OTA Connect User Guide

Software Upload Methods

Before you start uploading software, it’s important to understand the different ways in which you can get software into OTA Connect.

You can upload any file format you want to OTA Connect, but generally OTA Connect is designed to work with disk images.

However, you might instead be accustomed to managing software packages with package managers. We don’t recommend this method, but there’s nothing to stop you delivering software packages with OTA Connect as well.

Here’s a summary of how each method works:

Uploading software within disk images

A disk image is a snapshot of the entire filesystem on an ECU or other microcontroller that you can flash to another controller of the same type.

In a typical development process, a developer simulates a microcontroller on their computer, sets up the entire filesystem, creates a disk image and flashes the image to a real microcontroller.

For example, in our "Get Started" guide, we explain how to build a disk image for Raspberry Pi on a development computer then flash the image to an actual Raspberry Pi.

So how do you update individual pieces of software?

Well, suppose that you wanted to update the Bluetooth driver on your IVI from version 1 to 2. In this scenario, we’ll assume that your IVI is already running a disk image that includes the OTA Connect Client.

  • First, your developers would prepare an updated disk image of the filesystem that runs on your IVI.

    • This disk image is configured to include version 2 of your Bluetooth driver package as well as all the other software that hasn’t changed.

    • This "other" software includes the OTA Connect Client which regularly checks for updates.

  • The developers would use the OTA Connect build tools to build the final disk image.

    • The OTA Connect build process includes a step where the new disk image is automatically uploaded to the OTA Connect server.

    • When you log into the OTA Connect Portal, you’ll see the new disk image in your software repository.

    • The disk image should ideally have some notes to explain that it contains the new version 2 Bluetooth driver. You can add more descriptive information in the OTA Connect Portal and select the disk image during the campaign creation process.

In summary, you don’t have to worry about uploading software at all — your developers do it for you during the build process. Your main task is to understand what disk images contain the software updates that you need for each campaign.

Uploading software packages

If you’ve worked with Linux-based operating systems, you might expect software updates to come in the format of installable packages that have extensions like .deb, .rpm or in the case of Android, .apk. You can also upload these kinds of packages to OTA Connect.

By default, the OTA Connect Client is designed to install disk images rather than packages. Your developers have to configure the OTA Connect Client to process and install packages instead.

Another problem with this approach is that it’s quite easy to corrupt the filesystem if the installation process is interrupted in any way. For example if the microcontroller loses power or is rebooted, a human being must intervene to fix the filesystem.

This kind of problem might be fine on the desktop or on a server where there’s a reasonable expectation that a person could intervene, but there’s no easy way to intervene for embedded devices.

If you don’t mind the risks and extra work, you can upload software packages in the OTA Connect portal.