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    I also recently purchased and received a Pinebook Pro, and I love it!

    I cannot recommend the Pinebook Pro for a newbie (at least, not without local tech support). You need to have some experience with Linux and the command line to make it work. When I updated the keyboard + trackpad firmware as directed, I didn’t read the directions carefully enough, it turns out the keyboard stops working halfway through the update process! An external keyboard is required to finish the update, and I didn’t have one lying around at home, I had to go into the office to borrow one. That said, the Pinebook Pro isn’t advertised as newbie-friendly, so I don’t currently consider this a problem.

    My one reservation about this computer as a tool (rather than a toy) is that I worry about keeping the software up-to-date and secure. I’m concerned that if e.g. Firefox isn’t updated immediately, it is a security risk, and I worry about logging into anything that matters. For example, Pinebook Pro’s default Debian build https://github.com/mrfixit2001/debian_desktop (which is a volunteer project) just updated to Firefox 71. What’s the difference between that and the latest Firefox 72? Looks like a bunch of security fixes: https://www.mozilla.org/en-US/security/advisories/mfsa2020-01/

    I don’t need that much in the way of specs to have a functional computer. I need a web browser, and a terminal with SSH. There are a number of optional applications I’d like to have, like my preferred editor Atom, Signal Desktop and Slack for messaging, but I can survive without them. But if I’m afraid to use the browser because it might not be entirely secure…

    I don’t expect browser updates to be a long-term problem, I’m sure I’m not the only person who wants an up-to-date browser, and they seem to be working on it. That said, it is a problem I currently have.

    I’d also feel a little better if the default OS was a commercial build rather than a volunteer project, but I suppose I should have shelled out the cash for System76 or something if I really cared about that.

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      Fedora is getting better at supporting ARM64 (aarch64). It supports the Pi 3B+ now since a few releases, which gives you all the same software releases (including kernel!) as on x86_64. Pinebook Pro support is planned.

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        For example, Pinebook Pro’s default Debian build https://github.com/mrfixit2001/debian_desktop (which is a volunteer project) just updated to Firefox 71.

        Do you mean that it doesn’t use the official Debian package repositories? Or just that it’s an unofficial installer? Because if it’s the former, that’s a really strange claim I would want to look into more, and if it’s the latter, then it’s completely unsurprising.

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          When I look in sources.list, the apt sources are the standard debian stretch repositories.

          However, it appears to be using a custom kernel, custom builds for Chrome + Firefox etc., and a bunch of other tweaks. This non-standard software is updated via a “custom updater capable of updating uboot, the Linux kernel and numerous packages” in the form of a shell script with a handy icon in the toolbar.

          So you can install normal software via apt, but the tweaked software optimized to work on this hardware is installed/updated through the custom updater.

          Some details here: https://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=7830

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          I put Manjaro/XFCE on mine and it runs better than the default Debian build.The pinebook pro is also officially supported by Manjaro, so that feels good.

          Highly recommend it if you are a fan of Manjaro or Arch.

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            To be clear, when I said “I’d also feel a little better if the default OS was a commercial build rather than a volunteer project”, I don’t mean that I think the volunteers are doing bad work. I just mean that I worry about them being fairly compensated for their work, and I worry that without financial support they may not be able to maintain the software in the long run.

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            Great post! With regard to VSCode on ARM have you seen this page? Can’t test it since I don’t currently have ARM hardware and am restraining myself from buying a raspi 4 despite not having time to play with it :)

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              https://github.com/VSCodium/vscodium claims to have ARM builds as well

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                VSCodium is pretty great. We use it at work because it’s infosec blessed and certifiably doesn’t phone home.

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                I just installed this on my Pinebook Pro and it seems to work flawlessly. Thanks for the tip!

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                  I have not, I wasn’t aware of that. I’ll check it out, thanks!

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                    I’ve been watching the PB Pro rather closely myself. Its price point is low enough that I could use it as a ‘burner’ laptop if I needed to attend an event where I didn’t want to risk any of my actual important data or traveling to a country where I suspect they might scan my devices or inject malware.

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                      Your link worked like a charm! I’ll be updating the article accordingly.

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                  Does anyone have experience running OpenBSD on this?

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                    Can you still buy one?

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                      I would buy one immediately if shipping this to Europe didn’t cost an additional $100 (it’s shipping, VAT and tax handling fees). On the other hand, even $300 is probably a reasonable price for this laptop…

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                        Suggest hardware.

                        It really really slick for a $200 laptop - my major reservations (beyond my own quirky preferences) are use of Rockchip (can’t complain really for $200, but it renders the potential beyond toy) and 14” screen (I prefer smaller laptops, but the regular Pinebook is a massive step backward in terms of quality though.).

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                          What chip would you prefer? The RK3399 is nice in that it’s possible to boot without any binary blobs.

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                          Would seem like in ideal Machine to run Haiku-OS, but I guess the Haiku ARM port could use some love.

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                            The Pinebook is an open-source project (hardware and software are open-source) that aims to build usable laptops at the lowest possible price.

                            Is this actually true? I keep on hearing contradictory information about this. Or to put it in another way, is the hardware support given for linux libre?

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                              I’m not sure what you’re asking exactly, but you can see the technical details on the Pine64 wiki. It includes schematics, CAD files, links to upstream datasheets for the parts, and so on. I’ve seen similar levels of detail on hardware projects in, for example, the hobbyist-driven mechanical keyboard community, but I’ve never seen it from a corporation before.

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                                Not sure about pinebook pro. (Mine isn’t arriving till next week :)). But it looks like others have had success booting that same SoC without any blobs.

                                With the SoC’s GPU being supported by Panfrost it all looks very promising.

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                                I just got mine the other day and I’m very impressed at the quality of this little machine given the $200 price tag. No VSCode, but emacs/spacemacs installs nicely. I haven’t done much other than to surf around and fire up emacs, but I don’t have any complaints. It’s a great little machine and better than chromebooks I’ve picked up for twice that price.

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                                  No VSCode

                                  Have you tried the headmelted community builds of VSCode? They’re not official but they might work.

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                                  Have you found the 4GB ram to be restrictive at all? Does the laptop get into swap death with large applications?

                                  I’m ludicrously spoiled since I haven’t used a laptop with less than 8GB in YEARS.

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                                    I have pushed the limits on it already, yes. But for general web development stuff I’ve been doing it isn’t swapping too badly. Once I spin up a web server or some containers, with browsers open, and start editing some graphics it does push it a bit.

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                                    This laptop is better than any $200 laptop should be.

                                    I hope that Pine64 hasn’t set the price dangerously low, i.e. so low that they can’t sustainably keep making it. Maybe it should be a bit more expensive.

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                                      I’d thought the same; I would still have bought this at $250. They actually mention somewhere on their site that they sell it at-cost because they want to, so presumably they aren’t losing money and are making enough from other sources.

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                                        That’s what happened with the PocketCHIP; they made a really cool device, set the price really low, sold out immediately, stayed way behind on demand, and then went out of business.

                                        These folks seem a lot more experienced though.

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                                          The Pinebook used to be on backorder for months (just like the Pro now) but they’ve at least been keeping afloat for a few years now, so I’m hopeful.

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                                        Has anyone tried running Arch Linux ARM on one of these? I’m not sure which platform (if any) would apply.

                                        https://archlinuxarm.org/

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                                          Not quite - but I’m using the Manjaro ARM Pinebook Pro image (posting this with it!). Can get it at https://manjaro.org/download under Editions→ARM→Pinebook Pro. Installation was completely smooth and it’s working great for me so far! I uninstalled XFCE and LightDM and am using dwm now. The Manjaro ARM image has a 64-bit userspace rather than the 32-bit userspace which was on the Pinebook when it arrived (found this out since I got the Pinebook in part to play with AArch64 assembly).

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                                          Is it possible to get a graphics card hooked up?

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                                            No.

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                                              (More specifically, because the RK3399’s PCIe host controller is so half-assed that it only has 32MB of address space, which is not nearly enough for GPUs.)