Group: Hardware/research/laptop/Pinebook PRO

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Revision as of 10:01, 21 October 2020 by GNUtoo (talk | contribs) (Research: clarify loadable firmwares)
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Introduction

This page research if it's possible to replace a Libreboot Thinkpad with a Pinebook PRO and how much freedom issue the Pinebook PRO has.

Research

Nonfree firwmares:

  • Internal WiFi / Bluetooth [1] => Use another WiFi / Bluetooth adapter on another bus (USB, PCIe, etc).
  • dptx.bin => External displays won't work?
  • Video decoding offload? => Use the CPU instead
  • Others?

WiFi

An adapter [2] exists to enable to connect NGFF A/E key WiFi cards.

=> TODO: Look if ath9k compatible cards exist in that form factor.

Alternatively it's possible to use external USB WiFi cards, but they will be limited to 2.4GHz and there is a tradeoff to make between the range and the key size.

=> TODO: look if it's possible to put the USB WiFi card inside the laptop.

Storage

  • 128M flash chip: can probably be used for the bootloader: This way you could encrypt fully the other storage which have internal nonfree firmwares.
  • removable eMMC (64G or 128G available at the time of writing)
  • MicroSD (SD3.0, MMC 4.5, up to 50MB/s)
  • Adding an NVMe is also possible but this has some downsides:
    • This occupies the PCIe connector. It might be a better idea to try to find a way to connect an ath9k compatible card on that connector.
    • The NVMe has an internal nonfree firmware and probably has DMA access to your RAM

Other differences with a Libreboot Thinkpad

Libreboot Thinkpad Pinebook PRO
Architecture
  • i686 on some laptops
  • x86_64 on others
  • ARM 64bit

See distribution compatibility for more infos.

Embedded controller firmware Nonfree

Handles:

  • The keyboard
  • The power up sequence (voltages, power rails)
  • WiFi / bluetooth power on/off
  • Battery charging
  • etc
Probably Free software

probably handles similar things.

RAM 4G, 8G possible with specific RAM DIMMs. 4G soldered
Ethernet Integrated Through USB adapter
Debug
  • UART in the dock on some laptops, or absent on other
  • It might be possible to add an UART through the express card connector
  • USB Debug (not very practical)
  • Reinstalling Libreboot can be time consuming on some laptops
  • External UART connector (multiplexed with sound?)
  • TODO: What is the SOC/device boot order?

References