Installing Mobian (Linux-first devices)

This guide covers installing Mobian on the PinePhone, Librem 5, or PineTab by flashing an image to an SD card or the device's eMMC. See the devices page for the full list of supported devices.

Obtain the Image

You can choose between downloading an installer or pre-built image or compiling the image yourself.

Installer Images (Alpha)

In order to flash with full disk encryption (FDE), use the installer images here:

To use these installer images, flash them to the device using the steps below, boot and follow the on screen prompts.

Pre-built Images

We recommend downloading pre-built images for installation. The image file for your device will be named “mobian-<device>-phosh-YYYYMMDD.img.gz” and can be found here:

The directory contains the latest image that we consider stable, after upgrading it will be quite the same as a nightly image (though “*terms and conditions apply” (what does this mean?)). If no image exists in the directory, see the Nightly folder for nightly builds.

(Optional) verify the Download

If you simply want to make sure the download is not corrupted, the bmap method (Method 2 below) will automatically verify the checksum for you. Otherwise we publish the checksums of the images next to the images, e.g. as mobian-pinephone-phosh-YYYYMMDD.sha256sums.

If you have somewhat higher demands to verify the image actually came from us, you can also get the gpg signature of the checksum file, e.g. mobian-pinephone-phosh-20210517.sha256sums.asc. After you imported our public gpg key you can verify the checksums match with the our expectations: gpg –decrypt ./mobian-pinephone-phosh-YYYYMMDD.sha256sums.asc.

Building from Debos Recipes

You can build the image yourself using the debos recipes. If you build the image yourself, the produced image file will be not be zipped (i.e. named “mobian-<device>-phosh-YYYYMMDD.img”) and there is no need to unzip the archive.

Mounting the Target Storage Device

Option 1: Mounting an SD card

To mount an SD card, simply insert the SD card into a computer of your choice. Use lsblk to find the name of the sd card, which should be something like “sdb” or “sdc”.

Be advised that the first boot of Mobian from the SD card will take longer due to the automatic resizing of the filesystem. (is this true just for SD cards or for all installs?)

Option 2: Mounting the target device's eMMC using JumpDrive

You can install the image to eMMC using the latest release of JumpDrive. For additional ways to access the device's eMMC, seethese pine64 wiki instructions.

You can either access your device through USB from a laptop and flash from there (recommended) or put the image file on the JumpDrive sdcard, log into the JumpDrive shell (using telnet) and flash from there (more difficult). If using the latter procedure, logging into the JumpDrive shell through telnet, the device should be exposed as /dev/mmcblk0 (for the JumpDrive SD card) or /dev/mmcblk2 (for eMMC, its size should be around 16GB or 32GB).

If using the former (recommended) method of directly accessing your device from a computer, the device will be exposed as /dev/sdX devices. For instance, on my computer it assigned /dev/sdb1 to device'​s eMMC/boot partition, /dev/sdb2 to eMMC/rootfs and /dev/sdc1 to the SD card (JumpDrive itself) (/dev/sda was already used for the laptop's own disk). In this case you would want to flash to /dev/sdb. Your naming can differ!)

These are the steps to follow:

  1. Download the JumpDrive image and flash the JumpDrive image to a micro SD card from your computer. (using dd, a graphical app like Gnome Disks, balenda etcher,…). Particularly with 'dd':
    1. Change to directory where the Jumpdrive image is stored, e.g.:
       cd ~/Downloads/ 
    2. Un-mount the SD card (replace X with the correct block, usually b):
       sudo umount /dev/sdX 
    3. Flash the image:
       sudo dd if=$IMAGE of=$BLOCKDEVICE bs=1M status=progress conv=fsync # e.g. for PinePhone sudo dd if=pine64-pinephone.img.xz of=/dev/sdX bs=1M status=progress conv=fsync 
  2. Boot the device from the JumpDrive micro SD card.
  3. Connect the device to your computer using a USB cable.
  4. The sdcard and the eMMC will become available as block devices on your computer (in the form of /dev/sdX block devices).

Flashing the Image to the Target Storage Device

Be careful not to write to the wrong device! Identifying the right flashing target is the most difficult step and should be done with care, as you can easily wipe out the wrong disk by accident. You can also use device names by-id for increased safety, e.g. /dev/disk/by-id/mmc-SU16G_0x1d6654fd.

Method 1: A graphical flashing app

You can use any graphical app to burn/flash/etch the images to your target. For example, a popular app is balenaetcher; another app that comes pre-installed in many Linux distributions is Gnome Disks. In order to flash an image to the eMMC storage device with Gnome Disks:

  1. Launch the app after connecting the device. You should be able to see the eMMC on the left-panel list.
  2. Select the eMMC on that list.
  3. Press the Gear/Menu button (?icon depends on version?) on the top-right.
  4. Select “Restore Image”.
  5. On the menu that appears locate the downloaded Mobian image on your system.
  6. Confirm, and wait for the process to complete.

Method 2a: bmaptool using an URL

For faster flashing, bmaptool is a comfortable means to flash your image (available in Debian as package bmap-tools). It handles sparse files, so it can be considerably faster than plain dd. It also handles both .bmap and .gz files and can download them directly from an URL. Execute

sudo bmaptool copy $BLOCKDEVICE

with $BLOCKDEVICE the blockdevice to flash, e.g. /dev/mmcblkX, /dev/sdX [in the case of JumpDrive], or /dev/disk/by-id/XXXXXX).


sudo bmaptool copy /dev/disk/by-id/mmc-SU16G_0x1d6654fd

Method 2b: bmaptool with a local image file

You can also use bmaptool to flash a local image. As it handles sparse files, it can flash considerably faster than plain dd. Be sure to also download the matching .bmap file for the image (“mobian-<device>-phosh-YYYYMMDD.img.bmap”).

sudo bmaptool copy $IMAGE $BLOCKDEVICE

with $IMAGE, the path to the compressed or uncompressed image file and $BLOCKDEVICE the blockdevice (/dev/mmcblkX or /dev/sdX - if you are using JumpDrive - or /dev/disk/by-id/).


sudo bmaptool copy mobian-pinephone-phosh-20210517.img.gz /dev/disk/by-id/mmc-SU16G_0x1d6654fd

Method 3: dd

Be very careful not to write to the wrong device! dd has earned the nickname “disk destroyer” for a reason! You can easily wipe out data on the wrong disk by picking the wrong device!

To use dd, you need to unzip the image using one of the following commands:

gunzip mobian-pinephone-phosh-YYYYMMDD.img.gz    
gzip -d mobian-pinephone-phosh-YYYYMMDD.img.gz

Then flash with the following command:

sudo dd bs=64k if=mobian-pinephone-phosh-YYYYMMDD.img of=/dev/TARGETSTORAGEDEVICE status=progress

where TARGETSTORAGEDEVICE is the name of the target storage device (e.g. “mmcblk0” or “sdb”).

Note: (the status= option will display some progress while flashing, as dd is awfully silent otherwise)



If you flashed the image directly to the device's eMMC with JumpDrive, disconnect the PinePhone from your computer, turn off the device, and remove the JumpDrive SD card. Then, power up the device to boot Mobian from eMMC.