Is the Pinebook Pro (current version) good for someone trying to learn linux?
#1
Hi all

Is the Pinebook Pro (current version) good for someone trying to learn linux?

Or are there too many issues with it which would overwhelm a new user?

Thanks
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#2
(11-06-2019, 12:36 PM)stiofan Wrote: Hi all

Is the Pinebook Pro (current version) good for someone trying to learn linux?

Or are there too many issues with it which would overwhelm a new user?

Thanks

I would think so, though I'm no novice or expert in Linux. I personally find the ability to easily jump from one OS to another very helpful, as you can run Debian from the eMMC and then boot from an SD with a different Linux installed, without having to go through the same installation process that Linux on a PC would require.

You'll also see a wider variety of Linux distros pop up after a while, like Manjaro. When their PBP image is finished, you'll have the option to boot directly into Debian flavor, or pop in your SD and boot into an Arch flavor. Effectively doubling your Linux exposure to 2 different setups!
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#3
(11-06-2019, 12:36 PM)stiofan Wrote: Hi all

Is the Pinebook Pro (current version) good for someone trying to learn linux?

Or are there too many issues with it which would overwhelm a new user?

Thanks

Definitely a good choice!

Here's why: as it stands, nearly everything works very well with the default distro, so you have a place to back up to if you get into trouble or even temporarily feel over your head. Easiest way to do that is follow the instructions on how to run a distro on SD. If you need a break, just restart with the SD card removed.

And the best reason: motivation! The PBP is your computer and getting it running tip-top and to your liking is very rewarding, not to mention the goodfeels you get from sharing your experience with the community thru these forums, and the help that this community offers.

PBP is more than hardware & software. We're all learning and helping each other.
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#4
This may be a little bit of an unpopular position here, but I will put it forth anyway: I would say that the current Pinebook Pro is actually a terrible choice for someone who is just getting started with Linux. The hardware is not yet supported by the vanilla versions of popular distros, and the OS it ships with is held together by a lot of fairly arcane hacks and fixes that are difficult enough for me (who has been using Linux for over seven years) to avoid breaking, let alone a newbie. This isn't the team's fault by any means, and indeed I would say that support is much better than I was expecting this early on - but the bar is low enough to trip over just because of how awful it is to support commercial silicon with free software.

The tried-and-true entry point to Linux that I have seen get the best results: find an older enterprise-grade thinkpad for sale refurbished online, and install Ubuntu or Debian on that. Sure, it's not the shining jewel of open-source hardware that the Pinebook Pro is, but you'll have all your peripherals working pretty easily.

Pinebook Pro support will get there. In a couple of years, we fully expect the above to be no longer true, and the Pinebook Pro to have great support by all sorts of distros. We do, after all, have a lot of interest in the hardware from a lot of experienced people with a lot of attention to detail, and the number of people with strong motivations to get it polished up seems to be immense. I just don't really see it being flawless by the time the next batch ships... there's just too much to do yet, too many arcane little issues that need fixing. I'd love to say that it's good enough to provide a decent newbie experience, but what I really don't want to do is get anyone's expectations overinflated and then have them get frustrated when it arrives and has a lot of problems. It's a very cool and well-designed piece of hardware, but it's not a product with a huge amount of consumer-oriented QA behind it, and it shouldn't be mistaken for one.

Give it some time. It will get there. But I can't in good faith recommend the machine in my lap right now to someone without any experience in Linux and computer hardware, because there are still issues with it that a past version of me, long ago, would likely have considered dealbreakers.
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#5
(11-06-2019, 06:03 PM)diodelass Wrote: This may be a little bit of an unpopular position here, but I will put it forth anyway: I would say that the current Pinebook Pro is actually a terrible choice for someone who is just getting started with Linux. The hardware is not yet supported by the vanilla versions of popular distros, and the OS it ships with is held together by a lot of fairly arcane hacks and fixes that are difficult enough for me (who has been using Linux for over seven years) to avoid breaking, let alone a newbie. This isn't the team's fault by any means, and indeed I would say that support is much better than I was expecting this early on - but the bar is low enough to trip over just because of how awful it is to support commercial silicon with free software.

The tried-and-true entry point to Linux that I have seen get the best results: find an older enterprise-grade thinkpad for sale refurbished online, and install Ubuntu or Debian on that. Sure, it's not the shining jewel of open-source hardware that the Pinebook Pro is, but you'll have all your peripherals working pretty easily.

Pinebook Pro support will get there. In a couple of years, we fully expect the above to be no longer true, and the Pinebook Pro to have great support by all sorts of distros. We do, after all, have a lot of interest in the hardware from a lot of experienced people with a lot of attention to detail, and the number of people with strong motivations to get it polished up seems to be immense. I just don't really see it being flawless by the time the next batch ships... there's just too much to do yet, too many arcane little issues that need fixing. I'd love to say that it's good enough to provide a decent newbie experience, but what I really don't want to do is get anyone's expectations overinflated and then have them get frustrated when it arrives and has a lot of problems. It's a very cool and well-designed piece of hardware, but it's not a product with a huge amount of consumer-oriented QA behind it, and it shouldn't be mistaken for one.

Give it some time. It will get there. But I can't in good faith recommend the machine in my lap right now to someone without any experience in Linux and computer hardware, because there are still issues with it that a past version of me, long ago, would likely have considered dealbreakers.

Good points also. :-)
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#6
(11-06-2019, 06:03 PM)diodelass Wrote: This may be a little bit of an unpopular position here, but I will put it forth anyway: I would say that the current Pinebook Pro is actually a terrible choice for someone who is just getting started with Linux. The hardware is not yet supported by the vanilla versions of popular distros, and the OS it ships with is held together by a lot of fairly arcane hacks and fixes that are difficult enough for me (who has been using Linux for over seven years) to avoid breaking, let alone a newbie. This isn't the team's fault by any means, and indeed I would say that support is much better than I was expecting this early on - but the bar is low enough to trip over just because of how awful it is to support commercial silicon with free software.

The tried-and-true entry point to Linux that I have seen get the best results: find an older enterprise-grade thinkpad for sale refurbished online, and install Ubuntu or Debian on that. Sure, it's not the shining jewel of open-source hardware that the Pinebook Pro is, but you'll have all your peripherals working pretty easily.

Pinebook Pro support will get there. In a couple of years, we fully expect the above to be no longer true, and the Pinebook Pro to have great support by all sorts of distros. We do, after all, have a lot of interest in the hardware from a lot of experienced people with a lot of attention to detail, and the number of people with strong motivations to get it polished up seems to be immense. I just don't really see it being flawless by the time the next batch ships... there's just too much to do yet, too many arcane little issues that need fixing. I'd love to say that it's good enough to provide a decent newbie experience, but what I really don't want to do is get anyone's expectations overinflated and then have them get frustrated when it arrives and has a lot of problems. It's a very cool and well-designed piece of hardware, but it's not a product with a huge amount of consumer-oriented QA behind it, and it shouldn't be mistaken for one.

Give it some time. It will get there. But I can't in good faith recommend the machine in my lap right now to someone without any experience in Linux and computer hardware, because there are still issues with it that a past version of me, long ago, would likely have considered dealbreakers.

I would counter point this:
What are you trying to learn about linux?
What computing objectives do you want to accomplish on Linux?
How do (or suspect) you would learn best? Reverse engineer? Problem solving around roadblocks? Extensive online research? 

If you just want to transition from a Win/Mac environment for daily driver, and not become a CLI guru, I agree with @diodlass mostly, as in No, not yet. 

I will never regret starting out my Linux journey with Red Hat linux 6, with unsupported hardware, bad partitions, cobbled together drivers and all that it taught me. I am by no means an expert, but pushing through roadblocks looking for creative solutions was pivotal to my learning.
-Happy Testing
(Posted from my Pinebook  PRO Mate)
Getting Paid to break your product (and make it better) since 2005
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#7
@diodelass, Agreed on all points.

There have been people here on the forums who are expecting the PBP to be a good replacement for an x86/x64 laptop right now. My words would be, "not yet, give us 6 months to 1 year". Pinebook Pro is just different enough from the older Pinebooks, that new engineering and software development is needed.

Of course, looks like a few of these Batches 1-3 have true hardware issues that can't be solved by software.
--
Arwen Evenstar
Princess of Rivendale
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#8
* "IF" the Novice was in a college class learning from a qualified instructor, and a class full of fellow students, Then YES...
But as a single "Consumer Novice" then it is probably "NO"
though a few may 'pick-up' on the subject,
Many are going to be disappointed and some are going to be very frustrated.
      LINUX = CHOICES
         **BCnAZ**
               Idea
   Donate to $upport
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#9
(11-06-2019, 07:20 PM)bcnaz Wrote: *  "IF"  the Novice  was in a college class learning from a qualified instructor,  and a class full of fellow students,  Then YES...
But as a single "Consumer Novice"  then it is probably "NO"  
though a few may 'pick-up' on the subject,  
 Many are going to be disappointed and some are going to be very frustrated.

bcnaz, i get your point.
BTW, i am that "Consumer Novice" you mentioned. Using Ubuntu as my primary for years and learning as i go. I don't know a lot, but i can keep it running okay. Mostly :-)
So there may be a grey area where someone new to linux, coming to it with curiosity and patience would find the PBP a perfect launch point. I'd like to support that. And i agree with you about keeping expectations real
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#10
(11-07-2019, 11:47 AM)Watercourse Wrote:
(11-06-2019, 07:20 PM)bcnaz Wrote: *  "IF"  the Novice  was in a college class learning from a qualified instructor,  and a class full of fellow students,  Then YES...
But as a single "Consumer Novice"  then it is probably "NO"  
though a few may 'pick-up' on the subject,  
 Many are going to be disappointed and some are going to be very frustrated.

bcnaz, i get your point.
BTW, i am that "Consumer Novice" you mentioned. Using Ubuntu as my primary for years and learning as i go. I don't know a lot, but i can keep it running okay. Mostly :-)
So there may be a grey area where someone new to linux, coming to it with curiosity and patience would find the PBP a perfect launch point. I'd like to support that. And i agree with you about keeping expectations real

My motivation comes from my strong distaste of Microsoft & Google. I have been using Linux 98.5% of the time for over twenty years.
I use synaptic to fix most of my problems,  I only use terminal when I can find precise step by step instructions.
      LINUX = CHOICES
         **BCnAZ**
               Idea
   Donate to $upport
your favorite OS Team
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