2

I don't like the default Windows 8.1 preinstalled on my uefi tablet - the UI is too counter-intuitive and I need more space on my device(I have 16GB, 1GB RAM max - Digma Eve 8.1 3G). So I wanna try some Linux OS/alternatives. What do you recommend?

Don't mention Android and RemixOS: not real full-fledged desktop OS yet.

Important features I need are:

  • recovery partition/file/etc of this OS. In case i do something wrong.
  • I will be using my tablet for internet browsing. Text-based browsers are inconvenient.
  • For flashing Android devices, using fastboot/adb,
  • or for backing up, syncing and managing photos, files on them.

I need minimum or optimal RAM consumption.

  • Touchscreen input should be included and convenient enough to do at least drag'n'drop from one window into another.
  • ability to have at least 3 apps running at once with my 1GB RAM limitation.

I tried Ubuntu Budgie 18.04 live version, but the available RAM was 200-300MB out of 1GB. And even having few apps opened, started freezing the UI...why can't linux just close the programs instead of freezing?

What was tried:

latest Lubuntu(32-bit) needs 2GB RAM, my tablet doesn't have it.

I've tried latest Ubuntu Mate(32-bit). And it ate ~450MB RAM without anything opened, just empty desktop; and ~6GB of HDD - you need 500+ MB for installing/delting new programs and some files. Having firefox + any other 2 apps makes it freeze and close the user session. I could replace Firefox with something more lightweight like midori.

  • 1
    You're coing to need to provide some details. What chipset does the tablet use? The last time I considered linux for a tablet was about 5 years ago for an HP TouchPad. The only touch-capable linux at the time was no longer maintained. I doubt if you're going to have much luck. – Ring Jul 26 at 10:53
  • 2
    @Ring, it's called "Digma Eve 8.1" and it uses Intel Atom Z3735E, 32-bit uefi. It supports Legacy Boot(CSM). – RecklessTony Jul 26 at 11:56
  • Thanks, RecklessTony! – Ring Jul 30 at 14:46
  • @Ring, it was back then. I tried few Ubuntu variants, and touchscreen works out-of-the-box. But some ui elements are untouchable or too sensitive on Ubuntu Mate for example. – RecklessTony Aug 1 at 8:17
  • 1
    From my own experience with installing an newer version of windows on a similar tablet - you might have to do some work installing the touchscreen - hackaday.io/project/83212-liberating-a-50-windows-tablet and github.com/onitake/gsl-firmware can be all sorts of useful if you're going to go with linux – Journeyman Geek Aug 1 at 8:21
2

First of all, you might want to check for support of your UEFI/CPU. I used to own a Asus T200TA and the support for Linux was really not great (It wouldn't even fully install because of supporting only 32-bit uefi and other problems like theses) so I'm not sure support has really evolved.

There are not a lot of distributions that will check all of your requirements. Your best bet if you want something that does everything out of the box is to take a standard Ubuntu or it's variants.

I recommand Ubuntu because the Gnome shell is particularly adapted to touchscreen but you can try it's variant.

Elementary OS could be a good choice too for the touchscreen thanks to it's dock and large icons in the application menu.

If you want a system that is the less bloated possible you might want to go the ArchLinux route and setup Gnome yourself.

  • If arch is the smallest resource-wise, are there any autoscripts to make touchscreen out-of-the-box? – RecklessTony Jul 26 at 19:41
  • Is any of these OS support adb/fastboot of Android devices?(I usually have different brands) – RecklessTony Jul 26 at 20:06
  • i can install almost any 32-bit OS, if they can be booted/chainloaded from a grub2 binary. – RecklessTony Aug 1 at 8:52
  • Any OS will support adb/fastboot you just need to configure it (Install it then add the udev rules) – Nathan J Aug 9 at 14:44
2

It will be tough to meet all your requirements with Linux. You don't specify the tablet, but the description implies that it has very limited resources. Assuming that's the case, it will be an uphill battle to fit a regular distro that supports all your needs.

  • Are you experienced with Linux? It will make a huge difference whether you're a Linux newbie or experienced user. If you want something user-friendly, and ready to use, it will be big. There are a number of featherweight distros, or ones that can be configured as very lightweight if you know what you're doing. But they tend not to be practical for newbies. There are a few reasonably lightweight, reasonably user-friendly distros, like Lubuntu and LXLE, but my understanding is that they have little or no touchscreen support.

    You mention the UI as important to you, but you don't describe what would be intuitive. If a command line interface is your cup of tea, that will be an easy requirement size-wise, but it pretty much requires some kind of keyboard, and an on-screen one won't be very practical. Featherweight GUIs tend not to be very Windows-like if that's important. So that leaves "bigger than featherweight", and you will be fighting resource requirements.

  • Typically, the desktop environment is a driving factor. It's the look and feel. Most people have a strong preference, and narrow the field of distros to those that offer their preferred DE already integrated. The DE has a big influence on the distro's size, and there are big differences in touchscreen support.

    Of the major DEs, the ones with the best touchscreen support are also the biggest. Gnome is generally considered to have the best touchscreen support, but it is big and very unintuitive for a new Linuc user.

    Consider how much touchscreen support you need (basic scrolling and tap to click, or fancy gesturing?). If you need good support for fancy gestures, it may need to be one of the big DEs. This link may be useful: https://www.maketecheasier.com/best-linux-desktop-touch-enabled-monitor/.

  • If you want a "full-fledged", user-friendly OS with good touchscreen support you may have a hard time fitting it on a tablet. If you are willing to relax one or more of the requirements, the task becomes easier.

    Featherweight distros will be much easier to fit, but I'm not aware of one with touchscreen support.

    A cloud-based distro will have much of the look and feel of a regular distro but will be pretty lightweight because they rely heavily on web-based applications. You would need to verify that you can run everything you need. A popular one is Peppermint Linux, which is Ubuntu-based, but I'm not aware of how much touchscreen support that has. ChromeOS is another that was designed for netbooks. I suspect it would have serious limitations running arbitrary locally installed applications.

    A mobile version of a distro will be designed to fit on a mobile device and will support a touchscreen. But you would need to verify its ability to run everything you need to run. I have no familiarity with mobile versions of distros, but understand that KDE has a mobile version of its DE, and that is one of the highly rated DEs for touchscreen support. I don't know how the mobile version compares with the desktop version, but the desktop version of KDE is very Windows-like and intuitive, and one of the most popular DEs.

    You've ruled it out, but shortcomings aside, the best fit and user experience on a tablet is likely to come from something that has been designed from the ground up for that specific purpose, like Android. It might be worth considering the possibility of outfitting the tablet with an OS that's a good match for the hardware, and then tailoring your usage to what it can handle.

There are a lot of variables and considerations. Without knowing more details about your experience, requirements, and preferences, it isn't practical to recommend anything specific. But hopefully, this discussion will help provide some focus.

  • I know how to use Linux commands to, for example, look up disk space, 'top', install packages. But having automation of all of this better. – RecklessTony Jul 26 at 20:09
  • 1
    @RecklessTony, came across this article: makeuseof.com/tag/linux-distro-space that might be useful. Most of these tiny distros focus on getting performance from old hardware. I wouldn't expect much touchscreen support, but it provides some perspective. Many of the listed distros have limitations like requiring specially-prepared, stripped down apps. Some basic apps are available to get routine stuff done, but you can't install anything you want. The article will give you a feel for the tradeoffs of using a featherweight (cont'd) – fixer1234 Jul 26 at 21:47
  • (the mentioned ones are probably the most user-friendly of the class). This next article compares the lightest weight DEs you typically find on "real" distros: makeuseof.com/tag/…. A little research seems to indicate that many of the lightweight DEs do have at least rudimentary touchscreen support, but reviews basically say "don't bother because touchscreen support sucks". – fixer1234 Jul 26 at 21:47
  • android x86 doesn't support being a host for flashing other android devices through otg yet. – RecklessTony Jul 27 at 16:22
  • Lubuntu doesn't want to install. It says it needs 2GB RAM. – RecklessTony Jul 31 at 16:12

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.