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Installing Arch Linux ARM

These instructions can be followed to install Arch Linux ARM on an SD Card, USB Flash Drive, eMMC, or even NVMe if your U-Boot supports it (example Tow-Boot on SPI).

Commands to be run as a normal user are prefixed with $, commands to be run as root (or with sudo) are prefixed with #. The target device is assumed to be /dev/sdb, adjust accordingly.


Flashing U-Boot

While any U-Boot for the Pinebook Pro can be used, this tutorial uses Tow-Boot. The process of installing Tow-Boot is different from any other U-Boot, so large parts of the partitioning section will need to be changed if you want to use something else. If you already have Tow-Boot installed via SPI, you can skip this step. Use fdisk to create a blank GPT partition table. /boot will be partition 1, and / will be partition 2.

Download and extract the latest release of Tow-Boot for the Pinebook Pro from https://github.com/Tow-Boot/Tow-Boot/releases.

$ wget https://github.com/Tow-Boot/Tow-Boot/releases/download/release-2021.10-004/pine64-pinebookPro-2021.10-004.tar.xz
$ tar xf pine64-pinebookPro-2021.10-004.tar.xz

Flash Tow-Boot to /dev/sdb (replace this with the device you actually intend to use).

# dd if=pine64-pinebookPro-2021.10-004/shared.disk-image.img of=/dev/sdb bs=1M oflag=direct,sync

This creates the partition table for the device, with the first partition serving to protect Tow-Boot. Do not move or write to this partition.

Creating the partitions

Use fdisk to add partitions to /dev/sdb.

# fdisk /dev/sdb

Create the /boot partition.

  • Type n to create a new partition.

  • Press enter for partition number two.

  • Press enter for the default start sector.

  • Type +256M to make the new partition 256 MiB.

Mark the /boot partition bootable.

  • Type x to enter expert mode.

  • Type A to mark a partition bootable.

  • Type 2 to select partition two.

  • Type r to exit expert mode.

Create the root partition.

  • Type n to create a new partition.

  • Press enter for partition number three.

  • Press enter for the default start sector.

  • Press enter to fill the rest of the device.

Write the changes to disk.

  • Type w to write the changes and exit.

Formatting the partitions

Format the /boot partition as a filesystem supported by your U-Boot. ext4 is recommended: # mkfs.ext4 /dev/sdb2

Format the root partition as any filesystem supported by Arch Linux ARM. btrfs for example: # mkfs.btrfs /dev/sdb3

Installing the root filesystem

Mounting the partitions

# mount /dev/sdb3 /mnt
# mkdir /mnt/boot
# mount /dev/sdb2 /mnt/boot

Downloading and verifying the rootfs tarball

Download the tarball and its PGP signature. $ wget http://os.archlinuxarm.org/os/ArchLinuxARM-aarch64-latest.tar.gz{,.sig}

Import the Arch Linux ARM signing key. $ gpg --keyserver keyserver.ubuntu.com --recv-keys 68B3537F39A313B3E574D06777193F152BDBE6A6

Verify the tarball’s authenticity. $ gpg --verify ArchLinuxARM-aarch64-latest.tar.gz.sig

Verifying the authenticity of the tarball protects you in two ways:

  1. Makes sure the tarball came directly from Arch Linux ARM and was not tampered with

  2. Prevents you from using a corrupt tarball (for example from an interrupted download)

Extracting and configuring the root filesystem

Extracting the root filesystem

# bsdtar -xpf ArchLinuxARM-aarch64-latest.tar.gz -C /mnt

Editing fstab

Find the partitions' UUIDs with blkid.

# blkid /dev/sdb3 /dev/sdb2

Example output:

/dev/sdb3: UUID="c1ec9712-5c64-46da-852c-9d665416e8a6" UUID_SUB="90e5b654-6967-471a-9d35-8997488b1ba8" BLOCK_SIZE="4096" TYPE="btrfs" PARTUUID="885dd863-a550-2d47-89dd-f54fd6744ca5"
/dev/sdb2: UUID="21bbff3f-b82e-416e-93c8-e6d44c3daf82" BLOCK_SIZE="4096" TYPE="ext4" PARTUUID="be571200-1a56-5d4c-9a5b-88a5f36a295e"

Add the following lines to /mnt/etc/fstab, substituting the example UUIDs with those you received from blkid.

UUID=c1ec9712-5c64-46da-852c-9d665416e8a6 /     btrfs defaults 0 1
UUID=21bbff3f-b82e-416e-93c8-e6d44c3daf82 /boot ext4  defaults 0 2

Creating extlinux.conf

Create a file /mnt/boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf with the following contents, replacing the example UUID with the one for /dev/sdb3 from blkid. DEFAULT arch MENU TITLE Boot Menu PROMPT 0 TIMEOUT 50

LABEL arch
LINUX /Image
INITRD /initramfs-linux.img
FDT /dtbs/rockchip/rk3399-pinebook-pro.dtb
APPEND root=UUID=c1ec9712-5c64-46da-852c-9d665416e8a6 rw
LABEL arch-fallback
MENU LABEL Arch Linux ARM with fallback initramfs
LINUX /Image
INITRD /initramfs-linux-fallback.img
FDT /dtbs/rockchip/rk3399-pinebook-pro.dtb
APPEND root=UUID=c1ec9712-5c64-46da-852c-9d665416e8a6 rw

Booting and finishing setup

Boot into Arch Linux ARM and log in as root with password root.

Initialize the pacman keyring.

# pacman-key --init
# pacman-key --populate archlinuxarm

For security, change the default passwords for root and the default user alarm.

# passwd
# passwd alarm

Congratulations, you have now installed Arch Linux ARM on your PineBook Pro!