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Meshtastic on Linux-Native Devices

This page outlines the setup of Meshtastic on Linux-native devices, utilizing portduino to run the Meshtastic firmware under Linux.

Prerequisites and Hardware Compatibility

Before proceeding with the setup, ensure the device meets the following requirements:

Tested Devices

  • Raspberry Pi zero, zero 2 , 3,4, Pi 400, and Pi 5.1
  • Ubuntu 22.04 X86_64 with a CH341-SX1262 DIY dongle.2
  • Debian GNU/Linux trixie/sid riscv64 on Cvitek CV180X ASIC, C906 (Milk-V Duo), on the SPI bus.

Hardware Compatibility

Warning

UART HATs and SX1302/SX1303 chip-based HATs are not supported. Only hats that use a SPI radio can work with Meshtastic.

  • Tested radios include the Waveshare SX126X (SPI version), Adafruit RFM9x, and Elecrow Lora RFM95 IOT.
  • Support for I2C displays, SPI displays, and keyboard input has been confirmed. It is necessary to be aware of potential pin conflicts when stacking hats.

System Requirements

  • The Meshtastic binary, meshtasticd, necessitates root access or a user with permissions to access GPIO, SPI, and other interfaces.
  • A Linux distribution compatible with the Meshtastic installation package, which is compiled for Debian Bookworm and not compatible with Bullseye.

Installation

Installing Meshtasticd

  • Necessary system libraries should be installed before building or installing Meshtastic.
sudo apt install libgpiod-dev libyaml-cpp-dev libbluetooth-dev
  • And optionally for web server support
sudo apt install openssl libssl-dev libulfius-dev liborcania-dev
  • The .deb Package is available as part of the release, installing the binary, a systemd service, and a config file. It is compiled for Debian Bookworm and incompatible with Bullseye.
sudo apt install ./meshtasticd_{version}arm64.deb

Configuration

Hardware Interfaces

For devices requiring SPI or I2C:

  • This can be done by running the below commands on a Raspberry Pi (2-5)
sudo raspi-config nonint set_config_var dtparam=spi on /boot/firmware/config.txt # Enable SPI
sudo raspi-config nonint set_config_var dtparam=i2c_arm on /boot/firmware/config.txt # Enable i2c_arm

# Ensure dtoverlay=spi0-0cs is set in /boot/firmware/config.txt without altering dtoverlay=vc4-kms-v3d or dtparam=uart0
sudo sed -i -e '/^\s*#\?\s*dtoverlay\s*=\s*vc4-kms-v3d/! s/^\s*#\?\s*(dtoverlay|dtparam\s*=\s*uart0)\s*=.*/dtoverlay=spi0-0cs/' /boot/firmware/config.txt

# Insert dtoverlay=spi0-0cs after dtparam=spi=on if not already present
if ! sudo grep -q '^\s*dtoverlay=spi0-0cs' /boot/firmware/config.txt; then
sudo sed -i '/^\s*dtparam=spi=on/a dtoverlay=spi0-0cs' /boot/firmware/config.txt
fi
  • Or this can be accomplished by manually enabling SPI support in /boot/firmware/config.txt:
dtparam=spi=on
dtoverlay=spi0-0cs
  • I2C support is enabled with:
dtparam=i2c_arm=on

Meshtasticd Configuration

  • The meshtasticd configuration is at /etc/meshtasticd/config.yaml by default. If a config.yaml is found in the current directory, that takes precedence. And a config file specified with the -c/--config option has the highest precedence.

To enable a LoRa radio connected to your device, uncomment the appropriate lines in the config file, including the Module line. As an example, the Waveshare SX126X module would have a Lora section that looks like this:

Lora:
Module: sx1262 # Waveshare SX126X XXXM
DIO2_AS_RF_SWITCH: true
CS: 21
IRQ: 16
Busy: 20
Reset: 18
info

The config.yaml file is sensitive to spacing, so ensure that the indentation and spacing are correct.

Web Server

  • Meshtasticd has web server support starting with release 2.3.0 To enable this:
Webserver:
Port: 443 # Port for Webserver & Webservices
RootPath: /usr/share/doc/meshtasticd/web # Root Dir of WebServer

GPS Support

  • You can enable UART by running the below commands (which additionally will disable serial console tty)
sudo raspi-config nonint do_serial_hw 0 # Enable Serial Port (enable_uart=1)
sudo raspi-config nonint do_serial_cons 1 # Disable Serial Console
  • Or you can manually enable UART for GPS hats by making modifications in /boot/firmware/config.txt:
# Needed for all Pi device.
enable_uart=1

# Needed for the Pi 5 only.
dtoverlay=uart0
  • The correct port for UART GPS on the Pi 5 after a reboot is /dev/ttyAMA0.
  • The correct port for UART GPS on earlier Pi versions after a reboot is /dev/ttyS0.
  • You may need to disable the serial console on a Pi and then reboot
sudo raspi-config nonint do_serial_cons 1 # Disable Serial Console

Persistence

  • The persistent .proto db files of the portduino version of meshtasticd are stored under: /root/.portduino/default/prefs/.

Advanced Setup and Troubleshooting

Creating and Enabling a Systemctl Script (non .deb installs)

To configure the device to start and stop meshtasticd as as service using systemctl you can setup the service unit using the instructions below.

Create the service unit file:

Create a new file in the /etc/systemd/system/ directory with a name like meshtasticd.service.

sudo nano /etc/systemd/system/meshtasticd.service

Add the following content to the file:

[Unit]
Description=Meshtastic Daemon
After=network.target

[Service]
ExecStart=/usr/sbin/meshtasticd
Restart=always
User=root
Group=root
Type=simple

[Install]
WantedBy=multi-user.target

Reload systemd to recognize the new service:

sudo systemctl daemon-reload

Enable the service to start on boot:

sudo systemctl enable meshtasticd
Starting and Stopping the Service

Start the service:

sudo systemctl start meshtasticd

Check the status of the service:

sudo systemctl status meshtasticd

Stop the service:

sudo systemctl stop meshtasticd

This will give you a detailed view of the service status and any potential errors.

By following these steps, you set up a systemd service for meshtasticd that will start automatically at boot and restart if it crashes. You can manage it using the standard systemctl commands (start, stop, restart, status, etc.).

View Logs of Mesthastic

To view the log output of the meshtasticd service, use the below command to read them out of the system journal.

journalctl -u meshtasticd -b

Installation of drivers

  • Installation of drivers for CH341 is required for Ubuntu 22.04 and other systems for SPI/I2C/GPIO support.
git clone https://github.com/frank-zago/ch341-i2c-spi-gpio.git
cd ch341-i2c-spi-gpio
make
sudo insmod ch341-core.ko
sudo insmod gpio-ch341.ko
sudo insmod i2c-ch341.ko
sudo insmod spi-ch341.ko
  • Devices with kernels older than 5.16 may need to blacklist ch341, while kernels 6.0 and newer are observed to work more reliably.

CLI Configuration

Interaction with Meshtastic can be conducted via the command line:

meshtastic --host localhost ...

Footnotes

  1. While the Raspberry Pi Zero has been tested with meshtasticd, building as a native ARM32 binary has proven challenging. As a workaround, consider building on a Raspberry Pi 4 or 5 with a 32-bit OS and copying the output file to the Pi Zero.

  2. Limited Functionality with CH341-SX1262 Device: Please be aware that the CH341-SX1262 device is currently experiencing partial functionality issues. For reasons yet to be determined, this device struggles with sending packets larger than a few bytes.