Looking for a Linux distribution for a tablet

Published on March 28, 2012

Looking for a Linux distribution for a tablet

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I bought myself a netbook last December. Yes, not a simple netbook, but a transformer with a beautiful inscription “ASUS” and a two-touch resistive touch screen. I was extremely happy until I discovered that the netbook in tablet mode (that is, with the keyboard and touchpad removed) is almost impossible to use. Saddened, I tried different versions of Windows, Linux distributions, and, finding no consolation, left Fedor there - to type letters, and read the Internet.
But now you can see again whether decent working environments for such devices have appeared.

ALT GNU / Linux Netbook Live with LXDE


The recent news about the release of a special version of Alt Linux, which officially supports my device, prompted the whole thing .
We boot, and we see an almost standard LXDE-environment with a bunch of pre-installed software:



Pleasant
  • Working and configured to work on the tablet virtual keyboard "out of the box"
  • Working screen rotation
  • Faster than Gnome3 or Unity
  • Domestic development :)
Unpleasant
  • The touchpad did not work at all. The same problem was in Fedora’s LiveCD, but it disappeared with the installation
  • Very small controls not adapted for finger-picking. Need to get a stylus
  • Lack of multi-touch, and therefore gestures. It’s not so scary, it just appeared in X, and you can use twofing for gestures
  • Cannot click RMB. Quite
  • Appearance - not for the faint of heart (“The distribution is aimed at a professional user”, as the branch page on the ALT Linux wiki says)

Fedora 17 RC1 with Gnome3


More recently , GTK + 3.4 was released, which now has kinetic scrolling. The closest distribution to me with GTK3.4 is Fedora 17 (still in beta), so I'll take it. Also, it already includes X.org with multi-touch, which naturally needs to be tested as quickly as possible. Screenshot:



Pleasant
  • Kinetic scrolling is cool, however, especially when you see it for the first time in your favorite Linux
  • Convenient "Finger" interface
Unpleasant
  • Kinetic scrolling does not work in Firefox, in the terminal emulator
  • There isn’t even a hint of gestures
  • Awful on-screen keyboard: small keys, funny disregard for the system layout (Latin letters are on the keys, and Russians are entered), it doesn’t always “drop out”
  • You can not make RMB
Despite a large number of shortcomings, the progress since Fedora 16 (read with Gnome 3.2) is tremendous. It seems that a little more and it will be possible to preinstall it on tablet computers, but this is only my subjective opinion.

Balsam Professional Live Image


We all probably remember the recently announced tablet with Plasma Active . I thought for a long time which distribution kit to take with her. If anything, here is a list . As a result, I had to try everything, but only one of them worked fine. So, Balsam Professional with Plasma Active:



Pleasant
  • Beautiful and user-friendly interface on the tablet
  • Relatively comfortable virtual keyboard
  • Kinetic scrolling
  • The focus of the distribution is on tablets
Unpleasant
  • General damp, partially unfinished
  • Unlike other subjects, this sample slowed down and started two times
  • No multitouch, gestures. In Kubuntu Active they are likely to have , but I have not earned it
  • There is no Russian localization. In general, there are no localizations, as well as keyboard layouts
  • Meager settings
  • There is no cursor when working with the touchpad
Good idea, good start. I wish the developers good luck so that they can finish this attractive environment.

Ubuntu 11.10 with Unity (UPD1)

One of my very first distributions. Thanks to uTouch, ubuntu was the first to learn multi-touch and gestures.



Pleasant
  • At least some, but still gestures
  • The side menu is convenient to scroll with your finger

Unpleasant
  • It’s not convenient to make RMB, but it can be done
  • Sometimes it works quite leisurely
  • There is no virtual keyboard that supports multi-touch
  • It’s not always possible to press a button with your finger, you have to get a stylus
  • No kinetic scrolling, you need to wait for GTK + to upgrade to 3.4
  • Scroll Bars! Standard completely unsuitable for use on tablets

Ubuntu, despite the past negative experience, caused me only positive emotions. If Mark developers make a convenient and functional on-screen keyboard for Unity, then I will use this distribution.

Android x86


Android-x86 - This is a project for porting Android to the IA-32 architecture . Of all the linux kernel-based systems, this one is definitely most suitable for tablets. But alas, the release of ICS-x86 has not yet taken place, and there are still a lot of bugs in the system.



Pleasant
  • Finger-oriented interface
  • Gestures, multi-touch
  • A bunch of necessary things that are very needed on the tablet
Unpleasant
  • There are no normal keyboards working under x86 (or they are not ready for ICS yet, I don’t know), an inconvenient standard keyboard
  • In addition to keyboards, a large pile of software does not want to start. Let's hope that with the release of the smartphone on Intel Atom, this will change
  • Inconvenient switching between the physical and virtual keyboards, well, why can't they work at the same time?
  • Unable to adjust screen rotation
  • A lot of small and unpleasant bugs


Instead of a conclusion


Despite the fact that using a tablet without a keyboard is still practically impossible, one cannot but notice a positive trend in the development of software environments for these types of devices. Perhaps the day will come when you can use the tablet with an OS that is independent of any of several corporations.