2014. Another year of our existence.

I know, I should have posted this more than a month ago, but I guess now is better than never.

There have been some changes since I last posted. I’ll mention a few:

I upgraded my system with a new GPU, the R9 290x. Great GPU except for cooling. Have to ramp up the fan to get acceptable temperatures under load.

Another thing worth mentioning is my experiments with Ubuntu on ARM processor (no, not Ubuntu Touch, but the full desktop version).

The target system is my Asus TF300T.

Here’s the story.


If I haven’t mentioned previously, I’ve bought a convertible tablet, the Asus TF300T with Android 4.1 some time ago. It ran OK, but the keyboard dock was not of much use in Android (except for being a great alternative to onscreen keyboard) as not many apps have support for the keyboard dock, let alone the touchpad.

I’ve deciced that this little machine needs a OS which can truly make use of the keyboard dock.

At first, I have tried an easy solution: Ubuntu in a chroot container on top of Android with VNC for UI. This solution worked, but it was REALLY SLOW, even with a quad core Tegra 3.

Then I found out that Nvidia does provide Tegra 2/3 drivers for normal Linux distros. So I have started searching, maybe someone already got native desktop Linux to run on TF300T.

And indeed, I did find a working port of Xubuntu 12.10 on XDA. It was for TF300TG, but I got it to work on my TF300T with some tweaking (mainly, to get Bluetooth and Audio working).

Later, my TF300T went through 2 Ubuntu upgrades and some kernel rebuilds (mainly to add more drivers, but I’ve also applied the kernel patch to enable running of some Windows RT programs).

It now runs Ubuntu 13.10 (with MATE for desktop) from a 32GB SD card in the keyboard dock. The system runs fast enough for internet browsing and some light work. It’s not as fast as a fully fledged laptop, but It’s good enough as a netbook.
Batteries last for about 8 hours, sometimes shorter, depending on use.
There’s also a hardware video decoder for playing videos without using CPU for decoding but it only works with old versions of Totem and Parole media players and it’s not perfect with these programs either. There’s also a command line based Nvgstplayer from Nvidia themselves, but it’s not easy to use and it’s not bug free either.

More details about my ARM adventures in the next post (can’t fit everything in a single post 🙂 )