My Pinebook Pro after a month of use.
#11
I haven't tried Manjaro. But out of Debian, ChromeOS, Android, and Armbian, I find Armbian to work for everything I've tried it for, so far. My only gripe is that there's no desktop icon for battery status. If I had the time and ambition, I'm sure I could make something work for that.
#12
(07-24-2020, 04:52 PM)Nobot Wrote:
(07-23-2020, 08:12 PM)Nobot Wrote: Sometimes my Pinebook works fine other times it is buggy. Not currently learning the Linux language. I am learning a new language that I can speak to other humans rather than machines. I am happy about the price I paid for the Pinebook. Overall unless you are fluent in Linux code the machine can be rather a nightmare. Occasional screen flickering. Weak or no sound output. Bluetooth and Wi-Fi sometimes works. The screen output blacks out for a few seconds and then returns all the time. My connected hard drives and flash drives do not always respond and well...If you enjoy writing Linux code this machine is probably a dream for you. For average humans this machine is somewhat a disappointment. Developers if you want a machine that introduces Linux novices to the wonderful world of Linux this machine needs lots of work. Peace.

07/24/202
My experiences with the Pinebook Pro is obviously just my own. I have noticed though some people are not thrilled with the machine. When I could not install an upgraded  OS on mine no matter what I tried the sparkle faded about the machine. I did read about the Pinebook Pro beforehand. Finding out about the blessed Linux code is for the birds imho. I could not find any concise easy to understand lexicon about it. I am not a computer geek nor do I wish to become one. To those of you who understand Linux more power to you. Imho the Pinebook Pro is more of a toy or busy box for adults. Peace. 


I've found the the PBP to be a fairly good piece of hardware and it's actually pretty good to use as a computer without much babysitting.  However, the software for it is definitely still in development (ARM64 Linux feels like x86 Linux was circa 2007, but with far quicker development).  If you're not used to Linux, that can look a bit intimidating (especially since the folks that hang out in these forums are crazy smart developers).

Now the good news.  Once you get used to doing things a little differently, Linux can be really easy.  One big change you'll notice is that people will ask you to type in things will look like code.  It's not really code per se, just you typically tell Linux systems what to do by typing text (there's usually a graphical way to do these things too, but in a text-based forum like this one, it's WAY quicker to give you a line of text to type than describe a 10 step process to find things in the menu).

So, if you'd like help, let's start from the beginning on the Manjaro that came with your system.  Open up a terminal (really, when dealing with forums, I promise this is the easy way).

Let's first make sure that your system is updated to the newest Manjaro.  We can do this with one line of text:
Code:
pamac update
It'll ask you for your password and update everything.  If you run into any snags, you'll want to post either to this thread or a new one with the text of any complaints it gives you.

Next step, let's see if mesa-git fixes your screen flicker (I've not noticed this, but I put mesa-git on my machine first thing).  We can do this easily too using our friend pamac (the cool kids all use pacman, but I'm not cool):
Code:
pamac install mesa-git
It'll do the password thing and install the updated graphics drivers.  I don't think you need to restart, but I did anyway after just to be safe.

To get the sound to go up, we don't need to use the command line.  In the volume control on your taskbar, there's a checkbox for something like "make sound louder" (I'm on my couch, my PBP is in the other room, and the cat will kill me if I get up right now).  Try clicking that.

If your wifi and bluetooth doesn't work after this update, let me know and we can try something pretty quick (I needed to fix mine, but I'm interested to see if the later updates have fixed it).
#13
Well, the machine is basically like a Raspberry Pi with a screen and keyboard. I've found that the hardware is pretty solid so far (with some exceptions). The only thing that has been lacking is the software support. There is not even a BIOS/bootloader installed that has a GUI! But people have been working very hard on it and it shows massive progress all the time. But that means that you have to keep up with software updates, both the Linux distributions and also the firmware. And sometimes stuff breaks and you have to figure it out.

The hardware does have some problems, too. The WiFi signal is too weak and slow. And I'm pretty certain now that the left side USB (both the 3.0 and type-C port) are not working correctly, the devices connected there may drop out or even hard crash the whole machine. There is something in the audio amplification circuits that causes a whine when audio plays, also whine on USB devices connected.
#14
I'm finding that a lot of what seems like hardware problems really are software problems. Different operating systems make the hardware behave very differently.
#15
(07-26-2020, 03:17 AM)slyecho Wrote: Well, the machine is basically like a Raspberry Pi with a screen and keyboard. I've found that the hardware is pretty solid so far (with some exceptions). The only thing that has been lacking is the software support. There is not even a BIOS/bootloader installed that has a GUI! But people have been working very hard on it and it shows massive progress all the time. But that means that you have to keep up with software updates, both the Linux distributions and also the firmware. And sometimes stuff breaks and you have to figure it out.

The hardware does have some problems, too. The WiFi signal is too weak and slow. And I'm pretty certain now that the left side USB (both the 3.0 and type-C port) are not working correctly, the devices connected there may drop out or even hard crash the whole machine. There is something in the audio amplification circuits that causes a whine when audio plays, also whine on USB devices connected.

True, it's very similar to a RPi but I'd argue that the highest cost of these systems is the user's time.  If you don't have the muster and motivation to mess with a Linux machine as a relative newcomer, then it's going to be frustrating.

Heck, it's even frustrating to me and I'd say I'm a computer enthusiast.  My main home server is a RPi 4 and just a couple weeks ago I literally wanted to take an Easton aluminum bat to the Pi at the closest baseball field and Sammy Sosa the thing into the woods.  Obviously, that's idiotic and I know for a fact it's a software configuration issue bumping heads with my home network's limitations.  But sometimes I don't want to deal with that regardless of my background and education in the matter.

I've somewhat reluctantly gotten back into building systems because there's no Burger King of home lab equipment AFAIK.  I wanted to just buy a Synology or QNAP for the NAS part but the best solution for my needs is DIY.  But like OP, I just want to get something, turn it on, and have it work w/o much fiddling around.

Anyway, not sure how useful an internet forum would be advising someone that is reluctant in how to use the PineBook from afar.  I'd suggest that OP find or talk to a computer nerd pal or acquaintance that might have more Linux knowledge.

Still, there are things I don't care for on the PBP: the trackpad isn't comfortable.  I don't know why a fine sandpaper surface is being used; I avoid using it at all costs, basically, as it's tiring to use and makes the trackpad even less ergonomic (trackpads are not ergo by design, btw).  I prefer a mouse/trackball and even external keyboard mouse controls to trackpads anyway.  Swipe/gesture functionality in macOS is very nice to have, though, as a secondary input device.

Also:  I ripped the speakers out because they are that bad, IMO.

Most consumer laptops are at least somewhat tolerable wrt these two hardware quibbles, so I wouldn't recommend this thing to the average person unless you know you can live/adjust to both the hardware and software issues.  I mean it's usable and you can hear beeps and blips but they don't make me happy.  Maybe I'm too picky.  I'm sure there's parts/cost limitations in the PBP's design, etc.

It will be interesting to see if OP comes back to this thread but he/she's probably long gone by now.
#16
I left the protective plastic on the trackpad. The only complaint I have about it is that the buttons are part of the trackpad. So it's difficult to press a button without moving the mouse pointer. I always preferred those little fingertip joysticks in laptop keyboards. But there's no way that I can think of to fit one of those in this keyboard.
#17
(07-26-2020, 07:14 PM)KC9UDX Wrote: I left the protective plastic on the trackpad.  The only complaint I have about it is that the buttons are part of the trackpad.  So it's difficult to press a button without moving the mouse pointer.  I always preferred those little fingertip joysticks in laptop keyboards.  But there's no way that I can think of to fit one of those in this keyboard.

Yeah, I should have left it on.  The buttons are also pretty bad.  I wonder if a plastic screen protector for a phone would stick to it w/o needing adhesive and messing with sensitivity.

I never had a Thinkpad but those nipple joystick things are neat and another way to not leave home row.  I imagine getting good with it is similar to home row mouse controls on high-end keyboards.  I tend to under and overshoot a lot but it's more comfortable than constantly moving back and forth to a trackpad for simple 2-second mouse controls you might want to interact with a GUI.

I'm probably just spoiled with luxury Apple computers w/ their buttery-smooth glass trackpads w/ "Taptic Engine" tofu burger fake clicks.
#18
I have a Dell with a really nice joystick thing. It did take a while to get used to it but eventually I could control it with great precision. Unfortunately that Dell is destined for scrap which is why I bought the Pinebook.

I wonder if you could take the trackpad out, carefully cover it with packing tape, and trim the edges. But then the surface of packing tape might not be slippery enough.
#19
I got my PBP a couple of weeks ago and I'm almost at the point of using it as my main laptop.

I am finding the screen a little bit too small / high res, but I'm sure that's a simple adjustment somewhere.
The keyboard is quite nice.
The trackpad was horrible out of the box because I couldn't make small movements, but with the new firmware and a bit of tweaking it's nearly there.
I do find the trackpad a bit "cheap" feeling though. As I'm a neanderthal I mostly physically click the bottom left of the trackpad as I don't really get on with gestures or even tap to click because that didn't exist when I learned Windows 3.1. The physical click is very harsh compared with the Thinkpad T470 that my employer gives me and sends a real jolt through my fingers.

What I am absolutely loving is the slim portableness and even more I like the battery life.

Given that I bought it basically as a portable Raspberry Pi, which it does with Debian in a chroot, it actually goes way beyond that.

So far it's been really stable software wise as well, probably more so than Windows 10 which often blue screens coming out of sleep on my T470 though that could be my employers build I guess.

Setting Global Scaling to 125% in Settings, Display seems to fix high res / small screen issue.


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