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DebianOn is an effort to document how to install, configure and use Debian on some specific hardware. Therefore potential buyers would know if that hardware is supported and owners would know how get the best out of that hardware.

The purpose is not to duplicate the Debian Official Documentation, but to document how to install Debian on some specific hardware.

If you need help to get Debian running on your hardware, please have a look at our user support channels where you may find specific channels (mailing list, IRC channel) dedicated to certain types of hardware.

Support

If something isn't working for you, you can get in contact with Mobian developers and the Mobian community in various ways. All of them are listed here.

Installation

This document guides the user how to install Mobian on their Pine64 PinePhone Pro.

Prerequisites

While other mechanisms exist, Mobian on the PinePhone Pro requires that Tow-Boot is installed on the SPI of the device. More recent PinePhone Pros come with this already installed. Earlier models should use the SPI install method described in the Tow-Boot documentation.

The best thing to do first is to test that Tow-Boot is installed. From the Tow-Boot docs: the phone can be started in USB Mass Storage mode by holding the volume up button at startup before and during the second vibration. The LED will turn blue if done successfully. In this mode, the phone will work like a USB drive when connected to a host computer. This is also the easiest way of installing Mobian.

The other noteworthy thing is that booting an operating system from an SD card can be forced by holding the volume down button before and during the second vibration. When done successfully, the LED will turn aqua. This may be required if a system is installed to the internal eMMC storage on the device.

Obtain the image

Pre-built Mobian images for the PinePhone Pro can be downloaded from the Mobian site. Installer images are available in the same location. Same images and installers are available both under folders pinephonepro and rockchip of https://images.mobian-project.org. Effective 2024-01-25, pinephonepro and pinetab2 images have been replaced by rockchip ones: please refer to rockchip images for newer images targeting these devices.

Verifying the images

Mobian images come with multiple files:

To verify the download, follow these steps:

  1. Import the Mobian signing key from here. Once downloaded, the key can be imported with gpg --import mobian.gpg.

  2. Verify the signature with gpg --verify *.sha256sums.sig.

  3. If the signature is valid, check the other files with shasum -c *.sha256sums

  4. If this prints OK for all files, the download is verified successfully.

Flash the Image

In order to flash the Mobian image, you need to identify the device attached to target. On the PinePhone Pro, it is /dev/mmcblk0 (for SD card) or /dev/mmcblk2 (for eMMC; its size should be 16GB or 32GB depending on device model) You can also use device names by-id for increased safety, e.g. /dev/disk/by-id/mmc-SU16G_0x1d6654fd. Be careful not to write to the wrong device! Replace the "X" in /dev/mmcblkX or /dev/sdX or use the /dev/disk/by-id/ file.

Follow below steps on how to flash to eMMC or see these Pine64 Wiki instructions for more ways on how to access eMMC of the PinePhone Pro. To flash to an SD card, simply use a computer of your choice.

Be advised that the first boot will take longer due to the automatic resizing of the filesystem.

Installation to eMMC

As the PinePhone Pro is not supported by JumpDrive the options to install to the eMMC are Tow-Boot's USB storage mode or by booting the installer from an SD card. To access Tow-Boot's USB storage mode, hold volume up while powering the device on. The devices eMMC should appear on the computer connected by USB.

Note: It is not recommended to flash the installer directly to the eMMC. If you do install this way, please ensure there is no SD card present while running the installer.

Method 1a: bmaptool via URL

bmaptool is a comfortable means to flash your image. It handles sparse files, so it can be considerably faster than plain dd. It also handles both .bmap and .gz files and can download them directly from an URL. Execute:

with $BLOCKDEVICE the blockdevice to flash, e.g. /dev/mmcblkX, /dev/sdX [in the case of jumpdrive], or /dev/disk/by-id/XXXXXX).

Example:

Method 1b: bmaptool with a local image file

You can also use bmaptool to flash a local image. Execute:

with $IMAGE, the path to the compressed or uncompressed image file and with $BLOCKDEVICE the blockdevice to flash, e.g. /dev/mmcblkX, /dev/sdX [in the case of jumpdrive], or /dev/disk/by-id/XXXXXX).

Example:

Method 3: dd

To use dd, you need to unzip the image using one of the following commands:

Then flash with the following command:

(the status= option will display some progress while flashing, dd is awfully silent otherwise)

Default pin and password

The default user is mobian and has the password: 1234. The password is also used as PIN on the unlock screen.

The root user is locked by default.

You should change the user password - please see ?changing password about the right way to do so. If you want to access your phone via ssh, you need to ?set it up to do so.

Automatic resizing of your filesystem on first boot

After flashing the image and booting for the first time, Mobian will resize the root filesystem to take all possible space on the disk. This can take a while and will only happen on first boot. So grab a ${DRINK_OF_CHOICE} and be patient.

Useful Tips and Notes

Detailed Status Report

Graphics Controller

Audio Controller

Cellular Modem

The cellular modem can be flashed with open source ("nearly free") custom firmware with advanced functionality; see the project's source code repository for more details.

The PinePhone Pro seems to have two variants, one supporting a micro-SIM, and another supporting nano-SIM. Using a nano-SIM card with the micro-SIM variant requires an adapter, and it is recommended to use a quality adapter or even to tape the SIM into the adapter if it is to be removed with any frequency, as some users report difficulty in removal resulting in damage to the socket on the device.

{i} Some users report the cellular modem runs very hot. The custom firmware will send SMS messages when the modem is running hot, and will shutdown the modem to avoid overheating.

Wi-Fi & Bluetooth Adapter

The Wi-Fi and Bluetooth adapters seems to work well. The Bluetooth stack on the device used to be lacking, especially with regard to audio headsets, but as of Bookworm seems to function without much/any issue.

Display

{i} The device (or operating system [?]) will throttle the CPU when temperatures reach ~65 °C, to avoid damage to the display.

Touch Input

The touch input driver and stack works well.

Cameras

The PinePhone Pro has both a front-facing and a rear-facing camera. One active line of software development to support these is libcamera and user-space support. A different line of development is jwestman's Camera/pinhole, evolving into GNOME snapshot. As of November 2023 on linux 6.6, Camera/pinhole is buggy; on some earlier kernel versions it was able to capture images from the front-facing camera, though the quality and experience were lacking, and the rear-facing camera had some issues. As of Nov 2023, GNOME snapshot is available on flatpak, and it and its dependencies are being prepared for Debian.

Battery

The battery in the PinePhone Pro is the same/compatible with that of the PinePhone and is user-swappable. Depending on usage and configuration, the battery charge may last for an entire day or possibly more, though w/ moderate or heavy use, it will not.

Power Management

TODO: empty section.