Mini-review of my ExoPC running Ubuntu

Intel is missing the mobile boat: its Atom architecture is losing the battle against the ARM-based competitors and they’ve started spreading FUD. They’re bashing Windows on ARM with compatibility issues but, as Ars says, they’re missing the point.

Intel is right that legacy software runs on its x86 chips. The Exopc Slate that Intel gave me is nothing but a PC. The thing has even has a fan, and the infamous black screen BIOS peeks when you turn it on! I soon realized that Meego is not ready for prime time, so being the Slate a PC, I was able to install Ubuntu easily: as Intel says, its Atom chips run ‘legacy’ applications. What Intel forgot to mention is that legacy applications have little practical use. Ubuntu is a desktop system and on a keyboard-less PC it becomes basically unusable. Intel is spreading FUD when they say that support for legacy applications on small, portable devices is valuable.

The first thing to do after putting Ubuntu on the tablet is to setup the virtual keyboard. I tried Florence but it’s buggy and in my experience it locked the screen (or crashed the touchpad driver –I didn’t investigate) too often so I removed it. I configured Onboard, the default onscreen keyboard to stay always on top and appear when entering passwords. The second thing to do is to remap the ‘Home’ key to actually go home instead of launching Banshee. Multitouch doesn’t work, neither does the automatic rotation of the screen. If you have an ExoPC and want to know more read here, here and here (read the comments too).

I can do some web browsing with Firefox after installing the Touch-n-Grab extension. And I can do some reading of PDF with Evince. That’s it for me. Email is impossible with Evolution: the scrolling widgets are too thin to scroll the list of email and writing anything with the virtual keyboard requires painful accommodation and resizing of the windows poking the screen with your finger. Changing from Unity to ‘Classic’ doesn’t change anything.

GN/Linux software runs on the Exopc Slate but that’s pretty much it: it runs but you can tell it’s not made for it.

All my hope of finding good use for piattola2 (named after the original piattola that my friend used a long time ago, I think it had a Transmeta processor) now rest in Meego 1.2, due next week or a decent port of x86 Android. See you at the Meego conference.