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Building solo

To build, develop and debug the firmware for the STM32L432. This will work for Solo Hacker, the Nucleo development board, or your own homemade Solo.

There exists a development board NUCLEO-L432KC you can use; The board does contain a debugger, so all you need is a USB cable (and some udev rules).


Install the latest ARM compiler toolchain for your system. We recommend getting the latest compilers from ARM.

You can also install the ARM toolchain using a package manager like apt-get or pacman, but be warned they might be out of date. Typically it will be called gcc-arm-none-eabi binutils-arm-none-eabi.

Install solo-python usually with pip3 install solo-python. The solo python application may also be used for programming.

To program your build, you'll need one of the following programs.

Obtain source code and solo tool

Source code can be downloaded from:

solo tool can be downloaded from:

  • from python programs repository pip install solo-python
  • from installing prerequisites pip3 install -r tools/requirements.txt
  • github repository: repository
  • installation python enviroment witn command make venv from root directory of source code


Enter the stm32l4xx target directory.

cd targets/stm32l432

Now build Solo.

make build-hacker

The build-hacker recipe does a few things. First it builds the bootloader, with signature checking disabled. Then it builds the Solo application with "hacker" features enabled, like being able to jump to the bootloader on command. It then merges bootloader and solo builds into the same binary. I.e. it combines bootloader.hex and solo.hex into all.hex.

If you're just planning to do development, please don't try to reprogram the bootloader, as this can be risky if done often. Just use solo.hex.

Building with debug messages

If you're developing, you probably want to see debug messages! Solo has a USB Serial port that it will send debug messages through (from printf). You can read them using a normal serial terminal like picocom or putty.

Just add DEBUG=1 or DEBUG=2 to your build recipe, like this.

make build-hacker DEBUG=1

If you use DEBUG=2, that means Solo will not boot until something starts reading its debug messages. So it basically waits to tether to a serial terminal so that you don't miss any debug messages.

We recommend using our solo tool as a serial emulator since it will automatically reconnect each time you program Solo.

solo monitor <serial-port>

Linux Users:

See issue 62.

Building a Solo release

If you want to build a release of Solo, we recommend trying a Hacker build first just to make sure that it's working. Otherwise it may not be as easy or possible to fix any mistakes.

If you're ready to program a full release, run this recipe to build.

make build-release-locked

Programming all.hex will cause the device to permanently lock itself.


It's recommended to test a debug/hacker build first to make sure Solo is working as expected. Then you can switch to a locked down build, which cannot be reprogrammed as easily (or not at all!).

We recommend using our solo tool to manage programming. It is cross platform. First you must install the prerequisites:

pip3 install -r tools/requirements.txt

If you're on Windows, you must also install libusb.

Pre-programmed Solo Hacker

If your Solo device is already programmed (it flashes green when powered), we recommend programming it using the Solo bootloader.

solo program aux enter-bootloader
solo program bootloader solo.hex

Make sure to program solo.hex and not all.hex. Nothing bad would happen, but you'd see errors.

If something bad happens, you can always boot the Solo bootloader by doing the following.

  1. Unplug device.
  2. Hold down button.
  3. Plug in device while holding down button.
  4. Wait about 2 seconds for flashing yellow light. Release button.

If you hold the button for an additional 5 seconds, it will boot to the ST DFU (device firmware update). Don't use the ST DFU unless you know what you're doing.


If your Solo has never been programmed, it will boot the ST USB DFU. The LED is turned off and it enumerates as "STM BOOTLOADER".

You can program it by running the following.

solo program aux enter-bootloader
solo program aux enter-dfu
# powercycle key
solo program dfu all.hex

Make sure to program all.hex, as this contains both the bootloader and the Solo application.

If all goes well, you should see a slow-flashing green light.

Solo Hacker vs Solo

A Solo hacker device doesn't need to be in bootloader mode to be programmed, it will automatically switch.

Solo (locked) needs the button to be held down when plugged in to boot to the bootloader.

A locked Solo will only accept signed updates.

Signed updates

If this is not a device with a hacker build, you can only program signed updates.

solo program bootloader /path/to/firmware.json

If you've provisioned the Solo bootloader with your own secp256r1 public key, you can sign your firmware by running the following command.

solo sign /path/to/signing-key.pem /path/to/solo.hex /output-path/to/firmware.json

If your Solo isn't locked, you can always reprogram it using a debugger connected directly to the token.

Permanently locking the device

If you plan to be using your Solo for real, you should lock it permanently. This prevents someone from connecting a debugger to your token and stealing credentials.

To do this, build the locked release firmware.

make build-release-locked

Now when you program all.hex, the device will lock itself when it first boots. You can only update it with signed updates.

If you'd like to also permanently disable signed updates, plug in your programmed Solo and run the following:

# WARNING: No more signed updates.
solo program disable-bootloader