This is a follow-up on a previous entry

One step closer to daily driver!!

Working from home is possible with the pinebookpro

I managed to connect to my workplace’s VPN, however it took some digging around: first of all, we have a Linux VPN package, so that’s already something, (kudos for showing Linux some love); you can choose to either install a .deb package, a .rpm package or build from source for either x86_64 or armhf architectures (basically just copies over some pre-compiled binaries), so far so good, everything great.

However being the curious person I am, I wanted to try to use my pinebookpro in a daily driver scenario so I tried to build the VPN client for armhf (from what I know aarch64 should be backwards compatible with armhf, if one of you, my dear readers knows otherwise, let me know), which failed to even build and would’ve required digging into the provided makefile or .sh files…

Thankfully Manjaro ARM/Arch official repositories contain openconnect, a multi protocol VPN client compatible with my Workplace’s VPN, so I just installed it, took a look at the manual to provide the right arguments and I was able to connect (only downside is it has to be run as sudo). Just for reference:

sudo openconnect --protocol=<protocol> <vpn.your.workplace/> -u <username>

It’s possible to use the -p flag to provide the password but I would advise against it. to avoid typing all this I just added an alias to my .bashrc.

I use remmina as a remote desktop client, it works perfectly fine and is also available in Manjaro ARM’s official repositories.

One more thing (see what I did there?)

I noticed one more quirk on the keyboard, apparently delete is a secondary function of the delete key, not horrible but takes some getting used to.
I have the ANSI US keyboard.

Day 28 of

This is a follow-up to this entry.

This time I’ll try to describe more day to day use (at least mine):

Generic tasks

The most simple task I use a computer for is writing entries for my blog, as I mentioned before I love the Markdown format… I’ve found a perfectly good FOSS replacement for Typora, which is also available for aarch64, so I am now using Ghostwriter.

Speaking of typing, I’ve been using the keyboard on the pinebookpro for a while now and it is quite good for the price, no premium feeling to it but it feels sturdy and the keys have decent travel, so that’s ok. The trackpad is another story, it feels sluggish and some times gestures such as using two fingers for right click take extra effort, I’d say good enough for the price.

I’ve also had trouble with WiFi networks, reception is a bit flaky at times, not sure if the antenna/hardware or software/drivers could be the cause (I’m more inclined to think SW), but both my cellphone and tablet seem to perform better in this regard.

I also found out that it is possible to watch Netflix on the pinebookpro but the method is not very elegant, this is achieved by installing a docker container with chromium installed in it (it can be installed by running: sudo pacman -Sy chromium-docker). For some reason once installed, chromium also requires to be run as sudo or it won’t even start, I just created an alias in my .bashrc file.

Another problem is that the USB-C dongle (SD, USB 2.0, HDMI, ethernet) I have didn’t work with my display to I may have to look for another one or just a USB-C to HDMI adapter.

More particular tasks

I mentioned it was possible to install VScode, and I am a big fan of PlatformIO, since it is what I use to play around with my esp8266 modules (I’m also looking into esp32 and nrf52 devices, but that’s material for another entry), ideally the PlatformIO plugin for VScode should only download the toolchain and flashing tools for your development platform but in this case I’m assuming the binaries were not compiled for aarch64 so no luck.

However I was able to get started with rust without any issues, more on that later.

Another hobby of mine is digital art, so I was glad to find Krita in the official repositories of Manjaro ARM, another surprise is that my cheapo Huion digitizer tablet seems to work out of the box with it to some extent, pressure sensitivity works (a bit laggy, depends on how complex the effect of the current brush is) but pen buttons (which should be detected as a right click in Krita), seem to glitch, contextual menu is displayed but any further clicks make it disappear without any options being applied.

My x86 computer has the DIGImend drivers installed and the right click glitch is nowhere to be seen there, so I tried installing them on the pinebookpro (this requires the linux-headers).

That’s it for now.

Day 28 of

Back in September I pulled the trigger and ordered a pinebook pro.

Long story short: I declare myself a fanboy, the pinebook pro from pine64 is a very capable little machine.

There are a lot of better written and more detailed blog posts/reviews of the pinebook pro out there already but just in case:

For the uninitiated the pinebook pro is an ARM powered laptop (yes, pine64 did it before it was cool) based on the ROCKPro64 single board computer –Think Raspberrypi on steroids– here are the specs:

  • Rockchip RK3399 SOC with Mali T860 MP4 GPU
  • 1080p IPS Panel
  • Magnesium Alloy Shell body
  • Bootable Micro SD Slot
  • 64GB of eMMC (Upgradable)
  • PCIe x4 to m.2 NVMe SSD Slot (requires optional adapter)
  • SPI Flash 128Mbit
  • HD Digital Video Out via USB-C
  • USB 2.0 Host
  • USB 3.0 Host
  • USB-C (Data, Power and Video out)
  • Lithium Polymer Battery (10000mAH)
  • Stereo Speakers
  • WiFi 802.11 AC + Bluetooth 5.0
  • Headphone Jack
  • Microphone
  • Front-Facing Camera (1080p)
  • ISO & ANSI Keyboard Variants
  • Privacy Switches for Camera, Microphones and BT/WiFi Meta + F12/F10/F11 respectively. Silly me had trouble figuring out this one
  • Large Trackpad
  • UART Access via Audio Jack This requires opening the laptop and flipping a switch
  • Barrel Power (5V 3A) Port

The wiki is a lot more detailed. It includes OS and overal usage information as well, be sure to check it out.

Experience with Manjaro ARM so far

The pinebook pro ships with Manjaro ARM pre-installed and I haven’t tested any other OS (yet), but I really like it and it is what I run on my old laptop as well so…

I really like to write my blog posts in markdown, so one of the first things I noticed was that Typora (thanks again @kev) was listed as an AUR install in pamac. That was a lie, all I got was something like “Typora is not supported for aarch64”, the alternative is to use VSCode to write blog posts but that’s like killing a fly with a bazooka, there’s always the option to build from source but that is not very elegant 🙁

FreeTube is another app I like to use to avoid all the ads and tracking from YouTube, but I was lucky and there is a zip file with a portable version for aarch64, not as elegant but all you need is to unzip and run the executable. 🙂

VScode, QtCreator and Element are available from the official repositories. 🙂

I couldn’t find timeshift, my preferred backup solution. However I found DejaDup and was gladly surprised to find out that is is possible to backup to a server, which is why I used my Nextcloud instance on my yunohost server, which was cool (DejaDup can access via WebDAV) 🙂

That’s it for now, will continue testing, I’d like to thank @pine64 for their hard work and community.

Here are some pictures of my unit with some fosstodon swag:

see the cool pine meta key ?
Fosstodon sticker put to good use

EDIT: As pointed out by @schrofi, turns out Typora only publishes parts of the source code (Themes) in Github, so building from source is not an option in this case.

I really like it but may have to look at other options… Kwrite has markdown syntax highlighting so that’s something… Or I could go back to killing flies with a bazooka.

Day 23 of