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  • Which distribution/DE is the best for tablets?

    I'll be getting a new tablet PC in about a month. My previous one was a Fujitsu Q550, with PowerVR and thus terrible at anything Linux-related. Even so I had managed to run Plasma Active on it back in the day. But that was back in the day, and Plasma Active is dead now, the Q550 is terribly outdated, and the new tablet I'm getting is an HP x2 210, which is an amd64 Cherry Trail tablet with proper Intel graphics. Of course, it comes with Windows out of the box, and of course that's going out the window first thing.

    The question is, what should I replace it with? While it's a common argument to say that some DE looks or feels like a tablet UI, it's very untrue for the most part. I remember trying to run Unity on the previous tablet, and it's completely unusable due to hover scrollbars; you can't hover on a tablet! So what would you all suggest I try?

    I thought about it myself, and I'm thinking of two things right now. One, Plasma Mobile is the official successor for Plasma Active. That said, its last release on x86 is three years old, so using that is out of the question; however, the Git repository is a bit newer, with the latest developments having happened only about a year ago. So I could install Gentoo, and then install Plasma Mobile from git, which is easy enough to do with ebuilds. (I actually tried to do that on my old tablet, but Poulsbo can hardly run Wayland and it crashed in mysterious ways.)

    The second idea is to run something on top of Mer, which is supposed to be made for that sort of thing. The best option here would seemingly be to run Jolla, since it actually runs on tablets and the Jolla tablet is x86 itself. Though apparently Mer doesn't have amd64 builds, only i486 ones. But I can live with that, I guess. Nemo Mobile would be another option.

    Any other ideas? I'm thinking of testing several solutions and comparing them. Also documenting how I got one or another thing running for anyone interested. Maybe also write a review. Maybe I could even contribute a review or two to Michael if that's of interest.

  • #2
    Seems like you expect that CherryTrail-based hardware will work out-of-the box and you will be able to choice between different DE, etc. Unfortunately, this is still not the case:
    Screen could not work: https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=100383
    Or it could work, but only with drm-tip kernel from Intel, as it is on my Dell 5855 (and drm-tip is beast that could work yesterday but kernel panic on boot tomorrow).
    Intel's audio could not work: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=195195
    Intel Atom ISP 2400/2401 certainly will not work and cameras too: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=195197 (but 2400 driver probably will get into staging, but then someone will need to port OmniVision drivers from Linux 3 to Linux 4).
    Suspend maybe will work but only in "suspend freeze" mode and only with patched kernel, and even then it could be buggy (for me first wakeup take 10-15 seconds, and then LTE never work until reboot).
    Same with brightness, battery monitoring, buttons, etc. - all this most likely will need patched kernel.

    So, as you see, pre-built releases of Jolla is out of the question. You will need to compile this kernel yourself or download compiled builds for Ubuntu.

    As for DE, it's just the fact that KDE Applications interfaces was developed without touchscreen support in mind, so there is no point in using KDE on tablet. Gnome is better, but far from perfect: https://blogs.gnome.org/uraeus/2017/.../#comment-6826
    But since Onboard have proper integration only with Gnome Shell (opening keyboard with gesture, rtc.) I using it.

    If you need to work as soon as you will get hardware, then deal with drivers (get things working, fill bugreports about all discovered issues) and go with Gnome Shell, tlp, Onboard, Opera battery power saving. If you have time, and somehow will make SailfishOS UI or Nemo Mobile run on top of regular GNU/Linux distribution, it will be interesting to compare it with Gnome Shell.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by RussianNeuroMancer View Post
      Seems like you expect that CherryTrail-based hardware will work out-of-the box and you will be able to choice between different DE, etc. Unfortunately, this is still not the case:
      Screen could not work: https://bugs.freedesktop.org/show_bug.cgi?id=100383
      Or it could work, but only with drm-tip kernel from Intel, as it is on my Dell 5855 (and drm-tip is beast that could work yesterday but kernel panic on boot tomorrow).
      Intel's audio could not work: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=195195
      Intel Atom ISP 2400/2401 certainly will not work and cameras too: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=195197 (but 2400 driver probably will get into staging, but then someone will need to port OmniVision drivers from Linux 3 to Linux 4).
      Suspend maybe will work but only in "suspend freeze" mode and only with patched kernel, and even then it could be buggy (for me first wakeup take 10-15 seconds, and then LTE never work until reboot).
      Same with brightness, battery monitoring, buttons, etc. - all this most likely will need patched kernel.
      I've done my research. Other users with the same model report that everything works except for audio, which is not a problem for me right now. I've not seen anything about suspend, so I expect that it won't work, but I typically shut down instead of suspending anyway.

      Originally posted by RussianNeuroMancer View Post
      So, as you see, pre-built releases of Jolla is out of the question. You will need to compile this kernel yourself or download compiled builds for Ubuntu.
      I'll be compiling my own kernel from Gentoo anyway.

      Originally posted by RussianNeuroMancer View Post
      As for DE, it's just the fact that KDE Applications interfaces was developed without touchscreen support in mind, so there is no point in using KDE on tablet. Gnome is better, but far from perfect: https://blogs.gnome.org/uraeus/2017/.../#comment-6826
      But since Onboard have proper integration only with Gnome Shell (opening keyboard with gesture, rtc.) I using it.
      Some KDE applications (Calligra Gemini!) were developed with touch interface in mind. And last I checked, Qt has support for popping up the on-screen keyboard whenever you press on a text input field. Also, my last tablet had a button for the keyboard; I wonder if I could make something of the sort in the new one.

      Looks like the main point you were making in that post is that Onboard pops up using a gesture? That's nice, of course, but not crucial (and I wonder if KDE settings allow configuring gestures for arbitrary apps, it might). Anything else? Are the apps touch-friendly?

      Originally posted by RussianNeuroMancer View Post
      If you need to work as soon as you will get hardware, then deal with drivers (get things working, fill bugreports about all discovered issues) and go with Gnome Shell, tlp, Onboard, Opera battery power saving. If you have time, and somehow will make SailfishOS UI or Nemo Mobile run on top of regular GNU/Linux distribution, it will be interesting to compare it with Gnome Shell.
      No, I won't need it for any crucial work for a while, at least half a year. And I'll also get a stylus once I get to that.

      Yea, certainly, I'll give GNOME Shell a try, then.

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      • #4
        Originally posted by RussianNeuroMancer View Post
        Seems<...>
        My reply was formerly unapproved, and looks like you don't get notifications once they are approved (gee thanks, vBulletin). So, ping!

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        • #5
          Originally posted by GreatEmerald View Post
          I've done my research. Other users with the same model report that everything works except for audio, which is not a problem for me right now. I've not seen anything about suspend, so I expect that it won't work, but I typically shut down instead of suspending anyway.
          Good, please register bugreports for anything that will not work, including audio, cameras, suspend (follow this guide for suspend bugreport: one, two) etc.

          Originally posted by GreatEmerald View Post
          Some KDE applications (Calligra Gemini!) were developed with touch interface in mind.
          It's cool, I totally forgot about Calligra Gemini. But for starting you'll need some file-manager and picture viewer with touch support.

          Originally posted by GreatEmerald View Post
          And last I checked, Qt has support for popping up the on-screen keyboard whenever you press on a text input field.
          There is bugreport, and as far I can tell, it's also reproducible in Linux (in Telegram Desktop and Onboard).

          Originally posted by GreatEmerald View Post
          Are the apps touch-friendly?
          Not 100%, but UI is more touch-friendly. Like you can scroll files list in Nautilus with one finger but can't in Dolphin, can select few words with long tap in gedit, but can't in Kate, and such stuff. You obviously can use Nautilus and gedit with KDE, but what the point in installing KDE in first place then? (I saying this as KDE user since year 2010, and writing this message right now from laptop running KDE.)
          Last edited by RussianNeuroMancer; 18 April 2017, 10:10 AM.

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          • #6
            All right, I also looked at some other projects out there, and for points of reference I'll try Android-x86 (looks newer than Android-IA) and Remix OS. Also considering Chromium OS. Seemingly some Chromebooks came with touch support, so it might be an interesting comparison.

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            • #7
              IMO, Chromebooks not worth time unless you use it as is (with preinstalled Chrome OS). From everything I read and hear about it, it seems like it much harder to setup any Linux distribution on Chromebooks besides preinstalled, in comparsion with replacing preinstalled OS on regular laptops. So, if you want to take a look at Chromium touchscreen support - why don't you run it on any other device with touchscreen? It's shouldn't be different anyway.

              As for Android x86 - I see why someone would want to run it on hardware he already have (like turning barely useable laptop or tablet with 1 GB of RAM into something actually useful) but why buy hardware especially for Android x86? What benifit it gives in comparsion with regular Android tablet with LineageOS support, like Google Pixel C?

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              • #8
                Originally posted by RussianNeuroMancer View Post
                IMO, Chromebooks not worth time unless you use it as is (with preinstalled Chrome OS). From everything I read and hear about it, it seems like it much harder to setup any Linux distribution on Chromebooks besides preinstalled, in comparsion with replacing preinstalled OS on regular laptops. So, if you want to take a look at Chromium touchscreen support - why don't you run it on any other device with touchscreen? It's shouldn't be different anyway.

                As for Android x86 - I see why someone would want to run it on hardware he already have (like turning barely useable laptop or tablet with 1 GB of RAM into something actually useful) but why buy hardware especially for Android x86? What benifit it gives in comparsion with regular Android tablet with LineageOS support, like Google Pixel C?
                I'm not talking about hardware here at all, just software for doing the comparison.

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                • #9
                  All right, so now I got the tablet and started the comparison. You can find Windows 10 and Android-x86 reviews, as well as the background info, here:
                  http://greatemerald.eu/blog/mobile-o...n-0-intro.html
                  http://greatemerald.eu/blog/mobile-o...indows-10.html
                  http://greatemerald.eu/blog/mobile-o...droid-x86.html

                  I'm currently working on the third part: reviewing RemixOS. I'll also add some more statistics and images to the reviews later.

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                  • #10
                    32-bit UEFI of BayTrail is non-issue in my opinion, Step 1 here pretty much cover this. 2GB RAM limit and GPU performnce is more serious problems, if you compare with CherryTrail.

                    I don't think 150%scaling necessary, because you look at ablet screen closer than at desktop screen.

                    As said above, not gonna work until you use kernel with BayTrail/CherryTrail specific patches.

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