On the current MobileTechRoundup podcast Kevin, Matt and I discussed the possibility of installing Linux on a Samsung Q1 UMPC. We pointed out that while it is possible there are a lot of things you give up that are not available on a PC like the Q1 running under Linux. One of the sticky points with putting Linux on one of these special devices is the touchscreen. It is difficult to find drivers that work and when you are lucky enough to find them the lack of pertinent application software to utilize the touchscreen properly is a real downer.
jkOnTheRun reader Joel Mclaughlin pointed me to a blog by a guy that successfully (loose definition) installed Ubuntu on his Samsung Q1 and has chronicled the whole process. The author addresses the hardware that is often hard to get working under Linux (as we discussed on the podcast) and details the hoops he had to jump through to get things like WiFi, the display, and the touchscreen to work. He did in fact get the touchscreen to work by searching high and low for a driver but the lack of any utility to calibrate the screen forced a manual configuration which is detailed.
So did the author get Ubuntu running well enough to use it on the Q1? I’ll let him answer:
So you might ask why I don’t switch to Linux then? Well I’m missing the excellent ways of using the touch screen for input. The TIP in Windows XP Tablet Edition is very nice. Esp. the integration of the different input methods, using ink or an on-screen keyboard is superb and the handwriting recognition works very good as well. I didn’t find any handwriting recognition software for Linux! For a working one which is nicely integrated into the desktop I’d even be willing to pay (just because I’m using Linux doesn’t mean that I only use FOSS)!
I know that there is gok and dasher but somehow usage is much more hassling. The concept of dasher is interesting but it needs too much space. And in gok I’m missing the special keys like ALT, CTRL and so on which I do need sometimes even using an onscreen keyboard (not very often, but still). Space usage of gok isn’t very good as well for such a small device…
I activated accessibility for GDM but somehow no virtual keyboard shows on login (how should I login without an USB keyboard then?) and if a su dialog box appears and looks the screen, gok can’t be used as well — how bad!
So it seems we were right on in our discussion on the MoTR show– give it a listen to hear what we had to say about putting Linux on ultra-portable devices with touchscreens.