What combination of distro, themes, extenstions, etc. can I use to get the best experience out of a touch-screen laptop?

I would be installing Linux on a Dell Inspiron i3147 (11.6", 1366 x 768, touchscreen clamshell laptop).

I'm looking for a Linux setup that1:

  • supports multitouch (obviously)
  • is touch-friendly (bigger buttons or edge gestures and such)
  • is not an abandoned project (still in active development)
  • I can customize / theme how I like
  • is not just plain ugly

Items that could be included in the setup:

  • which distro (eOS, Ubuntu, Mint, something else)
  • what desktop environment (Pantheon, GNOME, Unity, Cinnamon, etc.)
  • a GTK / shell / window theme
  • any extra tweaks, extensions, or settings

Since this is Software Recommendations SE, I'm looking for ideas on a Linux setup that you like for use with a touch-screen.

Recommend a setup that you like for touch, prettiness, support, etc.

1 These requirements could seem purely subjective, but most all distros are a pain with touch. Something's better than nothing. I am basically looking for any options that are better than out-of-the-box Unity.

  • 1
    There aren't any "optimized for touch". Touch is relatively new technology (when it comes to laptops/monitors) and the only OS optimized for it would be Windows 8. Ubuntu is trying to optimize with Unity 8, however it isn't to be released for a few years yet.
    – Seth
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:47
  • @Seth: But is there anything I can do to get basic things like bigger buttons, etc. even if advanced features like edge gestures don't exist yet? I don't expect to find anything as optimized as Windows 8.
    – Robin
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:54
  • 1
    Maybe, not entirely sure. I personally think Gnome Shell would work pretty well.
    – Seth
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:58
  • IIRC I did see a project to port android to x86 and if they have the drivers implemented you can not get much more touch optimised. - I did android-x86.org Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 21:21

1 Answer 1


Since so much of your expectations are subjective I would suggest downloading a number of distros with live images, using a tool such as liveusb creator or LinuxLive USB Creator to create a bootable USB and giving them a try by booting into them. Most will be slower running from USB but you can:

  1. See if all your hardware is supported out of the box
  2. Get a reasonable impression of the look and feel.

Also take a look through the package manager to see if the tools for the things that you expect to be doing are available in reasonably recent version.

  • 3
    Thanks for the idea, but I have already fiddled with quite a few distros via Live USB. The reason I came to SoftwareRecs.SE is to get recommendations from others on their experience.
    – Robin
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 20:44
  • 1
    Then I strongly suggest that you edit your question to a) Show you have made some effort & b) Explain what you didn't like about which distros that you tried. Then people will know what you don't like and not spend a lot of time suggesting it and things like it. Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 21:19
  • 1
    If you already "fiddled" with some Live distros, it might also make sense to mention that in your question. Especially what you liked and why you did decide against them might narrow down the list of suitable candidates.
    – Izzy
    Commented Aug 11, 2014 at 21:48

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