Nerves requires a number of programs on your system to work. These include Erlang, Elixir, and a few tools for packaging firmware images. Nerves is actively used on MacOS and various Linux distributions. For Windows users, some people have had success running Linux in a virtual machine or using the Windows Subsystem for Linux available in Windows 10. If you have issues with any of the tooling after following the steps below, we recommend you reach out to us in the #nerves channel on the Elixir Slack.
Nerves requires that the Erlang version running on your development host be
compatible with the Erlang version on the embedded target and also depends on
features added in recent versions of Elixir (
>= 1.4.0). Because it can be hard
to manage these tool versions with sufficient granularity using operating system
packages, it is recommended that you use ASDF
to manage Erlang and Elixir installations. This tool works the same on its
supported platforms, so you’ll find more details in the All Platforms section
The easiest installation route on MacOS is to use Homebrew. Just run the following:
$ brew update $ brew install fwup squashfs coreutils
Optionally, if you want to build custom Nerves Systems, you’ll also need to install Docker for Mac. After installing Docker for Mac, you will likely want to adjust the resource limits imposed on Docker, to allow it so successfully compile more complicated custom systems. Click the Docker icon in the top menu bar, then click Preferences > Advanced and allow Docker to use all of your CPUs and as much RAM as you think is reasonable for your machine (at least 6 GB). The more resources it has access to, the faster you can compile a custom Nerves system.
Now skip to the instructions for all platforms below.
First, install the
fwup utility. Nerves uses
fwup to create, distribute, and
install firmware images of your programs. You can install
fwup using the
instructions found on the Installation
Page. Installing the pre-built
.rpm files is recommended.
ssh-askpass package is also required on Linux so that the
firmware.burn step will be able to use
sudo to gain the required permission
to write directly to an SD card:
$ sudo apt-get install ssh-askpass
squashfs-tools using your distribution’s package manager.
$ sudo apt-get install squashfs-tools
Optionally, if you want to build custom Nerves Systems, you need a few more build tools. Because Linux can build natively rather than inside a container, you need to have all of the dependencies installed on your host. On Debian and Ubuntu, run the following:
$ sudo apt-get install git g++ libssl-dev libncurses5-dev bc m4 make unzip cmake python
For other host Linux distributions, you will need to install equivalent packages, but we don’t have the exact list documented. If you’d like to help out, send us an improvement to this page and let us know what worked for you!
Now continue to the instructions for all platforms below.
First, install the required versions of Erlang/OTP and Elixir using ADSF (more details at https://github.com/asdf-vm/asdf/blob/master/README.md#setup).
$ git clone https://github.com/asdf-vm/asdf.git ~/.asdf --branch v0.4.0 # The following steps are for BASH. If you’re using something else, do the # equivalent for your shell. $ echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/asdf.sh' >> ~/.bash_profile $ echo -e '\n. $HOME/.asdf/completions/asdf.bash' >> ~/.bash_profile # optional $ source ~/.bash_profile $ asdf plugin-add erlang https://github.com/asdf-vm/asdf-erlang.git $ asdf plugin-add elixir https://github.com/asdf-vm/asdf-elixir.git $ asdf install erlang 20.2 # This takes a while $ asdf install elixir 1.5.2 $ asdf global erlang 20.2 $ asdf global elixir 1.5.2
It is important to update the versions of
rebar used by Elixir,
even if you already had Elixir installed.
$ mix local.hex $ mix local.rebar
If you have your own version of
rebar in your path, be sure that it is
You can now add the
nerves_bootstrap archive to your Mix environment. This
archive allows Nerves to bootstrap the Mix environment, ensuring that your code
is properly compiled using the right cross-compiler for the target. The
nerves_bootstrap archive also includes a project generator, which you can use
to create new Nerves projects. To install the
$ mix archive.install hex nerves_bootstrap
Once installed, you can upgrade
nerves_bootstrap by running:
$ mix local.nerves