My Debian journey on the Pinebook Pro
#1
I've been using Debian on my Pinebook Pro for quite a while now, going through some iterations:

  1. A few days after receiving my Pinebook Pro in early 2020, I installed Debian on a microSD card using the script from https://github.com/daniel-thompson/pineb...installer/, disabled eMMC, and used only the microSD card
  2. A few weeks later I installed an NVMe SSD in my Pinebook Pro and copied over the installation from the microSD card, but kept u-boot and /boot on the microSD card
  3. Again some time later I finally flashed u-boot to the SPI flash and could boot directly from the NVMe SSD, so I got rid of the microSD card. Time for a fresh installation I thought and tried the very latest (daily) SD card image for the Debian Installer, leading to
  4. installing Debian using the serial console as the Pinebook Pro's display did not turn on when booting the Debian Installer. However, I could install Debian on the NVMe SSD (/boot plus encrypted /), remove the microSD card with the installer and boot the fresh installation. Serial console only, so I grabbed https://github.com/xmixahlx/pbp-tools and compiled kernel 5.7, booted it and finally the display turned on.
The installation from 4. has been in use for several months now. Whenever there is a new kernel package coming in from Debian, I try to boot that, which always work and always gives serial console output only. So I always return to kernel 5.7 built with the script from xmixahlx. I also tried kernel 5.8 when xmixahlx updated the script but that kernel fails to decrypt my encrypted /. As my main hope is that Debian will "simply work" at some point in the future, I never investigated this issue properly and just stayed with kernel 5.7.

Given this month's blog post, I thought I'd give the most recent (Alpha 3) Debian Installer for Bullseye another shot. Still no output on the display, serial console only, so I didn't bother going through the actual installation but decided to stick with the one I have.

While above might sound somewhat negative, I am quite happy with the Pinebook Pro and Debian on it. It's working great and I can live with sticking to an older kernel for a while. Everything else "just works" (well, everything is obviously only what I use/tested, e.g. I don't put my devices in sleep mode, I turn them off, so I never tested sleep/hibernation/...). And it's fantastic that you can install from the official repositories using the official installer.

However, if someone managed to have the Debian Installer/kernel turn on the display and output to it, I'd be happy to hear it and give it another try. This is essentially the only thing missing for me at the moment.


(I did test other distributions over the months, installing them to a microSD card, booting and testing the distribution without touching the Debian installation. Some worked really well, but none of them made me reconsider my choice to use Debian (which I use on my other devices as well).)
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#2
the pbp-tools linux build script won't mount encrypted root with 5.8? i'll see about that. i don't use encryption any longer, so that wasn't tested, but this is surprising as nothing was purposefully changed there. i'm planning to refresh to 5.10/11 after riding 5.8 for quite a while now and will update the scripts afterwards.
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#3
(12-22-2020, 01:27 PM)xmixahlx Wrote: the pbp-tools linux build script won't mount encrypted root with 5.8? i'll see about that. i don't use encryption any longer, so that wasn't tested, but this is surprising as nothing was purposefully changed there. i'm planning to refresh to 5.10/11 after riding 5.8 for quite a while now and will update the scripts afterwards.


In fact I have two issues with kernel 5.8 built with pbp-install-linux. The first issue is that the encrypted / cannot be properly mapped, the second is that the display won't turn on. 


I can still enter the password to decrypt /, then I get the following messages (if I enter an incorrect password, I get the output below the second password prompt, so I know that I entered the correct password the first time):

Code:
Begin: Mounting root file system ... Begin: Running /scripts/local-top ... Please unlock disk nvme0n1p2_crypt:
[  25.462168] random: cryptsetup: uninitialized urandom read (2 bytes read)
[  25.469316] device-mapper: table: 253:0: crypt: unknown target type
[  25.469875] device-mapper: ioctl: error adding target to table
device-mapper: reload ioctl on nvme0n1p2_crypt (253:0) failed: Invalid argument
cryptsetup: ERROR: nvme0n1p2_crypt: cryptsetup failed, bad password or options?
Please unlock disk nvme0n1p2_crypt:
No key available with this passphrase.
cryptsetup: ERROR: nvme0n1p2_crypt: cryptsetup failed, bad password or options?


If you want to look into this I'm happy to provide whatever output you think helpful. I can also open an issue at github.com and put any information there.
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#4
Did you try to put the firmware blob required by the display in the right place?

Please note that Daniel Thompson's installer does not use the official kernel from Debian nor the same bootloader as Debian ships.
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#5
(12-25-2020, 12:03 PM)kuleszdl Wrote: Did you try to put the firmware blob required by the display in the right place?

Please note that Daniel Thompson's installer does not use the official kernel from Debian nor the same bootloader as Debian ships.

Do you mean dptx.bin with 'firmware blob'? If so, I thought this is only required for output to an external display (via USB-C), not the integrated display. And I'm using the integrated display, not an external one. (EDIT: And I have the dptx.bin included in the initramfs.)

Not sure what to make of your statement about Daniel Thompson's installer, as I have installed Debian with the official installer and a kernel built with pbp-tools by xmixahlx. (I did use Daniel Thompson's installer before, but I discarded that installation months ago.)
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#6
(12-25-2020, 10:46 AM)schwarzwieweiss Wrote: In fact I have two issues with kernel 5.8 built with pbp-install-linux. The first issue is that the encrypted / cannot be properly mapped, the second is that the display won't turn on.

And I thought I was the only one with this problem. Same here with pbp-install-linux kernels: Encrypted root partition, with 5.7 everything's fine but with 5.8 the (internal) display won't turn on.
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#7
(12-25-2020, 03:25 PM)schwarzwieweiss Wrote: Do you mean dptx.bin with 'firmware blob'? If so, I thought this is only required for output to an external display (via USB-C), not the integrated display. And I'm using the integrated display, not an external one. (EDIT: And I have the dptx.bin included in the initramfs.)

As far as I understand this, the dptx blob is required for the internal display as well.

Regarding Daniel Thompson's installer: Sorry, then I have misunderstood you here.

Just to double-check: When using kernel 5.7 and the official Debian installer, you have your display working? So this display is only broken in 5.8 and 5.9?
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#8
(12-27-2020, 06:04 PM)kuleszdl Wrote: Just to double-check: When using kernel 5.7 and the official Debian installer, you have your display working? So this display is only broken in 5.8 and 5.9?

Exactly. Display is working with pbp-tools-built kernel 5.7,  but not with pbp-tools-built kernel 5.8 or Debian kernel 5.9. (Same installation in all cases, installed via Debian's official installer.)
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#9
I'm not using pbp-tools nor the official Debian kernels but from my experience you need following modules included in your initramfs (or baked into the kernel) to properly initialize internal display on boot, so you can unlock your luks volume:

analogix_dp, drm, drm_kms_helper, panel-simple, pwm_bl, rockchipdrm

Also dptx blob is not needed for internal display to work.
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#10
(12-29-2020, 04:15 AM)as400 Wrote: I'm not using pbp-tools nor the official Debian kernels but from my experience you need following modules included in your initramfs (or baked into the kernel) to properly initialize internal display on boot, so you can unlock your luks volume:

analogix_dp, drm, drm_kms_helper, panel-simple, pwm_bl, rockchipdrm

Also dptx blob is not needed for internal display to work.

Thanks for that information. I checked for kernels 5.7 and 5.8 (both built with pbp-tools): drm and drm_kms_helper are baked into the kernel; analogix_dp, panel_simple, pwm_bl, and rockchipdrm are included in initramfs. So no difference between the kernels in this regard.
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