If you want to self-host something at home using an ARM64-board running Linux, both and are excellent distribution choices.

Unfortunately, they officially support only very few ARM64-based boards. Yet, you can run these systems unmodified on a lot more boards - provided you manage to install them.

Want to know how to find out if your ARM64-board might be "unofficially supported"? Or how to master the installation? Then my new article is for you:

kulesz.me/post/140-debian-devu

@kuleszdl That's a great write-up after all the frustration with the broken Debian Installer builds... looks like it is actually booting!

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@cm Thanks! On which board have you tried it?

@kuleszdl A RockPro64. With a backports 5.9 kernel, it seems pretty much everything is working...

@cm Well, except the sdcard (at least on unstable kernel) or is this different with the backports kernel?

@kuleszdl What's the problem with the SD card? I run from one, rootfs and all, and didn't see a problem with 4.19 or 5.9.

@kuleszdl The issue with the backports kernel (and presumably the debian installer) is you need "usb stop" in u-boot, or the kernel will not boot. So I binary-patched it...

@cm The "usb stop" stop is another issue that prevents booting on newer kernels. Yet, I usually have lots of failed reads from the sdcard both on the rockpro64 and the pinebookpro.

This does not happen when using eMMC, and it also works fine on rk3328 boards like the rock64.

@kuleszdl I now got it booting from SPI flash directly to SATA, no SD/eMMC involved -- I hate SD anyways, both for the physical size of µSD and their lack of reliability and error reporting.

Actually, not relying on SD + PCIe for good storage options + 12V power brought me from RPi to the RockPro64 in the first place...

@cm Having u-boot in the SPI is always a good idea.

Regarding reliability of SD cards: I must confess that since I switched to f2fs I never had reliability issues anymore. If you use your device as NAS then booting off SD gives you the advantage of a stricter separation between the OS and the data (when compared to just using partitions).

@kuleszdl I have seen (brand-name) SD cards return random sectors instead of an error when they failed. I don't trust them at all...

@cm So far, I've seen this only with counterfeit cards.

So yes, opinions on this vary and therefore it's just great that you can choose between many options on a ROCKPro64. 🙂

Btw: I recently added some hints about how to work around dropbear and network issues on this board.

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