which distro + DE are you using these days on the Pinebook Pro?
(07-15-2021, 11:47 AM)KC9UDX Wrote: Better to ask us which one is right for you.  In that case, please tell is what you already prefer.

I don't really have a firm preference, I just want to see as much performance and stability as possible. but to give you an answer, I'm most familiar with Gnome, so I started with Manjaro Gnome, but I'm experiencing lag and some glitches so I'm looking for something better.
Debian with XFCE4 should scream in comparison. But it might not do everything you expect it to do. That's the trouble with this. The different distrus each have their benefits and deficits. The beauty of the PBP is that you can swap operating environments on a whim. Get yourself a dozen 16Gb micro SD cards and try out whatever you find. That was the first thing I did with mine. But back then almost everything had serious problems.

[ SRA accepts you ]
(07-15-2021, 08:59 AM)halogen Wrote: why did you choose Debian Sid?

I'm asking because I'm after a distro and DE combo that provides the greatest performance and stability on the Pinebook Pro. (I should have pointed out in the opening post.)

Because that is the right distro for me :-) - I can be as hands-on or hands-off with it as I want. That and I kinda appreciate it's libre leanings, even if it can make it hard sometimes to get certain hardware to work or deal with certain proprietary formats.

The performance will primarily depend on:
  • your kernel
  • accelerated drivers
  • your choice of software
The kernel you can always build and fine-tune yourself, and unless you're running something like Arch BTW (sorry), you distro kernel will probably always lag behind the upstream at least a little bit. Accelerated drivers - similar deal, though at least based on my Debian experience making the piece of software you build into a proper package that is handled cleanly by your package manager seems a bit easier with Linux kernel than with something like Mesa.
But by far the biggest effect on your performance will have your choice of software - how much of it you run, and what do you choose for each piece of functionality. E.g., as KC9UDX already mentioned, XFCE would be more lightweight than KDE Plasma or GNOME, LXQt probably would be lighter yet, but then you can just use simple Openbox or one of the tiling window managers like AwesomeWM.
Point is, distros do differ in how quickly they take up updated packages, but the main difference is how things are done - both in terms of OS management and in terms of community. Everything else is up to how you configure your system - you don't have to stick to out of the box experience.
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I tried:
- First was preinstalled Manjaro with KDE. Latest software and very good hardware support. Unfortunately it lags for me (it may be KDE's not Manjaro's fail).
- Next was Debian 10 Buster with Mate. Its performance is good as is hardware support and installed software. A bit outdated now.
- Another try was Debian 11 Bullseye with XFCE. It is very lightweight and responsive, but not very configurable.
- Now I have Debian 11 Bullseye with Mate. On desktop I prefer Cinnamon, but for PBP Mate is a good equilibrium of configurability and lightweightness.
So I choose the last configuration. Not a stock Debian kernel (5.7) but all hardware I need works out of the box. If something breaks during massive software update I can expect it to be repaired in the next update. Rather stable and as release date approaches it becomes even more stable.
Kiljan's Arch with xfce/i3/sway on the emmc.
If you like Debian (I do), I would not recommend going with vanilla unless you are at least medium level wizard and want to build your own kernels, seek out patches, etc...

You have to understand that these ARM SBC (which PBP is closer to) are not at all like x86 world.  There are a lot of blobs, different boot loaders, etc.

I don't want to assume your knowledge level.  But for normal people, you are probably better off with something like Armbian, which is essentially Debian except they take care of all those low level details.  You will have a much better time there than on upstream Debian for a long, long time (if they ever catch up).  I have been using it for years on a number of SBC and it runs flawless.  I already stated it's early days on desktop but I may have over-stated it.  All these OSes are in early days, it's because of the SoC based hardware...

Choice of GNU/Linux distro (between something like Debian and Arch based distros, and others) have more to do with philosophy around Free Software and release timing. whether user should be on bleeding edge (Arch) or wait until things get a little more stable (Debian).  Arch users would say Debian is "behind" well I  would call it "stable."  I don't have time to fix my OS every day.  Ask some of these Arch based distro people how often they update / tweak their system.  Wink

Then there are the BSDs, which are a whole another thing.  Basically the other half of the Unix family tree.  But you should do a little research about the history and differences between all these projects.  At first I thought all these different distros, DEs, etc. was confusing but I have grown to appreciate it, because it means we have a lot of choices.  But you need to take a little more time to understand the differences.
(07-14-2021, 08:26 PM)TRS-80 Wrote: Armbian are finally publishing some desktop images now.  Although I almost hesitate to recommend them as it's early days for desktop, so I would not expect them to be as stable and polished as the headless / server images are for Supported SBCs for instance.  Graphical environments are much more complex.

Having said that, someone raving about how well their PBP was working (with one of said images) in #armbian was what got me looking more at Pine64 in the first place, so there is that...  Smile
I boot Manjaro KDE Fusion from NVMe and Armbian Focal from SD card. The Manjaro touch pad driver has more features and can be tweaked more to my liking using synclient than Armbian but Armbian works quite well. I was on distrowatch.com today and they still don't cover Armbian because it's said to be an embedded OS. I think they need to get up to speed on Armbian as a desktop and server OS!
slarm64+xfce on luks+lvm = my pinebook pro

The slarm64 xfce images (on the slarm64 thread in this forum) function well:  display, power, wifi, bluetooth, audio... everything smooth and snappy!  Burn it to microsd, and boot.  It starts at xfce-login for non root user, which has to be created first:  I used cntrl-alt-f2 to switch ttys, and logged in as root (it tells you at the prompt that  the root password is password)... logging in as root for the first time launches a script that creates the initial unprivileged user... Once done with that script, I switch back to the initial tty with ctrl-alt-f7, and the log in to xfce as the new user...   After that it's a brief perusal of slackware documentation especially how to use slackpkg and sbopkg to install and maintain stock and third party packages and how to keep the system current.  Slackware is configured by editing config files, most all of which reside in /etc, and the ones pertaining to boot and startup (runtime configurations), reside at /etc/rc.d.   I have found the time and energy I spent learning slackware to be repaid immeasurably in knowledge--I used to do the same thing over and over again on computers, and now I can automate myself, mostly thanks to excellent slackware documentation... If I wasn't a slacker, I would be a gentooman, because it too has excellent documentation... but I dove deep enough into slackware to prefer it on all devices.
Started with Debian and XFCE, loved it.  Ran into an issue (mine, not Debian's) and moved to Manjaro and XFCE.  Seems solid and I am loving it.  Installed RUST and V-LANG for developing, and considering adding FreePASCAL with Lazarus.
Ancient teacher (Secondary Field Science/Math), Warrior (USARNG- RET SSG), and IT warrior (30+ years Coder, Network/Systems Administrator, general house geek). 
Pinebook Pro user (Debian, Manjaro)
Manjaro and KDE. Just recently made the jump to Wayland as well a couple weeks ago. For Linux Distros I have only run Debian (XFCE) and Manjaro so far. I am sticking with Manjaro and KDE, it is now my comfort zone. It has been incredibly stable and performant for me and my needs (I actually use it for work as a daily driver!).

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