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Table of Contents
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
A list of frequently encountered questions and problems that we can easily fix. Feel free to add and improve, but make sure it is actually a frequently asked question and not just a pet peeve of your favorite topic or app to keep this list navigatable. Many tipps and customizations are also described in more detail on the tweaks page (there is even one dedicated to the pinetab).
Does Mobian support (or intend to) 32 bit ARM apps. My 32 bit compiler wont run
Mobian does not boot, it just shows a keyboard on a black screen
If you have used the installer and encrypted your disk, you need to enter your password here, in order to decrypt the disk and boot up the phone.
I installed Mobian on SD card, and it does not boot up
Don't laugh, but have you put the SD card in the correct slot and not the SIM card slot? See the illustration in the pine64 wiki which one is the correct slot. The difference is subtle and you would not be the first one to do that. Also, hardware has been destroyed by putting things into the wrong slot.
Why does Mobian boot without an SD card, but does not boot when I add my SD card?
The most common reason is that the SD card previously had a distribution or JumpStart flashed to it, and when it was wiped, the boot sector was not wiped. The pinephone is trying to boot from the SD card still and failing.
Please wipe the boot sector on your SD card with the following command:
sudo dd if=/dev/zero of=/dev/YOURSDCARDDEVICE bs=512 seek=16 count=1
How do I reboot Mobian?
The very upper right corner has a button which will offer you a context menu including poweroff and restart. Some new users are taking days to discover this option, so don't feel embarrassed.
After boot, my wifi settings and logo are gone
1) Hardware kill switch on? 2) If you boot without battery or with an empty battery, the cell modem and wifi won't work as they are directly attached to the battery, so they will not work, even when you have power plugged in.
After boot I hear "click.. click.. click.. click." Is something broken?
This sound is normal and comes from the camera! 4 clicks means:
camera 1: open camera 2: open camera 1: close camera 2: close
Application specific questions
How to raise a context-menu with **mouse-dependant applications**? How to "right-click"?
The “Menu” key will raise a context menu, as if right-clicking with a mouse. The “Menu” key is on the Squeekboard on-screen keyboard.
**Fractal** keeps asking for login credentials
Fractal (the Matrix client) uses the Gnome keyring to store and retrieve your Matrix credentials. The storing part works, but currently there is an issue retrieving them when the gnome keyring has not been opened yet after login. A workaround is to either restart the keyring, or open another app that uses it beforehand. For instance, you can open Geary before opening Fractal and things will work.
If you're not that security conscious, you can also set an empty password on the key ring. It will then automatically unlock on login (but your gnome keyring passwords are stored unencrypted on the disk).
The **Torch** logo does nothing when pressed
This has been fixed in phosh 0.13.0 (available in bookworm).
If you're stuck with an older version, there is always the preinstalled flashlight app, which works just fine.
**keepassxc** does not fit the screen
keepassxc is a great program for handling passwords. Unfortunately its window layout is *not* mobile friendly and the developers have no plans changing this (please do not spam that issue with “but we want it” type of comments). gnome-passwordsafe is an alternative and is available from the repositories.
General Mobian questions
How do I switch to Mobian Unstable?
Mobian has an unstable distro, so you can test some of the later (but less tested) packages.
The easiest way you can switch to this repository is by simply changing the line
/etc/apt/sources.list.d/mobian.list. This way, you will be getting all your Mobian packages from https://repo.mobian-project.org/unstable main non-free instead of https://repo.mobian-project.org/bullseye main non-free.
How do I install Flatpak
There are many more apps available on Flatpak a few optimized for mobile most are not.
Follow the instructions above to enable
/etc/apt/sources.list.d/mobian.list and then
sudo apt install flatpak
You can use the Flatpak website to browse for packages https://flathub.org/home
to install just
flatpak install (package name)
to find the name click on a title on the website like this VLC link
cut the name of the package from after details in the URL after the last /
so it looks like this
flatpak install org.videolan.VLC
then follow the dialog and VLC or whatever package you want will be installed with dependancies; you can also try to search for example like this
flatpak install vlc and you will see a few numbered choices when it searches the flatpak package options.
Some flatpak related commands
- update packages:
- remove package:
flatpak uninstall (package name)
- remove unused packages (which were installed due to dependencies):
flatpak uninstall --unused
- remove data of already uninstalled packages:
flatpak uninstall --delete-data
How do I install Anbox(Android emulation)
This is not a replacement for native Mobian or even desktop Debian and flatpak apps though some mobile Android apps can be run in a useful way at this point while others will crash every time. The link below includes Mobian install instructions including a link to an Android image with the F-droid app store already installed. https://wiki.mobian-project.org/doku.php?id=anbox Interface issues especially lack of a backspace/triangle/back input will arise as there is not currently any option for android 'soft keys“ i.e. the 'back', 'home', and 'recent apps' triangle, circle, and square provided by either the android touchscreen UI or in hardware at the bottom of an android phone, these inputs can be sent via an attached keyboard.
How do I close apps?
This is a quite frequent question by newcomers to mobian. The answer is by swiping the app upwards in the phosh window overview. If you have an external monitor connected and a pointing device, windows will start to get a familiar
X to click on. This is a design decision made by the upstream phosh maintainers (don't bug them with tons of comments, please).
Can I share my network from/to the mobian device?
Do I need to upgrade or dist-upgrade? Do I need to reflash new images regularly?
Mobian comes with a set of preinstalled packages. When performing a
apt update && apt upgrade as root (possibly prepended by gnome-session-inhibit to prevent your device from sleeping) these packages will be upgraded to the latest available versions from the mobian and the debian testing repositories. Usually, this is all that you need to do, in order to have a device equivalent to one flashed with the latest weekly image.
apt upgrade is rather conservative and opts for safe changes only (which is exactly why it is used by default). The manual page states for upgrade: under no circumstances are currently installed packages removed, or packages not already installed retrieved and installed. However, sometimes a package might be replaced obsoleted, conflicts with another package, or new packages are pulled in. In this case “apt” will be “holding back” upgrades and not perform a complete upgrade. If apt tells you it has been holding something back, you need something stronger!
A more more daring, but sometimes necessary approach, is therefore to use
apt full-upgrade or
apt dist-upgrade, which is described as “the function of upgrade but will remove currently installed packages if this is needed to upgrade the system as a whole”, intelligently handles changing dependencies. (And yes, using apt, it seems both these options are actually equivalent).
Whether this is something that you would be willing to use by default depends on your risk-aversion. You need to perform this in cases where new packages have been brought in, or conflicts with existing packages arise. However, it is recommended to never blindly “dist-upgrade” without inspecting what it would do. I can uninstall your phone, eat your lunch and your dessert too!
In rare cases, reflashing might be needed, but this is not the norm. In some cases, the default set of installed packages changed in the root image but would not be pulled in by mobian-meta packages (one example is gnome-weather) and these would not be auto-installed during upgrades. Another example is that apt usually does not touch or remove configuration files in /etc/. If default configuration options change and your old configuration files continue to hang around, this could cause a different behavior than a fresh install would provide.
It is always safe to perform a
apt --purge autoremove
which will uninstall all automatically installed packages that are not required by other packages. (the purge option will also remove any configuration files of the packages being removed)
On a final note, you might see instructions using apt-get instead of apt. For all practical purposes described here, it does not matter which of these you use. apt is 4 letters less to type and apt-get only knows dist-upgrade not full-upgrade.
I just upgraded Mobian and my PIN is not accepted in the lockscreen
It is a known issue when upgrading from the version of Mobian shipped with PinePhone Community Edition. More information on this and other issue on the initial upgrade is in our blog post.
The screen dimming from the light sensor is annoying. How can I de-activate it?
While waiting for further ways of configuring it in the future, you can disable the light-sensor proximity-sensing by issuing the following commands in a terminal:
sudo su echo "ambient-enabled=false" >> /usr/share/glib-2.0/schemas/90_mobian-tweaks-phosh.gschema.override mv /etc/udev/rules.d/10-proximity.rules /etc/udev/rules.d/10-proximity.rules.backup exit
If you simply want to disable the proximity sensor altogether its as simple as blacklisting it:
sudo nano /etc/modprobe.d/proximity.conf
and add this line in
What applications can I use for "X"?
Finally, you have all the power of Debian underneath! Any available package is just a
sudo apt install XYZ away.
How can i re-order the apps in the "favourites" part of the app drawer?
Simplest way is by using the dconf editor
sudo apt install dconf-editor
Then in dconf-editor go to ” / sm / puri / phosh“ and edit the “favourites” field. It's a bit tedious using the cursors of the terminal keyboard and copy/paste functions, but doable!
Once done, don't forget to click the ” ^ “ icon on top of the screen, to validate your modifications.
I get a warning that "space is low on /boot"
/boot is on its own partition and rather short on space. Generally try to keep only a single working kernel installed (ie uninstall linux-image-5.9-sunxi64 when you are on kernel 5.10). A kernel upgrade could fail with this error message :
update-initramfs: failed for /boot/initrd.img-5.10-sunxi64 with 1.
Then make room on the /boot partition by removing the current initrd (careful after this step, as you will have a not-bootable device):
sudo rm /boot/initrd.img-5.9-sunxi64
At last, upgrade the kernel :
sudo apt install linux-image-sunxi64
Reboot, and remove the old kernel. In a terminal you can type (if 5.9 is your old kernel version):
sudo apt remove --purge linux-image-5.9-sunxi64
After a reboot, the LED stays green, the screen black and nothing happens! What can I do?
Green LED means it is still at p-boot stage.
If a previous kernel installation partially failed, you can try using the previous kernel:
- With tow-boot: Boot the phone while holding the volume up button at startup and during the second vibration.
- With JumpDrive on an SD card: Just boot to Jumpdrive
Then edit /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf to prioritize an older kernel, and reboot to try it.
What is F2FS?
The F2F2 filesystem (Arch wiki) is a filesystem that is supposed to be faster, support encryption and reduce the wear on the flash memory of the disk. Mobian has currently experimental support for it, however, the installer and images created are still using the ext4 file system. In due time we hope to offer F2FS for new installs, do try it in case you are building your own image.
Can I use my phone as an reliable alarm clock?
Is Mobian accessible to people with X disability?
Depends. See accessibility. Technical and non-technical help improving accessibility is very welcome.
My GPS does not work
- gps via modemmanager (mmcli) only seems to work when a SIM card is inserted in the pinephone (the GPS receiver is part of the modem)?! (trying to enable it will simply return
error: modem not enabled yet.
- Mobian uses the geoclue library to access the location which enables the receiver by default when needed. You can test (and enable) the GPS using the following manual mmcli commands though.
sudo mmcli -m any --location-enable-gps-nmeawill enable the GPS receiver.
sudo mmcli -m any --location-getwill show you any location it got (Don't forget to disable the receiver when you have manually enabled it after you are done).
- Some applications use gpsd to retrieve their locations. gpsd is not installed by default and to make it work, you need to configure gpsd to talk to the GPS modem which means to set
DEVICES=”/dev/ttyUSB1“in your /etc/default/gpsd.
- More on the technical side of this is on our location page in the wiki.
Charge is slow (or phone discharge while plugged)
By default Mobian won't suspend while plugged in, so if your phone consumes more than 500mA while running and your charger only provide 500mA (USB default from long time ago), you'll find your phone discharging instead of charging.
This can be changed from the “settings” menu, in power managment, in the auto-suspend section: set it to auto-suspend when plugged-in.
If the phone is connected to an usb dock and the “Power Supply” app does show a “Current limit” of 500mA or less even though the charger connected to the dock delivers more power then the problem might be that the used charger does not support USB Power Delivery. Many docks seem to expect an USB PD charger.
Phone functions (calls, SMS) related questions
I cannot place/receive a call, or a SMS, why?
Make sure you have activated the mobile network in the “settings” menu after you insert a SIM card. If you have the phone set to 4g only and all outgoing calls fail(and incoming) but SMS works try setting 2g,3g,4g(preferred).
Does muting the Microphone during a call work?
Audio on the Pinephone is routed through hardware through the ADC on the A64 ASoC. The mute button in the telephone “calls” app relies on software mixing, rather than muting the ADC, which does not work. So expect embarassing situations to ensue when you “mute” your microphone during a call. It will still be on!!! (issue 248)
My phone rings when I am in a call and a second call comes in
Yes, we know. Fortunately, most phone providers can be configured to forward a second call to a user's mailbox, making this a little more bearable. In much of Europe this could work by dialing **67*OWNPHONENUMBER# (Androids even have a nice GUI for this call forwarding settings). See this wikipedia section and your operators help pages for more on this.
System Speaker Switches to Pinephone's Earpiece Speaker After a Call
Initiate a telephone call and set speakerphone mode, cancel call. This will usually switch the system back to using the external speaker, this bug has been observed when a headphone was used during a telephone call.
Does Mobian/Pinephone support VoLTE?
For most people, yes, and you need nothing to configure as this is handled by the modem black box. See the section What's working with Mobian
Hardware related questions
Where can I find more information about the modem and how it is used?
- The pine64 wiki's modem section is a good starting point.
- Modem managers (mmcli) manual page: https://www.freedesktop.org/software/ModemManager/man/1.0.0/mmcli.8.html
- The Modem's (EG25) AT commands https://wiki.pine64.org/images/2/2e/Quectel_EC25EC21_AT_Commands_Manual_V1.2.pdf
- And generally lots of useful information on the PinePhone's hardware: https://xnux.eu/devices/feature/modem-pp.html
Contributing to Mobian
Can I contribute to this wiki?
Please do! All you have to do is make an account on our wiki, and you will be able to contribute.
How do I contribute an app or code to Mobian?
Below are the main steps to get a package accepted but you should read the dev's guide linked above
Packaging for Mobian
Some packages are not suitable for Debian or are otherwise targeted to Mobian. In these instances, the software must still be packaged per Debian's guidelines. For the package to be accepted into Mobian, it must be reviewed/acked by one of the following:
One Debian Developer, or
Two Debian Maintainers, or
Four Mobian Maintainers.
The maintainer of the package should also be willing to maintain the package in line with Debian's releases. As Mobian aims to upstream all work into Debian, most packages should target Debian rather than the Mobian repositories.