You might remember this tablet that came out from Germany in parallel with the iPad. It’s more or less a netbook with a touchscreen but without a keyboard. It hat some drawbacks, the worst in my opinion is the bad screen. You can switch the small SSD in it, but you cannot replace the screen. Bad. The device ended not being used anymore shortly after I bought a used one.
Anyway, I wanted to use the wetab as a (network) tv display wall-mounted in the kitchen. That’s why I started to throw a modern linux distribution on it. I always used the 64-bit images because they are known to run faster on the CPU (at the cost of slightly increased memory usage).
In short: Ubuntu was not running on the wetab for me.
Long version: The install image is loading correctly from a usb stick. Everything looks good – unity is not a bad touch experience. The downside comes after you have installed Ubuntu on the wetab. The system does not get to a usable system. The desktop is visible (in a wrong resolution) but there is no reaction to input. Even if you connect a keyboard to the tablet, you cannot do anything. The keyboard is not initialized correctly.
I was not able to find out the source of the problem. Examining log files made clear that the Vesa graphics driver is loaded instead of the intel one. That’s wrong and explains the wrong resolution with which the desktop is started. However it does not explain why the tablet does not react to any input. Why Ubuntu works from usb but not when being installed remains a mystery.
I tested Ubuntu 12.04 too and it had exactly the same problem. So I don’t expect a fix for this any time soon.
I gave Fedora 18 a try afterwards. To my surprise it was fully functional out of the box. After installing it boots into a Gnome 3 desktop. I found Gnome 3 less attractive than unity in this touch usecase, but as far as I know Gnome 3 is the only touch friendly desktop in Fedora. I can live with it.
Fedora 18 and Gnome need some more finishing touches than Ubuntu. The default installation is not really lightweight. But you can turn of some programs and services after installation. If you do that, you can bring memory usage in the area around 300 MiB. The remaining RAM should be enough for watching video streams and some surfing.
My browser choice fell on Chrome. While the low memory available on the wetab (1 GiB) suggests using Firefox with its lower memory footprint, Chrome is able to use some acceleration for displaying webpages. As the wetab is not planned to do many things at the same time but is supposed to do one task as fast as possible, the choice was clear for me here. Chrome has a nice touch extension which really makes it fun to use.
The performance of gnome 3 on Fedora 18 on the wetab is acceptable. What impressed me most is that the screen is rotated automatically when you turn the tablet. This works out of the box.
All in all I find the wetab to be really good supported by Fedora 18, what is surprising after the big problems that showed up with Ubuntu.