Computers/Pinebook Pro

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Free boot, WiFi/Bluetooth not working, DPTX firmware is nonfree (so no external display), has eMMC or NVMe PCIe (so has DMA access at least at boot). Using eMMC is possible instead. The NVMe connector may be repurposable to add an ath9k on it (untested, requires adapter on the forum).

For adding laptops support, the Pinebook Pro looks really good, but requires a bit of work. When this article was first created, it didn't boot with upstream Linux; and it required some patches. Some of the patches aren't needed (they are for nonfree bluetooth or nonfree WiFi), some are trivial to upstream, but there are some power management patches that are problematic (very dirty code, not upstreamable in Linux).

Parabola contributor 'avalos' has recently verified that Parabola linux-libre-64 runs well on the Pinebook Pro; but so far has only tested it with the pre-installed Manjaro u-boot. The computer is based on the RK3399 SoC, same as the RockPro64 that is endorsed by FreedomBox as fully-libre. So, the next step would be to package a uboot4extlinux version of the bootloader for Parabola. There exists a user-maintained fork of the Manjaro PKGBUILD, customized for ArchlinuxARM. That may be the best starting-point to take example from.

1 Upstream status

For the supported versions:

Software Status
Linux working
u-boot (bootloader) working

Here are details on which user input/output peripherals work out of the box or not:

Display Keyboard UART USB OTG Ethernet WiFi
U-boot (bootloader) Yes Yes  ?  ? N/A No
Linux Yes Yes  ?  ? N/A No
Systemd N/A  ?  ? N/A No
OpenRC N/A  ?  ? N/A No
Xorg Yes N/A
Wayland  ? N/A

If something doesn't work as intended, it may be because of some bugs which needs to be fixed.


2 Booting

The boot-rom of a typical ARM computer supports booting only from specific storage devices. See the table below for which storage devices on which you can install the boot-loader on the Pinebook Pro:

Storage device Boot-loader can be installed Accessible after boot
eMMC yes yes
SATA n/a n/a
MicroSD yes yes
SPI yes n/a
USB flash, USB Hard drive, etc  ?  ?

Note that hardware and feature support in ARM boot-loaders such as u-boot, often lags behind Linux. For example, currently:

  • u-boot doesn't support all the newer ext4 filesystem features
  • u-boot cannot open encrypted partitions

You may need to format your target filesystem (or re-format an existing filesystem) in a special way. The Parabola ARM installation guide explains these caveats.


3 Installation

Available bootloaders:


4 Free software status

  • To use it you probably need a microSD and potentially other mass storage devices. MicroSD and most of the mass storage devices (HDD, SSD, eMMC, USB keys, etc) have a firmware inside.
  • The board may not meet the RYF requirements, due to the non-free WiFi hardware.


5 Technical references

dts WHICH_ONE?.dts (TODO: not yet in parabola)
u-boot configuration pinebook-pro-rk3399_defconfig (TODO: not yet in parabola)