Ubuntu Touch Review



The curiosity got the better of me and I decided to order an Ubuntu Touch tablet.

And after viewing a bunch of un-boxing video's and first glance reviews that were not very constructive I decided to write up my experience with the machine. Yes it is a machine, not a toy, although the software very much in the app-toy department and doesn't do the machine any justice. More on that later.

The hardware I bought:

A BQ Aquaris M10

BQ Aquaris M10 FHD


The BQ Aquaris looks and feels very well build. (See my BQ M10 hardware review)

Much respect to BQ for the effort and courage to dive into this market! And keep in mind this review is about Ubuntu Touch and NOT about the BQ hardware.


OK, here is how things went.

I ordered the M10 and right four days later the box arrived. There will be many You-Tube un-boxing video's by now so I’m not going to pollute the tube with yet another one.
Power it up and wait. and wait.. And wait a bit more.. ? it appears that you need to touch the Touch logo after powering it up.  A bit weird, but not a big issue, and this may eventually be fine tuned.

Then after booting things got a bit more weird. I could not access the Apps section how ever hard I tried, I could not get there.. Then I discovered the update section in the System settings and gave that a go. It downloaded 500+ MB ... and failed to install. Hmm??  Well OK, try again.  And failed again.  And again..  So I decided to ask BQ for support. The BQ website's support form had a little hiccup. So that added an extra hoop to jump trough. I emailed them instead, and waited... But no I couldn't wait.  I gave the update yet another try, and guess what. It worked!  Excellent!

And I was able to explore the whole machine all over again! Double the fun. :-)

I did a bit of browsing with the 'Ubuntu Browser' and that was a bit Android-ish-limited / crippled browsing experience. BOY what was I missing my normal FireFox. It appears to be the on-screen keyboard that caused Ubuntu to customise the browser in an Android-ish way to deliver an acceptable user experience for browsing + on-screen typing. I hope this will improve a bit. If i wanted Android backwardness i would probably have bought an Android tablet. The Ubuntu touch 'full desktop' marketing is what made be curious. So this droid stuff is a bit annoying to me. But ok, this is all new and still needs polishing I know. 

So this full desktop thought now started to dominate.
Time to plug in an OTG adapter cable, a USB hub, Mouse, Keyboard.

YESSSSS thats more like it. Nice one Canonical! That looks promising.

Libre Office, full blown desktop experience. very nice, but yeah office. Microsoft boring-ness. So - QUIT. That was quick... Now Office is an important application to have and lets not forget that. But what other desktop stuff do we have?

GIMP! That's more like it. Finger painting in GIMP is just awesome. A stylus may actually be a nice tool to do more detailed stuff. But unfortunately I don't have one. Might have been a cool feature for BQ to add a stylus? But that's also a thing that can get lost.

More More More!!! but ...  that was it?  HELP!  (echo....) Nope nothing there this is about all the desktop stuff that's available.

No HotSSH to access a server, No Inkscape, no video editor..  None of my every day desktop apps are there..

Let's do something about that.

Where is Synaptic?  


....no Synaptic!?  hmm...

A terminal! 


...no terminal...

O wait maybe it's in the apps section.

I search for HotSSH. ..nothing
Inkscape... nothing
FreeCAD... nope
Dare I type Fritzing?  I do, and sure enough, no Fritzing
Arduino?   ..nope

Terminal?   YESSS a terminal. Thats at least something to explore.  But... what's that. You first need an Ubuntu ONE account.

*Sigh* That feels again very backwards. Get yourself an account and get locked into your brand new golden cage.  Just Like Apple-droids... YUCK!

I thought I bought a Lap-tab-desktop experience, but it turns feels like I just have bought me a luxury jail-cell. Pablo Escobar might have been be jealous at me at this point. But I'm really holding back now. I don't want yet another account just to be allowed to work with hardware that bought. I am the owner of this harware, I DONT WANT TO ASK ANYONE PERMISSION to unlock access to stuff that I OWN.

PERIOD

Canonical... I'm sure you have a reason to do so, BUT THIS SUCKS

IT SUCKS

Really... it sucks.

This is not 'Ubuntu' to me.  Sorry. 

Mark.. , come on... fix this. There must be a more humane solution to this.


Now I hope that this is just the new-ness and that along the way thing's improve. I'm sure a lot will improve, but at the same time I fear that some important things are not going to improve at all. (Please o please prove me wrong ASAP) 

Now I have a little dilemma do I go along with this. Or do I wait.


The thing is this. When looking at the available apps, I only see toy-stuff.  Android like toy-stuff...  I know that there is a repository with thousands of fantastic applications.  And I'm being locked out of the tool shed, and locked-up in a kinder garden of droid plastic!

That sucks...


Marketing promised me a tool-shed. 

But here I am, with an inflatable toy-hammer...   Even Fred Flintstone let Bam-Bam play with a real hammer. And true that caused some damage, but freedom is a good thing to have. And in the end you learn more from breaking stuff, then from not breaking anything. And wearing a big fluffy helmet all day long while sitting in a kindergarden.

This is something that Canonical should consider. Let humans work with real gear, don't put them in a straight jacket. Or at least offer a choice to be free. (just add Synaptic so that we can have a real desktop experience)


Non the less I have to say I am impressed with how it looks, but the inside that counts. Nice looks are extra.



Now it's time for me to feel strange.  I do like the hardware, but Ubuntu Touch doesn't feel right to me. This is not what I had in mind of a 'real desktop experience'

So now I need to sit back, give it some thought. And hope that someone can hear me.



And yeah I know, I moan about golden cages wile sitting in in Google's site-cage.  Yet another thing that needs a better solution.




Looking forward to what happens with this platform. I'm happy to have shared my views, I'm not just moaning about annoyances I also included possible solutions.


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...A real desktop experience is only real when having access to the real desktop applications.
 




I'm not sure if my next idea is a viable one, but I’d like to have an image of 16.04 to run on this device, or 14.04. (whatever can offer me access to the applications that I really want to have available as a long time Ubuntu user.)

For people who got exited about desktop experience on a tablet....  Don't buy this tablet just yet, maybe it's better to but an Ubuntu Phone and a Netbook that's capable of running 16.04.
For people who are bored by Android, for them this tablet could be very exiting.