nRF9160 Thing Plus Hookup Guide

Contributors: Circuit Dojo, Ell C
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SDK Setup - Linux/Ubuntu

This page is all about getting your Linux machine compiling code for the nRF9160 Thing Plus. Run into trouble during the process? Post your questions on the community forum.

Installing IDE

Install or use the code editor of your choice. I personally use Microsoft Visual Studio Code. You can download directly from the Ubuntu Software Install utility.

Linux VSC install

If you decide to use Visual Studio Code, make sure you install the C/C++ and Cortex-Debug extentions using the built in extension marketplace.

Installing SDK

Install dependencies using apt-get

sudo apt install --no-install-recommends git cmake ninja-build gperf \
ccache dfu-util device-tree-compiler wget \
python3-dev python3-pip python3-setuptools python3-tk python3-wheel xz-utils file \
make gcc gcc-multilib g++-multilib libsdl2-dev

Check your cmake version:

cmake --version

If it's older than 3.13.3, you'll have to install a newer version using the instructions here.

Install west. West is the most important utility for using nRF Connect SDK & Zephyr.

pip3 install --user -U west

Then make sure that ~/.local/bin is added to your path:

echo 'export PATH=~/.local/bin:"$PATH"' >> ~/.bashrc
source ~/.bashrc

Now create a folder on your machine and call it nfed (short for nRF9160 Feather Examples and Drivers). Open a terminal to this folder and initialize nRF Connect SDK using west:

cd ~
mkdir nfed
cd nfed
west init -m --mr main

Once your nRF Connect SDK compontents are downloaded, you'll need to fetch the remaining SDK:

west update

You'll see a bunch of output go by as west downloads dependencies using Git.

Here's what your nfed folder should look like:

❯ tree -L 1
├── bootloader
├── build
├── latest
├── mbedtls
├── modules
├── nrf
├── nrf9160-feather
├── nrfxlib
├── test
├── tools
└── zephyr

Installing the remaining SDK requirements using pip3:

pip3 install --user -r zephyr/scripts/requirements.txt
pip3 install --user -r nrf/scripts/requirements.txt
pip3 install --user -r bootloader/mcuboot/scripts/requirements.txt

Note: there may be an error during the first pip3 install. You can safely ignore them.

Note: nRF Connect for Desktop is distributed as an appimage. Right click and enable running as an executable. Then you can double click and run as any other app. nRF Desktop AppImage nRF Desktop Allow as Executable

The ARM Embedded Toolchain

First download the latest Zephyr SDK installer:

cd ~

Then run it:

chmod +x
./ -- -d ~/zephyr-sdk-0.11.4

Finally install the udev rules which allows you to flash boards using a programmer.

sudo cp ~/zephyr-sdk-0.11.4/sysroots/x86_64-pokysdk-linux/usr/share/openocd/contrib/60-openocd.rules /etc/udev/rules.d
sudo udevadm control --reload

Installing newtmgr

For loading code to your nRF9160 Thing Plus, you'll need to download and copy a custom version of newtmgr to a folder in your PATH.

cd ~/Downloads
wget ""
mv newtmgr ~/.local/bin

If you're not sure, ~/.local/bin is always a good spot for these types of binaries.

Then you'll need to add your serial profile to make it easier to download/update your device:

newtmgr conn add serial type=serial connstring='dev=/dev/ttyUSB0,baud=1000000'
newtmgr -c serial reset

If you have multiple Silicon Labs CP2102 connected to your machine your serial port may be named differently. I recommend you unplug all devices that could be named ttyUSB0 to ensure you're targeting the correct device during programming.

Note if you get a Error: open /dev/ttyUSB0: permission denied error. You'll have to fix permissions for the serial device for all users. Here are the steps:

Open this .rules file in vi (or your editor of choice):

sudo vi /etc/udev/rules.d/50-myusb.rules

Then within the editor hit i, paste this:


Hit the esc button and then type :wq!.

For more info in using newtmgr checkout the programming section of CircuitDojo's documentation.