Aside from a more modular installation, am I missing out on any of the JetPack components using the image over the SDK Manager?
You can divide the software content between what is on the root filesystem, which is where the operating system and programs live, and boot content which runs before Linux can start. Only SDKM can update the boot content.
The module has QSPI memory on it, and this is flashed with boot content via SDKM. The SD card content is rootfs and it won’t care which method is used to create it. QSPI content might only change every few releases, and not often, but when it is the wrong release it is incompatible with SD card releases too far off and must be flashed for the new SD card content to succeed.
The advantage of an eMMC model is that the boot content and rootfs content are flashed together, and so they are never out of “version” sync.
Okay, so let me make sure I understand what you’re saying here. The difference only becomes relevant if the user is concerned with the serial interface of the module, not the actual OS contents, and even then it only matters if the boot content and rootfs content differ far enough in versions that they become incompatible. Therefore the safer method is to utilize the SDK Manager, but for an average individual just trying to run some projects or playing around with the Jetson Nano module, simply flashing the SD card w/ the image is fine.
Lastly, I’m guessing the image comes with all the necessary JetPack components, so we don’t have to worry about any missing libraries, tools or the GPUI compiler?
Not quite. You are correct that OS contents would be the same either way, but I’m not sure what you mean by “serial contents”. SDKM flash of the Jetson itself changes the initial starting setup similar to what a PC’s BIOS would perform. Plus it also changes the bootloader. SDKM changes whether or not the actual operating system is able to properly start; SDKM solves a precondition to boot of Linux. If Linux is able to load, then you are correct that changes to the QSPI content won’t change what you see after boot, but changing the SD card content will change what you see after boot (the o/s). The method of changing the SD card won’t matter.
New Linux release versions (on the SD card) do have changing requirements for hardware setup prior to loading. When there are enough changes, then the boot environment itself must be updated or else Linux won’t load.
You are correct that it is safer to always flash the Jetson itself with SDKM each update, although typically this is not needed for every update. When first receiving the Jetson I would advise to always flash it with SDKM. After that you can probably go through many upgrades with just the SD card and not worry about SDKM.
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