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PinePhone Manjaro Community Edition (pine64.org)
349 points by jandeboevrie 7 months ago | hide | past | favorite | 166 comments

Every time the Pine64/Pinephone stuff gets mentioned I go looking for the Arch Linux ARM project mentions, and donation links. Previously they just avoid mentioning this, but most of the Manjaro ARM stuff couldn't happen without the tireless work of the Arch ARM developers.

I've had to repeatedly mention they shouldn't remove attribution from PKGBUILDs they take from Arch ARM.


Also begging for donations to Manjaro ARM, but with no mentions of Arch ARM. This was fixed with the old announcements, but it seems like any donations has been removed from current announcements.

> We will donate $10 per unit sold to the Manjaro development team. To learn more about this scheme please click here.

But where? Currently there is Manjaro the Company and Manjaro the Community. Both has separate funds, which is partially where the treasurer drama stems from. And is there any donations to the dependant projects?

This annoys me as most of the packaging efforts are on the Arch ARM side of things, not Manjaro. You can open any of their distributed ISOs and take a look at the packager information.

> Every time the Pine64/Pinephone stuff gets mentioned

You probably mean Manjaro/Pinephone or something like this, I initially thought you equated Pinephone with Manjaro. (hint for others: it is not, there are a various other compatible distros). I agree that Arch Arm upstream does a pretty good job, though that packaging job is 70% orthogonal to, say, alpine+postmarketos packaging :)

I believe postmarketOS team closely collaborates with Alpine. It cannot be said about Manjaro, neither in relation to Arch or Arch ARM.

we definetly try to upstream as much to Alpine as possible. Also postmarketOS basically maintains KDE in Alpine

Manjaro is downstream from Arch.

That's not my point. Being a downstream does not imply collaboration.

I personally would avoid anything Manjaro related due to recurring controversies around the project leadership:


I wish PinePhone would partner with Arch or Debian instead.

I share this concern. Their own treasurer raised a concern as to whether community donated funds were handled according to the process they had put in place. For a period of time while this was happening, they responded by hiding forum threads about the subject. Eventually the treasurer parted ways with the team, and although they claim they didn't kick their treasurer out, their treasurer felt more or less like they had no choice but to leave, feeling effectively kicked out.

Their apparent respect for their own stated internal practices was basically non-existent and their way of addressing concern raised does not appear to have been great, and their attempt to shut down discussion without explaining anything was bad, and when they did make a statement it did not feel entirely forthright or comprehensive, and it was different in many ways from what the treasurer had said, making it hard to figure out what really happened.

It doesn't appear that any money was used in an improper way (all valid project-related costs, no tickets to Disneyland), only that it was not reviewed + processed consistently with their own internal policies. The management wants to emphasize the 'no improper use' part, which is fair enough so far as it goes. But it does not make them appear trustworthy should there be a real question in the future where we need to rely on their version of events to get to the bottom of something.

Related discussion on lemmy: https://dev.lemmy.ml/post/38078

...and it's not even just the controversies. Manjaro feels like they play fast and loose with everything. Arch doesn't include AUR helpers by default specifically because of the potential for user-generated packages to install malware or do something damaging (with the intent being that if you want to use the AUR you really ought to understand the implications). Manjaro not only includes AUR helpers--it seems to actively encourage its use for packages not officially maintained. Though, in their defense, their wiki page does (finally?) include fair warnings borrowed from Arch[1]. I'm just not sure it shares the same visibility.

Otherwise it feels like a parasitic project masquerading as "Arch but easier." While there is truth to the latter, the oddly curious aspect to me--having been helping newbie Linux users for a couple years now--is that it seems new users generally have more long-term problems with Manjaro than they do with Arch. I don't have any facts to back this up, but speaking from my own anecdotes one would think the "easier" distro wouldn't be subject to this sort of trouble.

Also, they recently lost all of their support forum images earlier this month[2].

[1] https://wiki.manjaro.org/index.php/Arch_User_Repository

[2] https://linuxreviews.org/Manjaro_Linux_Lost_All_Of_Their_Sup...

Unfortunately, the only other easy distro is Ubuntu, and not having the AUR or the Arch wiki or the quite good Manjaro forums and having to use potentially-dead PPAs for things because Ubuntu packages are out of date is less easy.

The OpenSUSE distros--Leap and Tumbleweed--don't get a lot of attention but they're worthy, relatively easy to use, alternatives to Ubuntu and Arch respectively.

Leap is an LTS distro that is more up to date than Ubuntu LTS and Tumbleweed is a rolling release that has enough QA that it doesn't blow up as frequently as Arch.

I just installed OpenSUSE on 7 computers over the last month. On my personal ones, I was previously running Kubuntu, then Manjaro, and now OpenSUSE. On work ones, most were on CentOS 7. I installed Tumbleweed on the personal ones, including a laptop, and Leap on the work ones.

Overall my experience has been great and I love OpenSUSE. However, I definitely would not recommend them for beginners for a few reasons.

Tumbleweed doesn't support certain browser video out of the box in Firefox. I had to enable a repository, and download libav packages to get it to work. The package names were confusing (why do I need libav 56 and 57 when 58 is already installed?). I had already installed the packages from the default repo, but they specifically needed to be installed from Packman.

GUI scaling between different displays is completely broken on Leap. Certain things scale, other things don't, and it looks horrible.

Normally, I get super annoyed when people take little things like that and make a huge issue out of them. They are little problems and I solved both of them, and love OPENS USE. But with Manjaro, I didn't have any problems from fresh install. Even switchable laptop graphics worked. Manjaro is very easy to recommend to someone afraid to open a terminal.

I do agree that "easy" isn't a solved space in the Linux world (Pop!_OS by System 76 is supposed to be quite good albeit also Ubuntu-based).

I don't think that necessarily absolves problems with the AUR or including AUR helpers out of the box. I do understand that the AUR is incredibly useful for a wide(r?) array of software, but I take issue with Manjaro's approach of foisting it on potentially unsuspecting users who may not know enough to understand that these are user-maintained packages that anyone could upload. I'd say I don't think it's a particularly responsible thing to do, but Manjaro's approach seems to eschew caution, throwing it entirely to the wind.

But, I confess it could be because I'm a long time Arch user protecting the status quo. I understand that the traditional approach (install base-devel, copy the target PKGBUILD, run makepkg, run pacman -U) is an obstacle to a lot of users. That said, I think it's a good thing because the community repo has a ton of commonly used software (maintained by TUs) so there isn't a huge requirement on diving into the AUR now as there was 5 years ago.

My fear is that encouraging people to blindly install PKGBUILDs via yay or pamac will eventually nail someone.

> I wish PinePhone would partner with Arch or Debian instead.

The Mobian[1] project (Debian for PinePhone) is doing very well.

A Mobian PinePhone edition is possible - but in the meantime people can install the OS on existing PinePhones.

[1] https://mobian-project.org/

I wish PinePhone would partner with Arch or Debian instead.

Word. Debian is great! In the past when I see people using Ubuntu, I always wondered why? It is so interesting how people in tech just fall into the fashion trap.

My probably-flawed remembrance of the situation, as a Debian (2001+)/Gentoo(2004-8) user:

Canonical showed up to the party with a substantial concerted and sustained effort of funding/developers to take the existing Debian framework and make it more user-friendly.

In particular, Ubuntu was willing to package substantially non-free software into the experience. Things like Flash just worked most of the time. There was a substantial emphasis on usability, so that Linux-on-the-desktop could reach people with less background knowledge (everyone was doing this, of course, but Ubuntu seemed to put less emphasis on other things).

When Ubuntu emerged, Debian users were concerned that Ubuntu would take over the DFSG-software world and make it, in the long run, less free. What turned out to happen, in this case, was that the approachability of Ubuntu, built atop the Debian foundation, drew many more users away from RedHat/Fedora and ultimately strengthened the Debian/Ubuntu userbase and ecosystem. The usability really mattered -- I've repaired the occasional Debian system with Ubuntu boot-disks simply because the drivers, at the time, worked better.

Thanks to the intrinsic properties of open-source development, many of the good things about Ubuntu have found their way into Debian (and GNU/Linux at large). The Debian of today is a much more-readily usable experience than the Debian of 2004 thanks to the work of a great many people.

This is also thanks to Ubuntus commitment to contribute back to Debian and ensure there is a synergy. The same can't be said for Manjaro.


Getting wifi and sound working with new laptops was a chore or hit and miss with Debian or Fedora at the time. Ubuntu worked on a lot of these issues.

> when I see people using Ubuntu, I always wondered why?

As someone (still) using Ubuntu today, I have 1 simple answer: OOB experience.

Back in the days, I could insert a Ubuntu live-CD (remember CDs?), and have a fully working system, including proprietary graphics-driver and wifi-firmware. And installing from that Live-CD gave me the same experience once installed.

Basically, it was a machine 100% ready to use, with everything autodetected, with absolutely zero manual effort.

Debian otoh required me to hook up a wired network connection (because those had free drivers), and then manually track down which packages contained the proprietary drivers and firmware I needed.

That single thing made a world of difference to me back then, and it still does today.

Yep. It's the only distro that works by default on my 2009 Macbook Pro.

> I see people using Ubuntu, I always wondered why? It is so interesting how people in tech just fall into the fashion trap.

I would rather attribute it to advertising, and probably some contracts with the right people. Canonical did a lot of advertising in the past years, and contracts can mean a school mandates the installation of Ubuntu, which translates in hundreds of students becoming accustomed to it, together with some of their parents and friends, and so on. This is something completely out of the reach for a community supported distribution like Debian; attempting to change it would mean putting a corporation behind it, which would be a recipe for destruction of its principles.

> In the past when I see people using Ubuntu, I always wondered why?

Debian is great. I particularly respect Debian as an organization. On my home laptop, I've used Debian, Arch, Ubuntu, Fedora, etc etc.

But on my work computer, I've always used Ubuntu (or sometimes MacOS), because:

- I prefer Ubuntu LTS to Debian's testing/stable approach.

- Lots of other devs use Ubuntu, so instructions are often focused on the distro

- It's always had all the drivers I need packaged with the distro

- Smaller projects are more likely to set up a PPA than host their own package repository.

> I prefer Ubuntu LTS to Debian's testing/stable approach.

May I ask why?

Because I like having a stable system with a known "good for" date, rather than "when it's ready". I particularly like using LTS for systems that I don't want to have to touch very often...just set unattended security updates on and leave it be.

I realize I could do something similar with Debian, but testing isn't generally stable enough for the use cases I have in mind, whereas stable gets stuck with some very old packages. If I need a new package toward the end of the lifespan of a LTS, I can often find PPA. If not, I'll just compile it myself.

It's just my preference. To be honest, probably a big part is that Ubuntu is mostly what I've used the past decade.

It's nice that Ubuntu has been very predictable getting releases out on a schedule, while Debian's approach has been "when it's ready", which could sometimes be a very long time between stable releases.

Debian's been on a 2-year release cadence since at least 2007. I agree, they don't come out like clockwork the way Ubuntu LTS editions or macOS do but they come out in the first half of the year they're supposed to. At worst it's 2.5 years between releases at best it's under 2 years.

It is so interesting how people in tech jump to baseless conclusions about others' behavior that differs from their own...

Personally, I shifted to Ubuntu since it removed headaches re: getting a system running out of the box. By the time i shifted in ~2011 I had already transitioned through SLS -> Slackware -> RedHat -> Debian over the 1993-2011 period. After 18 years, Ubuntu brought relief in that I didn't have to deal with fiddling with things to get a system up and running. At that point the fun-factor of fiddling with the system had worn off and I was mostly concerned with getting work done, which Ubuntu addressed. Last time I tried Debian (~4 years ago?), it felt like it had caught up in terms of the out-of-the-box experience, which was nice.

> In the past when I see people using Ubuntu, I always wondered why?

Because I don't have a wired internet connection, and my wifi adapter requires proprietary drivers. If I could just download and install from an ISO like I can with Ubuntu, I'd switch to Debian in a heartbeat, but I don't feel like having to do manual workarounds just to get a running Linux distro.

use one of the (unofficial) images containing non-free firmware: https://cdimage.debian.org/images/unofficial/non-free/images...

> unofficial

And there lies the problem.

But not any sort of actual one--do you imagine that "unofficial" has a technical meaning of greater significance than that Debian people don't care for proprietary binary blobs?

The Debian site makes hard to find the operating system images containing binary firmware for various devices, but they're all there. Another poster published the right link, however should you some day not have it handy, a search for "debian firmware image" will lead you to it both on DuckDuckGo and Google.

Installing Debian 11 on a seven year old laptop to test something involved Debian helpfully mentioning it was missing network drivers and couldn't continue (okay), which effectively meant searching the internet for the files mentioned on another computer (dubious). Because this laptop was being used exclusively to test something on Debian 11 (openssh-server with U2F support) I just settled for some random GitHub repo with the driver binary (the only place I could find it). Not a great user experience.

The Ubuntu way is to suggest installing non-free drivers from the same reputable source as the rest of the distro: by clicking your assent right there in the installer.

It really comes down to installers with proprietary firmware blobs that you need to install on laptops.

Debian's download page makes it hard to find the images with the non-free bits. They're there, though, if you dig just a bit.

Then, on laptops that have both Intel and Nvidia graphics hardware, for some reason the installers insist on loading both the i915 and nouveau kernel modules, which then fight over the console. (I asked over at the nouveau IRC, and they said a one-liner patch would fix that, still after all these years.) So, you add "nouveau.modeset=0" to the boot line on those laptops.

Finally, there is the confusion over the name "unstable", which is what people using Debian run, at least for the parts that need to be up to date, like browsers, media players (mpv), and firmware.

But the experience once you have got set up is better than on Ubuntu.

In 2006, I had a brand new asus laptop. I first tried To install Debian. Then I tried Fedora, or Redhat, I don’t remember when that split was. My next try was Ubuntu, which went without a hitch. Since it’s always worked for me, I’ve stuck with it.

This was after several years of running Redhat, Suse and Debian on desktops, so I wasn’t a newbie.

I had a similar experience, although I went back to Fedora around 2013 and was amazed at how good it has gotten. If you're happy then no reason to change, but if you are mad about Snap or any of the other issues of the day, give Fedora another try. It's really great at the "just works" these days while still staying super fresh.

>I always wondered why?

for me personally easier to use installer, proprietary driver/codec support out of the box, faster release cycle, debian stable is too old for me and unstable can break at at all times/doesn't receive any major updates before new releases and so on. Also Ubuntu for the longest time used to be the only distro shipping with good font rendering settings, staring at code all day this actually was fairly important to me

so basically Ubuntu 'just works', if I ran Debian I'd just replicate Ubuntu's default settings pretty much anyway so I can just save myself the few hours.

Unstable aka Sid receives updates always, I think your thinking of Testing which goes into a freeze period before each major release of Debian.

Sid has been quite stable for me, the packages are much newer than Ubuntu (generally on par with Arch or close to it) and the few noteworthy bugs I have seen over the years have been reported and handled within 24 to 48hrs of said package being updated with the problematic code.

Because coming from Slackware and OpenBSD, Debian's install process was too big of a pain to deal with.

Canonical contributes very little back to Debian.

But they do a lot of marketing.

Why do you say that exactly? When Canonical developer fixed GNOME infamous bugs aren't those contribution getting into Debian?

My impression is that Ubuntu always respected Debian and always encouraged all fixes to happen upsteeam, for example for new packages you can see that Ubuntu is asking people to submit them to Debian (so everyone benefits) https://wiki.ubuntu.com/UbuntuDevelopment/NewPackages#NEW_pa...

Came here to say this. I respect both communities like KDE and companies like RedHat (before it was acquired). But when call yourself a community but act more like a company (and a toxic one at that) is where you lose all my respect.

Not having used Manjaro personally, what's the advantage here? My impression was that it was essentially Arch with a user friendly installer and possibly some nicer defaults.

This seems desirable if you're setting up a PC, but is there really added value there if you're building a ROM image for a phone? It seems like you'd be doing a ton of manual installing and configuring anyway, since it's such an unusual target compared to a typical desktop, regardless of cpu architecture...

I have used manjaro on my personal laptop for the past 4+ years and I share the same sentiment. Great for a computer but I'm not sure what value is added on the pine phone.

What all of these distros basically do is some non-trivial amount of integration of existing software, and configuring/patching it for PinePhone, presumably.

Not sure about manjaro specifically, but it looks like it will be another phosh based distro. Their forum will probably have more info eventually:



> I wish PinePhone would partner with Arch or Debian instead.

I exclusively use Arch on my other computers, so I initially put the upstream Arch ARM on my PinePhone, but it's just not in a state that most users (even tinkerers) would be inclined to work with. Manjaro and some of the other distributions are close to fully functional.

I'm sure Pine64 would love to partner with Arch ARM (or any distribution) that would like to focus on providing a good user experience on the device.

IMO, Postmarket OS provides the best experience on the device at this time.

The drama of Manjaro leadership notwithstanding, does the distro work on the phone?

Yes, while YMMV, I've found it to be in or near the top tier of images as far as hardware support for the pinephone. All the top distros are developed in the open so they tend to improve together. Like all distros on the phone, Manjaro breaks sometimes but they are doing a pretty good job. I've had the best luck with Mobian, but Manjaro and Fedora were a close second.

Isn't arch on arm a different group? I know their website doesn't work without talking to google.

Anyway, with all those distros piling up for PinePhone, I finally decided to release p-boot with display support and GUI multi-boot menu.


I'll make some multi-boot SD card demo image next, perhaps with postmarket, arch linux, mobian and ubuntu touch. :)

Your work is impressive! What's amazing is the mere seconds you see a productive screen in. Android takes full 30 seconds for me.

That requires a customized PID 1 init program and a lightweight GUI (that map app is just ~10MiB of code + some code for postgresql that runs in the background) - most of the delay there is waiting for the postgresql to start up, actually.

Arch Linux to some lightweight GUI based on Xorg/i3wm takes about 8s. Similar for my Electron/X11 fullscreen based GUI for the phone (also in the video). Both are much larger.

Sadly, the Linux userspace is quite bloated, and the limiting factor is loading times from storage to RAM. You basically need to load >200 MiB of binaries/.so files to have anything useable running.

With eMMC speed of ~85MiB/s and SD card speed of 25MiB/s max for sequential reads only, you get the picture of where the most of the delay is.

Is this one of the cases where PostgreSQL is overkill and something like SQLite would be a better fit?

I like the fact that I can get easy to set up replication, without much effort, that works reliably with frequent network failures and such.

Cool. :smile:


blue text ≠ links → grumpy reader

“opesource” typo under “Support the project”

(loader itself)

too simple and speedy, fast and flawless to criticize, complain, or comment

Thanks, fixed. :)

You’re welcome :)

A bit late but thanks so much for this work -- I consider myself a late early adopter and your work is going to make it much easier for me to take these phones for a spin.

This is great work. How close are we to a "just works" open source phone targeted for end-users?

If it's "just phone", then pretty close, I think.

If it's Android/iOS replacement, then not at all.

Awesome project. Honestly worth a post if its own.

I see several comments questioning the choice of Manjaro on PinePhone, but as the name suggests it's Community Edition after all; Those who want Manjaro on smartphone, now have a device to develop for.

I think, the way Pine64 is pushing these CE devices is smart and definitely a positive step for overall pure Linux smartphone ecosystem. But, I'm also hearing great things about Mobian[1] on PinePhone and AFAIK it's being largely developed by an individual. I would like Pine64 to come up with a way to support these talented individual developers as well, besides supporting large well-established communities.


Lot of the projects pinephone depends on are developed just by a bunch of talented individuals. Majority of the PinePhone specific bootloader/firwmare/kernel driver work and upstreaming is done by maybe 3 individuals, neither of whom are associated with any of the distros supported so far, AFAIK. And you can't have a working distro without a working kernel. A lot of value is based on the results of linux-sunxi.org project, and related communities, like lima project, etc. It's FOSS, hey. Everything depends on everything, and it's kind of a hard to support everyone.

I personally wish for a "Linux kernel CE" edition, in the future, being one of those kernel devs. ;)

How/where does one contribute? Is there a guide specifically for this (phone/pinephone development). I couldn't quite figure it out from the mobian repo ):

Icenowy did the initial board bringup, I think: https://github.com/Icenowy

I don't know if Samuel accepts donations, but his contact info is here: https://sholland.org/about/ (he's responsible for the huge power saving optimizations that PinePhone got this year, and for the sound codec improvements, that were necessary for making calls work)

And I have a page here: https://xnux.eu/contribute.html

As for the mobian I don't know. I don't follow distributions that much.

I meant code contributions, but thanks for the links ;)

Ah, you can contribute just by doing something for the project you're interested in. None of the development is centrally organized.

There's plenty of stuff to do. I can give you a bunch of hints if you're a kernel dev. :)

I'm not (yet?) a kernel dev; I haven't ever contributed to any OS project, but I'd like to start with the pinephone.

Bootlin has some very nice introductory training materials online:

https://bootlin.com/doc/training/linux-kernel/ https://bootlin.com/docs/

Allwinner SoC used in PinePhone has a longstanding community around it organized around http://linux-sunxi.org/ There are a lot of materials, including datasheets there, etc.

https://wiki.pine64.org/index.php/PinePhone wiki also has a lot of information.

#pinedev at freenode is where the kernel development discussion happens, so feel free to join there.

Meanwhile you can install Mobian in any Pinephone, and support the Mobian Project here https://liberapay.com/mobian/donate

I can confirm that Mobian is pretty good. And I'd love a community edition of it.

Can someone help me understand the relationship between phone hardware and carriers in the US?

I recently bought a new, unlocked Samsung phone on Amazon. When I put a Verizon SIM card into it, a Verizon-specific firmware module got added. I don't understand why that would be necessary.

Asking because I'm attracted to the idea of a phone I truly control, but not sure what that means for carrier compatibility.

T-Mobile and Verizon should allow any modern device. Verizon used to need a activation conponent for the CDMA radio but modern devices just use LTE and voLTE. They did have a visual voicemail blob that used to be pulled in, but now they follow spec and don't require anything special.

Sprint (which is now T-Mobile) has required an activation app for their CDMA devices called SprintDM. Without it, phone will not activate and work. Most alternative OS like LineageOS don't include it, but if you activate on stock OS and don't wipe modem partitions, it continues to work. Thankfully they are transitioning to T-Mobile network.

AT&T has no activation crap but may not let imported devices based on IMEI numbers they don't have.

This is the correct answer as I can attest to one of my phones pulling down a visual voicemail blob and also a problem I had with a Sprint based CDMA device that was running Lineage OS that lost cell connection and I could not get it back without flashing back to the original ROM. (Thanks for posting this @joecool1029 and confirming what I was witnessing)

Once AT&T goes VoLTE only they're going to have a limited list of accepted phones. sigh

I still remember being at RadioShack and glancing at the Verizon section and thinking "hey, it's the island of misfit phones!"

In Europe, GSM is still being used. I heard in they are being phased out. Anyone knows how that will affect old nokia type of phones?

The cheapest candy bar phones available started having 3rd gen (WCDMA) network support around 2010, so GSM-only handsets should be out of active use. Of course the classic monochrome Nokia phones will cease working once GSM is shut down.

On the other hand there must be quite a lot of embedded devices using only GSM. For example, this year the elevator maintenance company offered our housing company GSM emergency phone units to replace landline-based ones. WCDMA-supported units would have cost a few thousand euros more.

Not sure how helpful this is, but I know that Verizon requires some kind of special sauce that the other GSM carriers do not.

I got a Verizon SIM recently and it would not work in my iPhone 8, which I bought in Germany. Fortunately the salesperson thought to ask if it was a foreign phone! Turns out Apple only sells the Verizon-compatible phones in the US, but doesn't exactly broadcast that fact elsewhere.

The Android (or Linux) situation is probably different in the details, but not in principle.

> Asking because I'm attracted to the idea of a phone I truly control, but not sure what that means for carrier compatibility.

I haven't looked in a while but IMO if you want this, the only feasible way is likely to go with carrying an internet hotspot and off-shoring 2/3/4G functionality. Ideally, a phone without the second processor is the only way to actually achieve this -- then you have "only" the chip hardware and wifi chips to deal with/secure.

I used 3 different unlocked phones in US, as for US sim cards, I used MetroPCS, T-mobile, and Cricket, non of those added anything, althought their respective websites told me about an app they strongly reccomended. Only trace was the Sim card toolkit menu which was diaplayed for whatever inserted sim card, but I never used any of those.

Depending on the device you are using you might not have noticed.

I used WireShark on a hotspot that my unlocked IPhone was using and captured the visual voicemail blob used by Cricket/AT&T just last week.

Also, the SIM card toolkit can be used remotely by your provider. Lookup SimBad exploit

Does anyone know if you can heavily customize the user interface of the PinePhone?

The reason why I'm asking is that I have yet to find a feature phone or smartphone that my father (in his 80s) can use. He basically doesn't want to learn new things, and he's more interested in learning/memorizing repeatable steps than intuiting how to do things by reading text on the screen.

All he needs is the ability to make/receive calls, and easily get the bluetooth built into his car to connect to the phone. The bluetooth is a nice-to-have though.

I haven't had much luck with feature phones because he doesn't (want to) understand rocker switches or navigation using arrow keys. I also tried the "dummy" launchers on Android, but didn't get very far with him. He's also tried iPhones, but didn't get very far.

The funny thing is that he's pretty good with the Nortel phone he uses with his land line in terms of dialing favorites, etc.

This is precisely what I need to find for a parent as well. There are feature phones available for the European market (like the HMD Nokia phones) that probably fit the bill, but nothing that works on American frequencies.

Wireless charging is also incredibly useful as an accessibility feature for older people, but manufacturers only seem to have young people working in their product teams.

I guess it depends on what you're looking for. I've seen people working on customizing SWAY to be a super simple launcher. With a little effort you could probably create a simple menu launcher for that. You can run anything* that runs linux & arm so I'm sure something could be done without much code.

> Does anyone know if you can heavily customize the user interface of the PinePhone

Absolutely. Some guy even made his own cool and geeky interface: https://sr.ht/~mil/Sxmo/

I only know Doro feature phones (and am impressed by how easy to use they are, especially for those who don't see well and have trouble hitting small buttons), but it seems that they make smartphones too:

> Age should never be a reason for not being able to enjoy all that a modern smartphone has to offer. Our stylish smartphones bring you not only the full Android® experience and an elegant design, but also unique features that make them easier to use the older we become.


Maybe check out some video review before buying? Good luck.

I have checked out Doro in the past and gotten him a similar "seniors" phone (that worked with local carriers here), and it didn't really take.

I've tried having him use a "simplified" home screen on one of my old Android phones, and that didn't work very well either.

Personally, as far as "smartphones" go, I think he needs something without a home screen, and a phone app (that can't easily exit to a home screen) with a recognizable skeuomorphic UI with minimal navigation and lots of discrete buttons for performing the few actions he needs.

Sounds like a feature phone would be a much better fit for him than a smartphone. Maybe pick out 2-3 to look at and have him choose one. Bonus is they're much cheaper.

Most feature phones available right now are pretty much the same, and they rely on rocker buttons and arrow keys for navigation, which he can't or won't pick up.

Right now he has a Nokia feature phone (which has virtually the same user experience as his older off-brand feature phone), and even that is too complicated for him to properly learn how to use.

Sorry, I somehow missed the sentence about feature phones in your original comment.

Why a smartphone? A Nokia 101 (or whichever model above it which has Bluetooth) seems like a much better fit.

He already has a Nokia feature phone.

The problem is that a feature phone has more features than he needs, and sometimes requires navigation to perform a task.

Also, some of the physical controls are rockers, which he doesn't seem to grasp.

If I could at least limit him to a phone app (with no easy way to get to the home screen) with discrete buttons for almost everything and almost no navigation, I think he'd be able to get by better than he does now.

You're not tied to a particular OS, even, so yes.

I wonder if it will be powered by Purism's Phosh (by default) like many other distros already.

"Phosh is current available on 8 different mobile distros that have been ported to the PinePhone, and Phosh is the preferred DE on 7 of those 8."


The list of those distros is in the link.

> There are currently three Manjaro PinePhone build variants (Lomiri, Phosh and Plasma Mobile) for users to try out

Manjaro on the PinePhone currently has 2 branches. The first alphas used Plasma Mobile and another branch of alphas use Phosh. Work on the Plasma Mobile builds seems to have slowed down for Manjaro ARM, partially likely due to some UI instability and also because the Phosh experience currently feels more polished.

I've got an (old) Samsung Galaxy S4 that I've stuck with because it suits my needs and it still works well. Knowing that it will eventually die, I guess I have two questions I'd love to have answered by Pinephone owners:

1) Is a Pinephone a viable alternative either iOS or Android?

2) How do you get it connected to carrier X?

Disclaimer: I do not (yet) have my Pinephone.

> 1) Is a Pinephone a viable alternative either iOS or Android?

A Pinephone will never support all the proprietary apps (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Fortnite, etc). In order to be viable, I would say a phone needs to support phone calls, SMS, MMS, camera, GPS/Navigation, and have a fast and snappy web browser. Currently the Pinephone supports everything except MMS (which is necessary for "texting" pictures and groups). Because you will not have access to FB Messenger, Whatsapp, Instagram, Snapchat, etc on a Pinephone, you will have to you SMS/MMS for communication if you want to interoperate with people from the mainstream.

2) For T-Mobile based carriers in the US, you just stick in the simcard.

> you will not have access to FB Messenger, Whatsapp, Instagram, etc.

Actually you can access Facebook, Instagram and Twitter messages through their respective websites (and you can get notifications from the site if the browser supports it), but no WhatsApp nor Snapchat -- though Anbox might just fix this problem.

"A Pinephone will never support all the proprietary apps (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, TikTok, Fortnite, etc)."

That sounds like a feature I'm excited about :).

So am I.

You're mostly right but there's the Anbox project to somewhat fill that gap.

> 1) Is a Pinephone a viable alternative either iOS or Android?

No, probably not, not currently. It's a prototype phone, in low-production numbers, with a somewhat underpowered SOC (but with proper FOSS drivers/kernels).

The regular "Linux-distros" you would typically boot on this phone instead of iOS or Android are still under heavy development, although things are improving.

I consider the PinePhone a good first POC for a pure Linux phone, and I'm happy to have one though.

> 2) How do you get it connected to carrier X?

This applies to any phone any place in the world: You insert the SIM-card given to you by your carrier.

This is literally how it has been done since mobile phones were invented with no change. Seeing a question like this on HN honestly has me quite baffled.

Are you running Android in your device? Maybe you could give https://doc.e.foundation/devices/jfltexx/ a try if you want a more private experience.

Or regular upstream https://wiki.lineageos.org/devices/jfltexx/

Not sure how /e/ is supposed to be more private yet less open?

I'm using my i9506 (ks01lte) as a daily driver, though I think I'll switch to a i9505 because it has official lineageos support, which means probably less weird SD card bugs.

I mean /e/ compared to Android. LOS is a good option too.

Support for my phone got dropped :(

I wish I could install it on my mi a1

Take it up :)

I am not sure how much work that would be to maintain it yourself on your particular phone, but it might not be that much? I don't really know, though.

As someone who has always made fun of "year of linux on desktop", I want to say this move will finally pave a way for the next decade to end with "year of linux on mobile". Using a popular distro will be the push linux needed on phone. While Manjaro users themselves (IMHO) aren't really developers, this is gateway to get Arch people involved. Arch is a very vibrant community with a lot of people who try to contribute back. Good decision. Can't wait to use netcat for quick chat with friends :)

(PS: I know supremacists will claim Android is linux but the thing about supremacists is they no real ideals so they will ignore how close Android is)

> (PS: I know supremacists will claim Android is linux but the thing about supremacists is they no real ideals so they will ignore how close Android is)

That Android contains the Linux (R) kernel is no mere "claim", rather it is the truth. Also, obviously, Android is not what anyone was thinking of when they say "Linux". This confusion stems from people using the term "Linux" both to refer to a kernel (the original and still accepted meaning) and to refer to an operating system combining said kernel with the GNU userspace.

Precisely; Android is a perfect example of why it's meaningful to call it GNU+Linux, because Android+Linux and busybox+Linux (Alpine and some embedded systems) are real things that are really Linux systems, but the userland is actually a pretty big deal.

Can the pinephone hardware realistically be used to run Linux comfortably on mobile? The pinebook sucked and this is the same hardware,the pinebook pro has 4gb and still struggles

Is it running without power savings? It's better than I thought it would run

I like Manjaro and I like the idea of an open source phone, but I was disappointed by the Ubuntu phone after actually buying one. It's basically that "content is king", with the content being apps. Is this going to be the same?

(A lot of the apps on the Ubuntu phone were web based rather than native, which is actually a drawback when you don't have an internet connection. There was no way to do offline maps for example).

I also got the UBPorts Community Edition. I highly recommend installing postmarketOS or something else. Ubuntu Touch has this strange locked down approach, mounting the FS read-only and forcing a [buggy] gui on you. With pmOS I can install programs I'm familiar with from my computer, use the package manager over ssh and update everything with one command, view processes in htop, edit things in vim, etc. It's a lot of fun now, and I was rather miserable when I used Ubuntu Touch the first couple days I had it. pmOS also supports LUKS full disk encryption at install time, which is pretty cool.

> I highly recommend installing postmarketOS or something else. Ubuntu Touch has this strange locked down approach, mounting the FS read-only and forcing a [buggy] gui on you.

Not to mention that UBports is based on some idiosyncratic 2014-era Ubuntu-specific software that even Ubuntu moved away from. Under the hood it doesn’t at all feel like a "normal Linux" (whether you define that as the software stack found nowadays on RedHat or Debian, or the more conservative and purist approach of some other distros).

I actually found the UI to be quite good on Ubuntu Touch. However I swapped it for mobian due to its locked down nature same as you did.

The app situation is not perfect, but there are some (not all available on every distribution): https://linmobapps.frama.io.

Specifically Pure Maps is available as a Flatpak and can be used in conjunction with OSM Scout Server for Offline Maps.

Also, Anbox support got almost usable in the PinePhone’s ArchLinuxARM distribution with working networking and a working keyboard just yesterday, so some Android apps are going to work. I expect Manjaro to ship at least the same level of Anbox support with their PinePhone CE.

The phones are made, and sold at this price, as a community service to help develop the open source platforms (postmarketOS, ubuntu touch, etc.), not as a consumer phone. A prototype of sorts.

> there was no way to do offline maps for example

That's not true, you can use https://open-store.io/app/pure-maps.jonnius

Offline mapping is possible by installing OSM Scout Server https://open-store.io/app/osmscout-server.jonnius

About the apps, you can help developing native apps using https://clickable-ut.dev/en/latest/

Do these support Android apps? How would I develop a native app for one of these?

> How would I develop a native app for one of these?

I would recommend using GTK and LibHandy. Purism has written some tutorials on their blog about writing apps for mobile GNU/Linux systems [1].

[1] https://puri.sm/posts/tag/advanced-readers/

> Do these support Android apps?

They do not, at least not yet. They may support anbox at some point, but that's not a given.

> How would I develop a native app for one of these?

The same as you would for any Linux distro. I would check out Plasma Mobile, as they have toolkit's and a workflow already in place is my understanding.

> They do not, at least not yet.

And hopefully never. Almost all Android apps rely on the closed-source GMS for essential functionality (eg: push notifications). There will need to be an open alternative to GMS if the goal is to support Android apps but a better idea would be to abandon Android as template basis going forward.

There are a number of apps I use and depend on that work fine without Google services. Signal comes to mind, for instance. I agree that a better template would be great, but I can't imagine we'll get there anytime soon, and I would love to use my PinePhone as a daily driver in the near future. I won't do this without a few key apps that don't have direct alternatives considering some people with whom I would like to communicate only use these options.

I think getting people onto devices that support open and flexible alternatives is the first step to actually converting users to these alternatives. I won't switch to a platform that doesn't let me communicate with people I know, and I wouldn't expect others to do so either. However, I could get people to switch from a less convenient option (e.g. Signal on Anbox) to a more convenient option (e.g. Matrix for messaging) in time.

There's some work being done to make Signal work more natively on Linux (though not from Moxie directly)

This is a daemon that provides an API for signal


This is a libpurple plugin for it (Pidgin messenger, or even irssi, Weechat etc)


Chatty, the SMS messenger that works in Phosh also supports libpurple plugins, so presumably Signal could work alongside SMS (The SMS feature itself is a libpurple plugin IIRC)


I've used libpurple-signald with irssi and it works alright. It's not feature complete yet by a long shot, but much nicer to interact with than the Electron bloat.

https://gitlab.com/thefinn93/signald/-/issues/52#note_406669... has some details about the issues running Chatty with libpurple-signald

Thanks for all your work!

> I agree that a better template would be great...

Is there a serious effort on this front? At the very least a mobile version of Electron[1] applications would be a great interim step: you just need a browser for the UI and performance-critical bits can be written in C/C++ for accuracy and speed. Ultimately a modular UI paradigm can replace the dependence on a browser but that is likely years down the road.

[1] Cordova used to be the model; Ionic's Capacitor project is far more advanced but targeting iOS and Android specifically.

You can run electron on PinePhone in fullscreen, it works as you'd expect.

> Almost all Android apps rely on the closed-source GMS for essential functionality (eg: push notifications).

There is a very fine repository of fully-free Android apps hosted at https://f-droid.org.

Further, I would argue that "almost all" Android apps that are free software can easily be tweaked to not rely on Google Play Services. Non-free Android apps will not be made any better by becoming nonfree GNU/Linux apps.

Is that not what mods like MicroG provide?

To develop native apps for UBports (Ubuntu Touch) you can use https://clickable-ut.dev/en/latest/

About Android apps, there's the Anbox project but it needs a lot of work yet.

There is initial support for Android apps via Anbox: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VGpfleG8TMg

Also an Android ROM called GloDroid exists: https://peertube.co.uk/videos/watch/a368a023-ce44-44f0-a42d-...

Native app development depends on the OS, it differs whether you would develop for Ubuntu Touch, the GNOME on Mobile effort by Purism or for Plasma Mobile.

Anbox already works quite well on Arch Linux ARM.


I have a spare phone which I would like to flash but I have not been able to find any device specific information on how to do it.

I checked XDA but they don't have any device specific info. Google returns sketchy pages wanting to install software. The phone is not on the list of supported devices on lineage OS website. And I have been unable to find a how-to do it yourself guide.

I followed a guide on how to do it over a decade ago and that is as far as my knowledge goes. I suspect things have changed since???

I would appreciate if someone could point me in the right direction. The device, a blu G5 plus (which when I search on XDA it returns Moto G5 ¯\_(ツ)_/¯)

Edit: Nevermind, I believe I've got it.

How did you do it? Support got dropped for my mi a1

I pre-ordered the PmOS community edition, and it's getting delivered tomorrow.

From what I can tell, this is the same HW, but without a different distro pre-loaded.

I'm super-stoked to try out the different distros, and will definitely give Manjaro a shot too :)

> I pre-ordered the PmOS community edition, and it's getting delivered tomorrow.

How did you get notified? I didn't receive any email since my purchase (I only have the receipt). Contacted sales@pine64 and opened up a support ticket, but haven't got any replies from them.

You get an SMS from DHL identifying Syabas Tech as the shipper. (This is a different Syabas from the one that manages tap water in Malaysia.)

Anyway I did.

Yeah same here. SMS (and email) from DHL about shipment on the way from “Syabas Technology Hong Kong Limited”.

I also never got an order-confirmation upon ordering, but received one later quite swiftly when I emailed support and asked.

Yes, it's the same hardware with a different distro pre-installed, and a different back cover.

I'd really like an unbranded version with these (or better) specs, even at a slightly higher price (I don't particularly identify with any of the distros that have been released so far, not to say there is anything bad about them of course :-)).

I imagine that is what the final retail version will be?

I'm on pre-order for a Librem 5, but the Pinephone is more compact, and since I'd want it essentially as a portable linux computer in addition to a regular daily driver smartphone (i.e. carry two "phones"), it might fit my needs better...

Dunno if I'd call PinePhone "more compact". It's thinner, but it's bigger (about 1.5cm higher). I'm holding both of them next to each other right now and Librem 5 ends where the PinePhone's camera begins.

Is this the same hardware revision as the previous, postmarketOS-based, one?

According to the article, yes:

> Both configurations of the Manjaro CE PinePhones feature rev. 1.2a PCBA, introduced with postmarketOS CE that is currently shipping.

I wonder are there similar devices with 3-4” displays instead of 6”?

I don’t even need purposely-built Linux phone, I am OK getting one with Android and installing Linux myself. I want modern hardware (LTE, GLES 3.1, ideally optical camera stabilization), reasonably new Linux kernel, and good software support for basic functions (touch screen, phone, SMS, camera, web browser).

It is effectively impossible to install an upstream kernel on random phone hardware. It is very hard to field a phone that can take a kernel without proprietary blobs tied to a particular ancient kernel. So, there are two live efforts in that direction, PinePhone and Librem 5.

There're devices out there which started as proprietary hardware, then community implemented the support. RTL-SDR was initially a TV tuner, Raspberry Pi SoC was designed for a set top box, people made XBMC (now Kodi) re-purposing game console into a Linux media player. Why that never happens to cell phones, what's so special about them?

Cellphones have a lot of peculiar, absolutely undocumented and very buggy peripherals, and tricky system-level power management demands.

Pi's SOC was meant to be designed in to a variety of products, so needed to be documented and understood. Cell phone chips are dumpster fires, as a rule, and are forgotten by their manufacturer within months of first delivery.

Good points, but on the other hand the market penetration is enormous, e.g. Samsung probably shipped hundreds of millions of their galaxies.

There’re thousands of exceptionally good software developers worldwide. It’s surprising no one so far found a good way to re-purpose the hardware. The OS kernel is open source already (wasn’t the case for the original xbox), and all these proprietary firmware blobs are shipped with the devices.

The blobs are compatible only with a particular, ancient and very heavily patched kernel version. Most of the important code is entirely inaccessible in the "baseband processor" that actually operates the radio hardware, and really owns the whole phone. And solving one phone model would barely help with the next one, if at all.

Here is an unpopular opinion:

Phones are hard, maybe the FOSS world should put more effort into the pine tablet for now.

Because the core system of not ready yet much less the telephony stuff, and yet here we are doing distro hoping and pretending our apps are touch friendly.

This is an exciting development!

I am though wondering, if the current version is stable & working well enough to be a daily driver / main phone.

My immediate reaction when seeing the phone: thank $randomdeity that the screen is a proper rectangle and not some moronic almost-oval (eff you Apple).

Anyone actually using this as a daily driver? I am completely Apple free except for the the phone. I would love to be able to ditch that.

Most people cannot live w/o MMS or some apps that do not have a mobile website equivalent.

Cool, does it include a small dial to put the clocks back when they manage to let their TLS certificates run out the 4th time?

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