JingLing just released version 0.8 of their upcoming iPad like operating system. It is based on Ubuntu 20.04, KDE version 5.75 and Plasma Mobile 5.20. They are also developing the hardware to go with it: The JingPad A1. So, this is quite an exciting project altogether.
I did download and play with the the previous version JingOS 0.6 but found it too limited and problematic to use. Now v0.8 is a big improvement but I still feel the version number is a bit too optimistic. From an overall user experience this is still very early days in my opinion. Anyways, let us have a look, shall we?
The ISO was a rather large 2.39 GB download. I tested it in a live environment on my Dell Latitude E7250 with touch screen.
The system boots with a nice splash screen. Once done we need to login with the predefined password: 123456. This can be later changed in the system settings. At the moment passwords are limited to six digit pins only.
Once we’re in, we are greeted with a WiFi connecting dialog followed by a legal text where we need to accept their terms to use the system. Chinese distros seem to always do this, just like deepin.
Htop wasn’t installed but top showed 529 MB of RAM used and 168 active tasks. Quite good and in line with the underlying KDE Plasma system.
The system is fixed to a 4:3 aspect ratio and cannot be altered – At least in the current version.
By default we have an app screen with a favorites dock at the bottom. From the top right we can pull down the quick settings and from the top left, the notifications. The settings are not fully functional yet. Log-out / shut-down does not yet work for example.
Swiping up from the bottom gives us a multi tasking overview with all apps minimized. We can also swipe sideways between apps using three fingers. From here we can also close unwanted apps by kicking them upwards. It is quite smooth, however, my touch screen seemed a bit off as if needing some kind of calibration. There is no indication of currently open apps other than by entering the multi tasking view. It would be nice to see open apps displayed on the dock. Apps run in full screen mode as is common for mobile systems.
The most glaring missing feature is an on-screen keyboard. If it was there I couldn’t find it and there is no mention of it in the release notes. No problem as I am using a laptop at this point. Also not working were my USB ports. Neither the system nor file manager would recognize any drives I would try to attach. Taking screen shots was also hard for this review. A basic app was present by default but there was no delay function and I was unsuccessful installing alternatives. Shots taken needed to be transferred via email. The pre-installed browser Chromium worked well. It is perfectly touch friendly and was pretty smooth.
The desktop background seemed non replaceable at this point. Overall, the settings are still very bare bones.
JingOS comes with its own set of apps: They are mostly quite simple but tablet friendly: Calendar, Files, Photos, Calculator, Clock, Media Player, Voice Memo plus the whole WPS office suite. JingOs also has its own software center. Installing desktop style apps however do not look very good or might behave oddly with this set-up. The store didn’t have much to offer at this point. I installed VLC as a test and it worked fine.
The whole user experience still has a prototype/mock-up feel to it so any in depth testing would be premature at this point. It does clearly show, however, that a tablet friendly Linux distro is perfectly doable. The fact that Jingling is also developing an accompanying tablet makes this project twice as exciting. The JingPad A1 should enter crowdfunding on Indiegogo before June of this year. It is expected to boast a 2K 11″ amoled display at 2368 x 1728 pixels. It will also offer stylus support with 4096 levels of pressure sensitivity! The A1 will be powered by a yet to be defined 8-core ARM chip and weigh in at under 500 grams. Other features include a 16 mega pixel main camera, an 8 mega pixel front camera, 6 GB of RAM and 128 GB of storage.
I couldn’t find much info on JingLing itself. I hope they have the resources to pull their project off. We’ll revisit their efforts once version 1.0 is out. In the mean time we wish them the best of luck!