“If you want to succeed then you need to immerse yourself in the problem” – wise advice from a business mentor of mine… My long serving Apple Macs run everything – work, media, side project coding and now VMs filled with Linux and Enlightenment. They are shiny and solid but have strange keyboard layouts, nonstandard hardware and a bad implementation of virtual desktops that get in the way of desktop virtualisation. So for the first time in nearly 10 years I bought not-a-mac.
This new PC laptop (note not a “windows PC”, I hate that term – it came with windows but that’s not a defining feature…) should be a great device for pushing the limits of modern display and input software. I wanted something light, thin and powerful with at least a 13″ screen. Essentially a competitor to the MacBook Air, but more modern and without the Mac downsides – also avoiding a lookalike, something that’s cool in its own right.
Let’s face it there aren’t a lot of devices in this class but I settled (after some time) on the Lenovo Yoga 2 Pro. This is a solid core i7 device with a decent amount of RAM and SSD storage. The screen is an impressive 13.3″ that has more pixels than my retina 15″ MacBook Pro – as well as being a touch screen too! Couple that with the fact that it inverts to become a tablet. All of those features are packed into a bright orange shell that is no heavier or larger (at the thickest point) than a MacBook Air. Impressive!
So after a short trial of windows 8.1 (yuck! What a confused system) I installed arch Linux (details in a different post – to follow) and it went very smoothly. Out of the box it was up and running with full res video and complete audio in & out. The keyboard (including all the special function keys), trackpad and touchscreen also worked perfectly. After installing the wpa_gui wi-fi was complete too (a little config juggling was required to connect to my secured wifi and download the packages but nothing too taxing). And most surprising when the keyboard is folded back on the screen it is disabled as you expect – though I think this may be a hardware feature. As of now all that is not working is automatic screen rotation (the gyroscope seems non-standard) and the windows icon/button on the screen which I had not realised was a button.
The only issue with the machine so far has been the insanely high pixel density. You can work around it by telling Xorg to scale 2x but you lose the quality so I didn’t want to do that. Thankfully Enlightenment has built-in support for output scaling so I went right ahead and installed the latest version from their source. As with any large compiling from source task it took a while to get all the dependencies but I put that in a script for future use. The compile and install went well – grab EFL, Elementary, Enlightenment and Entrance for a good base experience. Git master is really stable and I really enjoy being on the cutting edge but if you don’t have that thirst then you should probably grab release tarballs instead.
This new machine has given me a great platform to immerse myself in Linux and Enlightenment. Scaling and touch interfaces are things that need a little work still but I’m helping out with that. Next I’m going to be further developing the Enlightenment IDE (EDI) which is already a good place to be working on EFL based code. It’s a work heavily in progress but I’m hoping to get some more contributors soon and start pulling in cool new features to get more Software Engineers into creating apps for Enlightenment.
Want to know more about my E install or Linux on the Yoga 2 Pro? Drop a comment below or hit the contact page.