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Aquaris M10 Ubuntu Tablet – Pre-order (bq.com)
238 points by legierski on Mar 28, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 130 comments

Just ordered one. I had a chat to the BQ team in London recently. They're selling CyanogenMod Android phones as well. The CEO was quite clear that flashing a new OS wasn't going to void the warranty.

I didn't get to play with their Ubuntu tablets, but their Android ones are well built, responsive, and have very clear screens.

This isn't going to replace your totally tricked-out MacBook - but as a portable web-browser / word processor / coding machine, I have high hopes for it.

So you can install and run nginx, redis, Atom.io, postgres etc. on this?

Not in a "supported" way. If it's anything like Ubuntu on phones, it will be a read-only filesystem with image-based updates. apt is available, but only if you remount the system read-write (you do have root via sudo). If you do that, then you can't use image-based updates any more, since that'll stomp over your changes.

I'm in favour of this arrangement, since I think it's the only way to get updates to work reliably, and I think that's essential. Android and iOS also do it this way, for example. But don't expect a traditional Linux-based desktop but on a tablet, since that's not what you'll get.

On the other hand, if you package up nginx, redis, Atom.io, postgres etc. via Ubuntu's app store, then sure.

Thank you for this informative comment (where do you learn more about the interesting stuff?).

Isn't there a nice way to have it both ways, i.e. automate all changes in a script, and roll it after each image update? Assuming most things that may need to be hacked away don't see breaking changes after each update?

Sure, you could do that. Ubuntu is Free Software, and you have root and the source code on the phone, and presumably will have the same on the tablet. So you can customise it at your will, including automation, if you're prepared to put in that effort.

> I'm in favour of this arrangement, since I think it's the only way to get updates to work reliably,

How is Maemo unreliable in that respect? I was disappointed to find Touch doesn't work like it does.

> But don't expect a traditional Linux-based desktop but on a tablet, since that's not what you'll get.

I thought the whole point was that you can switch. That's what Canonical says, and what's demonstrated in some videos floating around.

Can you be more specific? We may be talking about two different things. The Ubuntu phone requires apps specifically written for the UI (though I think things written against Qt's mobile APIs can be made fairly easily). The Ubuntu phone will not run your average X app. I'm not aware of the Ubuntu tablet proposed to be any different.

My understanding is that apps will indeed seamlessly switch between the two modes - but only where they have specifically been adapted to do so. Apps not adapted will not run. Or am I mistaken?

Afraid I don't know any more than what they've written and that you can see in things like https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fiEkCaA_P7c (I didn't interpret a desktop experience as necessarily meaning X.)

> I'm in favour of this arrangement, since I think it's the only way to get updates to work reliably,

Then how is it Google can update my chromebook while I keep running ubuntu with 100% of linux features? I've done this for a year with no hiccup and no linux upgrades.

Assuming you're using Crouton or something similar on your Chromebook, your Ubuntu installation is inside a chroot. Chrome OS can be updated and just leave that directory alone. The important part of this is that Ubuntu itself is not being updated.

You could do this on an Ubuntu phone or tablet I suppose, by for example running a secondary "traditional" Ubuntu system inside a container in a read-write directory on the read-only system. I don't know if this will be possible from day one, but it's certainly possible technically if someone implements it (like how someone has implemented Crouton). I doubt you'll see the same level of integration (for example with the tablet UI seamlessly moving over to your desktop) if you do it this way, however.

Yes. It's a full Linux machine.

Well, that's what I've been told - we'll see once they ship.

Nice. Tempted. I wish they'd offer a nice keyboard that goes with it and clips (magnets?) to the tablet.

I wonder how hard it's to program running a remote desktop connection to a desktop computer at home. I run Intellij Idea for java dev, so no way I can run on the tablet considering the battery drain.

It would be nice to program in the park by just bringing the tablet and a keyboard. On the other hand the latency alone might distract me enough to just give up.

I run JetBrains IDEs in a persistent Xpra session on a Exynos board. It is pretty usable on subpar connections, much more so than VNC. It has options to use NX behind the scenes as well.

Thanks, I'll definitely give it a try this summer with xpra. Did not know about it.

Or an SSH client, and run all that stuff at DigitalOcean.

But you can also do that do that on any iPad or Android tablet?

Plus imagine the cases where you don't have wifi (train commute, metro, lousy coffee shop etc.)

You can, but IME, it's all terrible. I've tried so many android ssh-clients, and they are all either closed source, or don't work smoothly.

You could use Terminal Emulator and run the CLI ssh client. I know CyanogenMod includes "ssh".

It's probably closed-source, but I use JuiceSSH and it is great. The Pro version has a cloud backup that makes SSH migration a breeze.

I've used TE, and it does the job, just not well. Same with CM's ssh.

I've heard juicessh is great, but I'm not going to use a closed-source app, especially to manage my ssh-keys. I have my own migration method (svn repo), that works great on laptops, it just sucks on android's shells.

+1 for JuiceSSH, I also have the pro version and I'm very happy with it.

If you're rooted on Android, you could put a full Linux distro on it with chroot.[1] You could even set up a vnc server and use that to get into Xorg. I'd recommend using a physical keyboard for any long term use or may quickly learn how strange RSI feels at the shoulder.

You may also need a busybox installer app to get things working.

[1] - https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Change_root

I've done the chroot, and it's slow and bulky. Although you are correct that it does work, I still don't feel it works well.

I also want to be able to configure my tablet from within my shell, and that means I'd have to be outside of the chroot.

It's probably more useful to be able to run Lisp, R, Octave etc. in a device like this.

Than what's the point of a Linux machine?

I think it'd be awesome if they could also offer some migration path from Android in order to attract more users.

I don't care that much, but I guess a lot of people would be very happy if they could run Android applications using something like Alien Dalvik, like Jolla does. In the foreseeable future, I don't see many applications developed for other platforms apart from iOS and Android.

"A tablet when you want it, a PC when you need it"

I'm not sure if I'm being naive, but it seems to me that for a decade, the laptop market has had a ridiculous hole. There is a market for something which is not windows, at a sub $500-$600 price that is good. Tablet UI, desktop, whatever. Something that can run skype, whatsapp, tinder and the other network-effect apps that can replace their 3 year old home laptop and be an improvement.

How is it possible that all the mobile stuff from the last decade has not opened up real and substantial competition to Windows in that bracket.

Anyway, this looks easily worth €259 if think you may want one.

Isn't this exactly what all those Chromebooks are? I mean they haven't exactly set the world on fire, but they exist.

The Chromebooks replaced a bunch of Ubuntu-powered machines, and they are significantly inferior in all and every aspects, unless you're using Crouton or Gallium. File management is abysmal, and the OS is overall pretty buggy, in the last week I've met: impossible to clear browsing history, Chromecast extension keeps disappearing between reboots, problems with volume or brightness settings, Wifi woes...

Chrome OS feels really unpolished and a bit forgotten.

Why would you want tinder on a laptop?

I'd pay more for a device that allows you to code, write a doc, do basic photo processing, etc. In my case, I wouldn't bring my 15" macbook pro when travelling or going a business meeting, but this could go anywhere

I didn't really mean tinder. I just meant it as a shorthand for "software you run because other people run it."

Asus tried with the EEEPC. MS And Intel stepped in it to protect their ultraprotable markup.

They did. They did well. Lets have 9 more of those.

That's exactly what netbooks were, right? And Chromebooks are basically a resurrection of the same idea.

Tablets basically took that space, I think.

Can you elaborate more? Given your requirements any modern tablet should be a suitable fit. I have a 7" Android tablet that basically runs anything my phone can run with the upside that I can watch movies on it.

It's called a Chromebook :P But I do get what you mean

The linked page states it's using Ubuntu 15.04 as OS, however 15.04 is marked as EOL-ed on https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Releases Is there an easy OS upgrade path? I wonder why they did not go with an LTS release, 16.04 is just around the corner in April and would probably serve their release better.

15.04 is EOL on desktops (unity7) not on Phones/Tablets (unity8).

I want to be really excited by this because this seems very cool but the mediatek processor and the 2 GB of RAM makes this a lot less interesting. Mediatek usually provides a closed off, low price, low performance chip which kind of clashes with what I want from an Ubuntu device.

I felt the same, especially after the ubuntu phone stunt on kickstarter which had 4GB of ram.

Maybe what we are both looking for is a tablet like the microsoft surface, but running essentially ubuntu.

For that matter, any tablet that can compete with the microsoft surface and run an operating system that is both great for developing and great for touch and mobility.

Apple is only a few steps away in my opinion. If only they would open up the iPad Pro so that developers could use if for development. It might even bring with it a new shift in UI for developers :)

They likely won't open up any iPad. It seems they will merge (replace) OSX with iOS. I saw this coming years ago. If I were a developer using OSX I would seriously ocnsider a switch to another unrestricted OS.


I really hope this doesn't happen.

I love Apple hardware, and OSX is much nicer to use as a polyglot developer than Windows. A workmate of mine runs linux on his macbook pro, and it's really a pain. Apple has put so many thousands of hours into getting the trackpad working smoothly, while the linux drivers seem to have been hacked together during a weekend and are truly awful. Things like ignoring thumb input, scroll speed and tracking speed are terrible, just to mention a few.

I thought the bummer was the 2GB of ram and 16GB of storage..


Different strokes for different folks I guess.

I've been interested in evaluating Mediatek processors for desktop usage for a while now. I think this tablet offers the best opportunity (and lowest friction) to do this due to who they're target this at: developers and open software folk (unlocked, open software).

Hopefully, this'll turn out a positive experience and more OEMs hop on board.

What was your intended use of an Ubuntu tablet? Server-farm? Gaming?

I am pretty excited, but it is Linux on a tablet, which is kinda the worst of the worst from a performance perspective. Hopefully this marks the beginning of an increasing trend of more open & capable Operating Systems on our mobile devices.

I'm concerned the browser will crash after you open 3 tabs.

Ubuntu Desktop is really really memory hungry. It is currently using 8gb RAM on my Desktop which has been steadily increasing since last restart.

The only thing you can possibly do on this thing is use a not very power hungry text editor. No VMs, no machine learning, no data processing and no games. If they had maybe 8gb RAM, 128 gb storage with a faster CPU, it might have been interesting.

My Ubuntu desktop at work has 2GB and has been up for ~300 days (uptrack-patched) for development work. The phone version only has 1GB and doesn't crash when the browser has three tabs open.

Apple has also 2GB RAM for the new iPad "Pro"

Double the price tho

I've seen a lot of Linux tablets, and so far they've always been a touchscreen added to an early 2000's desktop-style interface: small touch targets, gestures don't work in obvious places etc.

That said, it's been a while so I could be out of date: is the Linux desktop UI and apps used by the Ubuntu tablet touch focused?

Edit: Linux as in the common usage of 'Linux kernel, glibc, X', not Android. Which you knew.

This is not a Linux tablet in that hacked-up sense. It's Ubuntu Phone. I've been using this for a year now on my Aquaris E5 and while it's not quite as smooth as IOS and Android quite yet, and that's only because my hardware is a little slow, it's definitely a full touch-oriented design from the ground up. I actually like the design better than the grid-of-icons approach. It's more sophisticated. And I'm not a zealot: I am highly critical of the buggy browser and the lack of apps, especially whatsapp.

But OS design-wise, this is absolutely not some kind of desktop UI squeezed into tablet form with a cranky layer of touch glued on top.

Can you please share (if you have the possibility to compare) how's the battery life compared with other tablets?

As per my post, mine is a phone, not a tablet. But it's the same OS. As far as the phone is concerned, I get 2 days easily in normal use (lots of browsing), and 3 days if light use. I would estimate it at 1.5-2x longer battery life than an iphone. It's definitely impressive. But again, I can only speak for the BQ Aquaris E5 phone.

I read that the UI is not even smooth on the Meizu Pro 5, which isn't a slow phone.

I'm not sure what "an early 2000's desktop-style interface" means, but the Linux-based Nokia tablets/phones aren't like anything I remember seeing on a desktop then; likewise Ubuntu Touch on he phone, of which you can find videos.

yes it's just like an android tablet, only better

Right. Because Android is built on a desktop interface...

The state of tablets could better but it's not that bad.

the tablet mode is just like android but you can change to desktop mode, hence better than an android tablet

What does that have to do with early 2000s linux desktops?

Haven't you seen a single of these “Android Linux” tablets in the last five years or so?

We all know what he means by "Linux tablet", you don't really have to nitpick...

I'm happy to see an Ubuntu tablet but about "A tablet when you want it, a PC when you need it.", who wants a PC with 2 GB of RAM?

Plenty of people only need 2 GB of ram. See all the notebooks which have tiny SSDs (64 GB) and small amounts of ram (less than 4 GB).

That's fine for email, youtube, streaming movies, listening to music, doing a bit of light word processing or spreadsheeting. It's great for social media and most website use.

And these machines are very cheap.

The same people that buy chromebooks

Does anybody know if a "normal" Android BQ M10 can be converted to a fully Ubuntu tablet? When yes, how to install Ubuntu there?

Anyone have experience with BQ HW? Is it any good?

For the price (300eur) I'd actually be willing to try the HD 1920 x 1200 version, IF the HW and battery life turn out to be solid.

My son has a BQ smartphone, and battery life is much better than his previous Samsung's.

I recently bought my first smartphone(!), a BQ A4.5, pure android, always updated, with 5 years of guarantee(!) by 150€. I recommend it: good battery, good western design and enough performance for me (low resolution with a good screen improves performance).

Curious, what do you mean by "western design"?

Had a look at images of "BQ A4.5" - but I can't really tell what's "western" about it.

By western design I mean that it looks more like an iPhone 5 than with a typical chinese phone. Its size is also smaller.

What do you mean by always updated?

Google itself guarantees updates for 2 years (Android one). E.g. It was already updated to Android 6, not bad for a cheap phone.

I have a BQ E5 Ubuntu Edition(running android now) that I got nearly 1 month ago. Hardware has been okay so far, this phone has ram trouble with ubuntu touch.

It is okay running android, a little under powered I think.

As per usual; I wonder what the battery life is like. That is really / still the only thing I look for. If it's good enough I would pre-order.

Do you buy a lot of tablets or do you find most to have unacceptable battery life? The battery on my 2013 Nexus 7 is crazy good as far as I can tell and lasts for days of moderate use even two years into its life span. Compared to my phone which likes to die partway through the day even without me touching it.

I imagine it's Linux that causes the concern. Android and iOS are very highly optimized for mobile power management while Ubuntu is not.

As it says I can leave my laptop at home so then I would hope it rivals my x220 or t100 both of which get 12-14 hours with me coding and browsing under Ubuntu. I do not care too much about performance usually as long as it is not annoyingly slow.

Did Google not start to mainline their kernel changes?

Seriously? 2 gigs of ram! I wonder how much Unity will be hogging when running in PC mode.

Unity 8 unlike previous version isn't based on Compiz, but Qt.

Unity is not a memory hog anymore.

It's exciting that Ubuntu offers phones and tablets. But what's the gain to have a PC frontend while not having a real PC? Ubuntu should seriously consider to offer an additional Tablet with 4 GB RAM and real Linux, at least in a docker like vm.

Only such a device would be really interesting for Linux developers and sys admins. 2 GB are good for basic things (surfing, emails, office) but compilation, simulation, testing etc. would be problematic. If such things are not possible then a notebook remains the better choice.

Time to spend the Jolla Tablet refund money I suppose :)

All looks really interesting but only 16 GB internal memory? I mean if I could move my user directory in it's entirety to the MicroSD I could see that working as 16 would be way more than enough for system, but that seems hackey. I feel like they could easily get that to 64 GB and add a few bucks to the price tag, I would buy one of these in a hot second if they did.

IT says it has external memory expansion. Does this mean that there's a micro SD card slot anywhere? The only real issue I see is that (after the OS) I'd only have about 10 gig for applications and files. If I could put an sd card in there, no problem, otherwise it would hardly suffice as a PC.

It says in the specifications: "MicroSD™ up to 200 GB1 (ext3). Available space for storing multimedia files".

Yep, I'd rather lug around a laptop with a 500GB SSD than have to deal with an external usb drive, just so I could have a tablet.

States MicroSD (200gb current cap; 2tb future)

interesting. Think Webstorm/Intellij would run decently on this? I've been looking for a new tablet; and have been dreading getting an Ipad...

Looks like it's ARM. I suppose that's okay for many, but if you need programs like R, you're out of luck. I'd immediately buy one if it had an Intel or AMD processor.

What are you talking about? I am using R on Slackware 14.1 on an ARM device. It works perfectly once you compile it.

You can use base R but (unless something has recently changed) not all packages are going to work. I also program in D - including interacting with R - and that won't currently work.

I have compiled numerous R packages as well (dplyr, ggplot2, FactoMineR) and they all work fine on ARM. I agree that you may face issues when it comes to packages relying on JAVA, but otherwise never seen any other problem so far on ARM.

Java 8 builds on all the 3 Debian ARM platforms so it probably works on Ubuntu too.


I don't know which D compiler you are using, but Debian builds gdc from GCC 5 for the 3 ARM platforms so it will probably work on Ubuntu Phone.


Why would I buy this over a laptop?

Weight is fairly important factor for me. This beats my travel laptop.

Ask HN

Can I install something like this on my Windows 10 tablet, and could it run jupyter/Python?

If your tablet is ARM and running Windows RT then you probably need a Windows exploit to be able to run your own code.


If your tablet is a PC (Intel/AMD/x86 etc) then turning off UEFI Secure Boot and booting from USB should let you run your own code.

Once you can run your own code you should be able to install Python/jupyter.

But... why?

There's lot of talk of people moving away from laptops and full computers, and just buying a tablet instead. If you only want a device for watching videos, reading articles, online shopping, social media and email, a tablet is probably fine.

This concept in principle allows you to have a tablet, which is relatively cheap and can be used on the sofa and in bed, but retain the option of adding a keyboard, and/or using desktop applications on occasion, when you might need them. The drawback is that you lose access to Android/iOS native apps, and also that ARM processors are slow.

I would say it's not a million miles behind Chromebooks or Android tablets (given that Chromebooks are quite limited, and Android tablet apps don't have a great reputation). If ARM processors take a step forward over the next year or two, companies continue to develop for the mobile web rather than shift towards native apps, and Linux userspace software stacks (and developers) become more tolerant of touch, something like this could be a serious competitor.

> If you only want a device for watching videos, reading articles, online shopping, social media and email, a tablet is probably fine.

Will this tablet do all that? The video part is what I'd be most worried about. Netflix will probably be there, but what about Hulu, HBO, and other popular services?

for me personally: I want an actual linux tablet. Not android

Yes, 100 times yes. I'd love a Linux tablet as well, I can't stand Android anymore.

For anyone under the age of fifteen, there's a moderate likelihood that touch devices -- in the form of mobile phones -- have been their primary computing devices literally their entire lives.

Someday soon there's going to be a generation of young programmers who are simply more at home on a touchscreen than a laptop. If the Linux world doesn't have devices and a usable UI for them, it might lose them altogether.

how about that ubuntu phone

>no dedicated full sized USB port

Why is the surface the only tablet to have a dedicated full sized USB port? It seems like one of the most important things to have in any tablet.

Wrong title, missing: in UK.

In a lot of countries, but not everywhere. My country (Bosnia & Herzegovina) is not listed anywhere.

Did you try? It looks to be available worldwide. The company is Spanish.

> The world’s first convergent tablet

Sorry guys, M$FT had you beat to market by about... what, four years?

> 16 GB internal memory

Come the fuck on, now. I don't want to deal with the atrocious read/write speeds of MicroSD. 16 GB internal memory hasn't been impressive since sometime around 2007.

This looks promising but it's definitely not for me. I hope someone uses it and likes it, but I think it still has a ways to go before it's more than a novelty.

The first Surface Pro was released February 2013, so just over 3 years. That's a pretty strange claim for the Ubuntu folks to try and make.

Call it the "first open source convergent tablet" or "fist cheap convergent tablet" if it needs a first-something claim, but the "let's stick our heads in the sand and pretend nothing MS does exists" schtick doesn't make anybody look good.

I was a little confused about this but I think that this 16G is partly-used to boot the /root partition (i.e. the OS) and then the rest is swap space.

This makes it all a little more usable in my opinion, since there is only 2Gigs RAM onboard ..

Oh is there a Microsoft tablet available for 300 USD? I thought so. And there's nothing convergent about the Surface. Without a keyboard what can you really do with it?

> Oh is there a Microsoft tablet available for 300 USD? I thought so.

If they wanted to say "The first convergent tablet for 300 USD," then maybe they should have said that.

> And there's nothing convergent about the Surface. Without a keyboard what can you really do with it?

Netflix? Internet? Read emails? Write with its pretty fantastic handwriting recognition?

What can the Aquaris M10 do without a keyboard that the Surface Pro can't? Is it somehow "more convergent"?

The surface isn't the only Windows tablet... You definitely could find a Venue Pro under $300 in the past couple years.

I even don't hope it is free of closed-source drivers. Thus I won't even look at buying it.

As a consumer, I find it completely uninteresting unless it can run Android apps. If Play Store is an impossibility, support alternative apps stores such as F-Droid or 9apps.

I'm completely the opposite. I was always disappointed that Android can't run normal Linux apps.

What do you mean by "normal Linux apps"? GTK+? Qt? Who'd want to use an application that is completely not optimised for a small touch screen?

A lot of Android tablets get keyboards and even mice plugged into them.

Well, I'm happy with running the basic stuff using GNURoot. (I have no intention of running more complicate GUI apps anyway, even though that should be possible as well.)

How well does the git client work with that? I've been wishing I could tinker from my phone but all the Android github apps don't actually pull repos.

GNURoot provides a chroot of Debian/Gentoo/Fedora etc so you can install whatever you want in there, including the git command-line client.

You can also create such a chroot manually:


Or go slightly further:


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