Slarm64 on PinePhone [Unofficial Slackware ARM - 64 bit]
After reading about @mara  (a.k.a. sndwvs) making the excellent Slarm64 unofficial port of Slackware to ARM64 and that member @KRT (a.k.a. shelldweller) got it working on the Pinebook, I just had to see what I could do with it on my new PinePhone!

I'm excited to say that, with a lot of tinkering, it works rather nicely.
  • I downloaded a disk image of Slarm64 for the Pinebook with XFCE and the 5.9.3 kernel, as provided here.
  • I used GParted to move the root partition and add a boot partition (it turned out that step may be unnecessary).
  • My Pinephone is the 3GB Manjaro CE edition and I got Slarm64 running by emptying the Slarm64 /boot/ folder and copying in the boot files from Manjaro, including the Manjaro kernel, version 5.9.1-4 (initially I put these files on the boot partition, but u-boot seems to pick them up from the root partition first, I guess because mine has a lower number).
  • I also copied the kernel modules into /lib/modules
  • I updated /etc/fstab to reflect my partitions.
  • I used the dd command to write the u-boot image that came with Manjaro at the correct 8kb location on the SD card.
  • I had to alter /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf, mainly because when u-boot boots from the Slarm64 root partition, the kernel Image and initramfs file are found in the "/boot/" subdirectory rather than the root of the boot partition so I had to fix the paths. It just gives up and boots Manjaro if they're wrong.

I was then delighted to see Slarm64 boot right up to a nice XDM login prompt and when I plugged in a keyboard I was able to log in and play with XFCE!  Big Grin

Regrettably I don't have the time or resources to offer an image for the PinePhone currently, but if anyone else wants to give this a go I'm happy to answer questions or offer my own experience and would love to hear how you get on with it.

Since I tried out XFCE, I've spent most of my time getting the SDDM display manager to work, which it finally does on my PinePhone. I wanted that because it can support an on screen keyboard, or, if I can't get that going [Keyboard now works. See Update.], automatic log on, so you won't have to plug in a keyboard just to get to the desktop!  Rolleyes Once on the desktop I'm currently using a virtual keyboard called Florence (just don't click on Alt, because Alt stops clicks getting through to the window so it gets stuck unless you disable that shortcut in XFCE's settings).

When I first installed SDDM, it wouldn't start unless I stopped the ConsoleKit2 daemon or uninstalled it, but those workarounds cause XFCE's reset and power-off buttons to be grayed out (amongst other things I think). I had to patch the SDDM source to get past that (I can provide more details to anyone that needs to do this) and then those buttons are still grayed out. That problem is finally resolved by editing /usr/share/xsessions/xfce.desktop with the line:

Exec=startxfce4 --with-ck-launch

XFCE is fast and pretty on the PinePhone. It started in the correct resolution first time. The window buttons and menus are obviously a little small to navigate with the touch screen but it doesn't bother me too much. I made the text a little bigger with the DPI settings. Currently double clicks and right clicks aren't working for me on the touch screen [Double click can be made to work. See Update], for some reason (I think it's normal for right click not to be supported but the double click is another matter).

Various programs seem to build and work right away. Youtube worked in Firefox and the sound works if you muck about unmuting things in alsamixer (but take great care as it can suddenly blast very loudly from the headphones-don't ask me how I know! Shy ).

You can find a lot more information on Slarm64 on KRT's Pinebook thread or the project site.

Disclaimer: This may break your phone and I am not responsible for any loss or damage arising from your use of this. I'm not affiliated with the project and, to quote @KRT :

(03-16-2020, 08:24 AM)KRT Wrote: I do not think that Slarm64 has received the official blessing from either Pat Volkerding or Stuart Winter, so I do not think this is "official" Slackware in that sense.

Have fun! Smile

Update: The QT virtual keyboard on SDDM is now working on my PinePhone. I actually find it easier to use than the Florence keyboard so I'll have to see if there's a way to run it on its own. It must have come bundled with the Slackware packages or with SDDM.

Update November 15 2020: I got double-clicking using the touch screen working in XFCE. The default settings make it almost impossible to double click because you have to tap twice in a very small area of pixels. However, if you open Settings Editor, find Channel xfwm4, and increase double_click_distance to at least 40, the double clicks are then easy to do.

Update November 16 2020: I've just moved this post from my original thread because that one was invisible due to not being under one of the PinePhone Software sub-forums! Blush

Slarm64 is working really well on my PinePhone. Lately I've been tweaking the panel layout, text sizes and DPI, and looking into modifying one of the XFCE themes to make the windows easier to resize with the touch screen. The Default-hdpi and Default-xhdpi themes help a bit, but I prefer the colors and look of Kokodi.

The Florence keyboard is OK, but its default layouts can't fit all the keys I need on the screen at once without making them annoyingly small, so I need to look at making a custom layout or trying to get an alternative to work. It also seems to crash out a little often.

Later I'll look into getting the camera, phone and flashlight / torch working from this distro as well.
I can add support and assembly of the final image for the SDcard, the question is only in testing.
donation   slarm64


The cameras now work using Megapixels on my Slarm64 Pinephone. I had to download the lib tiff 4 source tarball to build Megapixels from source. DOSBox and Neverball / Neverputt work with small changes to the code to get the touch screen to respond.

(12-05-2020, 02:07 PM)mara Wrote: I can add support and assembly of the final image for the SDcard, the question is only in testing.

Thank you. I really need to get a spare SD card for testing images so I don't have to keep wiping my stable installation. Eventually I hope to provide some Slackbuilds for the programs I have patched. I just don't have a lot of spare time at the moment.
added PinePhone for test.
with u-boot so far problems
donation   slarm64

first option without SCP for testing

donation   slarm64

(12-06-2020, 08:18 AM)mara Wrote: first option without SCP for testing


Smile  Thank you very much @mara !

I'll take a look at this. I can test it on the PinePhone when I buy some more SD cards.
Thank you for this, mara and andy! Just got logged in via XDM to good ol' XFCE... can't wait to start exploring!
(12-06-2020, 08:18 AM)mara Wrote: first option without SCP for testing


Hi, I've tried the steps shown in the README.TXT file but the phone just does not boot.

Also, there's a boot-*.xz file

Does anyone know what's going on?  Confused

I've also tried flashing the sdcard unsing balena etcher binary but still not able to boot from the sdcard.
I updated the README.TXT a bit.

when writing balena etcher, the image must be unzipped and look like slarm64-current - * - xfce - * - build - *. img
donation   slarm64

This might be a bit of a tangent from the original purpose or the thread, but what does it take to get a SDDM login screen working?

I just got my Pinephone Beta edition preloaded with Manjaro ARM and Plasma. Phosh was actually in the repositories and it seems to be pretty popular too, so after installing the Phosh package I thought by removing autologin from config files in etc/sddm.conf.d/ , I should get a SDDM login screen with a choice of Plasma Mobile or Phosh like my desktop linux box, but it just sits at the K splashscreen.

I know I can prepare an SD card with a Phosh distro separately but it would be convenient to have both in one.

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