Pine64 announces RISC-V tablet, System76 announces in-house laptop, and more!

Pine64 announces RISC-V tablet, System76  announces in-house laptop, and more!

This week there's a lot of Linux hardware news! We start off with Pine64 providing great news for three devices: the PineNote (e-ink tablet), the PineTab 2, and the new "PineTab V" (which is the PineTab 2, but with a RISC-V board).

Then, there's System76 announcing they're working on an in-house manufactured laptop codenamed "Virgo". Moving to phones, Ubuntu Touch has released its first version based on the latest LTS of Ubuntu, and Plasma Mobile also improved a lot whilst working for the Plasma 6 release.

Pine64 announces the first RISC-V Linux Tablet

...and much more. Pine64 announcements are always packed with the news! The latest one was published on the 1st of April, meaning that it features lots of colorful unicorns as an April Fool joke. And the newly announced tablet is also an April Fool joke, but it's also not.

RISC-V is a new experimental standard instruction set, and Pine64 would ship the device as a way for the developers to start working on hardware integration – but without any OS out of the box. The back of the chassis will be black to distinguish it from the normal PineTab 2. And there's news on that side too: it will be officially available from the 11th of April. If you're interested, the article contains some more information on the speed of the device and its hardware support.

There's also great news for those of you interested in Linux e-ink tablets: it's now really easy to flash any OS on the PineNote (which is exactly that). As an owner of the device, let me tell you that it's a game changer compared to the very complex instructions you had to follow before that! There are currently a couple of OS modifications for the PineNote based on GNOME and Sway. Hopefully, a KDE alternative should pop up soon too.

March Update: Tablet Bonanza! | PINE64
We end the first quarter of the year with news that Star64 will be available for purchase on April 4th and that the PineTab2 and PineTab-V(ery good!) will launch the following week on April 11th.

System76 CEO teases new in-house "Virgo" laptop

Carl Richell, CEO of System76, has published a couple of pictures of their work-in-progress in-house manufactured laptop. This is quite exciting, as it's the first attempt - to the best of my knowledge - of the company to manufacture in-house. Of course, much more time will be needed for the end product: we're still early in the early design stages, and a couple more months might be necessary for the first prototype.

UBPorts announces Focal-based Ubuntu Touch

Picture from old Ubuntu Touch demo on a PineTab

Last week, the very latest Ubuntu version you could get when using Ubuntu Touch was 16.04; now, Focal (20.04) is available too, which is quite a big upgrade for the project (currently community-developed by UBPorts). It's quite an important step if you consider that 16.04 was the last LTS when Canonical cancelled the Ubuntu Touch project: it means that the community has managed to step up and continue the development.

There are a few supported devices, right now: Fairphone 4, Google Pixel 3a, and three Vollaphones. Other devices might have partial support as well. The new update also changes the name of the desktop - from "Unity 8" to "Lomiri" -, replaces Anbox with Waydroid, moves development from Github to Gitlab, replaces Upstart with Systemd, and much more. These are just the infrastructural changes: there are lots of new features and bugfixes in each component. See the full list here:

Ubuntu Touch OTA-1 Focal Release

Round of updates for Plasma Mobile

Lots of things are happening in the Plasma world, which is currently preparing Plasma 6. This applies to the Mobile section as well, with developers working to build the project with Qt 6. Since they were at it, we have many significant refactors of the shell itself, which should now be faster and much more stable. Nonetheless, the most interesting part of the development update is all the new features coming to Plasma Mobile applications (all of which are convergent, so that they work flawlessly on Desktop as well).

Both AudioTube (Youtube Music client) and PlasmaTube (Youtube client) got a redesign that makes them much prettier and more usable. Arianna (EPub reader) now has a settings page that uses the MobileForm component (= it looks awesome) and now compiles on Windows and Qt6, Tokodon (Mastodon client) can now create polls. For space reasons I can't embed the screenshots of all of these changes (and more), but I'd suggest checking out the following blogpost for a lot of eye-candy:

This Month in Plasma Mobile: March 2023
We have been busy these past two months!The last version of Plasma 5 was released in February, and so development work has shifted toward Plasma 6. This involves porting from Qt5 and KDE Frameworks 5 to Qt6 and KDE Frameworks 6.

Bloomberg Launches FLOSS Fund

Basically, Bloomberg has done three rounds of elections to award three grants of 10,000€ each to projects they rely on, to give back to the community. The first selected project is Apache Arrow, which "makes data transfer and analytics lightning-fast for a number of data-intensive applications". The second project is Curl (the same one you can use in your terminal!), which is "implicitly part of billions of interactions every day — yet is still essentially developed by one lead and a tiny group of contributors". Finally, there's Celery, "a primary task management tool in the Django and Python ecosystem".

Of course, money isn't the only way to help out FOSS projects (though it is a big factor). The company wants to engage directly with the projects as well, which is another great way to help out. The announcement ends with a nice quote:

Developing programs that support the open source community through a multi-pronged approach isn’t just philanthropy, says Wright: It’s common sense. “It’s an investment in our shared infrastructure,” she says. “It’s infrastructure that we all rely on and it needs to be taken care of.”
Bloomberg Launches FOSS Fund to Support Free and Open Source Projects
Bloomberg’s OSPO and Corporate Philanthropy teams partnered to enable direct employee engagement to help sustain open source projects critical to our work.