Any plans to support the Pinebook?


#1

I just got a Pinebook (see https://www.pine64.org). It’s a nice little machine, and as a Manjaro user, I would of course love to run my favorite distro on it. I’m currently running Netrunner’s distro, and they’ve adapted Plasma 5 to it very well. The problem with it, of course, is that it’s very much a snapshot in time from when they created it (April 2018). During that time, there was a regression with Plasma’s NetworkManager, and so the desktop doesn’t auto-connect to wifi.

If the distro rolled, this bug would be corrected, and I’ve (so far unsuccessfully) tried to enable the Debian repositories and update the thing to something more recent. But for now, I was just wondering if this device was on anybody’s radar as something Manjaro ARM might want to support?


#2

I thought about getting one of those last year, but wasn’t sure if it was usable enough for me. How is the performance? I got the impression that it really only good for watching movies.


#3

I’ve spent most of my time messing with the different distros available for it, trying to get something reasonably up to date. I realized recently that I’m just not a tablet guy: I fight against the design of Android. I just want a cheap, small computer I can carry around to take notes and that has a long battery life (and that I can run Syncthing on).

The performance is sufficient for normal “home” usage: writing documents, browsing the web, checking email. Pretty much exactly what I want it for. I haven’t tried playing games on it, but YouTube seems to work fine. I wouldn’t write/compile code on it.

It’s super thin and super light too, though the case is a flimsy white plastic. I’m so far pleased with my purchase; I’d just like to get a stable distro on it that supports the hardware fully.


#4

My guess is that the Debian ARM port using the Xfce desktop would likely be your best bet for now. However perhaps in the future Manjaro-ARM will be in a usable state for users such as yourself.

I can’t really give any advice about ARM devices since I’ve dealt with them directly.


#5

Yeah, AFAIK no one in the ManjaroARM team has access to one of these so it is impossible to guess… Or develop.
If you want to get your hands dirty though (as you are the one with the hardware) it could happen…

This did spark the Oh I’m gonna tinker feeling in me … but One Hundred dollars isnt something I can just drop for a fancy.


#6

This would be something I’d love to do if I could spare the time. Unfortunately, I have a full time job, a wife and two kids, and a house that needs work. :face_with_raised_eyebrow:


#7

Like I said, I was thinking of getting one of these but end up getting a refurbished Thinkpad T430 for $170. But something like this is something I would get if I needed something cheap and easy to replace portable machine.


#8

I have 2 jobs, a wife and 2 kids. :stuck_out_tongue: Welcome to the club. :wink:


#9

I’m not up on ARM hardware. Here are the Pinebook’s specifications. If I were to attempt to run Manjaro on this thing (there is already an Arch image I haven’t tried), do we have an image I could try booting?


#10

Seems it’s using the generic aarch64 kernel.
But we have no image that boots using this kernel.

Sorry.


#11

I have recently looked into supporting the Pine64 and thereby maybe the Pinebook.

So far I have created a test image, which I have no way to to test.
If you want to test it, you can download the Manjaro-ARM-minimal-pine64-alpha1.zip from my Nextcloud.
I have no way to see if it’s booting, so any feedback is welcome!

Does the other periphials in the Pinebook (like wifi) require any extra packages to be installed to work?


#12

This is great! I have downloaded the image and will test it.

I don’t know if it requires extra packages. Right now, I’m using the Netrunner image. Inxi indicates the whole thing is a SoC:

System:    Host: relativity Kernel: 3.10.105-bsp-1.2 aarch64 bits: 64 compiler: gcc v: 7.2.0 
           Desktop: KDE Plasma 5.13.2 Distro: Netrunner 18.03 (idolon) 
Machine:   Type: ARM Device System: sun50iw1p1 
Battery:   ID-1: battery charge: N/A condition: N/A/0.0 Wh model: battery status: Discharging 
CPU:       Topology: Quad Core model: AArch64 variant-1: sunxi variant-2: armv8 bits: 64 type: MCP 
           arch: AArch64 rev: 4 
           features: Use -f option to see features bogomips: 0 
           Speed: 1152 MHz min/max: 480/1344 MHz Core speeds (MHz): 1: 1152 2: 1152 3: 1152 4: 1152 
Graphics:  Card-1: sun50i-disp driver: N/A bus ID: N/A 
           Card-2: mali-400 driver: mali_utgard v: N/A bus ID: N/A 
           Display: x11 server: X.Org 1.19.6 driver: armsoc resolution: 1366x768~63Hz 
           OpenGL: renderer: llvmpipe (LLVM 6.0 128 bits) v: 3.3 Mesa 18.1.5 direct render: Yes 
Audio:     Card-1: sunxi-tdmhdmi driver: sunxi_tdmhdmi bus ID: N/A 
           Sound Server: ALSA v: k3.10.105-bsp-1.2 
Network:   Card-1: sunxi-wlan driver: sunxi_wlan v: N/A bus ID: 23 
           IF: dummy0 state: down mac: <filter> 
           IF-ID-1: sit0 state: down mac: <filter> 
           IF-ID-2: wlan0 state: up mac: <filter> 
           IF-ID-3: wlan1 state: down mac: <filter> 
Drives:    Local Storage: total: 14.45 GiB used: 8.66 GiB (59.9%) 
           ID-1: /dev/mmcblk0 model: NCard size: 14.45 GiB 
Partition: ID-1: / size: 14.14 GiB used: 8.66 GiB (61.2%) fs: ext4 dev: /dev/mmcblk0p1 
Sensors:   System Temperatures: cpu: 30.0 C mobo: N/A 
           Fan Speeds (RPM): N/A 
Info:      Processes: 147 Uptime: 5m Memory: 1.94 GiB used: 448.7 MiB (22.6%) Init: systemd runlevel: 5 
           Compilers: gcc: N/A Shell: bash v: 4.4.23 inxi: 3.0.20

#13

Personally I rather have something like this:

4GB of memory and has mPCIe and mSATA. The keyboard is also mechanical as well.


#14

Is it strong enough to watch 1080p movies though…? I doubt 4k.


#15

Looks heavy and it has a…trackball.


#16

I think most of these DIY laptop projects are on the heavy side.


#17

Yeah; the goal of the Pinebook is not to be your daily driver; it’s way too underpowered for that. I bought it as a tablet replacement: something small and light that I can carry easily and that has a keyboard (i.e., so I could do real work—which in my case consists mostly of writing—on it). I wanted something that ran Linux instead of Android or iOS so I could tinker with it and be reasonably sure that some big corporation wasn’t spying on my every movement.

I am trying to avoid the cloud as much as I can. As a result, I use Syncthing to sync my todo.txt tasks, my Pimlical local calendar on my phone with my Pimlical desktop app, and a whole bunch of folders containing notes and documents (and movies for the kids).

Google has crippled Android for this use case. It used to be that you could insert a big microSD card and it was just another folder that apps could access. But Android has now gone down the Apple road, where the OS is designed not to trust the apps that run on it, because it doesn’t trust the user who installed them. Now if you want to use an external SD, it must be formatted in a special way that integrates it with the rest of the file system, and then it’s not readable on any other device. This apparently also burns out the SD card faster, because I was trying to use the old SD card from my tablet (reformatted) to test this Manjaro image, but even though I reformatted it first, it won’t write the image to it, so I haven’t yet been able to test it. So now I have to go get another one. :frowning:

As a daily driver, your refurb Thinkpad was a much better choice. The Pinebook is really only for these kind of portable, tablet-y sort of use cases. It’s got a big battery and barely sips power, so it can last a while. It’s small and light. It runs Linux, which works better for my use cases. But it is a slower, lighter duty machine.


#18

I thought about getting the Pinebook as well for almost the same reasons you did. I would likely have to use something like a trimmed down Xfce or a WM such as IceWM or JWM to squeeze enough performance out of it so I don’t go nuts… How is LibreOffice performance?


#19

Wrote the image to microSD, inserted it, but the Pinebook doesn’t boot from it. On every other image, just inserting the microSD causes the machine to boot from the microSD and not the installed eMMC.


#20

Okay. Seems I need to figure out the bootloader then.