In the spirit of the laptops thread, have any of you found a tablet that works well to boot *nixes and you could recommend as an on-the-go rig?
Surface is the best name in town for normal x86 laptop… that’s also a tablet. No idea about Linux compatibility though.
I myself have a really soft spot for the Surface RT. Once jaillbroken, you have a decent subset of Win32 apps - mostly the free software ones like PuTTY, Paint.NET, and Notepad++. There’s a surprising amount of variety for dev tools available as well: Python, Perl, Node, Lua, Mongo, Vim… Plus Office and a real desktop browser with a built-in adblocker. The main reason I like it because the RTs get hideously good battery life despite their age and I’m a sucker for desktop-class ARM experiences and RISC NT.
$work bought a batch of Surface Pro 3’s which are a tablet with a detachable keyboard.
I’m currently running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS on three of them and OpenBSD on one (dmesg from Feb 2016, it’s currently running a -current snapshot from 11 Oct - need to update it.) Currently the wireless chip does not have a driver in OpenBSD so I use either a usb ethernet dongle or usb wireless dongle.
It runs both well - but their are bugs - in Ubuntu if you set up screen rotation the screen does rotate but the touch sensing doesn’t which is a pain. The fact that it only has one usb port is a major pain, the screen resolution is excellent, battery life is reasonable - I get about 3-4 hours on a charge - it can get really hot if you’re doing any processing.
No idea about Linux compatibility though.
I would check with https://www.reddit.com/r/SurfaceLinux/
It looks as though you can get Linux Mint running on some models. Not sure how easy it is to install.
This really has me intrigued, particularly as Surface RTs are reasonably cheap on eBay. I’m certainly no Windows fan (I haven’t used a Windows system, other than VMs, for personal stuff since about 2002), but what you’ve described here (and elsewhere on lobsters) sounds really neat.
So on the user side, Windows RT is nicer than people give it credit for. The inability to run x86 Win32 applications is a mixed blessing as you now have a Windows machine that’s basically invincible to malware, but can run most open-source stuff with the jailbreak. The mixed-mode UI, that is, being able to decide between a touch friendly tablet UI and the normal desktop is handy. You can use Netflix lazily on the couch (the kickstand is excellent for this - the newer models improve it every time) and attach the keyboard and get back to work. The browser is IE11 - standards compliant, fast, and has a built in ad blocker. I’ve mentioned the software, but it’s got what most here probably want - Office, editors, developer tooling, etc.
Secure Boot was also broken, so be on the lookout for Linux and Android ports as well.
edit: But if the limitations are unappealing to you, I’d suggest just getting a newer model, which are all x86. The Surface RT is pretty polarizing as a thing, and MS kinda botched it as a product by not including pen support/domain join/Win32 unlocked. But as a tablet in hardware and the software post-jailbreak, it’s a great device.
Thanks for the info - I’m guessing I may not be the only one curious, hence asking here. Is there anything to be aware of when buying one - is there an update that fixes the jailbreak? (ie do I need to look for one that’s got an older version of Windows, etc).
There is an update that disables the jailbreak, but it can be uninstalled. There’s a script that will uninstall the problematic updates and “install” it (basically, it uses some Unicode trickery to enable test signing mode; so the applications need to be signed, it just allows them not to be signed by Microsoft) for you. I’m not sure about the Secure Boot break, that’s probably in the same situation. (There’s also an older jailbreak, and it was the only one for the longest time - that required you to stay on Windows 8.0 instead of 8.1.)
I used an HP Pro X2 410 running Ubuntu at a cybersecurity competition a year or two back. I didn’t get to use it for a long time (just the weekend or whatever), but I had to do a lot with it that time. Web browsing and text editing and working with lots of terminal windows and such. It was great. i5, SSD, some decent amount of RAM. Nice screen, nice keyboard, tablet-part comes off of-keyboard part, keyboard-part has extra battery and USB ports. The keyboard<->tablet dock/lock was pretty solid. I considered buying one at the time, but balked at the price. They might not be so bad now.
I can’t imagine using anything without a keyboard as a developer…
Think outside the box. https://kevinsuttle.com/posts/dx-on-mobile-devices
Personally, I already carry around my own (small) keyboard that I’d prefer any day over any laptop’s keyboard.
It’s admittedly a little weird to watch, but for a while, I used an iPhone 4S + a bluetooth keyboard as a writing setup and really loved it.
Also for light coding on the train. (anything I could just push and let travis sort em out )
Are you thinking just a tablet like an iPad or a convertible laptop like the Lenovo Yoga?
If the keyboard is detachable I’d say it’s fair game. Eg, I’d call the Asus Transformer (an x86+windows machine to boot) a tablet, but the Lenovo Yoga’s really just a laptop with a fancy hinge and touch screen.
Did you get the transformer working well with linux? I got it to boot but there was no backlight control, no camera control, no acpi support and poor wifi support (this was ~ a year ago though, not sure if it’s better now).
I’ve been eyeing one, but I don’t own one.