Multi-distro image supporting both Pinephone and Pinephone Pro
With some tweaks, it's possible for one SD card image to share both
bootloaders for Pinephone (A64 SoC) and Pinephone Pro (RK3399 SoC). Normally,
A64 BROM searches for bootable block at 8 KiB offset and RK3399 uses 32 KiB
offset, so even when using a very small bootloader like p-boot, that fits
everything it needs just under the size of 32 KiB, the bootloaders would
overlap. Thankfully there are ways around this limitation. :)
I've modified my multi-distro
image to support the new partition layout, where each functionally separate
section of the SD card has its own partion. It is no longer needed to remember
special offsets in the empty space before the first partition, where the
bootloaders need to be flashed. Each bootloader has its own partition now.
I had to add GPT support to p-boot
in order for it to coexist nicely in this new scheme of things with U-Boot for
Pinephone Pro on the same SD card.
The result is that you can have a single image that will work in original
Pinephone and in Pinephone Pro. The image contains currently 23 distributions,
some of which don't have their own official Pinephone Pro port, but can
nevertheless still be booted and tested on Pinephone Pro.
So a new build of multi-distro image is comming. :)
Boot selection works, but individual distributions need to be tested, and
perhaps tamed in order to not muck around with partition layout.
It really is quite disheartening when you make a nice custom partition
layout, which the distro should notice is clearly not the original layout of the
installation image, and it regardless starts changing partitions without asking
or warning, and without checking that it's modifying its own expected partition
layout and not something that the user painstakingly prepared to allow
coexistence of multiple distributions in multi-boot environment.
This is the least fun part of preparing a release of multi-distro
My U-Boot builds
Along with the release of the multi-distro image, I'll publish a pre-built
U-Boot 2023.07 with patches for improved Pinephone Pro support, which will
finally fix the charging issues with empty battery that many people have
experienced, and will allow you to make your own boot menus.
There will be two variants. One with DRAM down-clocking support, that will
introduce very significant power savings to Pinephone Pro and one without, but
based on fully FOSS components.
My latest Linux 6.3 branch is already prepared to realize these new power
savings, when used with the new U-Boot version.