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Linux on a tablet

Hello all,

This is my first post. So please let me know if I am putting this on the wrong section of the forum. I have seen the ipads and droid tablets out there. But I want a tablet running Linux. I would love to have Debian or Ubuntu on a tablet. But I can't find any companies selling such devices. I have seen the news stories out there that claim Ubuntu might have an announcement on an Ubuntu tablet in over a year from now.

Well I know Linux can run on almost anything. So why not an existing tablet? Can anyone point me in the right direction to a guide to installing Debian or Ubuntu on an existing Tablet? I currently do not own any tablet hardware. So any hardware that will be best suited for this project I will see about purchasing.

Thanks for your time and attention.


  • Hi Arran,

    Thank you for the response. While that may be true that iOS is more polished than Linux, I am ok with that. I would rather have Debian on a tablet than iOS. Apple is happy to tell me what I can and cant do with their software and hardware. The idea of paying apple hundreds of dollars for their tablet and then have to put up with them trying to control my every move with it is rather unappealing. I would rather get a droid tablet and install Linux on it and have the power and security and control that Linux gives all with the awesome mobility the tablet market gives.

    David Brooks
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    You can recompile any distro to run on your tablet, however you will need to make a custom kernel supporting all hardware, including the proprietary drivers, which may make it very difficult. If you are seeking a challenge you can try to build debian for your tablet, but if you wait a few months ubuntu will be releasing a tablet OS.
  • mfillpot
    mfillpot Posts: 2,177
    Please only respond if you have content of value that can help the discussions. All off subject and opinion based responses from you will be deleted until value content is added. If this continues I will consider you a spammer and be forced to block you from the website.
  • Thanks mfillpot,

    It sounds like a fun challenge. I will either get a tablet booting with Debian or break one trying. hah

    David Brooks
  • Goineasy9
    Goineasy9 Posts: 1,114
    I have a Viewsonic G-Tablet that I've been experimenting with for a while. The problem with running pure Linux is the lack of drivers. Video drivers for Tegra 2, wifi drivers and drivers that are used to access the webcam.
    XDA-Developers and SlateDroid have threads that talk about installing Linux inside Android, but that's not the same as running pure Linux.
    Droid Basement has kernels that are developed for mobile devices including tablets, here's the link:

    I bought the G-Tablet because I thought Nvidia would keep updating the drivers, but, after Froyo, the older devices were abandoned and newer drivers were built for newer devices/components. Which means, unless someone can engineer new drivers to work with newer kernels, we're all stuck with a non-updatable tablet. There are many who are trying, but, a stable honeycomb or ICS for older Froyo built tablets has been illusive. They come close, but, everytime there's a problem, it's usually caused by the lack of a newer driver or workable module.

    You might also be interested in this http://developer.nvidia.com/linux-tegra . While this doesn't really cover the harmony platform that my G-Tablet was built on, newer tablets that use the Cardhu or Ventana platforms might be able to use it to build a pure Linux tablet.

    By the way good luck, and, keep us informed with what you come up with.

    BTW - Searching through the Slatedroid and XDA-Developer sites and reading up on what problems the devs are working on will help you get a good start. No need to duplicate the work they've already done.

    Hope this helps.
  • woboyle
    woboyle Posts: 501
    FWIW, Android IS a Linux distribution. Yes, it is configured with device-specific drivers (necessary for most tablets and phones), but for the most part it IS open source. You can get the source code, and usually you can unlock the boot loader so you can install new kernels and other system-level software. As for "pure" Linux on tablets, that may also be possible, since you should be able to load/use the Android drivers for your specific device on another kernel of the same release level. In any case, the device and display/video drivers are the key things that need to be supported properly in order to have a reasonable experience.
  • woboyle
    woboyle Posts: 501
    I saw some babbling about this unit on the web in the past couple of days (Slashdot, Ars, whatever?) and thought it looked interesting. I may get one in a few months, once the initial release bugs are ironed out! :-)
  • woboyle
    woboyle Posts: 501
    Yes, tasty Plasma - it makes your tongue tingle! :lol:
  • Great find MasenM,

    I am going to just get one of those. :D

    I am very excited to be able to support people making what seems to be exactly what I am looking for. May can't get here soon enough!


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