General getting started
#1
It is somewhat painful for me to write this letter, or message, in part because I have not had the time to
more fully examine the product of this complaint: a PineBook Pro laptop.
It is approaching the one-year anniversary of first learning about this laptop. This laptop was of
interest to me for a number of reasons. First, it is a decent sized computer that does not depend on any
Microsoft product for operation. In the two years just prior to the introduction of this laptop, I had
suffered a major problem during one of many forced ‘updates and upgrades’ with the Windows 10
operating system. The ‘upgrade’ started to reboot the computer (a somewhat normal event during any
software upgrade) but this time the operating system presented a log-in page that wanted an account
username and password. I entered the information that I thought was wanted and pressed Enter. The
same page came up with a warning: ‘Information entered is not valid. Enter correct information to
continue.’ After trying to enter (and reenter) the log-in information two or three more times, I loaded a
DVD that had an ISO for Ubuntu Linux and switched the computer over. I have not regretted that
decision. After making the switch I started reading and studying about the Linux operating system and
programming language. Progress was starting to be made in my knowledge about Linux.
Then the PineBook Pro was announced. I carefully read the early reviews and write-ups about the
laptop and watched all of the videos that were posted to the different sites. In about October 2019, I
found a way to order one of those laptops for my own. Then the Corona Virus hit and everything shut
down. Probably because the laptop is considered a ‘consumer good’ and not urgently needed by any
individual, company, or government office, the production and shipment of them was greatly reduced
and halted. There was no notification either from Pine 64 or from PayPal that the laptop would be
delayed due to the virus. There also had been no notice or confirmation that my order had even been
received.
During the time when everything was shut down, I spent a lot of my time reading and studying about
both the new laptop and the Linux operating system. And the specific operating system that was to be
installed on the laptop. During my reading I did not find any mention of any warranty or any other
end-user protection on the PineBook Pro. The laptop was delivered in either late April or sometime in
May of 2020. One of the first things I, as the owner of several other computers (several of which no
longer work), was the lack of a product serial number. Some companies use a serial number that
includes the year, month, and day a given product was approved for shipment. Also, there was no
mention of any warranty. And no user guide to help a new user get started. Granted, Linux is not an
operating system known as ‘user friendly’ for a person lacking extensive computer programming
experience. When a problem came up, and some did, I went to the Forum and posted my problem or
question. Sometimes an answer would be posted in one day. Many other times it would take several
days before a helpful answer would get posted. A few of the answers did suggest using an item or
software patch to help gain access to the area where the problem was halting the boot process.
Sometimes those tips failed to include any link to the item mentioned or the software patch desired.I had ordered my PineBook Pro with the 128 GB eMMC module. And when the laptop was delivered,
there was a small case in the packaging that does contain that module. The laptop arrived with the
original 64 GB of eMMC. In one of the user manuals I found online, there are instructions on how to
install the larger module. There were no pictures (either drawing or photographic) of the exact location
of these modules or how they should be oriented when being installed.
About two weeks ago, I did attempt to install the larger module in my laptop. When I then tried to
power it on with the larger module installed, nothing happened. The power LED did not respond to
any key press on the power button. Even when the charging cord and external power unit were
connected to an external outlet, the power button still had no effect.
Today I attempted to restore the laptop to the original memory condition with the 64 GB eMMC
module and see if it would power on again. And again, there was no response with the power LED or
any of the other indicators of ‘normal’ power on state. Frankly, I am at a loss as to what to do. I cannot
find any real street or post office address where a postal message could be sent. The delay time for
questions or comments in the Forum is, in my opinion, discouraging. One group that I follow has
software that can be used on almost any computer no matter the operating system; Windows, Mac, or
Linux. In that group, if any user of that software encounters any problem, the user can post his/her
problem in a user forum and after a few emails are exchanged to help identify what the problem might
be, there would be a solution posted within a week of the original problem. Other ‘consumer items’
that I own (cameras, cell phone, two way radios, etc.) each have known physical addresses where a
user of that product (whichever one it might be) could either send a regular postal letter or request
authorization to return that item for inspection and repair if the repair is needed.
As I said above, if I attempt to turn the PineBook Pro on even with the external power supply plugged
in and connected, absolutely nothing happens and the screen remains dark. I would really like to learn
to use the PineBook Pro and the Linux and Manjaro operating systems.
Thank you,
James Good
#2
Lots of complaints, but a real lack of details
I have a guess, but 1st, some information for you
Except for cell phone, arm is a newish computing technology
Sure, there have been SBC, usually not that powerful to do complex things
And rPi, has a vendor supplied binary blob, video + bios
You know, I hope, that all x86 have a bios, that does low level management of hardware?
If you update with WRONG bios, usually(nearly always) computer ends up in trash
idbloader + uboot + ATF is equivelant to bios, humor me, when I say bios I mean uboot+
I have found, by experiment (and bad luck) that if you try to boot with wrong bios,
the pbp appears dead, only charging led. Also, if there is NO bios also dead
So, I bet that there was something on the 128, but wrong
Recovery is,,1) remove bad bios (recently found this essential)
2) if bad bios on emmc, disable 3) put good, bootable SD card in
4) extra long press (pwr button,20+s) 5) normal start, 1s press
6) try a second time, hold longer 7) try a different good card
That it remembers is, I think, because there is a battery
OR, perhaps you have emmc disable switch wrong?
When they say enable, they mean shorted = emmc disabled ,, this is a bad description
To troubleshoot, always simplify as much as you can, then add until it breaks
So, no emmc, only good SD, maybe extra long press
Questions:
Do you have emmc carrier/dongle?
Did you write something on 128? What?
What was on the 64?
What did you expect for $200, you certainly got fairly nice hardware for that
#3
(09-12-2020, 11:49 PM)wdt Wrote: Lots of complaints, but a real lack of details
I have a guess, but 1st, some information for you
Except for cell phone, arm is a newish computing technology
Sure, there have been SBC, usually not that powerful to do complex things
And rPi, has a vendor supplied binary blob, video + bios
You know, I hope, that all x86 have a bios, that does low level management of hardware?
If you update with WRONG bios, usually(nearly always) computer ends up in trash
idbloader + uboot + ATF is equivelant to bios, humor me, when I say bios I mean uboot+
I have found, by experiment (and bad luck) that if you try to boot with wrong bios,
the pbp appears dead, only charging led.  Also, if there is NO bios also dead
So, I bet that there was something on the 128, but wrong
Recovery is,,1) remove bad bios (recently found this essential)
2) if bad bios on emmc, disable  3) put good, bootable SD card in
4) extra long press (pwr button,20+s)  5) normal start, 1s press
6) try a second time, hold longer 7) try a different good card
That it remembers is, I think, because there is a battery
OR, perhaps you have emmc disable switch wrong?
When they say enable, they mean shorted = emmc disabled ,, this is a bad description
To troubleshoot, always simplify as much as you can, then add until it breaks
So, no emmc, only good SD,  maybe extra long press
Questions:
Do you have emmc carrier/dongle?
Did you write something on 128?  What?
What was on the 64?
What did you expect for $200, you certainly got fairly nice hardware for that
Thank you for this reply.  Yes, for $200.00 there are several options, some of which are better (some much better) than others.  Still, when I ordered the PBP I was wanting to learn the Linux programming language.  I had recently gone through a bad experience with a Windows 10 update/upgrade that has totally burned me out on anything 'Windows' in the future.
No, I do not have the carrier/dongle.  I tried to order one but PayPal did not want to accept the credit card I use.  Yet another minor problem or distraction.
What actions I took before posting the message you refer to were:  I powered the PBP off and removed, or opened, the back of the case.  Then I removed the 128 GB eMMC module and replaced it with the original 64 GB eMMC module.  I pressed the 'Reset' button and made sure all other connections and controls were in the original position/condition.  Then I closed the case and secured everything.  On power up, (short or normal hold of power button, about 5 seconds) there was no indication of any sort.  No power LED showing, no log-in page.  Nothing.  I had already tried all of the suggestions that others on this forum had suggested without any success.  Yesterday I downloaded a new copy of the Manjaro ISO and saved it to the desktop of the main computer (which runs Ubuntu 18.04.5 LTS).  I will reuse a micro USB card by first clearing (wiping or erasing and reformatting) the card then burn the ISO file to the card.  After that, I will use that micro USB card and attempt to boot the PBP.  Honestly, I do not expect the results to be much different than the last attempt.
Thank you again.
James Good
#4
> I was wanting to learn the Linux programming language
I'm not at all sure what you mean here? shell scripts? All other languages
are the same on any platform
Ameridroid also has emmc carrier, and ebay too
You didn't say, you might try an "extra long press" (something to try when appears dead, no leds)
since the original emmc should be OK, I'm just assuming that
This will not work if there is a bad uboot? or dtb?,, must be removed
Hold down pwr button, 20s, release, try normal start (1s press, not just tap)
#5
(09-18-2020, 03:40 PM)wdt Wrote: > I was wanting to learn the Linux programming language
I'm not at all sure what you mean here? shell scripts? All other languages
are the same on any platform
Ameridroid also has emmc carrier, and ebay too
You didn't say, you might try an "extra long press" (something to try when appears dead, no leds)
since the original emmc should be OK, I'm just assuming that
This will not work if there is a bad uboot? or dtb?,, must be removed
Hold down pwr button, 20s, release, try normal start (1s press, not just tap)
Just tried a long press on the power button, held it down for a count to 20.  Also tries a short, or normal, press (held the button for about a second).  Still no indication of any attempt to power up.  As for the programming, yes I know that once the 'basics' have been learned almost any computer language is very similar to any other computer language.  The thing is that I never had to learn ANY programming language.  The one time I considered taking a class in a college, the students were all carrying punch cards for their assignments.  Yes, that was many, many years ago.
#6
>held it down for a count to 20,,,, A slow count? that lasted 20+ clock seconds?
The first time I tried this (unsuccessful) I went by documentation,, 15 seconds
And later, found that if you 'rush it', will also be unsuccessful
(also unsuccessful if "bad media" is still in, must be removed)
Just checking
then the other alternative is disable/remove emmc, boot with good SD
You may have to long press if emmc was bad before SD will boot
#7
(09-19-2020, 04:49 PM)wdt Wrote: >held it down for a count to 20,,,, A slow count? that lasted 20+ clock seconds?
The first time I tried this (unsuccessful) I went by documentation,, 15 seconds
And later, found that if you 'rush it', will also be unsuccessful
(also unsuccessful if "bad media" is still in, must be removed)
Just checking
then the other alternative is disable/remove emmc, boot with good SD
You may have to long press if emmc was bad before SD will boot
wdt,
Yesterday, I retested the PBP when it was plugged into a working electric socket.  (Working as in other devices were also plugged into the same power strip that has the socket used for the PBP.)  The net results were that the power LED does come on, but there still is no log-in screen or any other notification on the screen of any problem in the boot sequence.  A week or two back I did remove the 128 GB eMMC and replaced it with the original 64 GB module.  Again, in testing at that time, there was no change in the power on status or indications.  The test yesterday was with the original module in place.
James Good
#8
Here's what I would do:

Let's get it booting first, and sort out the eMMCs later. Remove the eMMC, leave the socket empty. Flash an SD card with a bootable SD card image, preferably Debian. The PBP should boot to that.
#9
(10-02-2020, 01:28 PM)KC9UDX Wrote: Here's what I would do:

Let's get it booting first, and sort out the eMMCs later.  Remove the eMMC, leave the socket empty.  Flash an SD card with a bootable SD card image, preferably Debian.  The PBP should boot to that.
I did remove the 128 GB eMMC but also reinstalled the 64 GB unit.  I will buy another (maybe two or more) SD cards to use as bootable devices.  Thank you for this tip.
James Good


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