This software allows you to install operating systems on the PinePhone Pro without a microSD card

PinePhone and PinePhone Pro smartphones are designed to make it easy to choose your own operating system. While the phones come with a version of Manjaro Linux with the KDE Plasma Mobile UI, you can boot another operating system simply by flashing it to a bootable microSD card and inserting it into the phone.

Don’t have a microSD card? A new utility lets you flash an operating system directly to a PinePhone Pro without using one. You can also use it to flash an operating system to a microSD card if you have a card but no card reader for your PC.

PinePhone Pro

The new PinePhone Pro USB Recovery tool basically allows you to plug a PinePhone Pro into a computer with a USB cable in a way that allows your PC to treat it like a USB storage device. And it allows you to do things like:

  • Install an operating system on the eMMC storage or on the phone’s microSD card.
  • Back up all data on your PinePhone Pro’s eMMC or microSD card storage and save it to your PC.
  • Mount any phone filesystem on your PC for troubleshooting purposes such as resetting passwords, repairing configuration files or damaged kernel updates, or for other purposes.

While it’s not the only tool that lets you treat a PinePhone Pro as a USB storage device, it’s the first I know of that does so without requiring you to write data to a microSD card first. JumpDrive also has this feature, but needs to be written to a microSD card, and the Tow-Boot bootloader does that too, but since the PinePhone Pro comes with U-Boot, it’s not very useful if you don’t don’t have a way to install it first.

PinePhone Pro USB Recovery was developed by Megi, a prominent Linux kernel hacker who has created a number of custom kernels for PinePhone and PinePhone Pro over the years, as well as default firmware for PinePhone Pro and useful utilities including multi-distribution demo images. which allow you to install multiple PinePhone operating systems onto a single microSD card so you can quickly try out a bunch of different options.

You can download the tool and find instructions for use and other notes on Megi’s server. And you can find a list of community supported operating systems available for PinePhone and PinePhone Pro on the PinePhone Wiki.

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