Linux on a Venue 11 Pro & General Linux Inquiries

So I'm debating on testing out a version of Linux on my Venue 11 Pro tablet. A friend told me kubuntu has touch/ digitizer support right out of the box and is an easier distro of linux to learn.

So I'm now curious, so my questions are-

  • What distros have touch support?
  • Are said distros easy to learn?
  • Has anyone tried Linux on a Venue 11 Pro?
  • Would a thumbdrive test boot work well?
Questions about Linux in general-
  • Does it have support for MP3, MKV, AVI files?
  • Would I be able to run iTunes on it?
  • Would it have Google Chrome support?
  • Do you think it would run faster than Windows does?
  • Would it save me battery life?

I'll probably have more questions to follow, I'm going to doing some of my own research as well but I am hoping you guys could save me some time. Its a lot of questions so even just answering one will help me out a ton.

Yes I believe Ubuntu would be your best distro to begin with and it supports touch screens.

A thumb drive test boot would definitely be a good start to familiarize yourself with the OS and test everything out. but keep in mind the speeds will be slow.

It supports VLC which can play everything you just mentioned.

No iTunes as its Windows/OSX exclusive. You can try running it in Wine but it only has a bronze rating

Chrome support absolutely.

As long as you don't install a million apps that run in the background, yes it will be faster in my experience.

Depends on how you use it for the battery life but I have never really compared them directly on a laptop.


Hope this helps a bit.

Thanks for the response, 

I was looking at Ubuntu as well because it seems to be well known, but that Kubuntu was not a type-o. 

I was planning on running just a web browser, occasional movies, maybe some office stuff every now and then but I'm hoping it will be less of a resource hog like windows and give me some more battery. 

General questions:
  • Really any GUI like KDE, GNOME, Unity all support touch so really any somewhat up to date distro will work. Running Opensuse has the most windows like feel with KDE
  • Linux is pretty easy to learn as long as you don't treat it like "free windows" do some reading on Unix and Linux to understand how it is different from DOS based operating systems. LINUX IS NOT WINDOWS DON'T TREAT IT AS SUCH.
  • Support for some of the Windows tablets is a bit lack luster atm becasue the manufactures lock down the hardware
  • A thumb drive would work fine as long as it is set up for UEFI boot.

Linux questions

  • Yes but MP3 codex may have to be installed by the user since they are non-free software.
  • Why would you want ITunes? Just transfer your music and just use one of the many better music players such as clementine or Aramok 
  • Yes there is a Google Chrome client for all major package types check the software repositories first before downloading it. I would just use Chromium which is the opensource version of Chrome it normally gets new features before Chrome.
  • Yes Linux runs way faster than Windows; the GUI is much smaller, the file system is way more efficient and the network stack is normally configureg in such a way that it is faster. Generally most software (open source) integrates better. 

Dang, that linlap link is almost a game killer.


- all linux distros have touch support, the implementation of that touch support varies not with the distro, but with the desktop environment. Currently, Gnome and KDE have had full multi-touch support for years, and if you really want to get the most out of the comfort of touch, you should probably go for Gnome 3.14 or KDE 5, with that connotation that KDE 5 isn't entirely finished yet.

- Ubuntu Touch has touch support, however, according to the latest info from Canonical (the company that markets Ubuntu), it will not be implemented until version 16.04, which is still more than a year away. You can however already get a feeling of what touch support on Ubuntu Unity will be like by installing the experimental Unity Shell, which has touch functionality, but it is really buggy, and it will only work on Ubuntu 14.10, which may work on your system right out of the box, or it may not. Lately, the development releases of Ubuntu haven't been the most easy to work with. Generally, it's better to install a LTS release, and that would be 14.04, but that has no touch support. You could of course go for a non-Canonical Ubuntu version, there are several community Ubuntu distros, that offer more mainstream display servers and desktop environments, like Ubuntu with Gnome and Kubuntu (with KDE). Ubuntu is not bleeding edge though, you won't have access to the latest Gnome or KDE unless you compile them yourself. If you want to get the most out of a next-gen multi-touch experience (and that is much more evolved and modern than on Windows 8, think Android), and don't want to compile yourself or do a lot of manual configuration, go with Fedora, OpenSuSE, Sabayon, or even Manjaro with KDE, which is the only distro right now that offers KDE 5 in release version.

- linux is easy to learn, depending on how much you want to know, because the sky is the limit, it's open source, you can dig as deep as you want, all the way up to the hardware if you want. OpenSuSE is great in that it offers the most GUI tools of any distro, and is the only distro with full online manuals. Manjaro also offers a lot of GUI tools, and is based on Arch, which offers the benefit of having the ArchWiki, which is the best linux wiki out there.

- a live boot on a thumbdriveis often frustratingly slow and has limited functionality because you're running a live environment, not optimized for your system, but it will give you a good overview of what linux is all about. The performance and functionality of a full bare metal install is necessary though to get the full linux experience.

- you can add any codec you want in linux, and that includes mp3 and other non-free codecs. Some distros, like Manjaro, supply these out of the box, other distros, like Ubuntu, Fedora or OpenSuSE, don't, but it's very easy to install an official repository where all software is made available that has non-free issues, like codecs, fonts, some software, and some drivers. Generally, you don't need a lot of non-free additions at all these days, because linux hardware and software support is so extensive.

- linux offers full compatibility with all iTunes formats and all Apple filesystem and syncing functionality. However, the program iTunes can be made to run on linux, but it is not advisable, because using open source tools will give you a much better experience, and offer you much more performance than applications like iTunes.

- Chrome is available for linux. However, in linux, we don't usually use chrome because it's full of bad coding practices and spyware functionality, and because we don't have to, because Google Chrome is actually a downstream product of an open source project called Chromium, which runs better, doesn't contain spyware, and is more reliable than Chrome, and which is available in most repos, with exception of the standard Fedora repos, so if you want Chromium on Fedora, you have to install it either from a community repo, or from SuSE (also an RPM distro, works fine on Fedora). If you want to add Adobe Flash support to Chromium, you have to install chromium-pepper, which is the flash and DRM module, made for chrome, but hacked up so that it can also be used in chromium. Firefox on linux is a completely different experience than firefox on windows though, on linux, firefox has been 64-bit for years, and just works a lot better than on windows. Firefox also offers more tools than chromium, as in developer tools and added functionality, things that linux users generally appreciate, so the default browser on most distros is firefox.

- linux runs a lot faster than Windows. It uses a lot less system resources because it's just better software, and being open source, it doesn't run stuff behind your back, and leaves you in full control over what runs on your machine at any point in time. There is no comparison possible in system performance between Windows and linux, it's a completely different world. A full system install with all application software typically occupies between 3 and 8 GB of disk space in linux... 'nuff said... also, in linux, the filesystems are much more modern and offer much better security and performance, whilst not cluttering storage (so no need for defragmentation, the filesystems just don't fragment in linux).

- battery life in linux is generally better than in windows, because the system uses less resources to do the same or more work, but there is a caveat, in that systems with the latest generations of Intel chips, require the very latest linux kernels to tap into the latest power saving functionality. Basically, the kernel the present batch of bleeding edge mainstream release distros come with, kernel 3.17.8, does not have support for all Intel functionality of the latest chips. For that, you need kernel 3.18, which is available, and does support these functions. The reason why this is the case, is because Intel is very slow in merging their code, because they're afraid of being copied, which means that on non-bleeding-edge distros like Debian or Ubuntu-based distros, the last generation of Intel chips that are fully supported, are at least two years old. On bleeding edge distros, this problem is not there, but even then, sometimes it's necessary to install a newer kernel through the package manager or the dedicated kernel settings dialogue. You don't need any command line work for it though, this can all be set through the GUI on all of the aforementioned bleeding edge distros.


I would install it on a normal pc or arm board 

Any Recommendations for a Dell Venue 8 Pro? I can't install a Distro on that thing to save my life, and it's majorly cause of the 32Bit EFI. I do have a Flash-Drive that can connect to Micro-USB and USB.

this is the flash-drive i own.

the best thing you can do is yell at dell to release drivers for it

Thanks for the reply Zoltan,

It seems like the Venue 11 Pro wont play well with Linux at the moment but I am very interested in making it work. I like all the things I'm hearing about Linux in general but the fact that the Venue 11 Pro wont play well due to proprietary Dell drivers it makes me hesitant about making the jump. If it were your tablet what route would you take? 

Funny enough the surface pros play nicely with Linux.

x86 tablet that runs Linux by default 

yeah but the hardware isn't replaceable. at least without nearly breaking something. Dell for some reason is one of the few companies that let you replace most of the internal components on their tablets. minus the dell venue 8 pro. everything is soldered on.

Man now I really wanna switch over to Linux lol

Quick question, my current setup is a SSD with windows 8 and a 2TB HDD for games and other media. Lets say I got another SSD and installed a distro of Linux on it. Would I be able to access the data off the 2TB drive? Like to view the media and such? 

tl;dr: Does linux support NTFS file browsing?


Yes, Yes and Yes. Linux can access EVERY drive you have. It can read and write to it. It can scan your system for viruses and remove them. Win8 can't read the Linux drive though cause Micro$haft wants people to forget Linux exists.

Sweet, downloading Mint as we speak. 

I have a similar tablet, a Lenovo Yoga, also with a quad core Atom-based chip.

Right now I run OpenSuSE Factory on it, using kernel 3.18. This kernel solves all of the problems with Atom-based Celerons. I got it running on 3.17 before though, most bleeding edge distros just work. The problem was the dock keyboard, because the EFI is set to PS/2 but there is no physical PS/2 connector, it's kind of a Microsoft joke. That made it necessary to allow multiple input instances on X, which is something that might be normal for Windows, but in Linux, it's a big nono, because of the security risk involved, as there should only be one trusted keyboard input instance on a machine, duh! This is now solved with kernel 3.18, at least on Lenovo, I've never used a Dell Venue. I also have a bunch of Medions (B-brand Lenovos, with about the same specs, but a cheaper plastic enclosure) that are going to be donated to a school at the end of the month, and are being set up with linux first (because we're giving these machines to children so that they might actually learn something useful and do school work more efficiently, and the school of course uses only open source software on linux). These had exactly the same problem, the problem is that OpenSuSE Factory is a development branch, not really suitable to give to children. So we're cooking up a custom OpenSuSE release version for that and will host a custom repo for the time it takes for OpenSuSE release to catch up with the kernel.

All of those convertibles and tablets make no sense whatsoever with Windows, because first of all, the eMMC memory (not expandable, soldered on the board), is often limited to 64 or 128 GB, which is cluttered full by Windows in a matter of weeks, and then the machine becomes hell on earth. On Linux, a 64 GB main drive is ample space, it makes these machines much more sensible.

On my machine, I run a VM with W8.1, which then relays the storage for the Windows install to the secondary drive in the dock. These little Atoms do have virtualization extensions, it runs quite well for those that need to use Windows for work or so. I'm experimenting with Powershell ISE and some Windows tools under development for the moment, so I want to have a Windows install, but I've pretty much had to force myself to use it, because it is really frustrating how bad it scales on a FullHD 12" screen, and the touch experience is really bad, even in Office 365 with touch mode enabled or in Chrome in Windows 8 mode. The only thing I actually use the Windows VM for, is to run the Steam client for Windows, because CS:GO for Windows works better than for Linux, and I have to run CS:GO to watch matches of a team we're sponsoring and to admin LAN's, but it's even possible to play CS:GO on it, if you don't mind playing with 45-60 fps, which is not the greatest CS experience lol.

I also run BSD on it, and that works OK after some tinkering to get it installed. Touch wise, that's a limited experience though, even more limited than in Windows.

One of the really annoying things about these tablets in Windows, is that the Intel graphics drivers are complete rubbish. If you close the screen on the device, causing it to go in a low power state, and then unplug it from the dock, and then use it as a tablet, and then plug it in again, the screen really starts to flip, and all the colours look solarized and stuff, if you have automatic brightness engaged in the Intel graphics driver config. It doesn't happen all the time, but very often. The only remedy is to restart. Another thing that really bugs me about Windows on tablets, is that the Intel Wireless drivers are pretty shitty too, sometimes the AC wireless client will just not connect to a known AP, and you also have to restart the system to remedy that situation, ip refresh, connector reset, etc... doesn't help. Another thing with the screen on Windows, is that the IPS display often looks as if it were burnt in, but it's a driver issue in Windows. In linux, there is none of that shit, it just works like it should, at least with kernel 3.18. People are always bitching about display drivers in linux, but the real situation is that the drivers are often even shittier in Windows, the only difference is that people don't have a choice in Windows, they have to put up with it, whereas in open source, people only expect the best or riot lolz.

I kinda like these little Atom Quad Core celeron convertibles. For my use, they're ideal, because they have all the features, and still just over the performance of a 2.2 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo of the last generation, which is pretty amazing for a chip that only uses a couple of Watts of power. I've actually stopped carrying a full size laptop since I got the Yoga. These things are so light and have a really good display and a 12+ hours battery life. I actually carried an EeePC with linux on it for the longest time, just for the battery life. The Atom is the chip series by Intel that interests me the most. I find their other series pretty underwhelming, because they have the same problems of things just not working as they should out of the box, something I don't see with AMD chips for instance, but I find it hard to invest the time into fixing these problems, because it bothers me that a cheaper AMD chip doesn't require the problem solving and just does what it should do, and I don't need the higher IPC of Intel for my personal systems. For the Atom series, given the specific performance of the package, that problem solving time investment doesn't bother me as much, because there is an added value to be had from it. Of course, it's only possible to even solve the problems on a linux machine, on Windows, as a user you can't do anything but wait for a patch for the drivers, then a patch for the operating system, then a patch for the application software. You don't get any feedback or assistance when you file bug reports, you can't change the software, you're pretty much dead in the water. Some may find the aforementioned problems using these device in Windows acceptable, but I don't, I get really frustrated about stuff like that. I don't mind paying the 20 EUR extra for a pixel perfect monitor, because I know I'm going to flip out over a dead pixel, but I really find it annoying if I pay 500 EUR worth of Microsoft software to use on a 700 EUR device, to conclude that it's riddled with unsolvable bugs and borderline unusable.

Linux can read and write on NTFS partitions but on your install Use EXT4 it is light years ahead of NTFS. You can use LVM to be able to dynamically manage you EXT4 partition I believe mint has an easy button check box to set that up,

Now if you want something even better look at BTRFS But mint may not have full support for it because it is pretty cutting edge at the moment.

That's pretty cool that you are donating some PC's to a school, that is very generous of you. This forum posting got me really looking at Linux, closer than I normally do, I'm gonna grab Mint with Cinnamon for starters and try a USB install (just to see how it behaves, not for performance) and if it looks nice I think I'll grab a smaller SSD and run a install on it for my desktop. Thanks for the information, you seem extremely knowledgeable in these matters.