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Debian Handhelds Linux

Ask Slashdot: Best Tablet For Running a Real GNU/Linux Distribution? 277

Posted by Soulskill
from the bring-out-the-tuxpad dept.
bmsleight writes "Android is nice, but I do not want to pay to print or be beholden to the cloud to do everything or chroot. I just want a tablet that can run a MythTv-client, OpenOffice.org and good old apt-get instead of an app market. I have a Joggler — which costs £60 — I'd like something similar but with a battery, a bigger screen, and other modern tablet features. So, what's the best tablet for running a real GNU/Linux distribution (ideally Debian)? Bonus points for the best apt-get-able distribution that works with a tablet."
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Ask Slashdot: Best Tablet For Running a Real GNU/Linux Distribution?

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  • Unity (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 11, 2011 @05:26AM (#38333518)

    You want to try Unity.

    Tablet owners are the only people remaining i haven't heard complaining about it.

  • Asus Transformer (Score:5, Informative)

    by Jeagoss (661909) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @05:33AM (#38333546) Homepage Journal
    The Asus Transformer isn't exactly cheap, but you can run full blown Linux distros on it. I've read of people running Ubuntu on it. I've had Arch Linux running on mine. I went back to Android after a bit just because my OS choices were more for the "cause I could" factor.
    • Re:Asus Transformer (Score:4, Informative)

      by scdeimos (632778) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @06:25AM (#38333778)

      You *can* install Ubuntu on it, but it doesn't exactly run well.

      http://forum.xda-developers.com/wiki/ASUS_Eee_Pad_Transformer/How_to_install_Ubuntu

      • by BrokenHalo (565198) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @08:38AM (#38334300)
        Of course, there are lots of Linux users who might say that Ubuntu doesn't run well on any platform. ;-D

        *ducks*
        • by houstonbofh (602064) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @10:10AM (#38334936)
          Yeah! Who wants a tablet OS for a PC! Oh... Wait... Sorry.
        • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

          by s1d3track3D (1504503)
          Funnily enough, System76 states that Ubuntu isn't even ready for a tablet.

          Q: Any possibility of a System76 tablet?
          Sys76: Despite all of the progress towards being a viable option for tablets, Ubuntu currently isn't ready for the primetime as a tablet OS. It has a lot of the fundamentals, but it's missing out on a few key points, like the lack of a software keyboard. There are solutions for software keyboards that do exist, but they are mostly designed for accessibility, rather than touchscreens.

          ubunt [ubuntuforums.org]
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by BrokenHalo (565198)

      I went back to Android after a bit just because my OS choices were more for the "cause I could" factor.

      Fair enough, but since you mention it, I'm curious as to what you found worked, and what doesn't. I assume that since you went back to Android, Open/LibreOffice isn't high on your scale of must-haves, but did it work at all under Arch on that box? And I presume it's too much to ask for the GIMP to work?

    • Not exactly cheap? I'm not sure what you consider cheap, then. Compared to the Xoom, Tab 10.1 or iPad, $300-400 for the ASUS Transformer tablet+keyboard is pretty cheap. Compared to the same specs for a netbook or full-blown notebook, sure, I'll give you that it's not a cheap device. But it's not an expensive tablet.
    • The vast majority of Asus Transformers sold today are locked down.

      The only Transformers that are rootable are Transformers using the SBK1 key. The vast majority of Asus Transformers sold today use either the SBK2 or SBK2 encryption key to lock down the OS.

      So to those people who have a rooted Transformer. Good for you. You have one of the early ones. But the rest of us are stuck with Android until SBK2 or SBK3 are discovered. So for the time being the Transformer isn't an option (unless you can find an earli

  • HP Touchpad (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Framboise (521772) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @05:36AM (#38333558)

    Linux based WebOS is going to be free, as HP announced yesterday, and Ubuntu has been installed on the Touchpad already. In the US Touchpads can be purchased for low price, like $99 on eBay. Outside the US some (for example me) got one for low price through Amazon.

    • Re:HP Touchpad (Score:5, Informative)

      by anomaly256 (1243020) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @05:39AM (#38333574)
      Not free per-se.. Open source. There's a distinction ;)
    • Re:HP Touchpad (Score:5, Informative)

      by Sipper (462582) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @07:22AM (#38333976)

      I've been looking around for something very similar, and I found that you can run "UbuntuChroot" on the HP TouchPad:

            http://www.webos-internals.org/wiki/UbuntuChroot [webos-internals.org]

      This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but it's close. I've specifically been looking at solutions for the HP TouchPad for this since I was given one as a gift. I also would greatly prefer Debian over Ubuntu, and would rather have straight Debian rather than a Chroot, but this is as close as I've gotten so far.

      • by Sipper (462582)

        Oh -- and I should add that you can Print directly from WebOS on the HP Touchpad (via wireless LAN).

        The interesting part about the printing from WebOS is that the GUI allows you to enter in an IP address for the printer, but does not give you the option of choosing the printer driver. However, so far everything I've printed from the Touchpad (which has mainly been driving directions and maps) has printed correctly. So whatever auto-dectection they're doing, it seems to work. This must be part of the reas

      • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

        by Anonymous Coward

        I've been looking around for something very similar, and I found that you can run "UbuntuChroot" on the HP TouchPad:

        http://www.webos-internals.org/wiki/UbuntuChroot [webos-internals.org]

        This isn't exactly what you're looking for, but it's close. I've specifically been looking at solutions for the HP TouchPad for this since I was given one as a gift. I also would greatly prefer Debian over Ubuntu, and would rather have straight Debian rather than a Chroot, but this is as close as I've gotten so far.

        Agreed - I do this and it works great. There are a couple of rough edges perhaps getting the best keyboard setup but once you've chosen what you like with that, it works well. I have some crashes with the browsers - both FF and Chrome, but I don't really use it for browsing with under Linux on the TP, rather, for developing on the road when I can't take a full machine with me. Xournal also works great for taking notes, and, yes, you can install printer drivers and software and print from it just fine just l

  • Archos (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    has dev firmware that is gnu/debian

  • Thinkpad X201T (Score:4, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Sunday December 11, 2011 @05:51AM (#38333626)

    Ok, a tablet PC is not exactly the same thing as a plain tablet, but if you are serious about Linux, then you can't beat a proper laptop that can also be used as a tablet with the keyboard folded down.

  • by Gaygirlie (1657131) <gaygirlie.hotmail@com> on Sunday December 11, 2011 @05:52AM (#38333632) Homepage

    I have a 10" Iconia Tab A500 and I know one can run Ubuntu on it, though I do not know how easy it is to install as I haven't tried it. A500 may not be the best tablet out there, but it sports a pretty good, strong aluminum construction which makes it plenty sturdy, and more importantly it sports a full-size USB-host port meaning that you can plug in all kinds of regular USB-devices. In an emergency you can even charge your cellphone from it.

    A500 has bluetooth, 802.11n support and does have a MicroSDHC slot for expanding storage, but it isn't exactly cheap. And it doesn't come with 3G. If you want 3G then you can use a USB-dongle under Ubuntu or buy A501 which is otherwise the same as A500 but does include a built-in 3G modem (though I don't know if it is supported under Ubuntu, you better google that)

    Other than that I really do not have much to offer though, sorry.

  • by stephanruby (542433) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @05:58AM (#38333654)

    You do not have to pay to print on Android, and nor do you need to rely on Cloud Print to print either.

    You just need to install the Android app from the printer manufacturer that makes your printer. That's all. And those apps are all free (with no ads and no paid apps equivalents). You can just think of them as drivers. They'll work through the usb to your computer, through bluetooth, or through wifi.

    • Wrong. Canon only offers a way to print pictures, not documents, for example.

    • You just need to install the Android app from the printer manufacturer that makes your printer. That's all.

      Except my less-than-a-year-old brother colour laser isn't supported by the official brother android app. Now what? (Also, as far as I can tell, it only prints jpgs and pdfs.)

  • Lifebook T900 (Score:5, Interesting)

    by meburke (736645) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @06:02AM (#38333672)

    I love my Lifebook T900 from Fujitsu. I run either Windows 7 or Debian Mint. I like having the power, the screen is a Wacom Tablet, and I can do powerful shit on it. Max RAM is only 8GB at this point, and getting Linux to address all the functions of the Wacom was a challenge (and not quite finished yet), but overall it is a great convertible tablet. My younger brother calls it my $5000 chess board, but the i7 processor gives me some great math and graphics possibilities.

    My second choice would have been a similar tablet from Lenovo. I've used Lenovo tablets before and always found them dependable and very usable with Linux installed. I picked the Fujitsu because it seemed to have more durability features.

  • I think its going to be a bit above the price range you want. Tablets aren't cheap. You might not need an iPad, but whatever you get is still probably going to cost around $300.
  • and stick a big ass battery at it's back. what you're going to do otherwise is to pay 600bucks for something that doesn't do much more, tbh(transformer prime). or 1200+ for a tablet pc. with tablet pc's(x86) you'll have more freedom and better luck with drivers, while you can install debian on some arm tablets now.

  • by rust627 (1072296) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @06:08AM (#38333692)

    You could try the Smart Book from Always Innovating

    www.alwaysinnovating.com

    This is the tablet/netbook convertible that seems to have been the inspiration for the Asus Transformer

    Comes preloaded with AIOS (their own customised flavour of linux), Android, Ubuntu, and ChromiumOS

    I'm hoping to have one soon myself to try.

  • Working on it (Score:5, Insightful)

    by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday December 11, 2011 @06:08AM (#38333694) Homepage

    Here's the thread on debian-arm: http://lists.debian.org/debian-arm/2011/12/msg00008.html [debian.org] and the corresponding one on arm-netbook: http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/2011-December/thread.html [phcomp.co.uk]

    The problem that's been made clear time and time again is that if you want low-cost mass-produced hardware, you normally have to go with GPL-violating products (see list here http://www.codon.org.uk/~mjg59/android_tablets/ [codon.org.uk]) and that means that you will spend the majority of your time reverse-engineering the product for anything between two weeks and two years, depending on luck and skill, before getting something useful. By the time you're done, the product is usually end-of-lifed: thus if it breaks, you're back to square one.

    The reason for the GPL violations is that the low-cost China-based Factories simply have zero software skills: they're provided with binary-only firmware from an ODM who themselves usually had to sign an NDA from the SoC manufacturer, itself in direct violation of the GPL, in order to get access to the source code. Normally there's a chain of at least *five* companies with whom you have to negotiate with for several days or weeks - each - in order to explain the situation to them, against a precarious balance of them basically not giving a stuff because there's no financial incentive for them to give you anything at all: they're already making money, selling product, so why should they care?

    thus, we logically concluded that the only way to get non-GPL-violating product out there is to go directly to the factories and be the supplier of their software.

    so for the past two years i've been contacting and vetting China-based factories, directly, to find at least one which is prepared to work with us (RH Technology - http://www.rh-technology.com./ [www.rh-technology.com] the basis of the deal is, "we won't charge you for software expertise if you won't charge us for hardware design costs", and after two years we finally found _one_ factory willing to do a deal, and are looking for more.

    we've also found an absolutely great CPU, called the Allwinner A10, which in mass-volume quantities is only about $7: that means that a PCB similar to the raspberrypi with similar features can be made for about $15 (not $25) and, because the Allwinner CPU is an ARM Cortex A8 not an ARM11 it is at least three times quicker than the raspberrypi's CPU.

    now we have at least 15 Debian Developers who are willing to support the project by buying beta hardware samples, and we're looking for more people to help support this effort, by committing to buy product (just like with the OpenPandora http://openpandora.org./ [openpandora.org.] we have set up a CIC (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Community_interest_company) because it's a better vehicle than a non-profit, charity or profit-maximising company. the CIC is called Rhombus Tech - http://rhombus-tech.net./ [rhombus-tech.net.]

    we also have the full support of the Board of Directors of the Allwinner CPU: they released full source code to us in advance. we've made it available and found it to compile successfully.

    in-advance GPL-compliant hardware really is very very unusual. even USA-based companies typically release GPL source code on or after the day that a product is announced. Archos for example made a tablet that used the Telechips TCC8900 series of CPUs, and complied with the GPL (in direct violation of the standard NDA available at the time from the SoC manufacturer!).

    other than that: about the only existing product on the market that i can really recommend to you is the alwaysinnovating touchbook: http://alwaysinnovating.com/ [alwaysinnovating.com] - it's about $300.

    • Re:Working on it (Score:5, Insightful)

      by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday December 11, 2011 @06:13AM (#38333720) Homepage

      ah, sorry, correction: if you want libreoffice then you can't use the alwaysinnovating tablet - it has a maximum of 512mb of RAM. actually, you'd be hard pushed to find anything! even the CPU we've found maxes out at 1gb of RAM, and libreoffice requires an absolute minimum of 1.5gb of RAM. yes you can use NAND Flash as swap-space but you then risk destroying the NAND flash. yes you could use external USB memory sticks but they're typically slow as a dog. yes you could look for an x86-based tablet with 2gb of RAM but you'll have to shell out at least $500 retail to get one. you're caught between a rock and a hard place, basically! if you can bring your expecations down, such as by using the non-free docs.google.com online service, or perhaps abiword and gnumeric, you'll be ok.

      • by lindi (634828)
        Where do you get this 1.5 GB requirement? 3.4.4 seems to have an RSS of 80 MB immediately after startup.
        • by lkcl (517947)
          apologies - you're right! i must have looked at firefox and got confused. yes, 576mb RAM - remember that unless you want the NAND flash to be destroyed you really have to run without swap space on these low-cost ARM devices. top - 15:03:03 up 3 days, 4:34, 19 users, load average: 0.21, 0.16, 0.14 Tasks: 214 total, 3 running, 203 sleeping, 8 stopped, 0 zombie Cpu(s): 49.5%us, 1.2%sy, 0.0%ni, 49.2%id, 0.2%wa, 0.0%hi, 0.0%si, 0.0%st Mem: 2046104k total, 1853840k used, 192264k free, 146
    • by drinkypoo (153816)

      How much will devs have to plunk down for the dev hardware, etc? Is there a ML post which answers any such questions?

      • Re:Working on it (Score:5, Informative)

        by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday December 11, 2011 @07:38AM (#38334022) Homepage

        ok there are two answer. the first is for the EOMA-compliant module *only*.

        1) we'd like to keep it somewhere between $75 and $100 for the very early runs, and it looks like we're set to achieve that. it seriously depends on the quantities, and on how much profit people would like the CIC company to make (yes, CICs can work that way whereas Ltd Companies cannot be trusted with that kind of strategy).

        the NREs (non-recurring expenses) by the factory will be about $2,000, and that excludes hardware engineer's time because we've done this "you don't charge us for hardware engineering time and we won't charge you for software engineering time" deal.

        we have people committed to buying about 17 units so far: if that gets to 30 then the costs are down to $75 per unit (just for those initial 30). after that, there are no more NREs, and the unit cost can, assuming large volume, approach the mass-volume price of $15.

        of course... that's excluding other parts which is answer 2:

        2) it's best to go on mass-volume retail cost, unless you'd like to help dominic (debian developer, see debian-arm mailing list) make one using the EOMA-compliant CPU card which is where most of the difficult work (CPU-to-DDR RAM etc.) will already have been done.

        mass-volume retail cost for something that even includes a capacitive touch panel can be as low as $130, but i know from experience that there's at least a 60% markup on the BOM, possibly even more. here's a link to a discussion: http://lists.phcomp.co.uk/pipermail/arm-netbook/2011-December/001136.html [phcomp.co.uk] and please note that the example product will be yet _another_ GPL-violating tablet, absolutely guaranteed.

        to work out the BOM you have to factor in the following costs, assuming mass-volume pricing: EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant CPU module about $15, 2000mAh battery $8, 7in 800x600 LCD $15, resistive touchpanel $5, main motherboard including WIFI module about $8, case (excluding *massive* NREs) about $3 - comes to a total of $39. yes, really - $39.

        if you want a capacitive touchpanel instead, add an extra $15 because capacitive touchpanels, being also made of glass and having to be thicker than LCDs, are at least 25% more expensive than the LCD underneath them! but you can see, even with a capacitive touchpanel the BOM only comes to about $55.

        so basically, you can see that a mass-volume retail cost of about $80 for a 7in tablet with the Allwinner A10 and a resistive touchpanel would be quite reasonable, and about $130 for one with a capacitive touchpanel would also be quite reasonable.

        apologies for answering in a rather indirect and roundabout way, which i'm sure you would appreciate given that this is slashdot, and that i'm not working for a profit-maximising company that is primarily motivated to do anything including lie to you in order to get your money.

        • by drinkypoo (153816)

          I appreciate the fullness of the answer.

          What will it cost to do something with the dev module? At least through the network?

          Your price targets sound delightful. Might as well mark it up another $20 so you can fund the next version too. Or if the money could be spent on making it more rugged, that would be well-spent.

          If the CPU is as fast as you say then there might be more interest in the dev module than you'd think.

          • Re:Working on it (Score:5, Interesting)

            by lkcl (517947) <lkcl@lkcl.net> on Sunday December 11, 2011 @09:01AM (#38334436) Homepage

            I appreciate the fullness of the answer.

            no problem.

            What will it cost to do something with the dev module? At least through the network?

            ok, one idea i'm advocating is to adapt arduino-like schematics to connect directly to the EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant interface. as such projects are usually a 2-layer board, very low-cost and the schematics are available under Open Source Licenses, it's a no-brainer. probably the best one to pick is the Leaflab's Maple: http://leaflabs.com/devices/maple/ [leaflabs.com] because in mass-volume the CPU is around $1 to $1.50 (the 48-pin version not the 100-pin version!)

            as this CPU is so low-cost, but importantly also so highly functional, its use substitutes and strategically "normalises" Motherboard designs. the plans being discussed at the moment include using the STM32F to do Audio (because of the D/A and A/D converters), battery monitoring (A/D converters), LCD Backlight control (PWM), resistive touchpanels (A/D converters again), keyboard matrix (8+8 GPIO) - someone's already written a mouse driver so at least that doesn't need to be done :)

            so yes: if you're interested, look up the cost of arduino-like devices. at least for prototyping purposes you could just get an off-the-shelf leafpad maple and connect it directly to the EOMA-PCMCIA-compliant CPU card even with a few bits of wire, in a pinch.

            anway, here's a link to some example motherboards that have been designed: http://elinux.org/Embedded_Open_Modular_Architecture/PCMCIA#Example_Motherboards [elinux.org]
            that includes a "micro" engineering board (that's nothing more complex than an adaptation of existing leafpad maple schematics) as well as something that's similar to the IMX53QSB, Beagleboard, Pandaboard and Origen etc.

            Your price targets sound delightful. Might as well mark it up another $20 so you can fund the next version too. Or if the money could be spent on making it more rugged, that would be well-spent.

            If the CPU is as fast as you say then there might be more interest in the dev module than you'd think.

            yes, that's the plan :) would love to have some brainstorming ideas written by people on the possibilities, hmmm... let me just create a wiki page: http://rhombus-tech.net//community_ideas [rhombus-tech.net]

    • by wanzeo (1800058)

      That was a very informative post, but I have a couple questions: what exactly is GPL violating about the majority of the hardware out there? The ARM architecture isn't under any open license, so the only thing that could be in violation is the Android flavor they ship with it. And this shouldn't be a problem, if your mostly interested in wiping it and installing Debian. Or is the problem that current tablets are incapable of running a full blown distro without some custom coding beforehand?

      This is a topic

    • by fred911 (83970)

      slightly ot

      The Gpad ga10 allwinner a10 can be found for $135 and can be flashed right up to ICS.

    • by Vairon (17314)

      What kind of GPU does the Allwinner A10 use? Is it the Mail400GPU?
      Does there exist GPL compatible 3D accelerated linux drivers for it?
      Are the programmer datasheets for the GPU available?

      • by lkcl (517947)

        yes it's the standard MALI 400, so the situation is the same as for all other MALI GPU SoCs, which is worth repeating here because it's often misunderstood.

        * yes there's a GPL "shim" driver available, which allows the userspace /usr/lib/libgl.so.2 library to communicate with the GPU
        * yes there's a user-space library that is proprietary *but* it qualifies under the GPL exemption clauses as a "System Library"
        * yes there is full *user* documentation available from ARM, as part of their standard SDK, etc. etc.

  • Archos (Score:5, Informative)

    by lowieken (522530) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @06:13AM (#38333714) Homepage

    Have a look at Archos tablets. They support Debian on their gen8 series, but those are still a bit slow. People are already running debian on their gen9 products, and official support for that is coming soon.

    See also:
    http://www.archos.com/support/support_tech/updates_dev.html?country=us&lang=en [archos.com]
    http://dot.kde.org/2011/11/30/plasma-active-archos-g9-tablet [kde.org]
    http://dev.openaos.org/wiki/Debian [openaos.org]

    • by migla (1099771)

      Yes, looks promising. No info about debian on gen 9 on the linked wiki as of yet, afaics.

      Still, the MER/{Plasma Active}-combo might cut it as GNU/Linux enough.

      I'm thinking of splurging whatever assets I can amass on one G9 after Christmas (hopefully at a discount or from "eBay" if someone got the "wrong" present or duplicates) and as many used gen 8:s as I can, because having touch interfaces all around the house would be nice - fridgeputer, stoveputer, diaperchangingstation-/craputer and frontdoorputer, o

  • by Idimmu Xul (204345)

    And having type apt-get in to install an app totally defeats the point of the touchscreen input mechanism and UI, what you want is a MacBook air or other thin laptop.

    • by migla (1099771)

      And having type apt-get in to install an app totally defeats the point of the touchscreen input mechanism and UI, what you want is a MacBook air or other thin laptop.

      No, it doesn't. You won't be spending the bulk of your time apt-getting packages on the thing. But for when you do, if the tablet has a real USB port, you could use a normal keyboard, or you could ssh into it.

      The apt-getability implies ease of installation and freedom of configuration.

      Once you have it setup with for example KDEs Plasma Active gui just the way(s) you want it, you proceed using it in a tablet-like manner, at the same time feeling happy about being a (at least figuratively) bearded champion of

    • by khipu (2511498)

      And having type apt-get in to install an app totally defeats the point of the touchscreen input mechanism

      You don't have to use any kind of command line on a modern Linux distribution; they have easy-to-use graphical tools for everything.

      what you want is a MacBook air or other thin laptop.

      No, you do not want a MacBook air; it runs a bastardized and restricted derivative of Unix, you'll be paying tons of money for all those little utilities you need to plug the gaps in its OS, and its "AppStore" and package m

      • by iggymanz (596061)

        nonsense, fill in the gaps with free open source software. finkproject.org osxgnu.org

    • ...what you want is a MacBook air or other thin laptop.

      So glad you have the ability to figure out what people actually want. Now go get a job at Apple or Microsoft so they actually start making the things we want.

    • And having type apt-get in to install an app totally defeats the point of the touchscreen input mechanism...

      There are several GUIs for Apt. No need to subject yourself to the horrors of the command line.

  • by itsdapead (734413) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @06:20AM (#38333746)

    Seriously - the best system for running an OS and applications designed for a reasonable sized screen, physical keyboard and pointing device is one with... a decent-sized screen, physical keyboard and pointing device. Conversely, if you want a truly handheld device with no keyboard and a touch screen, you want a system and apps designed specifically for that environment.

    That's one of the reasons why the iPad succeeded and previous Windows-running tablets didn't. I got an iPad because I was finding my iPod touch and Android phone very useful for certain things and could see a use for a larger version, not because I wanted a replacement for my "proper" computers.

    OpenOffice would be hell on a tablet - I'm sure you could get it running, but its just not designed to be usable in that mode.

    A MythTV front end for tablets would be terrific - if the UI were re-designed for touch operation: currently its really designed for a remote control or keyboard. Of course, you'd also have to worry about which video formats enjoyed hardware acceleration since your tablet CPU might not be up to software-only decoding (some existing solutions transcode stuff on the server side so the tablet can run them).

    So, I guess the Asus Transformer sounds like a contender - but the whole point of that is that you can always disconnect it from the keyboard and use it handheld: if most of your software is going to require the keyboard then why not save your cash and get a netbook?

    • by chrb (1083577)

      OpenOffice would be hell on a tablet

      Why couldn't OpenOffice have a tablet specific GUI? There are already apps that change layout depending on the window size. It isn't a great stretch of the imagination to contemplate something similar for OO.

      The bulk of the code in a Linux distribution is not the GUI layer - it is everything else, all of the libraries and application logic. It would be entirely feasible to build a standard GNOME/KDE/XFCE/whatever desktop, where the applications dynamically detect the output device (size/orientation/touch)

  • I think I'll take your mention of OpenOffice off on a tangent to do a little plug of my free software project...

    A few months ago, I began the process of trying to port Apache POI to Android. For those who don't know, Apache POI is "the Java API for Microsoft Documents". It does Word and Excel, and also tries to implement other Microsoft formats, with various degrees of success.

    I decided to start with a spreadsheet. I spent two weeks writing some scaffolding for a spreadsheet in Android. When I got it to

    • i tried, i really did. i even tried google translate.

      • by Hatta (162192)

        Sure, this guy wrote code to handle modern Excel 2010 files in Java on Android. Unfortunately it won't run because of a stupid arbitrary limit in Android. The author is too busy to fix it, but the code is out there and he roughly outlines what needs to be done in case someone wants to pick it up.

  • by migla (1099771) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @06:25AM (#38333780)

    The new generation (G9) Archos tablets look promising for running a more GNU/Linux than Android distro on them.

    KDEs Plasma Active, on top of MER is being worked on:

    http://dot.kde.org/2011/11/30/plasma-active-archos-g9-tablet [kde.org]

    And the general philosophy of Archos seems to be encouraging development of alternative firmwares (not without loosing warranty, though):

    http://www.archos.com/support/support_tech/updates_dev.html?country=us&lang=en [archos.com]

  • www.alwaysinnovating.com has a open source hardware tablet. It's where Asus got the idea from. It's compatible with any distro that supports ARM
  • A few years ago I got a Compaq TC1000 from eBay. It ran linux flawlessly, although it needed the proprietary nvidia driver to get screen rotation. This was long before the iPad, the current tablet craze or much thought of special operating systems for tablets (ok, it came with a special mobile edition of windows, but their wasn't much difference). Now the TC1000 is low power for today's needs but I'm sure there must be lots of tablets out there with a higher spec that people are offloading because they

  • My guess you are looking for a pad and not a full tablet!

    A Levono Thinkpad x201 is the best tablet (how ironic it has pad in the name) I used with Linux so far. Everything on this think just works (though I never tried the analog modem).
    -gps
    -gsm
    -touchscreen/pen
    -fingerprint reader
    -tilt sensors
    -all the special buttons
    -wireless

    So if you want a pad instead, take a look at the Meego "supported" devices:
    http://wiki.meego.com/ARM/TEGRA2 [meego.com]

    Beware of the Advent Vega pads, it's a nice platform but the screen is absolute

  • In addition to installing Linux natively, on many devices you can install a full distribution in a chrooted environment inside the stock Android environment. There are some Android market apps that make that easy.

  • Of course, Maemo and its spawn could have had this market sewn up, if Nokia had actually realised the way the future was going.

    Sadly, they were told, repeatedly, but they have cloth ears.

  • Fujitsu Stylistic tablets. Honestly use the real thing and stop screwing around with consumer junk. You can get used ones for under $400.00 that work great.
    www.ebay.com and search for fujitsu stylistic.

    All done.

  • There are plenty of x86 Intel Atom based tablets that will run any Linux distribution you like. For example Viewsonic ViewPad 10 is ~$470, comes with preinstalled Windows/Android x86, and there are several guides on how to add all the missing tablet stuff to Ubuntu/Fedora.

    But are you sure tablet is really what you want? Virtual keyboards are real pain under Linux, and if you are planning to actually use OpenOffice - maybe netbook would be a cheaper and better choice?

  • and get an HP TC1100 off ebay. It even has a keyboard attachment.
  • Not a Tablet (Score:4, Informative)

    by Thumper_SVX (239525) on Sunday December 11, 2011 @11:12AM (#38335362) Homepage

    My setup is not a tablet, but it's very portable and flexible and runs a pretty much fully fledged Ubuntu install any time I want to. It also keeps the number of gadgets I carry around and thus synchronize to a minimum.

    The basic part of my setup is a Motorola Atrix (http://www.motorola.com/Consumers/US-EN/Consumer-Product-and-Services/Mobile-Phones/Motorola-ATRIX-US-EN) with the Lapdock (http://www.wireless.att.com/cell-phone-service/accessory-details/?LOSGId=accessoryBucket&q_sku=sku5100298#fbid=GYMvsMM9JQx). To that I then used Webtop2SD (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1119555) to move my Webtop environment to my 16GB SD card on its own dedicated 4GB partition and then did the work to create a full Ubuntu on Webtop (http://forum.xda-developers.com/showthread.php?t=1000316). Of course, I had to root the phone but that was dead easy... in fact all of the above steps I did in about an hour while sitting at my dining room table drinking my coffee on a Saturday morning.

    It's not perfect... I'll admit that. It's slow compared to a laptop but in terms of functionality it's excellent. I can apt-get or run synaptic from my command line, and I added a small Gnome toolbar on the left side of the screen that contains my standard Gnome menu. I can surf the web, write articles in OpenOffice and I am not at the mercy of WiFi in order to be able to access the Internet. The Lapdock contains a battery that charges the phone while it's docked, and so I have gotten several hours of work done without needing to recharge either, and by the time I was done my phone was fully charged anyway.

    The beauty part was that I was able to then go home and slap my phone into my Multimedia Dock (http://www.amazon.com/Motorola-Multimedia-Dock-ATRIX-Packaging/dp/B004LWYYZ0) which is hooked up to my 23" widescreen monitor and has a Bluetooth keyboard and mouse and there was my desktop again like it had never left.

    I recently flew about 900 miles from home to get a new car (BMW Performance Center Delivery - http://www.bmwusa.com/Standard/Content/Experience/Events/PDS/BMWPerformanceCenterFAQ.aspx) and drove all the way home, and all I took with me was my Atrix and Lapdock as well as my cameras and I was able to use them to move pictures and videos to a USB stick temporarily to clear up space on the cameras, as well as use it to check into email and so on. If I'd needed to I could even have dialed into work thanks to our Citrix XenDesktop environment that works like champ on the Lapdock. Thankfully that was unnecessary as it would have really detracted from my driving my new BMW on the Tail of the Dragon (twice!) and the Cherohala Skyway (which I videoed both of them using my ContourGPS video camera and car mount).

It's a poor workman who blames his tools.

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