NixOS on ARM/PINE64 Pinebook

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PINEBOOK
A Pinebook 11".
Manufacturer PINE64 (Pine Microsystems Inc.)
Architecture AArch64
Bootloader Upstream U-Boot[1]
Boot order SD, eMMC
Maintainer samueldr

The Pinebook (sometimes referred as pinebook-a64) is a laptop design based on the Allwinner A64 SoC. It was available in two sizes, 11.6" and 14", but is now only available as 11.6". The 11.6" has two resolutions, first models had a 1366×768 panel, while the more recent ones have a 1920×1080 panel.

It can boot from SD or from an included and replaceable eMMC module.

Status

Upstream NixOS AArch64 image boots on the PINE A64-LTS, using the proper upstream U-Boot.

U-boot support has been added 2019-05-18. The bootloader has not been built for now.

Board-specific installation notes

First follow the generic installation steps to get the installer image on an SD card. Copying to the eMMC directly should work, but requires disassembly of the computer.

U-Boot needs to be copied to specific sectors on the microSD card with dd. Download U-Boot for the board (sopine-u-boot-sunxi-with-spl.bin), and copy it to the correct location with (again, replace /dev/sdX with the correct path to the SD card device):

sudo dd if=sopine-u-boot-sunxi-with-spl.bin of=/dev/sdX bs=1024 seek=8

Partitioning

The internal storage needs to be partitioned in a way that that the bootloader will not interfere with nor be interfered by a partition.

By copying the sd image internally

This is an easy solution, that also allows booting and installing as one would from an SD card on a generic Allwinner platform. Simply dd the SD image to the internal storage. The internal storage is likely to be /dev/mmcblk2.

MBR partition scheme

GPT partition scheme

The Allwinner GPT Installation instruction explains how to create a GPT partition table while allowing the isntallation of u-boot at the required offset.

Serial console

Details about the pinout for the headphone jack are available on the PINE64 wiki. It is also available on their store. The serial settings are the usual Allwinner settings.

On early models[Which?] serial needs to be toggled via software. On recent models, a physical switch is present on the main board. The linux-sunxi wiki's Pinebook page has details about serial access.

Compatibility notes

Mainline kernel
Display
  • Does not work yet with the upstream kernel as of 5.1.
HDMI
  • Hasn't been tested.

Downstream kernel

Note: Keep in mind that using non-upstream forks of the kernel always incurs some risk as far as security goes.

USB booting with u-boot

You will need to either have mainline U-Boot installed to the eMMC or to an SD card.

Stop the boot process when prompted (by pressing a key). Then, do the following:

Hit any key to stop autoboot:  0
=> setenv boot_targets usb0
=> boot

This sets the boot order for this boot only. U-Boot can boot (among others) either of the NixOS sd-image or EFI iso from USB.

Resources

  • https://github.com/NixOS/nixpkgs/pull/61652