There’s a new bootloader available for the PinePhone, and it’s small, speedy, and has a graphical user interface that allows you to choose between different operating systems when you start up the phone.
The new p-boot utility takes up less than 32KB of space and boots in less than 60 milliseconds. Once loaded, it takes as little as 150ms more to boot a Linux kernel from eMMC storage, or 600ms if you’re booting from a microSD card.
P-boot is still a work in progress, but it shows a lot of promise.
Developer Ondrej Jirman says p-boot is partially based on U-Boot and Linux code, but it’s designed specifically for the PinePhone and offers several key benefits including speed, safety, and flexibility.
You can use p-boot to boot from eMMC storage or a microSD card. You can even have the bootloader itself run from an SD card, but read boot data from eMMC, which should offer faster performance without the need to install the bootloader to your device’s internal storage.
Navigation is handled with volume and power buttons, and if there’s a failure in the bootloader boot stage, p-boot will automatically shut down your device. here’s also a 5-bit binary blinking pattern that should help you identify errors, and a bootloader log is stored in a file that you can access via Linux for debugging and troubleshooting errors:
The first version of p-boot was released in May, but it’s picked up a few features since then. As of August 31, 2020, the bootloader picked up:
- Support for PinePhone Convergence Package devices with 3GB of RAM
- Graphical User Interface (GUI)
- “Major cleanups”
You can find out more about p-boot at the project’s homepage, or in the p-boot README file at the p-boot git repository. You can also find pre-built binaries of p-boot in the git repository, but there are no official versioned releases of p-boot yet.
For now, you can see a short video showing the bootloader in action below:
P-boot isn’t the first multiboot bootloader for the Pinephone. Earlier this year another solution called PineLoader showed up, but the PineLoader developer Danct12 doesn’t seem too sad to see a new entry in the multi-boot PinePhone bootloader space:
Finally a new bootloader that replaced my crappy solution!
(and it’s also faster too) https://t.co/pW89j7zrTr
— Danct12 (@RealDanct12) September 5, 2020