Tablet PC So Far

As I mentioned earlier, I purchased an HP tc1100 tablet PC. It arrived earlier this week and I’ve been playing with it. Here are some of my initial impressions:

Debian stable (sarge) installed easily. The tc1100 has no optical drive, and I have no USB optical drive either. It also wouldn’t boot from a CF card in my USB card reader. So I did a PXE (network) boot. I had never known that Debian’s installer can boot over the network. VERY slick work, d-i team. During the installation, I noticed letter “Q” appearing on-screen periodically. I eventually determined that it would happen whenever I’d bump one of the mouse buttons. It also went away once I was using my own kernel, for whatever reason. The basic install was easy, no troubles at all. I was particularly impressed with the integration of ntfsresize these days. Being able to shrink down the XP partition to a very small size and then install Linux — very nice indeed.

There are lots of pages about the tc1100 under Linux, so I won’t rehash them all here. There are a few patches to the kernel to enable wireless support and the touchpad. All fairly straightforward. My unit uses the ipw2200 instead of the ipw2100 that everyone else seems to have, strangely enough.

The main thing I don’t have yet is suspend-to-memory (ACPI state S3). Standby (ACPI state S1) doesn’t have any noticable effect. With S3, the system will suspend, but crash on recovery. Can’t quite figure it out.

I did get hibernate (suspend-to-disk) working. I just have to shut down PCMCIA and unload the b44 Ethernet driver before engaging it, and then it’ll work fine. Not as nice as a true suspend, but still better than powering down all the time.

As far as apps go, the one that I really must mention so far is Jarnal. It’s an awesome program. At its simplest, it’s just a set of pages you can draw on on-screen. But there’s a lot more to it under the hood. First, it saves your work as a zipped set of SVG files, one per page. So you can load up your drawings into other programs later. Secondly, you can load up PDF files as the background, effectively letting you mark up documents and jot notes on them. Finally, there is a collaborative network mode that I haven’t even tried yet. Jarnal is GPL’d, but it requires Java 1.4.x. If if weren’t for that, I’d be uploading it to sid in a heartbeat.

I’ll keep posting as I have more thoughts.

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