Agreed, though it definitely takes a bit of fiddling to set up to work well. It’s a bit of a project laptop. I’ve been meaning to write up my own experiences with it, but now that I have it working well I’m less motivated to do so, so I’ll summarize them here:
Sway brings up something I think is interesting. It’s made sense in the past if you wanted to do something lightweight under X to avoid variable-width fonts. After all, this is why i3, Sway’s inspiration, did just that. But with the likes of Sway, which is already using the likes of Freetype to render its fonts, using fixed-width fonts as a rather odd affectation.
I didn’t know that, actually. As far as I care using Freetype or such is just fine, and don’t know why you’d want to avoid it – I rather like being able to see Unicode text without doing anything special. You can change the font that Sway uses quite easily, it’s a one-liner in the config file. Truetype fonts might have some cost in complexity and so on, but I’d rather have that than a X server clumsily trying to do its own font stuff.
I think it’s just because Sway doesn’t want to stray too far away from i3 so that people with existing i3 configurations can get something very similar working with Sway without too much hassle. If you switch out the default Sway top bar for something like waybar, you’re already using your system default user interface font instead of Sway’s default monospace. If you hide the Sway window titles, Sway will hardly ever render any text in the first place.
I’ve been happy with my kwin-tiling setup. I haven’t tried sway on it yet. It was definitely a bit of a project, but I got mine when it was still shipping with that funny debian install… now that it ships with manjaro plasma by default, it might be less of a project.
I’m seeing “all day” life out of the battery, and chromium is fine. It doesn’t behave if you run the battery to empty, but like you said, nothing really does.
Yeah my battery experiences haven’t quite been all day, but it hits 5-6 hours pretty easily unless I’m watching videos or compiling code the whole time. I definitely expect it could be stretched out for longer if one tried. I should probably figure out how to turn the brightness down and see if I can hit the 12+ hours other people report, but so far I really haven’t needed to. I currently don’t even have a battery monitor widget in my config.
How many Linux laptops don’t take at least a little bit of fiddling though? Would be keen to see your blog post on your experiences.
This thing really attracts me but I’m in EU and tax handling fees are basically impossible to predict, so… In fact I’m absolutely ready to pay more if the total cost is predictable. I’m unable to find an EU-based reseller but it’s probably too soon (there are resellers for other pine64 products so I think this is just a matter of time).
My experience mirrors the author. It’s great for things like programming. You can’t be too distracted by the Internet or tempted by games because this machine lacks the resources for many of those things, at least while running other things as well. Netflix doesn’t run because there is no Widevine plugin for ARM64 (yet).
It is fast enough to do one thing at a time. I’ve been writing Rust and Go code on it, using emacs & lsp-mode (so continuous recompiling in the background), and running a browser for docs and youtube playback in the background. This works fine, but is probably at the limit of what this laptop can handle.
Have you tried a lighter browser like netsurf for documentation? And is there any difference when you use mpv+youtube-dl instead of the official site?
I haven’t tried either. It works just well enough as is not to bother.
They got netflix working on it https://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=9680&pid=65008#pid65008
Does it have a fan or is it fanless? To clarify, I mean this in the sense of a turning cooling whirring fan thing, not a happy enthusiastic human fan person :)
No turning cooling whirring fan thing. Here’s the official picture. I can confirm that’s accurate based on disassembling my own; I didn’t take my own photo but mine looked just like that.
How’s the battery life on this thing?
This is THE selling point for Chromebooks for me: 10+ hour battery life, not a problem. It’s hard to get that out of refurbished Thinkpads.
TBH, I don’t know what the battery life is, and I’ve been using one off and on since January. The only times it has run out on me were when I forgot to plug it in overnight. It goes all day for me. I plug it in at the end of the day. I’d ballpark it at 10 or 11 hours. I don’t use it for longer than 8 or 9 at a stretch regularly, though. I’m using Manjaro plasma with the kwin-tiling extensions, in case that makes a difference.
It does charge slower than other laptops I’ve used.
I get very good battery life out of it with brightness turned down a bit. I recently tweeted about this and it seems my numbers are on the high en of the spectrum, but most people report at least 7h+ of battery life. I get over 12 hours of moderate to heavy use with low brightness (streaming youtube in the background while compiling Go or Rust code and using emacs).
Like most people, using Manjaro with KDE Plasma desktop.
https://twitter.com/wvdschel/status/1255838511258914816 for context of that discussion.
It’s hard to get that out of refurbished Thinkpads.
It’s hard to get that out of refurbished Thinkpads.
A lot of this is due to the dire ThinkPad battery management, that unless you micromanage it, will kill the batteries. My friends with Let’s Notes and MacBooks get almost like new battery performance out of a few year old cells, so…
I guess that’s why TLP was initially developed for Thinkpads?
Mine is on its way, looking forward to it! :)
This post sold me; 200 USD? Ordered.
I’m not the author, but my experience has been similar. This thing is punching way above its weight. The manjaro plasma spin that I’m told is now the default is really well done, too.
Interesting, and very promising.
I’ve just switched to using a PinePhone running Ubuntu Touch as my regular phone. This is working out surprisingly well, despite a broad range of teething problems that you’d expect running a developer pre-release phone :)
I’m tempted to switch to a PineBook Pro too, as a daily driver, now that a) most of my daily workload is meetings and reading, and b) we’re going to get (somewhat) high-speed Internet at home, meaning I can offload serious work to a rack-mount server.
Seems like an excellent machine! I have an old Thinkpad X230 that I use in the same ways as the author – maybe once it finally dies the Pinebook will be the way to go.
I’ve been thinking about doing the same, but ironically it would be the most expensive laptop I ever bought so I can’t get myself to do it (yet).
Also in the same boat with a completely functional X230.. the pinebook pro is super tempting, and the fact that the manufacturer sells some replacement parts for it is excellent to see. One of the major strengths of the older thinkpads is that they’re so repairable. I fear(lol) mine will last a few more years before I have an excuse to buy anything like the pinebook pro..
@gueorgui, you know that that x230 will never die right? Those things are built like tanks and so moddable/fixable. I just got one and am quite happy.
Sure, but at what cost. I bought a replacement battery half a year ago for half the price I initially paid. Trying to replace the wifi-chip I already damaged parts I now using duct type to keep together. It’s still working, but a few more mistakes and it won’t be worth it any more.
Yes, that is true and it is something that only you can decide when to ditch. You can keep pouring money and fixing it though, which is something you can’t do with modern ultra thin machines like the Surface Pro X that I’m using to write this message down, if something breaks in it, I can’t repair it. Still, I totally understand wanting something that works instead of something that is a constant project. On my original message I was trying to make a fun remark around thinkpads not dying, I guess it didn’t come through as I wanted. Sorry.
You can keep replacing everything but the battery. I’ve got an X301 I use every day and the only batteries I’ve been able to find for it have all exploded within months of purchase. I think that’s really the only edge the Pinebook has over an old thinkpad, other than maybe screen resolution.
I have a couple of t430s (the ‘s’ model) Thinkpads that simply won’t die. They are actually fast enough still (with cheap SSDs in them) for light work with office apps and kids’ homework websites.
Yeah I know that the X230 is not going to actually die any time soon – when I was in between “serious work laptops” for two months a bit earlier I was using the X230 for my day job (rails development) and it could do everything I needed it to, no worse than my old macbook pro. I love that machine, and the only thing about it that causes any discomfort is the screen, which I know there are mods for.
The FHD mod might be a bit difficult to install if you’re not used to that sort of thing, but I highly recommend it. A 1080p display makes the x230 into an even more amazing machine.
He mentions that it doesn’t like Chrome. [My 2016 MacBook Pro with a “piddling” 8 GB of RAM also has a hard time running Chrome once my Gmail tab has been open for a few days.] I wonder how Firefox does on the Pinebook Pro…
Firefox is OK on pinebook pro for me. I vacillate between Firefox and Chromium. Both of them more-or-less work fine in my usage. After either one has been open for too long, I find it better if I close and reopen the window. Both of them are now good enough at saving state that closing and reopening the window is not a serious inconvenience. But neither one works well as a long-lived process on this system for me.