Linux Gets Improved Surface Support

Linux is due to receive enhanced support for Microsoft’s Surface range of tablets with the 4.8 update, according to developers.

Linux 4.8 will include specialised drivers for Surface 3’s touchscreen, developers said in technical mailing lists.

Laptop replacement

Microsoft and reviewers have described Surface, and particularly newer models such as Surface 3 and Surface 4, as capable of functioning as a lightweight business Windows laptop, much as Apple has described its iPad Pro.

Linux users say they have successfully run the operating system on various models of Surface devices, but they report that without specialised drivers some features may not work properly.

Developer Dmitry Torokhov posted a merge request for Surface 3’s touchscreen controller late last month, and Linus Torvalds closed the merge window at the end of last week.

In closing the merge window Torvalds launched Release Candidate 1 of Linux 4.8, making it available for testers to debug.

“This seems to be building up to be one of the bigger releases lately, but let’s see how it all ends up,” Torvalds said in a mailing list post.

Wide range of changes

He said 60 percent of the non-documentation changes were for drivers, including GPU, networking, media and sound drivers, with about 15 percent being updates for hardware architectures including ARM, PowerPC, x86, MIPS and s390.

Other updates for the version include core networking, performance, core kernel, VFS and low-level filesystem changes, Torvalds said.

“Few areas escaped,” he wrote.

Linux on Surface

Linux users have reported running the operating system successfully on Surface 3 but have referred to problems with its touch screen.

Surface 3, released in the UK in May of last year, runs the full version of Windows and is powered by an Intel processor.

It was succeeded by the more powerful Surface 4 running Windows 10.

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Matthew Broersma

Matt Broersma is a long standing tech freelance, who has worked for Ziff-Davis, ZDnet and other leading publications

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