Microsoft has made Surface Pro 3 tablet PC available for pre-order from May 21 and it didn’t take long for Linux enthusiasts to try Ubuntu 14.04 on it. And the results are quite promising! Surface pro 3 flaunts a decent hardware spec and it will definitely be a delight for any Linux user to run Ubuntu on it when all the components are supported.
The first sensible step is to take a system image backup of the Surface pro 3. The image size will vary depending on what is installed on the device but the process is reasonably fast. A separate drive with Windows 8.1 is also required to restore the image because once Linux is installed, the repair and restore function will be lost.
To install, connect a bootable pen drive with Ubuntu, press the Volume Down and Power keys till the Surface logo shows up, then release both. Once the USB boots up, you can reach the familiar Ubuntu install screen (with live and install options). The Ubuntu installation procedure remains the same.
Post installation most of the components work out of the box. WiFi works but detects only 2.4GHz networks. The touchpad on the Type Cover works, but not the keyboard. The virtual keyboard in the accessibility setting can be used for typing but it is still lacking in features on Ubuntu. The best option is to connect a USB keyboard. The pen works as a pointer and pressing it down works as a left-click, but as Bluetooth is not working out of the box the buttons on the pen do not work. There might be some issues with the pressure-sensitivity of Ubuntu’s pen implementation. While it is fast and smooth, the experience without type cover is not optimal. Just like the keyboard, the dock might also not work out of the box. As touch and WiFi work out of the box, KDE’s Plasma Active would be a better choice compared to Ubuntu on this device. However, the latest stable Kubuntu installation has issues on Surface Pro 3.
By the time the Surface Pro 3 is available at the outlets most of the issues might get fixed if the device grabs enough attention from developers. Here’s a short video of Ubuntu running on Surface Pro 3 recorded during the experiment.