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Pine64 PinePhone (Pro): upgrade modem firmware with fwupd

Dylan Van Assche requested to merge fwupd-v2 into master

Pine64 PinePhone (Pro) EG25-G firmware upgrade support

This MR provides support for the EG25-G firmware in fwupd and enables fwupd in GNOME Software. KDE Discover has fwupd already enabled.

This will allow us to avoid firmware malware that abuses known CVEs of the Quectel firmware. See:

Disclaimer for distros and their maintainers

🚨 🚨 🚨

DO NOT SHIP THIS TO ANY DISTRO REPOSITORY. Did I tell you cannot ship this yet? DO NOT DO THIS, I DON'T TAKE ANY RESPONSIBILITIES FOR ANYTHING AND I WILL BLAME THE DISTRO FOR ANYTHING. Moreover, do not make any buzz about this on social media or anything else. This is still being tested, has known bugs, and must be verified that it doesn't cause ANY regression as you mess with the modem firmware which can in theory brick it, but I did as much as I can to avoid it.

You need the magic sauce (AKA the packaged firmware) as well which is not publicly available yet due to unknown licenses, so please do not ship this.

🚨 🚨 🚨


The PinePhone and PinePhone Pro feature a Quectel EG25-G modem which is upgradable through either:

However, this involves risky operations with qfirehose or fastboot using scripts running root. Moreover, it is not user friendly and error prone while these upgrades improve the stability of the modem...

fwupd to the rescue

After some discussion with @ollieparanoid about this, we came up with 2 options:

  1. A custom tool to do this and make it easier
  2. Leverage existing tools which are properly battle tested: fwupd

Since we have an upstream-first methodology, option 2 was picked. Therefore I digged into this and after days of Wireshark, debug statements, etc. I figured out the quirks necessary to support the Quectel EG25-G modem in fwupd and upstreamed it:

In short, the EG25-G modem needs the following quirks to successfully flash a device:

  • Blocksize must be 16384 bytes, not a byte more or less. If you still try another size, the next chunk the fastboot plugin writes to the modem fails which reboots the bootloader. I discovered this by analyzing the USB traffic of the same payload (once with fwupd and once with the original fastboot binary) with Wireshark.
  • Writing and reading data cannot happen at fwupd's rate otherwise the fastboot bootloader crashes and reboot, the original fastboot binary seems to have some delay between writes/reads. If you enable the debug prints of the fastboot plugin, this is also 'fixed', but I properly fixed it by introducing a new quirk.
  • The modem shows up under an entirely different USB vendor and device ID which causes fwupd to not see it. Adding the necessary quirks in modem-manager fixes it (like done for all other modems there).

Known issues

Why this MR exist?

This MR needs to be tested in detail with the firmware stored in with the fwupmgr CLI, GNOME Software and KDE Discover to make sure that everything works properly before shipping this out. This repository is currently private as the firmware license and rights are currently unclear. There's a discussion with Quectel going on to get this in LVFS so we don't need to ship this ourselves. fwupd will get the firmware then from its LVFS repository.

Testing this MR

  1. Enable LVFS testing (
  • CLI: fwupdmgr enable-remote lvfs-testing and refresh everything: fwupmgr refresh --force
  • GNOME Software: Upgrades > Properties > scroll down to fwupd > Turn on LVFS testing with the switch
  1. Install it (multiple options, pick one):
  • CLI: fwupdmgr upgrade.
  • GNOME Software/KDE Discover: Open the app, search for updates and it should come up if you have already 0.5.6 or higher installed of Biktorgj's firmware, if not, you have to use the CLI or GNOME Firmware Updater to switch branches.
  • GNOME Firmware Updater: Open the app, select the Quectel EG25-G modem, click Show Releases button, pick a firmware you want. Supports branches thus biktorgj firmware can be installed, but until biktorgj firmware reports its branch name, fwupd won't notice that you run alternative firmware.

If nothing shows up, you might have already a firmware version which is higher than the one in the repository. You can check the supported devices with fwudmgr get-devices. If you still want to install it, you can force it with fwudmgr reinstall.

Upstreaming status

Release status

  • fwupd >= 1.7.5
  • ModemManager >= 1.18.6
  • eg25-manager >= 0.4.3
  • GNOME Firmware Updater >= 42.beta
  • LVFS
  • Biktorgj's firmware >= 0.5.6

Fixes #887 (closed)

Edited by Dylan Van Assche

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