can see available commands at any time by entering “-h” command in Command Line Interface.

Commands in CLI
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