Would a Pinebook Pro be good for a Linux newbie?
#1
I missed out on the Pinetab before (which might've been the preferred device). I'm aware it's ARM, and that it's possible to load Linux on Windows laptops via USB etc. I've seen the "What Are The Current Strengths & Weaknesses of Pinebook Pros?" thread. I understand there are other alternatives if we're just talking specs.
But it would be nice to have a device made for Linux, and something that just does Linux when you switch it on (...I assume). I'm interested in ease of use. There doesn't seem to be anything in the way of "entry-level" Linux. I hope the PbP is the answer to this.
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#2
i feel uncomfortable categorizing any Linux device as "entry-level" bc it feels (to me) that Linux isn't exactly entry-level. However, as far as having a device that boots right into Linux fresh out of the box, with most features working and little required by the end-user, I think it would be fair to say the modern PBP fits that bill.

IIRC, current PBPs are shipped with Manjaro ARM preinstalled, and your first boot will put you directly into the first-time boot user setup. Nearly everything you need for updating and maintaining the OS does have a GUI app to make things easier.

If you don't like Manjaro and want to replace it, it is fairly easy to do. Though, depending on your replacement OS choice, that can change from easy to intermediately challenging. Sometimes there's extra hoops to jump through (at least in my opinion) compared to Linux on x86_64, as sometimes things that work for everyone else won't work for you until they just do. lol However, if this is your gateway Linux device, troubleshooting those issues will give you a bit of a leg up if you decide to start spreading the love of Linux to other devices/architectures you may have.

An important thing to note, since you mentioned specs already, is that there are certainly tasks where the PBP isn't going to have the oomph needed to complete them. If you expect to need a computer to handle anything you throw at it, an x86_64 Linux laptop (like System76 or the like) might be a better choice. Essentially, it's not going to shine as a primary/only-owned device.
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#3
What do you plan to do with it? Are you looking to run Linux, or are you looking for a Windows-like Linux installation?

Does it have to be Linux? NetBSD runs very well on the PBP, and it's a good beginner Unix experience (better than Linux IMO). But it isn't going to give you a polished Windows-like experience "out of the box".

If you want the Windows-like approach then stock Manjaru on the PBP might just be thing for you. If you want to learn Unix–like operating systems, NetBSD, Debian, or Gentoo might be better.

The best part about the PBP is that you can run any one of many operating systems at any time. You can have 8 different SD cards with 8 different operating systems and boot them right away. One caveat is that you should replace the U-Boot that comes with the default Manjaru, first thing when you boot it the first time. Else you'll have serious headaches and frustrations later. So before purchasing one, you may want to get familiar with how to do that.
:wq



[ SRA accepts you ]
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#4
[quote pid="119051" dateline="1691138756"]
cassado10I missed out on the Pinetab before (which might've been the preferred device). I'm aware it's ARM, and that it's possible to load Linux on Windows laptops via USB etc. I've seen the "What Are The Current Strengths & Weaknesses of Pinebook Pros?" thread. I understand there are other alternatives if we're just talking specs.
But it would be nice to have a device made for Linux, and something that just does Linux when you switch it on (...I assume). I'm interested in ease of use. There doesn't seem to be anything in the way of "entry-level" Linux. I hope the PbP is the answer to this.

[/quote]

[quote pid="119054" dateline="1691178455"]
tophneali feel uncomfortable categorizing any Linux device as "entry-level" bc it feels (to me) that Linux isn't exactly entry-level. However, as far as having a device that boots right into Linux fresh out of the box, with most features working and little required by the end-user, I think it would be fair to say the modern PBP fits that bill.

IIRC, current PBPs are shipped with Manjaro ARM preinstalled, and your first boot will put you directly into the first-time boot user setup. Nearly everything you need for updating and maintaining the OS does have a GUI app to make things easier.

If you don't like Manjaro and want to replace it, it is fairly easy to do. Though, depending on your replacement OS choice, that can change from easy to intermediately challenging. Sometimes there's extra hoops to jump through
mylowes(at least in my opinion) compared to Linux on x86_64, as sometimes things that work for everyone else won't work for you until they just do. lol However, if this is your gateway Linux device, troubleshooting those issues will give you a bit of a leg up if you decide to start spreading the love of Linux to other devices/architectures you may have.

An important thing to note, since you mentioned specs already, is that there are certainly tasks where the PBP isn't going to have the oomph needed to complete them. If you expect to need a computer to handle anything you throw at it, an x86_64 Linux laptop (like System76 or the like) might be a better choice. Essentially, it's not going to shine as a primary/only-owned device.

[/quote]

Thank you for your response
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#5
What is sure is that the Pinebook Pro is more suitable for a GNU/Linux beginner than the other Pine64 devices, because desktop applications (except x86-only proprietary software) will work out of the box on the Pinebook Pro unlike the touch devices (the PinePhone and PineTab series) and unlike the boards that first require you to plug in additional hardware.

Desktop GNU/Linux is mostly a solved problem nowadays, despite the low marketshare. Mobile GNU/Linux for touch devices is still under heavy development. So IMHO any computer that runs desktop applications, and that includes notebooks such as the Pinebook Pro, is a good fit to get started with GNU/Linux.
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#6
It’s great to get started learning Linux on. You can use it out the box with it’s default OS until you feel comfortable enough to change it and with so many options to try, you will eventually.

It’s small, lightweight, has decent battery life & you can also take it apart with a screwdriver. It’s fine for Office, network management, light web stuff & the keyboard is nice to type on.

If you’re into windows games, lots of browser tabs open and non-Arm software, you’ll need to look for something else; It’s a basic laptop, hence the price. If you’re in Europe, Tuxedo from Germany has higher hardware spec Linux ready laptops, but of course you will pay for the better hardware.

I use mine weekly for work: programming, office reports, network/server management & testing. It fits the bill for that, but I also have other devices if I need to do something that requires more power.

Overall, I really satisfied with mine and if it died today, I’d buy another without a second thought.
Satisfied PinePhone, Pinebook Pro & PineTab2 owner; Thank you Pine64Team for your work!  Smile
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#7
Probably the best entry linux device is a used Windows laptop. You can grab them off Facebook Marketplace or eBay for under $100.

The PBP is a pretty good “just works” device, but with it being lower powered and arm just being a bit quirky, it might be better served as the first device you buy after you learn linux.
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