5 Linux Tablets and Tablet Projects Worth Looking Into
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Linux was born at a time when PCs were bulky, stationary machines. Now we’re in the era of Apple iPads. Our Android phones have touchscreens, and so do our game consoles. Many of us long to use our favorite open source operating system on a form factor we’ve come to love.

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Fortunately, all is not lost. If you want to acquire a touchscreen device that runs Linux, you can! The options aren’t yet plentiful, but they’re growing.  Here are some of the current and upcoming Linux tablet projects to keep on your radar.

1. Planet Gemini

Planet Gemini PDA smartphone

Planet Gemini is more a smartphone than a tablet. That said, it’s also more of a PDA than a smartphone. It’s an un-apologetically niche product built for a more technical user. Honestly, you’re more likely to appreciate this Linux-powered device more for being pocketable than for having a touchscreen.

The Gemini has a physical keyboard and a clamshell form factor. When you close it up, there are no outward facing screens or dialing buttons. Still, the Gemini can serve as your phone, as you have the option to order either a 4G-enabled or a Wi-Fi-only version.

The Gemini’s main OS is Android, but it comes with an unlocked bootloader and is able to run other operating systems. You can install Debian Linux, for example. You can also opt for another Linux-based smartphone OS, such as Sailfish.

2. Emperor Linux Tablets

Emperor Linux customized Linux laptops

Want to go the conventional route? Look no further than Emperor Linux. This reseller takes existing hardware lines, such as the Lenovo ThinkPad and the Panasonic Toughbook, and installs Linux.

For a couple grand, you can get a capable PC with a screen that will let you enjoy or develop the Linux touch-based experience. Depending on how powerful or durable you want your machine to be, you can easily spend thousands more.

Will your device turn heads? Not likely. These are machines that look more at home in an office or at a work site than on your couch. But if your priority is getting work done, and you have a larger budget, than this may be your best option.

3. RasPad (Raspberry Pi Tablet)

The RasPad is crowdfunded device that offers everything there is to love about the Raspberry Pi, but in a tablet form factor. That makes this a great product for makers and tinkerers. Judging by pledge prices, it’s also likely to be relatively affordable.

If you’ve used a Raspberry Pi, you know the platform is what you want it to be. People have already tinkered with ways to make their Raspberry Pi portable 4 Projects That Make Your Raspberry Pi Portable 4 Projects That Make Your Raspberry Pi Portable For when you just have to have a portable Raspberry Pi, here are some of the coolest projects, ideas, and kits around. Read More .

Buying a RasPad can save you the time and effort of building your own product. That’s not to say you won’t have any DIY fun. For example, you can make your own Chrome OS or Android device by installing the right operating system.

In an educational or industrial environment, you can hook the tablet up to a robot for use as a control panel. For something more casual, try pairing a gamepad and turning your Raspberry Pi into a mobile gaming device.

4. Librem 11 [No Longer Available]

Librem touchscreen computer running Linux

Librem is a privacy focused company that only ships Linux-powered PC. Similar to System76, it even provides its own Linux-based operating system. Librem’s PureOS has such strong free and open source software cred that it’s earned an endorsement from the Free Software Foundation.

Librem doesn’t sell a laptop with a touchscreen, but the upcoming Librem 11 may become the closest we have to a modern Linux-powered slate. When the device isn’t docked into a keyboard, it’s akin to carrying around an iPad, only with a more fully-featured desktop interface.

PureOS uses the GNOME desktop environment GNOME Explained: A Look at One of Linux's Most Popular Desktops GNOME Explained: A Look at One of Linux's Most Popular Desktops You're interested in Linux, and you've come across "GNOME", an acronym for GNU Network Object Model Environment. GNOME is one of the most popular open source interfaces, but what does that mean? Read More , which feels intended for tablets as much as traditional PCs. This will offer a chance to see what happens when a developer truly puts that to the test. And if you don’t like GNOME, you will have the option to install something else.

Development on the Librem 11 is currently taking a backseat to the Librem 5 smartphone, a touchscreen-based Linux project that many are even more excited about.

5. Youyota (Sailfish OS 2-in-1 Tablet)

Youyota tablet running Sailfish OS

The Youyota tablet is a spiritual successor to the short-lived Jolla Tablet that both launched and reached end-of-life in 2015. This newer iteration has an official license from Jolla and an identical form factor. Primary improvements include a bigger battery and increased storage space.

Unfortunately, despite being funded over 250% on Indiegogo, this project has hit a snag. The development team has found that several components are more expensive than anticipated.

Having already exceeded the expected release date by a year, the final product may never arrive. If you love Sailfish OS, all you can do is keep your fingers crossed.

Want to Make Your Own Linux Tablet?

If you already have a touchscreen lying around, it may be tempting to install Linux yourself. This will save you some money, assuming everything works out enough to do what you want to do.

Here are a few options:

  1. Install Linux What's the Easiest Way to Install Linux on Your Computer? What's the Easiest Way to Install Linux on Your Computer? Switching from Windows or macOS to Linux is easier than you think! These easy installation methods get you started in minutes. Read More on your own Windows tablet or convertible notebook.
  2. Run Linux on an Android device. You can use a tool dedicated to running Linux on a non-rooted device, such as KBOX. Or you could fire up Linux in an emulator, like Limbo.
  3.  You can run Linux on some consoles such as the Nintendo Switch.

Linux Tablets Have Been a Long Time Coming

Linux tablet projects have come and gone over the years. The KDE community once excited many Linux users with the prospect of a Plasma-powered tablet. Devices such as the Aquaris M10 running Ubuntu and the Jolla Tablet actually came to fruition, but their lives were short.

Still, the dream survives. Thanks to crowdfunding and cheaper open components such the Raspberry Pi, it’s easier for people to take matters into their own hands.

If, on the other hand, you just want a solid Linux PC, even better. There are many great computers that come with Linux. And while Linux devices can be expensive 6 Reasons Why Linux Phones and Laptops Aren't Cheap 6 Reasons Why Linux Phones and Laptops Aren't Cheap Confused by Linux laptops that are more expensive than Windows computers? Why are Linux laptops so expensive? Read More , you’ll find a few budget options for Linux computers The 5 Best Cheap Linux Computers to Buy Today The 5 Best Cheap Linux Computers to Buy Today Here are several cheap Linux computers you can get that come pre-installed with user-friendly operating systems. Read More , too! What’s more, with reputable Linux hardware manufacturers catering to open-source enthusiasts 4 Reputable Linux Hardware Makers for Open-Source Enthusiasts 4 Reputable Linux Hardware Makers for Open-Source Enthusiasts Looking for Linux hardware? These Linux device manufacturers are making waves in the open-source hardware arena. Read More , you can even find Linux devices with pre-installed free and open-source software.

Image Credit: Gemini PDA/Planetcom

Explore more about: Linux, Linux Tablet, Raspberry Pi.

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  1. Jerry
    June 7, 2019 at 8:57 pm

    "Linux was born at a time when PCs were bulky, stationary machines. " Huh???

    Linux was first release in September 1991. The Tandy 100 portable computer was introduced in 1983 and the Atari Portfolio palmtop PC was released in June 1989.

    Perhaps you shouldn't write about thing that happened before you reached puberty?

    • Bertel King, Jr.
      June 8, 2019 at 3:05 am

      You mistake my age. The computers you mention were created before I was born. :)

      You read that sentence as "all PCs," when I was going for "most PCs." Two decades after the Tandy 100, laptops were still relatively expensive and out of reach of the average person (even in their countries of origin). It wasn't until shortly after I went through puberty (long after Linux was created) that this started to change. But yes, mobile computers existed long before Linux.

  2. Bert
    March 30, 2019 at 11:00 pm

    You omitted the Dell Inspiron 2-in-1 series. Because it's not pre-installed?