X205TA Linux Experiment Part 1 of 2

Asus X205TA is a nice little 2.16 pound laptop with 32GB eMMC memory. Have been thinking that it would be nice to be able to run Linux, particularly Ubuntu, on it. You will have the great combination of versatility and light weight plus long running battery.

Unfortunately, X205TA is saddled with some design constraint to reduce the cost, i.e. using WIMBoot and 32 bit version of Windows(smaller file size) to result in weird combination of 32 bit UEFI being implemented on top of 64 bit CPU Baytrail platform. I have done some research and found out 2 potential ways to get Linux onto this laptop.

Debian Way

Here is the page describing the Debian installer work to make 32 bit UEFI work in this laptop. All these work has been included in the current Debian Jessie release cycle. I happened to find this Debian netinst image with non-free firmware included so that I can use my EDIMAX USB WiFi dongle to replace the built-in WiFi, which a working driver patch is still in the process of rolling through the Linux kernel wireless driver update.

I managed to get the laptop booted using USB drive that has this Debian image. I do have to pull out and re-insert the WiFi dongle to make it recognize and insert the right kernel module to activate wireless function in the dongle.

The Debian installation was stopped when it tried to execute tasksel and pull the first package file over wireless network. I suspect it was the unstable nature of WiFi dongle that causes me problem. I did not proceed from this point. Here is another great link that has the Debian installation info on this laptop.

Will try to document my alternative process of booting Ubuntu next…

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Random Apple iPad 2 related thoughts

A while back, I learned about the basic programming  structures on various mobile systems like iOS, Android and webOS. Later, when I saw the news reporting rumor on some alternative resolutions we might see on the upcoming Apple iPad 2.

The truth is that iOS seems to be pretty backward in terms of how it supports on screen app layout. Unlike Andoid, which follows Java GUI tradition like Swing, has out of box layout manager APIs that supports pixel-independent laying out app UI screen details. iOS requires developers to layout screen details in pixel-by-pixel fashion in the codes. This brings us to the practicality if Apple can afford to give us a new resolution in their future iOS devices.

There is a specific reason that why iPhone 4 has a screen resolution that doubles that of previous generations on both height and width. It is much easier to support previous generation of apps, which are constructed in old resolution. You can simply do pixel doubling without doing complex screen scaling.

So, if Steve Jobs is going to eat his words and come up with a 7-in iPad, you can bet that Apple will still have to maintain the same screen resolution as the current generation of iPad since it does not want to lose backward compatibility to the apps that are specifically written for current resolution of iPad.

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