PinephonePro with Gentoo


In this post I'm going to skip the why and jump to the what. I crosscompiled Gentoo for my Pinephone Pro with Pinephone keyboard, and got it working pretty nicely, and I wanted to document some of the process for others.

Obligatory photo of phone in operation

In retrospect the easiest path to get close to what I'm running would be to install mobian and then just use sway instead of phosh etc. One advantage of Gentoo though is the ability to run wayland-only which saeves on resources. An easier way to get Gentoo would be to just download an arm64 stage 3, downlad a mobian image, replace the userland with the stage3 tarball, and you'd be most of the way there. That is not the path I took though. One downside of that approach is that you aren't left with a matching cross-compiler environment for building packages requiring more than the 4GB of ram on the Pinephone Pro. Whether it's worth the extra effort, is up to you.

What is this post's purpose? I'm an experienced software engineer and long-time Linux user and admin. I've run Gentoo in particular before, and recently came back to it. That said, this was my first time building or using a cross-compiler or doing any sort of project like this. My target audience is folks similar to myself. The following is not intended as instructions for beginners. It's an approximate outline that I hope can help others with similar experience avoid a lot of dead ends, and many many hours of googling, or enable someone with a bit less knowledge to pull this off at all.

I'm kind of joking, but so far I haven't tried to get GPS, or the cell modem to work. My priority was to make it useful like a laptop. I have tried to get the camera to work. The client software is called "Megapixels". It installs fine, and I've heard works on the pinephone, but the pinephone pro needs some kernel patches that are not widely used yet. I DO have full convergence working with the kernel config I posted. I can use a USB or bluetooth keyboard, a USB-C HDMI hub, an external HDMI monitor, a USB keyboard, and an ethernet device built indo the USB-C hub, and it all works great. My bluetooth headphones work well, my USB headset works fine. I have the power-button suspend via elogind. My volume buttons work. I can change screen brightness with keyboard shortcuts. If you DO use my config and do anything I don't, you'll probably need to enable those features :).

Honestly, if you manage to truly brick your phone I'm impressed, it's not easy with the pinephone pro... but should you pull it off you're doing this at your own risk, I'm not liable, not my fault, bla bla bla. This just my blog. I don't know what I'm doing.

obligatory photo of pinephone pro doing convergence stuff

Pinephone Tips

At this point hopefully you have gentoo booting on your pinephone. But that's a ways from having everything you want working. Since we've basically set up the pinephone like a laptop you can test things out on a laptop and then apply the changes to your pinephone if that's helpful. But here's some ideas

As I mentioned I'm using wayland only swayWM. Some software I like

I'm hoping to write up another post about my desktop configuration and using sway soon, for less pinephone specific information. But there you go.

This is not the easiest process, but compared to your average "build your own OS for arbitrary device" project I suspect this is downright trivial. If you're good with linux and understand how it all works this actually isn't all that hard. I had to do a lot of reading to e.g. work out what the cflags should be, which bootloader to use, the best way to get a bootable system, etc. Hopefully this set of psuedo-instructions will save you those headaches and make the project only a little more involved than a typical gentoo install.

Lastly, other people blazed this trail already. First the all the folks who patched the Linux kernel, wrote firmware for the pinephone keyboard, etc. And then folks who build Gentoo for it before me. I just followed in there footsteps. is the best resource I found Is where I found megi's sources (though I ended up using the ones from bingch). Megi did a lot of the work of writing patches and collecting disprate patch sets together to get the pinephone to really work well. I know I used a couple of other sources for gentoo-specific pinephone knowledge, but have forgotten what they worry, so appolagies for not citing you, whoever you are.