Pine A64(+) Operating System Upgrade

Last Update: May 24, 2023 @ 17:08 Preliminary information, subject to change.

The Pine A64(+) acquired several years ago was loaded at the time with ubuntu 16.04, now considered obsolete and not supportable. There is a large and active user community that uses the various Pine products and offers software updates. With a new OS installed, the Pine A64(+) will be used as an MQTT (“Mosquitto”) node on my network.

This page describes the issues dealt with the update the operating system to Debian linux, from the older ubuntu.

Pine A64(+) mounted on a panel attached to the VESA points on the 1920×1080 screen. The keyboard and mouse are connected via a USB hub, which was required for the original ubuntu 16.04 OS. Debian 11 fixes this, and a keyboard-mouse wireless dongle works.

Issues with ubuntu

v16.04 was the original OS port provided for the Pine A64. The main issues I found were that doing any upgrades would result in an unusable system. In particular, v16.04 integrated Firefox v45 which worked, but loading a newer Firefox version would crash i.e. rendering the system unusable. Similarly, loading 16.04 updates also caused usability issues. Since 16.04 is obsolete and not supported by the user groups, replacement with a different linux version is required.

Issues with Debian versions

The Pine Wiki pages list a number of linux variants, with Debian being chosen for my application.

The Debian 8 version was initially installed as a test which was successful. Since Debian 8 is obsolete, the recommended Debian 11 was chosen. A Debian 12 installation was attempted, but for unclear reasons the setup boot process would begin then almost immediately stall. A possible cause is my board is an early (Kickstarter) pcb revision.

After Debian 11 setup and installation, Firefox 102.9 reported as the current version dated Feb 2023. Tests showed it fully functional. With my 2GB board (an early version apparently), no activity for about 30 minutes would place the board into Suspend mode (as did Debian 8), and no obvious way to restart it. The solution was to use the systemctl command to disable the suspend and hibernate modes. Testing showed that the screen would blank, but Debian would restart for any mouse or keyboard operations, and present a login window. sudo apt install net-tools was required to get ifconfig working properly.

More to add, check again soon!

Copyright © 2024 PiXCL Automation Tech Notes, Canada. All Rights Reserved.