Linux on the GPD Pocket 7: The Return of the Hacker Netbook.
I love netbooks. They’re the mopeds of computing: small, cheap, lightweight and actually kinda cute. They’re also fitted with an actual proper keyboard and therefore my favorite choice when it comes to a portable hacking station. But Netbooks PCs once hailed as the future of mobile computing are almost disappeared from retailer shelves. The most similar devices in the market are those convertible mobile devices running windows. But they are little more than a tablet with a keyboard, and almost nil compatibility with linux.
Big names including HP, Samsung, Sony, and Toshiba, among others have long since ceased production of the tiny devices. Or so it was until the arrival of the GPD Pocket. The GPD Pocket 7, an ultra small laptop which can run GNU/Linux and has more than decent hardware: Intel Atom x7-Z8750 Quad Core, 8GB RAM, 128GB eMMC SSD.
All in all, the GPD Pocket is the only Ultra-Mobile PC that I’ve used that deserves to use the PC part. I found myself constantly surprised with how good it is, and the premium fit and finish is on par with devices above its price range. The only thing I’ve had to adjust to is one that any device of this size/form factor suffers from, a slightly cramped keyboard.
Initially only available only to Indiegogo backers at $539 , now you can buy it from several online retailers. Despite they should start shipping the Ubuntu 16.04 LTS models in a few days, currently only the cheaper (under $529) Windows 10 version is offered. Which means you have to install GNU/Linux from scratch and overcome some hardware support issues. Thanks to several GPD hackers like Evilsocket , Cawilliamson, efluffy or Nexus511 the procedure is documented.
Ready to use ISO can be found from here https://apt.nexus511.net/
Or if your are a true hacker make your own image from sources:
- Download your GNU/Linux distribution ISO, ie Ubuntu 17.04.
- Clone this repository https://github.com/nexus511/ansible-gpdpocket (updated fork from Cawilliamson) and run the bootstrap-iso.sh script against the ISO file.
- Write the resulting ~/bootstrap.iso file to an USB drive using UNetBootin or whatever you like.
- Plug the USB drive to your GPD, turn it on and press the DEL button to enter BIOS and boot from it.
- After installation and the routine system update, you might want to periodically update the fixes and custom kernel from the repository, in order to do so you should run the gpd-update script as root, this will take 2–3 hours since the kernel is going to be compiled on the device itself.
What’s working on linux: wifi + bluetooth, sleep and wakeup, battery &
intel low power management, touch screen, speaker/mic, screen brightness adjustment, cooling fan. Things not yet working: USB-C as media & Hibernation
So at this point, you have a quad core Intel cpu, GNU/Linux and an USB 3.0 port, and a external usb wifi adapter or SDR and you could use it to run rogue wireless (bye bye Wifi Pineaapple), digital P25 police radio decoding software or CatcherCatcher stingray detector.
You could keep informed of GPD linux developments/the latest progress on https://www.reddit.com/r/GPDPocket/