Last week, together with Torsten @grote Grote, I attended SFScon to give a FreeYourAndroid workshop. Thanks to Patrick @ohnewein Ohnewein and Shaun @shaunschutte Schutte, we had the chance to use two Nexus 7 for every purpose. We decided to install Cyanogenmod on one and Ubuntu on the other.
Installing Ubuntu was my turn and I was looking forward to a “one-click process for installing Ubuntu”. Ubuntu and Canonical might be debatable but I think what they do is a very interesting idea and a first step to spread GNU/Linux operating systems on mobile devices like tablets.
I followed the installation guide from Ubuntus wiki. First surprise was that you need another computer that runs Ubuntu to actually install Ubuntu from there on the Nexus S7. Would be a nice feature, if further developments go for an image that you just need to copy to the tablet and then let run the installation by the tablet itself. For now it would be worth a try and seems like some fun to use a tablet that runs Ubuntu to install Ubuntu on the next tablet. Unfortunately, I hadn’t had the chance to try this out.
To install, you need ‘Ubuntu Nexus 7 Desktop Installer’ from a PPA and ‘Fastboot’ to unlock the Nexus 7 device. Then you can simply click through a GUI to flash the device and start installation. The installation process itself, again, is self-running and easy.
After installation, I had some time to play around and get used to the system. Here are my first thoughts after using Ubuntu on Nexus 7 for two hours or so.
- You get the whole Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal distribution without limitations!
- Like in the other Ubuntu distribution, you can remove the Unity Shell and replace it with your favorite shell.
- The system was sometimes really slow and refused to respond for a bunch of seconds. It even crashed me twice in 2 hours.
- The visualized keyboard was slow, so I got sometimes confused if I already typed a letter or not. Really annoying was that it sometimes completely refused to show up – and without a keyboard, you are somehow lost.
- Gnome3 Shell unfortunately didn’t start with Gnome3 interface but was stuck in the Gnome Fallback session, instead.
- I had some problems to access system settings, as the panel was sometimes not responding.
- By default, the font-size was too tiny for me. This was not a problem of reading, but targets that you tip with your fingers where so tiny that it made me a hard job to point them with my stubby fingers. I fixed this issue by installing gnome-tweak-tool and set the system font-size to 16.
to sum up: Installation of Ubuntu was very easy. As soon as there will be a self-running installation process without the use of another computer, installation will be even more user-friendly. On the other hand I was a bit disappointed by the overall performance of the system, especially by the keyboard.
Finally, I like the idea to spread GNU/Linux systems in the world of tablets and I support Ubuntu in doing their first steps. If you have some spare time and a Nexus 7 at hand – that you maybe do not need for critical issues – then it can be some fun for you to run a Ubuntu distribution on a tablet. But if you are in need of a stable and smooth free operation system that you can run for daily and efficient use, than you probably better decide to install Cyanogenmod.