Some Windows 10 on ARM laptops can run Linux (with caveats)

Lenovo Miix 630
Image Credit: TechRadar

Have you got one of those ‘always connected’ Windows 10 on ARM laptops powered by a Qualcomm Snapdragon processor, but you fancy running an alternative non-Microsoft OS? Well, the good news is it looks like big strides are being made to facilitate installing Linux on these machines.

We’re talking about the HP Envy x2 and Asus NovaGo, which were among the initial crop of these ARM-based notebooks, and along with the Lenovo Miix 630, are the first machines to benefit from the AArch64 Laptop project which allows for the installation of Ubuntu on these devices.

These are the notebooks supported with a pre-built image at the moment, at any rate, although note that the Ubuntu operating system that’s installed will be seriously limited in a number of ways, as this is still very much a work in progress.

To install Ubuntu, you’ll need to head here and follow the instructions. Essentially, that involves downloading a prebuilt image to put on an SD card via the supplied Flash Tool, then you can put the SD card into your machine to boot Ubuntu rather than Windows.

Storage and Wi-Fi woes

The aforementioned serious caveats are that the version of Ubuntu you end up with, while functional, won’t support hardware accelerated graphics, and there’s no Wi-Fi or access to on-board storage.

Naturally, the latter two drawbacks in particular are fairly crippling for most users, but the developers are working on solving these issues (indeed, the storage problem may have just been cracked, at least on the Asus NovaGo, according to some of the most recent bug squashing updates).

Also, with the NovaGo, there’s a further technical hitch in that the touchpad doesn’t work, so you’ll need to plug a mouse into a USB port and use that instead.

As well as installing one of these prebuilt images, you can have a go at building your own – or simply have a look at how the process is done – by checking out the further details here (which aren’t for the faint hearted).

Those who want more options for these ARM-based laptops can certainly keep their fingers crossed that swift progress is made, and wider support for various Linux distros is introduced – and hopefully for more hardware, too, such as more powerful Snapdragon 850-toting machines.

Linux would certainly offer an interesting alternative on the performance front, where a lot of criticism of these laptops lies – at least with the initial crop of machines. One of the major issues we called out in our review of the HP Envy x2 was that the hybrid feels clearly underpowered.

Via Liliputing

Darren is a freelancer writing news and features for TechRadar (and occasionally T3) across a broad range of computing topics including CPUs, GPUs, various other hardware, VPNs, antivirus and more. He has written about tech for the best part of three decades, and writes books in his spare time (his debut novel - 'I Know What You Did Last Supper' - was published by Hachette UK in 2013).