An experimental version of the elementary OS Linux distro is in development for the Pinebook Pro.

The $199 ARM laptop from Pine64 has gained a cult following amongst tech-savvy Linux enthusiasts thanks the combination of low entry price and decent build quality. Heck, even I’m saving up for one!

Work on elementary OS for the Pinebook Pro is considered an experiment and not production ready

Now Pinebook Pro owners have even more choice.

Anyone wishing to sample elementary OS experience can do so using a new version of the OS custom-built for the Pinebook Pro. This “early access” build is based off the upcoming elementary OS 6 release. It is only available to download by financial supporters of the project, e.g., via Github Sponsors.

David Hewitt has been leading work on the distro’s Pinebook Pro builds for elementary. He cautions that the elementary OS Pinebook builds are not “production” ready and performance is not on par with Intel-based devices:

“The experience still isn’t as good as you might hope given the capability of the hardware. This is down to GTK3 largely not using GPU acceleration, especially when running on Xorg […] there won’t be any big leaps in performance until we can move the stack to Wayland”.

But part of the fun in using development software on a device targeted (primarily) at developers and early adopters is precisely this, right? The fun and satisfaction from finding workarounds and fixing issues by hand.

Elementary say a number of its contributors are now using the OS on a Pinebook Pro on a regular basis. The device is going to be used as a “benchmark platform” to help tailor and fine-tune the distro’s performance on low-end hardware — thus benefiting all users, not just those with Pinebooks.

But, for now at least, Pinebook Pro support is described as “…an experiment for elementary OS” and not something the team has “committed to official support indefinitely“.

For more details on the current status do check out the Pinebook Pro page on the elementary OS wiki.

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