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Another HPCesque device? Pinephone + upcoming official keyboard

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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-08-04 10:48 AM
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Nice!

I also have mechanical keyboards, one from logicool (logitech) and another called ARMA from a Japanese brand called Elecom.
I think the Elecom ARMA has the brown switches.

Edited by stingraze 2021-08-04 10:51 AM
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-10-15 5:02 PM
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Seems like PinePhone Pro is out for pre-order.
https://tuxphones.com/pinephone-pro-linux-phone-specs-pricing/

According to the official site, good news:
"...the PinePhone Pro is compatible with the keyboard and back cases"

https://www.pine64.org/2021/10/15/october-update-introducing-the-pin...

-stingraze

Edited by stingraze 2021-10-15 5:03 PM
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-10-15 7:33 PM
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stingraze - 2021-10-15 5:02 PM

Seems like PinePhone Pro is out for pre-order.
https://tuxphones.com/pinephone-pro-linux-phone-specs-pricing/

According to the official site, good news:
"...the PinePhone Pro is compatible with the keyboard and back cases"

https://www.pine64.org/2021/10/15/october-update-introducing-the-pin...

-stingraze


This is a great find, as always! Internals are basically the same as the PineBook Pro so software support should be good. I'm glad it supports the keyboard case - That way I can buy the keyboard for my PinePhone and upgrade later.

I've been doing a little more experimenting with my PinePhone - I got PostMarketOS installed with the desktop version of Plasma. The app selection is still a little limited but the full Plasma desktop is more configurable than Plasma mobile and you can play with the scaling, font sizes etc. Looks like quite a good option for HPC-type use. It's not as responsive as on a proper PC of course, but perfectly usable. KDE/Plasma runs very light these days so there's plenty of free RAM as well.





(PinePhone_Plasma_Desktop.jpg)



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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-10-16 9:32 AM
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Glad you liked it.

Thanks for sharing your photo of the PostMarketOS.
I hear it's pretty popular nowadays!

Nice keyboard too!
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-10-17 3:35 PM
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I've been doing a little more playing around with the PinePhone on postmarketOS with Plasma desktop, here are my observations so far:

- Most of Plasma is fairly usable with just a touchscreen, I'm using 125% display scaling and that seems a good balance between being able to use screen elements and fitting applications on the screen.

- As it's a desktop UI all the usual keyboard shortcuts work - Handy for when I struggle with the touchscreen. Plasma Mobile supports only a few shortcuts so far - Not a criticism as I'm sure the top priority there is getting the 'phone' functions working first.

- Abiword is still my favourite word processor in the Pinephone - It loads and runs quickly and works well at 125% scaling. Although it's not touch-optimised the relatively simple interface makes it usable with a touchscreen.

- I've yet to test out email clients, but I've installed Claws Mail (simple client from Gnome) and Thunderbird (via Flatpak). I'll report back once I've tested these.

- I'm using normal desktop FIrefox as my browser - I found a setting to turn on touch controls and can now scroll / zoom / bring up context menus with the touchscreen. Chromium works well too - I just prefer Firefox.

- Although the postmarketOS / Alpine repositories don't have as many apps as Debian-based distros I've been able to install most of what I wanted - It also supports Flatpaks which opens up a lot more apps including a lot of closed source / proprietary stuff you don't typically have access to in Linux. Most I've tried work OK although some are a bit slow.

I've typed this post on the Pinephone - I may 3D print a simple holder / stand for my Eee PC 'USB' keyboard and the Pinephone and dock so I can better try it out as an HPC-type device while I wait for the keyboard case to become available.



Edited by robertojones 2021-10-17 3:58 PM
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stingraze Page Icon Posted 2021-10-18 11:52 AM
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Good luck with your 3D printing!
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2021-10-18 6:30 PM
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@robertojones--Thanks again for your fine updates. I forget, are you using this phone as your daily driver?

Jake
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-10-18 9:57 PM
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Jake - No, that would still be my Blackberry Key2. It's stuck on Android 8 forever now (locked bootloader - impossible to root or flash and of course TCL is no longer supporting it). So the much less powerful Pinephone with an older SoC will probably outlive it - If nothing else that makes the case for a Linux / open source smartphone.

In fairness I haven't really tried to use it as my daily driver - There are certainly people who are. My experience using it as a phone was that it felt a bit sluggish, and the camera is poor even coming from a Blackberry device. Both of those will improve as the software evolves of course (it's remarkable how much difference processing makes to the images you get from a phone camera), and the Pinephone Pro looks like it will be a real possibility as a proper smartphone replacement. I do expect to get a lot more use out of it once the keyboard case is available, I'm having a lot of fun with Plasma desktop on it. My current Linux machine is a 2008 Macbook running Kubuntu, and the Pinephone runs most of the software I use and doesn't feel all that much slower in general use.

I honestly never thought we'd be seeing new HPC-like devices again, but between this, the Planet Computers devices and the various GPD mini PCs (and competitors/copycats thereof), not to mention all the DIY/kit devices based on single-board computers, the past few years do seem to have produced some options that are remarkably close.

Edited by robertojones 2021-10-18 10:01 PM
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2021-10-20 9:35 PM
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Whenever my Planet phones break, which is pretty frequent, I unearth my Priv stuck on Marshmallow. Your Key2 is far ahead of mine.

Given that your PP is still in production as the much more robust PPro rolls out, is very interesting. Niche vs Daily Driver, but from the same company.

Your kit is as retro as anybody's here You fit right in.

Jake
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2021-10-24 1:38 PM
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Jake - 2021-10-20 9:35 PM

Whenever my Planet phones break, which is pretty frequent, I unearth my Priv stuck on Marshmallow. Your Key2 is far ahead of mine.

Given that your PP is still in production as the much more robust PPro rolls out, is very interesting. Niche vs Daily Driver, but from the same company.

Your kit is as retro as anybody's here You fit right in.

Jake


Thanks Jake! From what I've read here there are certainly a few people who have been experimenting with various 'smartphone with keyboard' types of devices. Interestingly I've briefly owned both a Priv (moved to a Galaxy S7 after I cracked the screen - I loved the sliding keyboard though) and a Gemini (I couldn't get on with the keyboard that only opened to one angle - more of a 'me' problem than a criticism). The Key2 is quite imperfect in use (mostly due to a lot of Android apps not getting on with the screen ratio) but 'good enough' as phone I can do some serious typing on when needed.

I've done a little more playing with the Pinephone, and I have some updated findings / observations:

- I found I was able to install Plasma desktop on Mobian and I hoped this would give my my ideal 'Debian+KDE' system, but it's poorly optimised vs. pmOS so Plasma ran very slowly. It's also very difficult to completely remove Phosh - I suspect part of the reason it's so slow is the number of unnecessary processes running in the background. I'm back on pmOS again. I'm losing the dpkg / apt package system (Alpine / pmOS has the apk system instead, which does most of the same things with different commands), as well as the larger number of packages in the Debian reposititories. It does have the advantage of running very light on resources - Certainly useful on the Pinephone!

- Abiword turns out to have a few issues running in Plasma with Wayland (the new display server / compositor for Linux) - If you use the menus the titlebar/toolbars start flashing and it becomes unusable. If you run Plasma using X11 instead of Wayland this is fixed but then you lose most of the touch optimisations (the touchscreen effectively becomes a mouse). I was able to get around this by running Plasma with Wayland but launching Abiword with a command telling it to use X11. This should probably work for any other applications that misbehave in Wayland so useful to know!

- The terminal (outside of Plasma) and login screen are both in portrait format. I've found I can rotate the terminal so I'll set this command to run on boot. It should be possible to set the login screen (SDDM) to landscape but I haven't got this to work yet. I tried bypassing this by enabling auto-login but Plasma then didn't launch.

- I've still not tried out email clients.

Altogether I'm pleased with how well the Pinephone works as a mini-laptop / HPC, especially given that this isn't the focus of most of the development effort at the moment. This may well change once the keyboard case arrives - Here's hoping...
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Mobi Page Icon Posted 2022-01-01 6:17 PM
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The PinePhone keyboard is now available.

Story: https://liliputing.com/2022/01/pinephone-keyboard-now-available-wire...

Device: https://pine64.com/product/pinephone-pinephone-pro-keyboard-case/

Edited by Mobi 2022-01-01 6:17 PM
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-01-01 10:00 PM
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Nice find, Mobi. The fact that a user can physically pull and rearrange the keys is very trick.

Not certain I'm ready to pull the trigger on the PP, basic or Pro. The Planet Computer phones have failed me too many times to trust niche as a daily driver.

I must brood,
Jake
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Mobi Page Icon Posted 2022-01-01 10:08 PM
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Jake - 2022-01-01 2:00 PM

Not certain I'm ready to pull the trigger on the PP, basic or Pro.



I wouldn't, unless you only want to use it as a computer.

I had the very first version, puttered with it for a year, and then sold it.

I had hoped that it would be a functional phone one day, but that goal seemed very far off. The texting and calling were subject to intermittent failures, the phone didn't always wake from sleep for incoming calls, and the battery life was poor. In the end, the PinePhone is exactly what it promises to be: an experimental device. Hopefully all the software development work that has been done on the PinePhone will lead toward a usable Linux smartphone in the future.
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Jake Page Icon Posted 2022-01-01 10:37 PM
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Thanks for the follow-up, Mobi. I admire your pluck, that you gave it a genuine go.

Jake
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robertojones Page Icon Posted 2022-01-02 2:19 PM
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Mobi - 2022-01-01 10:08 PM

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Jake - 2022-01-01 2:00 PM

Not certain I'm ready to pull the trigger on the PP, basic or Pro.



I wouldn't, unless you only want to use it as a computer.

I had the very first version, puttered with it for a year, and then sold it.

I had hoped that it would be a functional phone one day, but that goal seemed very far off. The texting and calling were subject to intermittent failures, the phone didn't always wake from sleep for incoming calls, and the battery life was poor. In the end, the PinePhone is exactly what it promises to be: an experimental device. Hopefully all the software development work that has been done on the PinePhone will lead toward a usable Linux smartphone in the future.


I would second this, based on my own experiences with the PinePhone, at least for the time being. It's clear that a lot of progress is being made but it still falls a good way short of being a usable smartphone with any of the UI options. The most pleasant experience I had with it was definitely using the desktop version of Plasma (KDE) with a keyboard attached, so I think with this accessory it could make quite a reasonable PDA, provided you're willing to play around with the OS a bit. Definitely a tinkerer's device rather than one to just pick up and use. It should be noted too that the hardware is quite underpowered (somewhere in the region of the Raspberry Pi 3, but with 2 or 3GB of RAM) so anyone considering it should temper their expectations accordingly - It's nowhere near for example the Planet Computers devices in terms of performance. The Pinephone Pro should help on this front but is considerably more expensive of course.

I'll probably be buying this as I still have my Pinephone, admittedly it's been sat unused since my last experimentation with it, as detailed on this thread. It's just too awkward using a separate keyboard, but I can see myself playing with it a good deal more in a proper clamshell form factor. Triple the battery life should help too - There does appear to have been quite a lot of progress with regard to power consumption in standby but it still consumes a good bit of power in use.
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