How to install Ubuntu onto a Windows tablet

We decided to go down the Ubuntu route when it came to the Linx 1010 tablet. We're indebted to the hard work of Ian Morrison for producing a modified version of Ubuntu (14.04.3 LTS) that not only serves as a live CD, but also works as an installer.

We experimented with later Ubuntu releases – 15.10 and a the new 16.04 – but while the live distros work fine, installing them proved to be impossible. Still, all is not lost, as you'll discover later on. So, the simplest and easiest way to install Ubuntu on your Z3735F-powered tablet is to use Ian's Unofficial 'official' quasi Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS release.

This comes with 32-bit UEFI support baked in to the ISO, and includes custom-built drivers for key components including the Z3735F processor and the internal Wi-Fi adaptor. However, there's no touchscreen support, so you'll need to connect the tablet to a detachable keyboard and touchpad.

Download Ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS from Ian Morrison's website by clicking the 'Google Drive' link and select the blue 'Download' link to save Ubuntu-14.04.3-desktop-linuxium.iso file to your Downloads folder. Once done, pop in a freshly formatted USB flash drive - it needs to be 2GB or larger and formatted using FAT32.

The simplest way to produce the disk is to use UNetbootin and select your flash drive, browse for the Ubuntu ISO and create the USB drive. Once written, eject the drive. Plug it into one of the Linx's USB ports, then power it up by holding the power and volume + buttons together.

After about five seconds or so you should see confirmation that boot menu is about to appear – when it does, use your finger to tap 'Boot Manager'. Use the cursor key to select the 'EFI USB Device' entry and hit Return to access the Grub menu. Next, select 'Try Ubuntu without installing' and hit Return again.

You'll see the Ubuntu loading screen appear and then after a lengthy pause (and blank screen) the desktop should appear. You should also get a momentary notification that the internal Wi-Fi adaptor has been detected – one of the key indications that this remixed Ubuntu distro has been tailored for Bay Trail devices.

Up until now you'll have been interacting with your tablet in portrait mode – it's time to switch it to a more comfortable landscape view, and that's done by click the 'Settings' button in the top right-hand corner of the screen and choosing System Settings. Select 'Displays', set the Rotation drop-down menu to 'Clockwise' and click 'Apply' (the button itself is largely off-screen, but you can just make out its left-hand end at the top of the screen as you look at it).

Next, connect to your Wi-Fi network by clicking the wireless button in the menu bar, selecting your network and entering the passkey. You're now ready to double-click 'Install Ubuntu 14.04.3' and follow the familiar wizard to install Ubuntu on to your tablet.

You'll note that the installer claims the tablet isn't plugged into a power source even though you should have done so for the purposes of installing it – this is a symptom of Linux's poor ACPI support for these tablets. We recommend ticking 'Download updates while installing' before clicking 'Continue', at which point you'll probably see an Input/output error about fsyncing/closing – simply click 'Ignore' and then click 'Yes' when prompted to unmount various partitions.

At the partition screen you'll see what appears to be excellent news – Ubuntu is offering to install itself alongside Windows, but this won't work, largely because it'll attempt to install itself to your microSD card rather than the internal storage. This card can't be detected at boot up, so the install will ultimately fail.

Instead, we're going to install Ubuntu in place of Windows, so select 'Something else'. Ignore any warning about /dev/sda – focus instead on /dev/mmcblk0, which is the internal flash storage. You'll see four partitions – we need to preserve the first two (Windows Boot Manager and unknown) and delete the two NTFS partitions (/dev/mmcblk0p3 and /dev/mmcblk0p4 respectively). Select each one in turn and click the '-' button to delete them.

Next, select the free space that's been created (31,145MB or thereabouts) and click the '+' button. First, create the main partition – reduce the allocation by 2,048MB to leave space for the swap partition, and set the mount point to '/', but leave all other options as they are before clicking 'OK'.

Now select the remaining free space and click '+' for a second time. This time, set 'Use as' to 'swap area' and click 'OK'. Finally, click the 'Device for bootloader installation' dropdown menu and select the Windows Boot Manager partition before clicking 'Install Now'.

The rest of the installation process should proceed smoothly. Once it's finished, however, don't click 'Continue testing or Reboot now' just yet. First, there's a vital step you need to perform in order to make your copy of Ubuntu bootable, and that's install a 32-bit version of the Grub 2 bootloader. The step-by-step walkthrough at the end of this tutorial reveals the simplest way to do this, courtesy of Ian Morrison's handy script.