Installing software
Hi peeps

I just bought a Pinebook as a Christmas gift for my 8 year old daughter Eliza...

My idea is that I wanted her to learn how to use a computer properly. Rather than just scrolling around on an Ipad. I am hoping I made a good choice!  Tongue

I'm not a Linux expert, but I have dabbled with various distros other the last 20 years so I know enough to get around.

I want to ask a question about installing new software on the laptop...

First off, there seems to be no software available in the "Software Boutique". I thought this could be easily remedied by adding the address of a repository to the software sources, but that doesn't seem to work. Am I missing something?

So we went about our first project to install ZSNES (Snes emulator) so we could play Mario, but we are not having much luck there either. We managed to get the binaries installed with apt-get but after trying to run the executable it does not run. I have a feeling this is because it's because it was an i386 package and this laptop needs either something for 64 bit or ARM specifically.

Could somebody please clarify this point. Do I need ARM specific binaries for every program??

Would this be easier if I install a new distro?

I am happy to do some command line stuff with my daughter (thats why I bought the thing after all) but having to manually compile every single app might be a step too far...

I'd appreciate some guidance here. I feel like I must be missing something. The universe of open source software doesn't seem to be readily available to us right now...


You need arm64 or armhf (32-bit) binaries / packages for everything you run on an ARM SoC like the A64, there is a possibility to run x86 binaries with qemu, but that is very slow. Software Boutique is not really well implemented on other platforms than x86/amd64, but the Ubuntu repository for arm64 now contains almost the same amount of packages as the x86 one, so you can use any graphical or command line package manager (e.g. Synaptic) to install more software. If you want to do some retro-gaming, check out Luke's posts here on the forum...
Come have a chat in the Pine IRC channel >>
Getting retro-gaming emulation to work with an existing desktop environment OS image is not a good idea. You'd have to enable drm and mali, which breaks a bunch of other stuff making the desktop experience poor.  

So here is my suggestion; since you can boot from SD card on the Pinebook, create a dedicated image for retro-games on a SD card which you will be able to pop in and use when you want to play some super mario together.

Use one of the Ubuntu Xenial Minimal images available from ayufan's git. 

Here is the script you'll need to run on the on the Pinebook - it installs everything for you; Retroarch (the emulation front-end) and emulators for most 80's and 90's systems :Smile 

If you want to make it a learning experience with you daughter then take a look at the script and perhaps just install everything (and set all the values) by hand? 

Few things: 1) the minimal image does not automatically connect to WiFi, so you will have to connect from CLI - an additional learning exercise; 2) once you've got Retroarch set up and running, stop the Pinebook from suspending (it breaks Retroarch): instructions here; 3) lastly, here is the original Retroarch thread Smile
You can find me on IRC, Discord and Twitter

Thanks Guys.
I'm going to go ahead and install the ARM version of Ubuntu as the main OS on the laptop (sounds like it has more software readily availble which will make life easier).

We'll also try using that boot image on SD for a retro gaming environment. Thanks for the script!!

Is there a particular Ubuntu distro you would recommend for the main laptop ?


p.s Eliza says thanks peeps
There are two Ubuntu options available. The stock image by ayufan (make sure to download the image with 'pinebook' in the suffix) and Armbian.
You can find me on IRC, Discord and Twitter

this is really a great idea,

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