I purchased a PineTab a while back in June 2020 and it was a buggy mess. I figured since I was an early adopter it was just a matter of a few updates and then it could be a cool tool to use Linux portably. Fast forward to today and its still not a functioning piece of hardware. For example the touch pad doesn’t work except for a 4 inch square on the screen. The auto rotation is janky, The webcams do not work etc. I tried using some of the other images available such as UBPorts (default) PostMarket OS, Manjaro, Mobian, and Sailfish OS with varying amounts of success and other issues were introduced. I want to use this thing so I am going to try and fix what I can. Below are instructions on what I have done and where I am at on some issues. This is currently the best I can get this device to function.
First thing I did to make imaging the EMMC a little easier is to flash JumpDrive to a 1GB Micro SD Card. This application allows you to boot to JumpDrive and then you can plug your PineTab into a PC using a micro USB cable and both the SD card and EMMC will show up as normal flash drives. Then you can use something like Etcher to flash your images onto your device.
Once you have the JumpDrive flashed to your SD card put it in the PineTab and turn it on to boot to to Jumpdrive. Then simply plug it into your PC and fire up Etcher.
The Image I flashed to my Pinetab is the Arch Barebones Image for PineTab. In Etcher select the Arch image as the source by clicking flash from file. For Target select your EMMC. it should be a 64GB flash Drive. It may show up as multiple drive letters but Etcher will know its the same drive. Then begin the flash process.
Now that you have the Arch barebones image installed you will need to configure a few things because at this point all you have is a terminal window with no GUI.
Connect a keyboard to the tablet. I use the Keyboard and Trackpad that came with my PineTab but any USB keyboard should work. Currently the display will be in a portrait mode. We will kind of fix this later.
Login using the username “root” and password of “root” (Do not include the quotes)
Rotate Screen so we can work in this environment. This is a temporary rotation.
echo 1 > /sys/class/graphics/fbcon/rotate_all
Once the screen is rotated it should be a little easier to look at. This will revert upon each reboot.
Now we will connect to Wifi. Enter the following command.
Select Activate Network and find your Wifi and enter the password. Then Quit this app back to the terminal.
Update the system with the following command.
After update you should reboot with the following command.
Once rebooted you can login once again and rotate the screen again. We will now install XORG
pacman -S xorg xorg-server
Now lets install Gnome
pacman -S gnome
Next we will enable Gnome and make it start on boot.
systemctl enable gdm.service systemctl start gdm.service
Now you will be in Gnome but the screen will still be in portrait so lets fix that.
Login using the username “alarm” and password “123456” this is the default user on Arch Barebones image.
To rotate Gnome you need to navigate to Settings > Display > Rotate > Orientation Portrait Left
This is kind of difficult in this orientation but once you do it its so much better.
Now we need to rotate the Login screen as for some reason they are not controlled by the same settings. For this open up the terminal and enter the following command.
sudo cp ~/.config/monitors.xml /var/lib/gdm/.config/
Now lets install some applications. In terminal type the following to install Firefox, VLC, Leafpad, and Gnome Tweaks
sudo pacman -S firefox vlc leafpad gnome-tweaks
Now lets fix the audio so you can have some sound. For some reason the microphone is set to output instead of the speakers.
Open Settings > Sound > Output Device > Change to Internal Speaker
Sound is very quiet so one thing we can do is enable over amplification
Open Gnome Tweak and on the general tab select the Over-Amplification toggle and it will alow you to turn up the volume over 100%.
Finally to open the on screen keyboard you can swipe up from the bottom of the screen. This keyboard works ok however it doesnt have CTRL, ALT, TAB or F Keys so there are limitations.
Thing Left to do
- Make Webcam work
- Enable Auto Rotation
- Find Better On Screen Keyboard.
- Make volume not reset to zero upon reboot.
- Rotate bootup screen
This is obviously not perfect but now I can use this device more like a Linux laptop. Performance isn’t great and I didn’t solve some of the issues experienced in some of the other images but I do think this is a much better experience if you just want to use Linux on the go. If I figure out anything else I will update this article.