Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

A list of frequently encountered questions and problems that we can easily to to. 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).

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.

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

**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 is a known issue. The torch button in phosh uses a non-standard interface to turn on the flashlight, and upstream has rejected the patches by Until this is resolved in a more standard manner, 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 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-inhibit-session 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 nightly image.

But 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
What applications can I use for "X"?

Check out our curated list of mobile-suitable apps. An even longer and similar list of mobile-friendly apps can be found at

Finally, you have all the power of Debian underneath! Any available package is just a sudo apt install XYZ away.

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. (try booting the phone by pressing volume key AND power? something to edit in /boot/extlinux/extlinux.conf ?) [TODO?!]

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?

Sorry, no with the default installation. But, the Wake Mobile app has been used with good success for those in need.

Is Mobian accessible to people with X disability?

Depends. See accessibility. Technical and non-technical help improving accessibility is very welcome.

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.

Does muting the Microphone during a call work?

Audio on the Pinephone is routed through hardware directly from the Microphone to the Modem. The mute button in the telephone “calls” app relies on software mixing, and 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.

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

Where can I find more information about the modem and how it is used?