Pine Phone


Becca is awesome, she got me a PinePhone. What is it? An open source device that is essentially, well, a Smart Phone.

It is system-on-a-chip board, along with other parts, in a form factor of smart phone. It is made by Pine64, a great company/organization that embraces the open source community.

Installing Distros

Like any good device for open source software, there are Distros that can be installed on to the device.

I like both the technical idea of JumpDrive as well as the idea keeping images on my computer and not SD cards. Essentially what JumpDrive does is make the eMMC drive in the PinePhone into a USB mountable drive. It has enough of an OS to do so. Then you just use dd like on any other block device / drive copy (see here for dd hints). Just be very careful to choose the right drive (your phone) and to make sure the image you are writing supports eMMC boot.

Notes - Manjaro Plasma

First Things First

  • Updates! Each time I've installed a new image with Manjaro, updates have not worked well at first. So now I do some first time steps to help. First I ignore the update prompt. Second, I open a terminal and do sudo pacman-mirrors -g. Third I do sudo pacman -Syu and follow the usual terminal based update process for Manjaro. The first is because the mirror choosen always seems to give me timeouts. The second is that the feedback in "Discover" is rather poor when things don't go well.

About PinePhone

  • Is there a way to prevent power-on when plugging into charger?

Other Notes - Beta1

  • Upon first boot, I think the partition is being resized. But I see not feed back. So how do I tell if something is going wrong or not? And it's not good to reboot in the middle of a resize. :-)

  • See above about updates.

  • In Terminal, coming back from screen sleeping, typing doesn't work, but the "Cancel", "Esc", etc. buttons do. If I swipe down to get control panel and close it, typing works again.

  • In Terminal, the button bar scrolls under the "three line" and "three dot" buttons. Which makes things a bit confusing.

  • After update the top and bottom bars have disappeared. In Terminal, type killall plasmashell && rm ~/.config/plasma-org.kde.plasma/phoneshell-appletsrc && plasmashell &

  • Turning WiFi on/off from the taskbar updates the settings, but vice versa does not get updated.

  • Rotating the screen while off screws up the pin unlock keypad.

Other Notes - Alpha Stage

  • Discover has no feedback showing updates are happening, see above.

  • Booting up in landscape, and then moving to portrait shows only left 3/4 of inch of display.

  • Opened terminal to remove db.lck, decided to pacamn -Syyu. Screen locked and got message with both left & right cut off. Something about switching terminals, which is all but impossible on touch device.

  • Plugging in keyboard & mouse leaves phantom mouse on screen, though another larger one moves with mouse. After unplugging keyboard & mouse, the phantom mouse stays.

  • On screen keyboard is not coming up after update (tested in settings & terminal)..

  • Change of timezone does not actually happen, even after putting in password. Shows in settings, but when leaving & returning does not show altered timezone.

Pinebook 1080p

Okay, so notes on a Pinebook 1080p is not really about the Pine Phone. But I don't feel like adjusting these pages right now. What is the Pinebook? It is a system-on-chip laptop. It is a nice device, but really a toy. But one without games. ;-) I can only really do one task with it; don't try streaming, even by itself. At least with the distros I've tried (Manjaro, Neon, Armbian). Local apps, like the repurposed Acer C720 Chromebook, seem to be fine. I started a review, but it is so old and this technology is "so last year". I do wish I had a purpose to the laptop. Maybe someday something will occur to me.


I bought this USB cable for power. I use a powered USB hub and sometimes another computer to power the Pinebook. I also find the track pad sometime difficult, but don't plug it in until after boot.


I just installed Manjaro with XFCE (on 12/12/2020). I had been using KDE, but since they decided to break the idea of a rolling-release and it won't update to the latest, I reinstalled with XFCE in the hope of getting better performance. Don't get me wrong, KDE ran surprisingly well (at least 1.5 years ago). But I wanted to see if I could do more then just one thing at a time.

The installation process wasn't too bad. I had to: 1) dd the XFCE image to an SD card, 2) boot to that, 3) copy the XFCE image to another USB drive, 4) mount that on the Pinebook, and finally 5) dd the XFCE image from the USB to the built in eMMC drive. I guess they don't see the process as a usual OS installation; they only see running things off an SD Card. :-(

After jumping through those hoops, how was it? Well, XFCE was a bit smoother then KDE. For 100% accuracy, I should put the new KDE on it. But I'm not that interested. I also can't say that Chromium or Firefox worked any better on XFCE. As mentioned above, LibreOffice and Audacious together seem fine.

KDE Neon

The OS loads, at least back in 2018, and one can move around. But using it with apps gets a bit frustrating because it is slow.

KDE Neon also auto starts Firefox in the background. This slows down the system, especially if you want to use Chromium instead. To stop Firefox from pre-loading delete/move/modify the file below:

    • /usr/share/neon-settings-pinebook/plasma5-profile/autostart/firefox-preload.desktop

Personally, I comment out the exec line inside the file.