A few months back Pine64 shipped me a free Pinebook Pro laptop to help develop SlackwareAarch64-current. I have been hammering mine for the last few months. Overall the hardware itself is excellently designed. Sure, there are some quirks, but not many. To go with my Pinebook Pro I purchased the Pine64 docking station and the NVMe adapter ribbon. I have no complaints. I was very excited and flattered to receive free hardware from Pine64. I will definitely put it to good use. Time to discuss what works and what doesn’t work.
I’ve been working closely with Stuart Winter, the Slackware ARM founder. While he is working on building the Slackware tree in continuous integration mode, I’ve been looking for ways to tweak the Pinebook Pro. I iron out the bugs, make suggestions, with the goal of another stellar release of Slackware. Essentially, I am testing whatever is handed to me. Installing, reinstalling, and testing the resulting systems.
Both the RockPro64 and the Pinebook Pro have a Mali T860 GPU. Xorg is left to automatically configure the driver and it defaults to the Panfrost open source graphics driver. Both systems are idling at 60 frames per second and handle 1920×1080 display resolution. The Fbturbo driver has proven to be less stable than the open source Panfrost driver. It works well enough and should be sufficient for most tasks.
I installed a Kingston 250GB NVME SSD some time ago. There is a hardware compatibility list on the pine64 wiki and my disk was rated to be working as expected. Initially there were a few bugs to work out and have since been resolved. For completeness, the drive is a Kingston A2000. To go with the internal disk I purchased an external Samsung T7 500GB SSD.
So, how do I plan on using this hardware? I would like to provide the users of the Aarch64 port with packages built using sources from SlackBuilds.org. I have a number of other boxen that are networked together on a private LAN, using Gigabit speeds, that is a miniature build farm. My previous post on the Raspberry Pi cluster is just a demonstration of what is available in affordable ARM computing. No need for a rack mount or any fancy hardware. In less than $100 and some research, anyone can do the same!
All Slackware veterans know that 15.0 will be released in due time. “When it’s Ready” TM. I do not have any insights about when the Aarch64 port will be made public. My suggestion is to watch the change log, the Slackware ARM podcast channel on YouTube, and keep your eyes peeled for updates on the Slackware ARM web site!