Install Tow-Boot on the SPI
#1
I wanted to post the steps to installing Tow-Boot on the SPI.

Sorry if this is long and drawn out but I am writing this to help anyone new to Linux. With Manjaro being preinstalled from the factory it was best to write this using Manjaro specifics. I tried following the guides on the Tow-Boot website, Pine Wiki and the Manjaro Wiki but was unsuccessful. I would suggest reading these to conceptually understand what you are doing if you are new. You will need mtd-utils installed first for this to work. Now I would download the release you need and extract the file into a folder. I was not successful in getting the spi.installer.img to boot after flashing to a SD card to install using the directions provided in the reference section.

I used the method below under coding and it only took me about 3 minutes to accomplish this task.

I did all this on Manjaro but to my understanding other distributions should work the same.

References:
https://tow-boot.org/devices/pine64-pinebookPro.html
https://wiki.pine64.org/wiki/Pinebook_Pr...ash_device
https://wiki.manjaro.org/index.php/Manja...ptional.29

Required Dependencies:
mtd-utils - https://software.manjaro.org/package/mtd-utils

Download Tow-Boot file:
https://github.com/Tow-Boot/Tow-Boot/releases
(I installed pine64-pinebookPro-2021.10-005.tar.xz - https://github.com/Tow-Boot/Tow-Boot/rel...005.tar.xz)

Code:
Step 1. I opened the terminal and "cd"'d may way into the correct location to find the file "Tow-Boot.spi.bin" or depending on the distribution you are using you can also find the file, right click and got to "Open Terminal Here" - For this install it was located under the binaries folder.

Step 2. 
Code:
sudo flashcp Tow-Boot.spi.bin /dev/mtd0
The entire flash took about 15 seconds for my Pinebook Pro.

Step 3: Restart (be ready to hit the "Esc" button)

I hope this helps others.
  Reply
#2
> I was not successful in getting the spi.installer.img to boot after flashing to a SD card
And..... the reason for that is that a uboot for SD/emmc is DIFFERENT than one for SPI
(this applies to ANY uboot, not just tow-boot)
the code is the same,,, but idbloader is expanded with blank sectors and ALSO
starts at offset 0, not 64 sectors.. IIRR uboot itself is also at 6M, not 8M
If you use the right image, tow-boot on SD/emmc will work OK
  Reply
#3
(10-31-2022, 10:51 PM)wdt Wrote: > I was not successful in getting the spi.installer.img to boot after flashing to a SD card
And..... the reason for that is that a uboot for SD/emmc is DIFFERENT than one for SPI
(this applies to ANY uboot, not just tow-boot)
the code is the same,,, but idbloader is expanded with blank sectors and ALSO
starts at offset 0, not 64 sectors..  IIRR uboot itself is also at 6M, not 8M
If you use the right image, tow-boot on SD/emmc will work OK

I'm afraid even if you use the right image  Tow-Boot will not work for many Pinebook Pro  people with certain models.  I and  others spent many days trying to diagnose why  mine and some other people could not get Tow-boot to load  or display whether we  had it on SD card or different version as required for loading directly into the SPI. 

It appears Tow-boot is there but it's invisible, screen is dark blue, you can not see the menu.   The Above method did not work for me or others.  I used  Manjaro, PostmarketOS  and ArmBian.  Until this Display Bug is fixed  in Tow-Boot   (and PostmarketOS  U-BOOT also), we can not use  these type of loaders.

TL_Lim  reported in  the Pine64 Pinebook live chat he thinks it is caused by   a bug in  Tow-Boot  Display driver
"<tl_lim> @River-mochi, from the chat log, I suspect is tow-boot's display driver bug. From your description, your PBP indeed boot up from the tow-boot SD card and your observe the green status LED. My takes the LCD display driver that tow-boot using may not have correct LCD timing and cause some LCD display cannot lock the display team and this is why no display. I think someone already file such issue on tow-boot GitHub and hopefully this issue can be resolved soon by update LCD driver. I think your PBP SPI Flash is OK and no need to desolder."

People with newer Pinebook Pro's from 2022 seem to be ok, my Pinebook Pro was made around March 2020.
  Reply
#4
If your supposition is right, then an earlier tow-boot version should display,
have you tried the earliest version you can find?
I base this guess on the date of the pbp,,,, mar 2020, hard to imagine
that the bug could hide so long,,, so a regression
Alas, this is not uncommon
  Reply


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