Thursday, 18 September 2014

And now for some hardware (Onda v975w)

Prodded by Adam Williamson's fedlet work, and by my inability to getting an Android phone to display anything, I bought an x86 tablet.

At first, I was more interested in buying a brand-name one, such as the Dell Venue 8 Pro Adam has, or the Lenovo Miix 2 that Benjamin Tissoires doesn't seem to get enough time to hack on. But all those tablets are around 300€ at most retailers around, and have a smaller 7 or 8-inch screen.

So I bought a "not exported out of China" tablet, the 10" Onda v975w. The prospect of getting a no-name tablet scared me a little. Would it be as "good" (read bad) as a PadMini or an Action Pad?


Well, the hardware's pretty decent, and feels rather solid. There's a small amount of light leakage on the side of the touchscreen, but not something too noticeable. I wish it had a button on the bezel to mimick the Windows button on some other tablets, but the edge gestures should replace it nicely.

The screen is pretty gorgeous and its high DPI triggers the eponymous mode in GNOME.

With help of various folks (Larry Finger, and the aforementioned Benjamin and Adam), I got the tablet to a state where I could use it to replace my force-obsoleted iPad 1 to read comic books.

I've put up a wiki page with the status of hardware/kernel support. It's doesn't contain all my notes just yet (sound is working, touchscreen will work very very soon, and various "basic" features are being worked on).

I'll be putting up the fixed-up Wi-Fi driver and more instructions about installation on the Wiki page.

And if you want to make the jump, the tablets are available at $150 plus postage from Aliexpress.

Update: On Google+ and in comments of this blog, it was pointed out that the seller on Aliexpress was trying to scam people. All my apologies, I just selected the cheapest from this website. I personally bought it on using NewTec24 FR as the vendor.


Wiseacre said...

Is there any tablet or touch device with completed Gnome support?

Bastien Nocera said...

Wiseacre: Nope, otherwise I would have bought that ;)

I hear the Microsoft Surface Pro 2 and 3 work decently well, but it's always a bit hit-and-miss.

Wiseacre said...

Bastien Nocera: That's what I thought. :)

Where do you guys test touch things anyway? Because Gnome supports it but there is no real hardware to try it out.

Bastien Nocera said...

Wiseacre: There are plenty of laptops and desktops with touchscreens. Those work. Tablets have very different requirements and I wouldn't want a tablet that weighs as much as my laptop :)

Vasily Khoruzhick said...

What's the difference in hardware between v975i (Android) and v975w (Windows)? Is it possible to install Linux on v975i?

Bastien Nocera said...

Vasily: The "i" version require a hardware modification to run Windows (and thus Linux). Different firmware as well I believe.

Instructions are hiding somewhere in

I'm not even sure it's the same hardware.

Wiseacre said...

Bastien Nocera: Can you please share some laptops providing the best Linux support? Want to try Wayland and Gnome touch stuff.

Bastien Nocera said...

Wiseacre: I use an old model of Lenovo Carbon X1. Nearly all the full-fledged x86 touchscreen laptops will work fine with Linux. Watch out for compatibility of the wireless card though. The rest should work out of the box.

I'd personally get something with Intel graphics and wireless. Or write a USB live CD and try it out at the shop :)

Vasily Khoruzhick said...

Btw, I would not recommend buying anything from this seller, he has no rating nor feedback yet, and price is _much_ lower than price from other sellers @aliexpress

Andreas said...

That looks interesting; how is the battery life of this tablet?

Bastien Nocera said...

Andreas: see the wiki page, suspend and battery reporting don't work yet ;)

It says about 6 hours playing back video, so I'd get about 8 without wifi or video playback (reading articles for example).

Andreas said...

Thanks, six hours for video sounds great.

I thought you maybe tried how long it would last :)

Andreas said...

Did you buy from the same seller you linked?
I'm just asking because I think they are trying to scam me.

J StridAst said...

Trying to get ubuntu working better on the Pipo W2. it has the same wifi chip in it as the onda v975w. Wanting to get your wifi driver working on the W2 but I don't even know where to start googleing to figure out how to compile it. Can you give me any tips?

Ramit Surana said...

GNOME has really grown a lot better than previous. Thanks to you people. I am also a fellow linux worker. I wish to contribute my skills in GNOME. Do ypu know how can I start ??

Bastien Nocera said...

Ramit: The best way to get started would be to look at bugs in applications you use, and start fixing bugs there. See the GNOME Love Wiki page.