[Video] Linux for an x86 Tablet


Running Linux on an x86 tablet — specifically a Microsoft Surface — with a good onscreen keyboard (OSK) experience. This video shows how I researched and experimented with many distros to get to a functional and (nearly) final installation.

The website for the excellent Onboard onscreen keyboard is here:…

[Video] Linux for an x86 Tablet 1
[Video] Linux for an x86 Tablet 2
[Video] Linux for an x86 Tablet 3
[Video] Linux for an x86 Tablet 4
[Video] Linux for an x86 Tablet 5

48 Comments on “[Video] Linux for an x86 Tablet”

  1. Interesting . . so, why try to bring-back X86-Tablets?
    . Nobody wanted them in 2014 and, somehow, only You seem to Want One in 2022.!
    . . Anything Intel "Died with the Bush-Obama_Years."
    ( Just because Management is Trying to Keep The Boat Afloat doesn't mean that "actual Users and those who Know What Their Doing" can be tricked into keeping BOAT ANCHOR's as Computer's.!
    . . . The Return to "Silicon Graphic's" Edit In Real Time Computing ( GPU Tech ) only requires A GPU Only OS is The Future. .. Microsoft Bailed on it about the same time as Ubuntu & Debian became "Bunk-Buddies With Microsoft & Arch – on Tablet Reform's."
    . so, what Are the Possibilities for Tablets & Smartphones in the Future? .. that totally depends on who has The Money to Produce Advancements – which automatically Kills-Off anything Management Related.
    – JW

  2. A lot of rather frustrating work there. It's remarkable how much work developers are willing to put into making weird combinations of device and OS work, but the Manjaro keyboard suggests that corner cases do get overlooked.

  3. Hmm, beyond the crucial soft keyboard, another crucial ability is to rotate the desktop orientation when the tablet is changed from potrait to landscape viewing

    would love to bring up Linux Mint on my old iPad that is no longer supported. Still works but Apple has banished it to the wilderness. But that would be a monumental challenge, alas

  4. I've been kinda daily driving Mint on a Surface Pro 6 with linux-surface kernels for about a year now. Works pretty well – only missing IR camera for Howdy.

  5. I have been using Fedora Cinnamon on a Dell Venue 11 tablet for a few years now. The Onboard keyboard is in the repositories and can be easily installed if needed. Thanks for the video and alternative Linux distro. Will probably keep Fedora but it's nice to have choices. My original choice on this tablet was to install LInux over the provided Windows 10. 🙂

  6. Interesting! I have two iPads, a 9th gen bought this year and ipad mini 2 bought in 2013. I'd love to bring the old mini back to life with a linux distro. It doesn't run anything well now, but there is no good reason that it doesn't have the power to run a modern Linux distro. Some people are attempting. Fingers crossed.

  7. It seems to get the on screen keyboard to work, you should first try disconnecting the hardware keyboard. That’s how every bluetooth keyboard works on iPad. Perhaps it still won’t work, but I’m surprised you didn’t try it.

  8. Whenever I want to revive some old PC with Linux, I always go straight to Mint rather than muck around with other popular distros. Mint always “just works”.

  9. Very nice video of a topic I wasn't expecting to see! I do want to add that in my (short) experience of owning a laptop with a touchscreen, I found that Zorin OS also has very good touch screen support. I am currently using Linux Mint on this machine though, but I would say that Zorin probably has better touchscreen support. For example, Zorin allows you to scroll on a webpage by simple swiping anywhere on the webpage, whereas on Mint you have to use the scrollbar. You can probably configure it somewhere in the settings, but I haven't seen the option yet.

  10. Have you tried Phosh? Its a mobile friendly gnome based desktop from Purism. I plan on installing that on a Arm based Chromebook that supports Cadmium, a native Linux project. You may also be interested in Pop OS. That might be tablet friendly.

  11. I enjoyed your video. I watched it on a M$ Surface Go2 that had been dual boot for about a year. Win10 broke though and complained about not being online. Instead of fixing it I just formatted the whole drive to ext4 and have just linux Mint now. Life is too short for windows 10. So on the rare occasion that windows is needed I'll just run it in a gnome box. Gnome box also works as a VNC viewer for adminstering to a RSpi or whatever if you don't need to move files around.

  12. I replaced windows in my surface go, with ZorinOS Pro and it runs relly well on the device, there are however a couple of things such as the cameras don't work at all, the wifi and power management needs some tweaking, but overall the user experience is good.

  13. Maybe there is hope for my potato windows tablet: bay trail atom, 1gb ram, 16gb emmc, 32 bit UEFI. Fedora, raspberry pi os and debian can boot, touchscreen works, wifi sometimes works, but it lacks support for rotation sensors and cameras. I will give it a try, last taste was more than one year ago.

  14. Good episode Chris. We've got an old Samsung Galaxy 10 tablet. Nice hardware but not longer supports Android upgrade. I wonder if Linux Mint might be good here? Also, did you test the browser for Mic/Camera access for online meetings in something like Jitsi?

  15. Interesting, but it would be worth trying to see how PoP_OS, Fedora and ZorinOS work. These distros worked fine on my tablet. PoP_OS in particular seems to be designed for a tablet, while Fedora has a clean Gnome and a newer version. So it should work fine, Fedora itself is very stable and bug free. At least for me 😅😂.

  16. I would just use Gnome vanilla and try to use another keyboard. I think Gnome is the only one that actually looks designed for tablets and it has better support, that's why Ubuntu & Manajaro also works out of the box, however, you only tried the live iso, you should install it and make sure the extra drivers are installed, because it's definitely not the same.

  17. to move onboard on screen there is four directions arrow key below closing cross key in right upper most corner, i also faced this issue wid onboard app. anyway grt video as usual.

  18. another one that works in touchscreen is deepinOS. It has some bugs regarding the touch when dragging windows, but at least its UI is already touch friendly. And it already has onboard built-in.

    for JingOS x86, the development is being held back due to focusing more on the ARM one

  19. I've found Fedora Workstation to be wonderful on a tablet. With a few tweaks it can be really good, my nephews old Toshiba Tablet is running it and he gets by just fine.

  20. Thank you for the presentation of these distributions compatible with tablet-pc.
    To move the OnBorad virtual keyboard, just grab the four arrows icon in the top right.🙂

  21. Very interesting video. I have noted however, that you are using an external SSD. What are the options for installing a Linux distribution on internal storage? I can’t picture myself having to carry an external SSD around should I want to take the tablet on the road, and I know nothing about the hardware configuration of x86 tablets…

Have a comment? Type it below!