John Galea's Blog

My blog on Gadgets and the like

Ubuntu 15.10 review

Every now and then I get an itch to see just how far Linux has come. Ubuntu IMHO is the most consumer friendly of the Linux distributions. Like any fringe OS figuring out what of the hardware you have will not be supported is the first lesson you will learn. I often don’t want to commit my main machine to Unbuntu, and opt for some variation on multi boot. And thus the time burning begins. I have a variety of laptops/tablets in the house I can experiment with and live without so I start with them. A number of them are Atom based tablets (Asus T100, T100 Chi, Vivotab Note, Dell Venue 8 etc). You quickly learn (well not so quickly) that this is not going to go anywhere without a lot of work. And even if you manage to exert an untold amount of patience you will then figure out what isn’t supported. The T100 for example it turns out is a 64 bit processor that only supports 32 bit UEFI. Thanks Asus for that time waste. Got around that only to have the install hand on both the T100 and T100 chi.

So gave that up. I have a brand spanking new Asus T300 Chi based on a mobile CoreM processor so I thought let’s give that a go. Onto the next hurdle. First I tried dual boot. Well Ubuntu’s boot loader that allows you to choose whether you want to boot Ubuntu or Windows does not support Bluetooth keyboards (well daaaa) so after a bit of futzing I discovered the volume up and down are up and down arrow and the windows key is the enter. After a short period of time for some odd reason the touch screen totally stopped working. So I put Windows back on (from a Clonezilla backup).

Next up I decided to try and put Ubuntu on a USB key. The original install went well but as soon as the update happened it modified the boot loader on the hard drive of the machine. And with only one USB port it became challenging quickly. And having a tablet with a USB key dangling is not exactly convenient.

So I decided the best path was to go all in. So I wiped my T300 Chi and installed 64 bit Ubuntu. UEFI recognized the USB key once secure boot was turned off and the installation went well. You will need a USB hub, usb key, usb keyboard and usb mouse for the install. The WIFI adapter was recognized during the install which allowed me to install updates as it installed. Pretty much everything worked out of the box, audio, video, WIFI, touch screen and even suspend resume. This is one of the most seamless installs of Ubuntu on a laptop (let alone a tablet ever). The coreM based chipset has been well implemented in Ubuntu. Quite surprising really. The sole hold out oddly is the bluetooth enabled keyboard/trackpoint (dock). It sees it, tries to connect it, fails. Ubuntu does not recognize it as a keyboard.
Oddly my bluetooth Lenovo keyboard with touch point works perfectly.

The touch screen works largely as a mouse pointer but is supported by some apps. You can’t do zoom but scroll works on things like Chrome.

Performance on the T300 chi is very good. Smooth and responsive.

First up I loaded 64 bit Chrome from the Google website. It went in smoothly and insures that all your browsing experience is consistent across your all your machines. For me this is key. I could use Firefox which comes preinstalled but prefer Chrome. That way my bookmarks etc are come with me.

Second up from the Ubuntu Software center (USC) Kodi is there. Yay. Another key for me. I used the Kodi from the USC and had mixed results. I noticed starting a video, stopping a video and skipping through a video was all noticeably slower than on Windows. Some MP4s would not play at all. Odd given I have an older machine running KodiUbuntu flawlessly. So I loaded up Kodi from the web site and that seemed to solve the issues.

Ubuntu includes preinstalled an office suite called Libre.

Being able to RDP to Windows servers in the house is also key. I loaded up KRDC and it also works well. It properly supports right mouse button and all.

Performance is good but battery life is much worse than on Windows. On Windows I get about 4.8 hours, on Ubuntu I project about 3. I get As mentioned earlier suspend/resume works.

The onscreen keyboard is basic but can be resized to any dimensions you wish. Once configured it works fine but no auto correct and no word prediction.

There is no auto rotate on the screen and no auto brightness.

The T300 supports a pen, and the pen under Ubuntu is supported as a select tool. Using an app like pencil you can use the pen to draw.

The number one issue with Ubuntu is that, like Windows 8, Ubuntu eliminated the start menu. WTF. They depend on you remembering the name of an app you installed and then the use the search to find it. How exactly is that touch or tablet friendly? Really?

Ubuntu saw my network printer, added it on install but wouldn’t print to it. A common issue with Linux.

I went next onto another distribution of Ubuntu called Mint. Curiously the T300 bluetooth keyboard was seen perfectly. But I couldn’t find a decent RDP client so this was a drop dead item for me. Mint added back the start menu. A nice distro.

So all in all I am impressed with Ubuntu on my T300.

January 15, 2016 - Posted by | Uncategorized, Windows tablets

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