Running Fedora 23 Workstation Linux on an Intel BayTrail tablet

In my recent projects I’ve managed to run Fedora (for fun) on pretty much everything including:

The problem is, I have an Intel Baytrail tablet (Toshiba Encore WT8) which was the only one who hasn’t received the Fedora treatment. Until now.

First of all, get acquainted with the Fedlet project. It’s great, really huge props to Adam for maintaining it, the comment section is full of golden advice. Also a gold mine of sorts is the Asus T100 on Ubuntu Google Plus group, be sure to check it out. So lets get into it:

You don’t have to use Fedlet #

I used a standard Fedora 23 Workstation i686 image. The only thing I pulled from the Fedlet image was EFI folder with the bootloader (BOOTIA32.EFI), which isn’t included by default. You can also use Ubuntu or other distro, with the same tweak.

My video isn’t working #

Booting sometimes can be tricky, you can try several times. The kernel parameter:

video=1280x800@60

works 99% of the time for me. If not you can always apply the:

nomodeset

and then try. Also, I’ve noticed there is a problem with gdm where my video won’t work if I don’t set my user account to autologin, thus skipping showing gdm. And skip updating mesa, it breaks video, sadly.

My sound is broken #

Get the T100 ALSA state file from:

https://raw.githubusercontent.com/AdamWill/baytrail-m/master/alsa/t100_B.state

and apply it:

alsactl -f [filepath] restore

My WiFi is broken #

If you have brcmfmac43241b4 adapter like me, you can install this rpm from Adam’s repo:

https://www.happyassassin.net/fedlet/repo/i386/baytrail-firmware-1.2-1awb.noarch.rpm

Just put it on USB and install it from nautilus. After reboot, WiFi worked great for me, apart from kernel 4.4 not detecting any adapters :(

My tablet is freezing (every so often) #

Common problem with baytrail tablets. Kernel parameter:

intel_idle.max_cstate=0

fixes it 100% for me. You can also try:

intel_idle.max_cstate=1

Performance is awful, something is killing my CPU #

a.k.a. “My tablet is fast when it boots but slows down gradually and significantly after some time”

Almost gave up on this one, until I stumbled on a comment somewhere about this kernel parameter:

clocksource=tsc

Not only did this help with the slowness, it reduced the heat and fixed some of the freezeups.

Which kernel should I use? #

Don’t use 4.4, it breaks everything (I’m writing this on the evening of January 13th 2016). On 4.4 my wifi adapter wasn’t even detected. 4.3.3 is the sweetspot because its really new and in Fedora updates repo already and everything works in it (apart from bluetooth). 4.2.8 wasn’t good to me but 4.2.3 was, so YMMV.

Can I install it to a microSD card? #

I haven’t managed to install it on a SD card yet. GRUB doesn’t detect it, sadly, so its impossible to boot from it. I installed it on internal storage though (5GB partition should be enough) and used EasyUEFI tool to setup GRUB (copied it from Fedlet ISO, again). Installation sometimes fail, just try several times.

What about performance? #

It’s good. As fast as Windows 10 in every day usage. GNOME is great and animations are really smooth. Battery life is obviously worse, probably because brightness is stuck at full, about 4 hours battery life I’d say.

Should I use GNOME? #

Yes. I tried MATE but it didn’t go very well with a touchscreen. I haven’t tried KDE Plasma, I heard it is nice with a touchscreen. You should stick with GNOME for the time being. On a sidenote, Unity on Ubuntu was… awesome, better than GNOME dare I say. :(

What about Ubuntu? #

Ubuntu 16.04 daily 64bit ISO worked pretty much out of the box for me. I hope Fedora will also provide smoother experience like Ubuntu does. Sound worked instantly, and WiFi also (after inserting brcmfmac43241b4-sdio.txt and doing modprobe). Really nice experience overall. Unity works great with a touch screen. Definitely try it if you don’t wanna tinker too much, and be sure to check the Ubuntu T100 Google group which even provides some pre build ISOs which fix some of the mentioned issues straight out.

Update 1 - some more useful stuff - 20th January 2016 #

Screen rotation #

On my installation, I can’t rotate the screen from the gnome control center. However, issuing this to the terminal works great:

xrandr -o right

for rotating the screen to landscape and

xrandr -o normal

for portrait mode.

Brightness #

Is also broken for me from the UI, but I can control it with:

xrandr --output DSI1 --brightness 0.80

Substitute 0.80 with the desired brightness decimal between 0 and 1.

Updates #

By adding:

exclude=mesa*

to the /etc/dnf/dnf.conf and with much courage I was able to sucessfully update the system. Please be careful about upgrades, they can break your installation still.

Stability #

I have been using Fedora on my tablet for over a week now, and it only improved. The updates to the wifi firmware extended my battery life significantly to about 6-7 hours of light-medium use. I’ve installed lots of software I use on my desktop, and everything is working great. It still boots in about 30 seconds and it is very snappy.

There are some broken things still like standby, and the fore-mentioned brightness and rotation settings but not much more. Really good stuff.

Some screenshots #

imgur album

Overall, I love having Fedora on my tablet, and it runs great. Kernel 4.3.3 is wonderful, its magic. I hope future updates bring even more stability so I can remove those god awful kernel parameters.

Tweet to me if you need help. :)

So to answer the question:

tldr; Can you have Linux on a BayTrail tablet?
Yes! Do it! It’s great! #

 
151
Kudos
 
151
Kudos

Now read this

Fedora 24 + Bumblebee + CUDA + Theano

It’s very frustrating when you want to try something out quickly and lose your entire day… But at least next time it will be easier. I hope. This is a guide on how to run Keras (Theano powered neural network Python library) on CUDA with... Continue →