Part IV of the ongoing series. To read the Part III go here. There are some things that can make your experience using Ubuntu on a mobile device much easier. This section on various tweaks, shortcuts, creature comforts and other niceties using a Linux-based mobile/tablet screen.
Mousetweaks is a helpful command line progam that provides various button and touch combinations. Install it with
sudo apt install mousetweaks and then use the
-h flag to see the full manual and options. We're using it in a startup command to enable long-press right click on our tablet similiar to any Android device. The exact command used in Startup Application Preferences is:
mousetweaks --ssc --ssc-time=.75.
Screen / Input Rotation. We've created a screen rortation script that is called on demand as we go from portrait to landscape and back again. This script also appropriately rotates our HP Pen Stylus so inputs are correct when the orientation changes. Create a top panel custom script launcher and then download the script and icon. Be sure to change the permissions of the script allowing it to execute as a program before you place it in your own panel.
Interestingly, we see a background wallpaper image issue where the image will only cover 50% of the screen after rotation with the other two sections subdivided. We believe this is due to the rotation settings in the script; we will be tweaking this later as it a major annoyance. Then again perhaps running a solid black color saves more on RAM and battery usage...
Remove Whoopsie / Apport. As the HP Envy Note 8 is a low 2GB RAM Cherry Trail device, and considering the RAM requirement for MATE is now recommendated at 3GB, there have been numerous error and splats on this machine. After a few weeks we were annoyed enough to first disable and then finally purge the whoopsie and apport error services completely. Simply stop the services and then use the following command:
sudo apt-get purge apport && sudo apt-get purge whoopsie. These will no longer pester you ever again!
Kodi Alternative: FreeTube. As mentioned, the device has limited RAM. Although we have tested Kodi 17 final many times to consume YouTube, LazyMan (for you baseball fans) and other numerous questionable add-ons we continually found the software less than immediate or responsive (just like we experience on Android devices).
We love Kodi and once had some 25+ add-ons with literally hundred of stations, radios, movies, etc. This tablet project mirrors features in our Samsung Galaxy Tab S 8.4 LTE but needs to follow the "do-one-thing-great" software paradigm. Aside, Kodi installation size is also a concern; not large itself but the program continually saves thumbnails, watched items, etc over time and can grow into a huge mess. While we have created auto cleaning set-ups in the past Kodi updates can render these tweaks DOA let alone shady mods like tvaddons, etc. FreeTube parallels SkyTube and/or NewPipe on Android nicely on Linux. You can learn more this privacy focused GPL3 YouTube application, written in Electron, here.
Firefox Findbar Tweaks. We've written about this in the past here. This is essential because Onboard, the virutual keyboard docks itself at the bottom of the screen and will cover the find term in Firefox. Please see the previous blog post on how to get that done.
Do you have any secret sauce configurations that make using a touch screen or mobile-sized device on Linux a bit easier other than "use Gnome3?" If so, we want to hear from you! Leave us your tips, tricks and suggestions in the comments below and we'll test them with our results! If you'd like to send us a more private message just use our contact page here.