A Very Merry... Pine64mas?

I’ve not written about it terribly much lately for a variety of reasons, but for the past few months my PineBook Pro has turned into a more or less daily driver laptop for me. The latest trackpad firmware update fixed the “This is unusably vile” behavior of the existing trackpad, and while the thing has its quirks, overall, it’s a pretty solid daily-driver laptop for me - which is nice. Long battery life, adequate performance, and once you learn it, no major surprises. Until wifi randomly quits until a reboot, but… whatever.

However, this “daily driver” status poses a bit of a problem if I want to do more development and hacking on it - because, well, it’s genuinely annoying to hack on your daily driver. I know people who do it, and they tolerate less function out of their computers than I do, which is saying something.

Of course, they’re out of stock if you wanted one.

I’ve also been waffling around for a bit on the whole “phone” thing - the flip phone is nice, but what if something like a PinePhone could be turned into something actually acceptable? Well, that would require a PinePhone, and they’re also… surprise! Out of stock.

However, a chance conversation with a friend of mine from years back led to finding out that he had a couple spare Pine devices, purchased to hack on and then… never really found the time to do stuff with them. Seems a common problem.

In any case, the result of these conversations is that I now have a spare PineBook Pro, and a perfectly good PinePhone, laying around just begging for some development work on them! And they’re small, portable, and can be hacked on in the house in the evenings. Ideally using another Pine product as the debug console!

So, if I can manage to arrange my time properly, I should be able to get some audio kernel patches for the PBP wrapped up, play with a bit more mainline kernel stuff, and see about some open questions I’ve had with the system. Plus, ideally, some playing with the PinePhone and seeing about what I can do towards making it a bit more daily driverable!

Score! I’m certainly interested in seeing things like the PBP become more usable. Seems like it’s not too many more rough edges to knock off before it’s mostly there. Now if they can just start making them again…

Once the trackpad firmware got updated to not be horrid, there are fairly few rough edges remaining - the main remaining one is wifi dying until a reboot on occasion, but I’m pretty sure I could just reset the driver to reinitialize the device and be fine. Plus there’s still some weird firmware issues on wifi chipset.

Of particular interest to me, given my recent obsession with memory bandwidth, is the rumor that the RK3399 chip can run LPDDR4 (the chips used in the PBP) at 933MHz, vs the 800MHz they’re running at. Someone uploaded a firmware blob that should do it, but it’s not part of a full bootloader chain, and there are several different boot firmwares one can run - an open one that, as of last year, didn’t support deep sleep, and the “binary blob” one that does (deep sleep being a basic function for a laptop as far as I’m concerned). So I have to mess with that and see what the state of them is…