Linux

Introduction

If you have never used Linux before and have a powerful computer. i.e. a computer with a 6th Generation Intel i5 Processor or later and a SSD and have an interest in Linux then I advise you first to check it out using a Virtual Machine before installing on your physical hardware (unless you have a spare machine to hand or have created Windows Installation Media in advance in case you want to revert). I like to use VMware to make the Virtual Machines.

Distributions

There are a multitude of Linux Distributions and Versions and Linux enthusiasts always argue over which distribution is the best.

Ubuntu 20.04

This is the Linux distribution with most support from hardware vendors. Dell in particular test a large proportion of their hardware with Linux Ubuntu. I installed it on my Latitude 7350 and it had complete driver support for it. The touchscreen worked and the auto-rotation worked.

Ubuntu has a side panel opposed to a taskbar.

To the top left hand side, the Activities button can be used to display any opened windows simultaneously.

To the bottom left hand side, the Show Applications button can be used to view all installed Applications.

Ubuntu has an onscreen touchscreen keyboard within its Universal Access settings:

Note that the inbuilt browser Firefox is terrible with Touch as it highlights text opposed to scrolling. It is advised to replace Firefox with Chromium.

Fedora 32

The Fedora distribution is another Linux Distribution with substantial support from hardware vendors. It has a puritan approach to being open-source which means non-open source codecs and drivers will not be included which in some cases may lead to decreased performance.

At first glance there are a lot of similarities between Fedora and Ubuntu:

However you'll notice some subtle differences such as Fedora not by default having the minimise and maximise buttons.

For Touch input, the inbuilt FireFox browser scrolls properly with Touchscreen unlike in Ubuntu.

The display settings are a bit behind however a bit behind as there is only the options of 100 % and 200 % and there isn't fractional scaling options (125 %, 150 % and 175 %) which are more suited to some TouchScreens like in Ubuntu. On my touchscreen Latitude 7350, 100 % displayed okay. I noticed however that Settings froze several times when using it and this was more prevalent when the settings were 200 %. Also the touchscreen keyboard did not display when I used it with any of the text input windows within Chromium suggesting there may be a number of problems with third party applications.

DeepIn 20 (Beta)

Another popular distribution is the DeepIn Linux 20. Version 20 is still only a beta. DeepIn Linux is a Linux distribution made by the Wuhan Deepin Technology Company in China. This company appear to be partnering with Huawei in a move to replace Windows as an Operating System on their hardware (similar to Google and Chromebook but this OS is much more functional and has the full capabilities of a Linux distribution).

DeepIn Linux 20 Beta is freely available to download from their website and I demonstrate downloading the ISO, making a Bootable USB and performing a Clean Installation on a Dell OptiPlex 7040 and then taking it for a test drive. I then move to a Latitude 7350 to test its touchscreen capabilities. Although this is a Linux distribution it should be very familiar for Windows users due to having a very similar user interface to Windows 7/8.1 and 10. This distribution requires moderately strong hardware (I wouldn't run it on a non-UEFI model or a model without a SSD).

This is the most touch friendly Linux distributions:

However the onscreen keyboard is still severely lacking and in the case of my Latitude 7350, the screen did not autorotate and when the screen was manually rotated, the touch interface didn't rotate with the screen.

It is still in a beta phase and its App store servers are based in China making it slow for non-Chinese regions. In my case the icons didn't display right but the downloads to the Apps themselves go to the Apps official repository and I could install Libre Office for instance without any hitches.

Manjaro 20.0

Manjaro is a Linux Distribution that has a traditional style Desktop.

  • No GPT Support
  • No Secure Boot Support
  • Open VMware Tools does not launch properly (it needs to manually stopped and started after booting)
Manjaro Lacks support for GPT and Secure Boot

It is not optimised for Touchscreen:

  • No Touchscreen Keyboard
  • No DPI Scaling Setting in Display
  • FireFox Browser has poor interface for Touch (Install Chromium)
Limited Touch Settings

Elementary OS 5.1.3

Elementary OS has a dock to the central bottom of the screen. Any application will display on the dock. To the left hand side of each Window there is a close button and a maximise button to the right hand side. There is no minimise, to minimise you need to select the icon on the dock.

This OS works with touchscreen but lacks an onscreen keyboard by default. The Epiphany browser has basic touch support however pages are slower to load than on Chromium and you need to wait for the page to load entirely before you can begin scrolling. Chromium can be installed seperately. The user interface of this OS wasn't my cup of tea.

Mint

Waiting on the new version.

This is one of the best Linux distributions for a non-touch system. It is optimized for Desktop usage.

For a Touchscreen most the icons and the scrollbars in particular in the Operating System are to thin and hence too hard to maneuver using the Touch Interface. These can be widened however the user interface is miles behind Windows 10 or DeepIn Linux. The inbuilt browser Firefox is terrible with Touch. Touch on the main window highlights text and you are once again stuck with a tiny scroll bar. This can be partially relieved by installing Chromium instead of Firefox.

Zorin OS

Waiting on new version.

ReactOS

This is an alpha release. It is made with intent of being 100 % compatible with Windows XP era software. As it is an alpha release, it is really buggy. Right now it just feels like a really buggy version of Windows XP.

Virtual Machines

One of the best ways to test out a Linux distribution is via a Virtual Machine.

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