Tips & Tricks for your new Pinebook Pro

Congratulations on your new Pinebook Pro with Manjaro ARM KDE Plasma.

Here’s a couple of tips and tricks which could be useful for you and your experience with the Pinebook Pro.


First a couple of facts:

  • Manjaro ARM is an aarch64 only distribution. Meaning it’s 64-bit kernel and userspace.

  • Manjaro ARM is a semi-rolling release, meaning it’s split into branches.

  • By default, your installation is set to run on the arm-stable branch. This means that it should recieve updates a couple of times pr month.

  • Manjaro ARM is also a mainline distribution as much as possible. Which means a lot of the Pinebook Pro support is bleeding edge technologies and will change alot in the future.

  • Your default install uses @tsys’s linux-pinebookpro kernel tree, to ensure it has the best support possible on an up to date kernel. This was changed to use the mainline linux kernel with the August 13th Stable Update.


Recommendations

The Manjaro ARM team recommends doing the following:

  • Always keep your system up to date (partial upgrades are not supported).

  • Either make sure you read the update announcements on the forum (it has an RSS option too) or install mntray from the repositories and run it.


Tips

  • If you want to help testing packages and applications before they hit arm-stable branch, you can switch branches to either arm-testing or arm-unstable (if you are really adventurous) and provide feedback in the Update threads for that branch on the forum. To switch branch, edit /etc/pacman-mirrors.conf and change the Branch = variable from arm-stable to either arm-testing or arm-unstable. Save the file and run sudo pacman-mirrors -f5 && sudo pacman -Syyu to update your mirrorlist, package databases and your system to match the new branch.

  • While widevine is not directly supported on our platform, we have made it possible to still watch DRM content via our chromium-docker package, which downloads an armv7h system and installs Chromium with Widevine inside that.


Possible issues

  1. If there is no Wifi present on your device when you get it, it might be because the factory forgot to turn off the WiFi Hardware Kill Switch. To do this press PINE+ F11, so the LED blinks twice. Then reboot. This should bring back the WiFi.

This post will get updated if we think of more.

Enjoy your Pinebook Pro.
– The Manjaro ARM Team

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Those who, like me, want to be able do things like embed audio and video files in Libre Office Impress and use such files in other applications may be helped by knowing how I got this working, though I’m afraid I’m too much of a thrasher to provide more than some general hints. Anyone who actually knows how this works is welcome to correct me.

First of all, I could not get my new Pinebook Pro, which was running an image of Manjaro with my beloved xfce desktop, reliably to detect external displays through USB-c to HDMI and VGA adapters. I unsuccessfully tried enabling automatic detection and configuration in the advanced section of xfce’s display settings utility and tried different adapters and monitors. Then I installed a Manjaro image with KDE Plasma. That solved my display detection problem, at least when using one of my two adapters. But the media in my Impress slides still did not play.

I read that Impress uses the AV services provided by the operating system, that Manjaro uses gstreamer to provide those services, and that gstreamer uses plugins to provide codecs and other services that are not included the basic Manjaro distribution. I could not figure out from the names in pamac which plugins were necessary for what I needed or, in fact, what many of the plugins did. However, since my main current intended use for my new Pinbook Pro is to present Impress slideshows to a class, and since I was prepared to start from scratch with a downloaded image of the OS, I was willing to take some chances. So I just used Manjaro’s gui installer (pamac?) to install almost everything from the official stable repository whose name started with with “gstreamer” or “libav”. Luckily this ridiculously random sledgehammer method worked, and the embedded video and audio files in Impress now play properly when I present the slides in which they are embedded.

I wish I knew enough to create some kind of collection of only the most helpful AV addins, which I have seen for other operating systems, but I don’t. I found the page at

helpful, but the list of files there seems out of date.

Being able to present my slideshows was a deal-breaker for me and, since it may be for others, I thought it might be helpful to post even these very ignorant tips.

-v

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