Linux was born at a time when PCs were bulky, stationary machines. Now we are in the era of the Apple iPads. Our Android phones have touch screens, as do our game consoles. Many of us long to use our preferred open source operating system in a form factor we love.
Fortunately, all is not lost. If you want to get a touchscreen device that will run Linux, you can! The possibilities are not yet numerous, but they are growing. Here are some of the current and upcoming Linux tablet projects that should be on your radar.
The JingPad is the first ARM tablet running traditional GNU / Linux designed for consumers. It has an 11-inch display with 2368 x 1728 pixels, a detachable keyboard with touchpad and a stylus. It runs JingOS, a Qt-based iOS-like interface that runs on Ubuntu.
The JingPad is available for purchase with videos online showing the device in action. JingOS is also actively developed with a code base that you can view and contribute to. You can also install JingOS on a device you may already have, such as a computer. B. on a Microsoft Surface.
The JingPad has an 8000 mAh battery, a 16 MP rear camera and a smaller 8 MP camera on the front. Running JingOS on the JingPad instead of installing it on another device yourself gives you the option to run various Android apps as well.
2. RasPad (Raspberry Pi Tablet)
The RasPad is a crowdfunded device that has everything one can love about the Raspberry Pi, but in a tablet form factor. That makes this a great product for manufacturers and innovators. Judging by the deposit prices, it's probably also relatively affordable.
If you've used a Raspberry Pi, you know the platform is what you want. People have already tinkered with ways to make their Raspberry Pi portable.
Buying a RasPad can save you the time and effort of creating your own product. That's not to say you won't be having some DIY fun. For example, you can make your own Chrome OS or Android device by installing the correct operating system.
In an educational or industrial setting, you can connect the tablet to a robot to use it as a control panel. If it's a little more casual, try pairing a gamepad and turning your Raspberry Pi into a mobile gaming device.
Planet Gemini is more of a smartphone than a tablet. However, it is also more of a PDA than a smartphone. It's an uncompromising niche product designed for a more technical user. In all fairness, you'll appreciate this Linux powered device for being in your pocket rather than for having a touchscreen.
The Gemini has a physical keyboard and a clamshell form factor. When you close it there are no outward-facing screens or dialpad. Still, the Gemini can serve as your phone as you have the option to order either a 4G-enabled or a Wi-Fi-only version.
The Gemini's main operating system is Android, but it comes with an unlocked bootloader and can run other operating systems. For example, you can install Debian Linux. You can also opt for another Linux-based smartphone operating system like Sailfish.
Would you like to go the conventional way? Look no further than Emperor Linux. This reseller takes over existing hardware lines such as the Lenovo ThinkPad and the Panasonic Toughbook and installs Linux.
For a few grand, you get a powerful PC with a screen that you can use to enjoy or develop the Linux touch-based experience. You can easily spend thousands more depending on how powerful or how long you want your machine to last.
Will your device attract attention? Unlikely. These are machines that are more at home in an office or construction site than on your couch. But if your priority is getting the job done and you have a bigger budget, then this might be your best option.
The PineTab is a 10-inch tablet from Pine64, the people behind the Pinebook and the Pinephone. This is hardware that has been put together with Linux in mind to give developers an inexpensive way to develop software for the tablet form factor. There's even a case with a keyboard and touchpad that makes the device a laptop replacement.
On the surface, the PineTab looks like an inexpensive alternative to the iPad. Eventually, maybe, but the device has the same internals that power the original Pinebook for $ 99. That means the software experience is slower than most people are willing to accept.
The slow CPU and 2GB of RAM add a long delay to both launching and interacting with apps, and that only applies to those who don't just crash. But with the right set of optimized software and realistic expectations of what you will be using this device for, the PineTab can potentially meet your needs.
Like other Pine hardware, the PineTab is bought and sold in batches. The original batch is sold out, and it's unclear whether Pine64 will ship the same device in the future or maybe opt for an updated model. Keep an eye on the project to see what the future holds, see if you can find a used one for sale, or check out the PineNote ahead.
The PineNote is another tablet from Pine64 with an 11-inch E-Ink display, a Wacom pen and more powerful internals. With 4 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage, the device could one day be a powerful tablet. But for now, the device can only be pre-ordered with developers as the target group. This is a project for people looking for a FOSS alternative to the reMarkable tablet or the Android powered Boox e-readers.
Do you want to make your own Linux tablet?
If you already have a touchscreen lying around, it can be tempting to install Linux yourself. This will save you some money, provided everything is working enough to do what you want to do.
Here are some options:
Install Linux on your own Windows tablet or convertible notebook.
Run Linux on an Android device. You can use a tool that is specifically designed to run Linux on a non-rooted device, such as: B. KBOX (no longer available). Or you could start Linux in an emulator like Limbo.
You can run Linux on some consoles like the Nintendo Switch.
Linux tablets have been a long time coming
Linux tablet projects have come and gone over the years. The KDE community once delighted many Linux users with the prospect of a plasma-powered tablet. Devices like the Aquaris M10 with Ubuntu and the Jolla Tablet actually came to fruition, but their lives were short.
Nevertheless, the dream survives. Thanks to crowdfunding and cheaper open components like the Raspberry Pi, people find it easier to take matters into their own hands.
On the other hand, if you're just looking for a solid Linux PC, it's easier than ever to find computers with a free open source operating system preinstalled.
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About the author
(336 published articles)
Bertel is a digital minimalist who works on a laptop with an elementary operating system and carries a Light Phone II with him. He has solar panels in his house, drives an electric car, and is happy to help others decide which technology to incorporate into their lives.
From Bertel King
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