Debian Bullseye & RockPro64: No tty consoles?
#1
I've got Debian 11 (Bullseye) up and booting successfully to the Xfce4 desktop. Thing is, switching to tty (text) consoles using the Ctrl+Alt+fx doesn't appear to do anything at all except hide the mouse cursor on the desktop. I can get it back by pressing Ctrl+Alt+f7.
Also, the typical Linux boot messages stay hidden behind a blank screen, which only comes alive when the graphical window manager is loaded. I haven't encountered this issue with other distros I've tested, such as Armbian (Xfce4) or Manjaro (KDE 5).
Is there a way to get the text consoles active in Debian without resorting to a serial console?

Update: No success, even after having changed two pertinent lines in my /etc/grub.d/10_linux to read:
linux ${rel_dirname}/${basename} root=${linux_root_device_thisversion} ro ${args} vga=normal nofb nomodeset video=vesafb:off

Still no boot messages, and no way to switch from the default graphical to another tty.

Update 2: Tried 'nomodeset' without any other parameters; no good results.

Update 3: Replaced lightdm with gdm3. No difference whatsover.

Update 4: Cleared the boot sector of the microSD card and reinstalled Debian 11 without Desktop or graphical environment. The screen is still blank, but I can seem to switch between tty 's and login as root to initiate a clean shutdown. No text on screen (in fact, nothing on screen) but some kind of signal is definitely being output to monitor. I then connected the RockPro64 to an HDMI TV set and got exactly the same (non-) results. I should note that Armbian Focal has been tested on my copy and works fine rendering both text and graphics, so it's probably not an issue with the hardware.

Am I to assume that switching between tty consoles isn't doable, at least not without a serial console?
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#2
(09-27-2021, 08:11 AM)Pete Tandy Wrote: I've got Debian 11 (Bullseye) up and booting successfully to the Xfce4 desktop. Thing is, switching to tty (text) consoles using the Ctrl+Alt+fx doesn't appear to do anything at all except hide the mouse cursor on the desktop. I can get it back by pressing Ctrl+Alt+f7.
Also, the typical Linux boot messages stay hidden behind a blank screen, which only comes alive when the graphical window manager is loaded. I haven't encountered this issue with other distros I've tested, such as Armbian (Xfce4) or Manjaro (KDE 5).
Is there a way to get the text consoles active in Debian without resorting to a serial console?

Update: No success, even after having changed two pertinent lines in my /etc/grub.d/10_linux to read:
linux  ${rel_dirname}/${basename} root=${linux_root_device_thisversion} ro ${args} vga=normal nofb nomodeset video=vesafb:off

Still no boot messages, and no way to switch from the default graphical to another tty.

Update 2: Tried  'nomodeset' without any other parameters; no good results.

Update 3: Replaced lightdm with gdm3. No difference whatsover.

Update 4: Cleared the boot sector of the microSD card and reinstalled Debian 11 without Desktop or graphical environment. The screen is still blank, but I can seem to switch between tty 's and login as root to initiate a clean shutdown. No text on screen (in fact, nothing on screen) but some kind of signal is definitely being output to monitor. I then connected the RockPro64 to an HDMI TV set and got exactly the same (non-) results. I should note that Armbian Focal has been tested on my copy and works fine rendering both text and graphics, so it's probably not an issue with the hardware.

Am I to assume that switching between tty consoles is not working in Debian on arm64?

So why not stick with Armbian? I personally haven't tried Debian precisely because Armbian does what I need it to. As a bonus, you'll get access to the Ubuntu PPAs offering newer apps, making it a sane choice for running on a desktop computer. (I assume that's what you're after.)
But good luck with Debian, if that's what you're set on. I must apologize, as I don't have enough experience with anything ARM64 to be of much help. Like I said, Armbian Focal just works without all the tail-chasing.
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#3
Looks like Debian assumes I've got a serial console. I had no idea it could be that useful.
Can further add uncommenting GRUB_TERMINAL=console entry of /etc/default/grub, update-grub, reboot, to the list of things I've tried without success.

BTW: My experience with Armbian was very good. It's only that I wanted classic Debian.
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#4
(09-28-2021, 04:38 PM)Pete Tandy Wrote: BTW: My experience with Armbian was very good. It's only that I wanted classic Debian.

Armbian is essentially "Debian for Single Board Computers (SBC)."[0]  In fact, that is basically their raison d'être.  Because SBC are so different from x86/desktop at a low (kernel / hardware) level, there are many little details they take care of in order to provide a good base experience, especially on supported devices.  And that is why they are light years ahead of everyone else, including upstream Debian (at least on SBCs, anyway).

The user space is all regular Debian (or Ubuntu) packages anyway.  Armbian only tweak things having to do with the low level stuff (and then they add a few convenience features).

[0] A more accurate (if cumbersome) way to put it would be "Debian (or Ubuntu) for [many] SBCs [which are not RPi]."
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#5
TRS-80
(09-28-2021, 04:38 PM)Pete Tandy Wrote: BTW: My experience with Armbian was very good. It's only that I wanted classic Debian.

Armbian is essentially "Debian for Single Board Computers (SBC)."[0]  In fact, that is basically their raison d'être.  Because SBC are so different from x86/desktop at a low (kernel / hardware) level, there are many little details they take care of in order to provide a good base experience, especially on supported devices.  And that is why they are light years ahead of everyone else, including upstream Debian (at least on SBCs, anyway).

The user space is all regular Debian (or Ubuntu) packages anyway.  Armbian only tweak things having to do with the low level stuff (and then they add a few convenience features).

[0] A more accurate (if cumbersome) way to put it would be "Debian (or Ubuntu) for [many] SBCs [which are not RPi]."


Armbian makes for an enjoyable desktop experience. I'm still using their Ubuntu release because everything just works for what I need it to. The only real advantage of a 'pure' Ubuntu or Debian O/S, in my view, is the simplicity in updating your kernel from the common Ubuntu (or Debian) repositories, whereas Armbian requires specialized ones for that purpose. Sometimes I have to wonder if it's such a big deal considering what's being accomplished.

Thanks, TRS-80.
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#6
(10-01-2021, 11:10 AM)Pete Tandy Wrote: The only real advantage of a 'pure' Ubuntu or Debian O/S, in my view, is the simplicity in updating your kernel from the common Ubuntu (or Debian) repositories, whereas Armbian requires specialized ones for that purpose. Sometimes I have to wonder if it's such a big deal considering what's being accomplished.

Armbian require custom kernels precisely because of all those low level hardware/kernel differences I mentioned. And I already came to same conclusion you hint at in your last sentence, which is why I have become such a big fan (and supporter) of the project.

I suppose now might be a good time to discuss difference between "legacy" and "mainline" at least from Armbian perspective.

The former are what gets thrown over the wall from the manufacturer upon release. lol Often on some old kernel, include proprietary stuff, however graphics and things like that will work "out of the box."

OTOH, "mainline" is mostly (if not completely) using stuff that, as the name suggests, is getting mainlined in Linux. So it may start off initially less functional, but after a while it gets better, and certainly has the most guarantee of future / longer term support. Some times things requiring lots of proprietary blobs (graphics) don't work as well (for some period of time). This is why Armbian was much more prominent on headless SBC running as servers for the longest time. And only recently got bigger into desktop / graphics stuff, as the F/LOSS stack around graphics especially have matured a great deal over the last several years. Only recently Armbian actually began releasing flashable pre-compiled desktop images.
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#7
Hello, TRS-80, and thank you for that informative post. Unfortunately, I seem to have bricked my RockPro64 and will wait a little while before deciding how to proceed.
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#8
Aah, very sorry to hear that. Sad

Maybe something here can help?

https://docs.armbian.com/User-Guide_Recovery/

That page have been improved but still not 100%. What I am saying is that you may need to join IRC and/or make a forum post (at Armbian) if you can't figure it out from those instructions alone.
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#9
(11-01-2021, 01:54 PM)TRS-80 Wrote: Aah, very sorry to hear that.  Sad

Maybe something here can help?

https://docs.armbian.com/User-Guide_Recovery/

That page have been improved but still not 100%.  What I am saying is that you may need to join IRC and/or make a forum post (at Armbian) if you can't figure it out from those instructions alone.

Thank you for that informative post. After having been away for a couple of weeks, I was more than a bit surprised to read that Armbian won't be supporting the RockPro64 any longer. This isn't good news since they provided a functional and rather polished Ubuntu out-of-box. As I'm not a fan of rolling Linux distros, it appears my efforts will have to be concentrated on Debian and Fedora.
Cheers.
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#10
(11-06-2021, 07:33 AM)Pete Tandy Wrote: Armbian won't be supporting the RockPro64 any longer.

Well, it's not a done deal yet, rather more a call for help. Already a few people, realizing the stakes, have begun stepping up to become board maintainers. So we will see how it all shakes out. If you like and appreciate Armbian[0], now would be the time to let them know that, and or consider getting involved in one way or another.

[0] I certainly do, which is why I am trying to help get the word out. I am even considering becoming a board maintainer on one or more boards I already own.
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