General Question

bolwerk's avatar

Any Linux-friendly convertible tablet/laptop?

Asked by bolwerk (10310points) December 31st, 2013

Spending a lot of time sitting on trains, I am interested in a convertible laptop-tablet that I can use for both work (laptop form) and reading (tablet form). Any thoughts? Pitfalls? A caveat is I prefer solid Linux support.

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10 Answers

johnpowell's avatar

Part of me thinks that you won’t get a lot of good help here. I would try asking on ARS.

jerv's avatar

Laptops are far more likely to have oddball and/or proprietary stuff in them, so Linux support will generally be dodgy on the driver end.

bolwerk's avatar

Well, no shit, that’s why I asked.

Lightlyseared's avatar

Have you looked at It’s a wiki looking at laptop compatibility with Linux and lists all the features of a laptop and what’s needed to get them to work for example Lenovo ThinkPad X230t

jerv's avatar

@bolwerk I deal with many people of all levels of expertise; too many over a wide enough range that I can’t always keep track of who knows what, and often over-estimating skill levels. Please bear in mind that not everyone who reads Fluther knows how much you know.

I’ve heard a few people singing the praises of various Lenovo convertibles though, so I’m inclined to think they’re your best bet; at least they seem to be the most-mentioned convertibles on the Linux forums I’ve seen.


rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

If you want solid Linux support, consider purchasing from a Linux-supporting vendor like or – these are the ones I can remember off the top of my head, but there are more. These companies run smaller than a Lenovo or a Dell (also good choices for linux-compatible lappies) so they tend to price a bit higher as they can’t make it up on volume.
Both these companies will ship you a machine with Linux pre-installed, and IIRC will support the distribution of your choice.

Personally I have a 3-year-old Toshiba Satellite and an elderly Thinkpad. Everything ‘just works’ on both.

Searching for “convertible” on EmperorLinux website found this:

No matches on

bolwerk's avatar

Thanks @Lightlyseared and @jerv, looks like Lenova is something to consider. I was leaning that way before I asked.

@jerv: I getcha, but the question is not exactly something that can be construed as being about anything but hardware. It’s actually a little amazing this is still such an issue. I remember struggling to make my WinModem work. It’s fairly easy to find a Linux-friendly laptop nowadays, at least, but I’m asking because this tablet conversion stuff is kinda new and I think it’s a feature I may like.

Thanks, @rexacoracofalipitorius, I’ll consider that too. I actually would prefer to do my own install anyway. I’m not a big fan of any of the distributions hardware companies typically standardize on. I’ve recently moved from Slackware to ArchLinux, I think for good. I like to support little companies, and don’t mind paying more for what is usually better quality anyway, but in this case companies like Lenova seem to be doing the best engineering on the mobile front now. The Wasp seems a bit beyond my price range, and maybe rather heavy.

rexacoracofalipitorius's avatar

@bolwerk No, it’s not at all amazing that hardware support is still an issue in Linux, because there are still many vendors which refuse to release Free / open-source drivers, or hardware specifications so that the community can develop our own. Binary-blob drivers will always cause problems in Linux, because the kernel is a heterogenous environment requiring well-known interfaces. Closed-source drivers are an unacceptable security risk for many environments as well- but until recently this hasn’t been an issue for things like video and wireless hardware, two notorious problem areas for Linux drivers (when was the last time you heard of a SATA controller not recognized by the kernel?)

Also, your question is not about hardware but about support for that hardware, which could mean either compatibility with Linux (a reasonable interpretation given your phrasing, which @jerv and @Lightlyseared addressed) or technical support from the vendor (which you can get from System76 or from Canonical if you use Ubuntu.) There’s no need to get snarky with people trying to answer your question, especially when you could answer it yourself with a few minutes’ googling.

And yes, the Wasp is a $4100 laptop and weighs a bit more than other devices- on the other hand, it can survive being run over by a car. Milspec ruggedized costs more. It wasn’t meant as a product recommendation, only a suggestion that you could perhaps find some vendors and search their sites to find something.

Or you could just get one of these

Oh yeah, I forgot to mention also.

bolwerk's avatar

@rexacoracofalipitorius: Uh, thanks for the (snarky?) mansplanation, but I was not being snarky. I was looking for answers that addressed my question. @jerv‘s first answer didn’t address technical support from the vendor either. About vendor support or not, the question was obviously about hardware, albeit broadly. Here’s some snark: a few minutes’ of Googling? Really? Thanks! I did Google. I also asked other forums. I asked for the purpose of getting people’s experiences because they can be useful in weighing options, especially given that I’m making an investment that I ideally would like to last the next 4–5 years.

I know about the blob problem, and I’m not too concerned with it, even if I’d just as soon avoid blobs. A particularly unstable driver or even something more subtle like a crappy battery life under certain circumstances is good to know about and not always something you see in a vendor’s product description or even a product review.

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