I first introduced the Qualcomm laptop in a previous blog post. But much has changed since then. I went to Bristol to chat to one of the lead developers, Lee Jones, and fulfill the dream of a lifetime: attend a Linux install fest.
Laptops are a hugely popular choice for developers. They are portable and powerful enough to run all the applications needed on a daily basis. Linux offers a further advantage, the applications are freely licensed which means they can be built and released without waiting for a third party to decide it is in their interest to do so. This freedom is particularly valuable when the commercial OSs and tool vendors do not cater to the needs of the developer population. This is the case on the Windows on Arm platform.
Linux install parties feel less common now than they were in olden times. They are so uncommon that I had to arrange my own in order to find one.
Modern Linux distributions download to a USB stick, boot without issue, resize existing OS partitions, install their boot loaders and maintain any legacy OSs that encumbered the machine before you chose to install Linux. Nevertheless, we were playing with a new platform in the form of the Lenovo Yoga C630 so I thought it made sense to invite Lee and some of his colleagues from Linaro along to help out and provide commentary.
I started using Linux in my spare time when serving in Bosnia in 2003. In a subsequent tour to Iraq, I mobilized specifically to work as a Network Engineer/System Administrator. That path led me to The University of the West of England, where I studied Computing for Real-time Systems, which was centered mostly around Linux.
I love the configurability and the fact that everything is available from the standard repositories. For instance, I need an File Transfer Protocol (FTP) server. This is trivial in Linux: install, add configuration, start the service. I like the control and dominance that you have over the entire operating system. The intrinsic openness means I can change things I dislike and fix errors as I encounter them.
That’s easy, it's Ubuntu. Although I must confess a bias as I joined Canonical as my second role out of University. That position involved developing and supporting the Linux kernel for the Arm based TI Beagle and Panda development boards.
We still haven’t dominated the desktop. This is a shame because Linux is huge in all other aspects: right from the smallest to the very largest platforms, microwaves to supercomputers. My father now uses Linux, as it’s easier for me to administer and maintain remotely. He bought a new laptop recently and his first request for me was to install Ubuntu because he couldn’t work out the complexities of Windows. I think the problem is not the maturity of the platform, but the resistance to change.
I have now!
Future firmware updates will probably be made available through the pre-installed Windows 10, so it is probably a good idea to maintain the installation. To do this, dual boot is the best way forward, but with Linux as the default.
There are a few options at the time of writing:
The first thing that struck me about the laptop is the form factor. It is thin, light and they keyboard is very usable. I love the fact that it runs on AArch64 and the possibilities for developing Arm-on-Arm it brings. Overall, it is a really nicely designed and developed machine. It will be even better if we can enable all of its features.
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