I’m travelling again. It’s time for another Arabic Adventure, and to be honest I’m really looking forward to it. Hands on work, over a broad range of areas that will really stretch me. I absolutely thrive on the environment I’m forced into when I’m there. It’s terrifying, difficult, high pressure and unfamiliar and I every day is different and difficult for a whole set of reasons.

Because I’m travelling, I’ve been looking at my tablet again - the original Nexus 7 from back in 2012.

I really like the size, weight and battery life of it. It’s a pretty compact, portable and versatile thing, especially when paired with my wee bluetooth keyboard. I just… I can’t really find a use for it.

I have my laptop, which can do anything and everything, and a conventional operating system. I’ve got my phone, which is absurdly powerful for what it is and can do most of my things. The tablet sits in the middle as this device which is almost great for a lot of stuff but just falls over a bit when I want to use it for something.

A few years ago I stuck Ubuntu Linux on it. It was pretty great, all things considered. I wrote about it here, in a weird, brief condensed format. I guess it has what I’m looking for again - it’s a conventional operating system, with a competent package manager, reasonable settings and interfaces I understand. I could install i3 and use my normal applications how I expect. All I really want at the moment are git, emacs and maybe firefox. Being able to do this again would be really cool, but the Ubuntu project abandoned desktop Linux on this form factor, so I can’t get up-to-date packages for it. I also can’t find the code that was used to generate the images to make my own with. If I could, I’d probably port Debian and be a very happy chappy.

I’ve tried running multirom on it, but every linux distro I try on that fails with the same error - it can’t mount a partition due to a lack of f2fs support. I’ve tried a few kernels and not made any progress here. I know that my android partitions are all ext4, so I’m not sure why it’s failing. Maybe I can use my solitude to work this out.

I also had a bash at running Debian in a chroot but got absolutely nowhere. I can’t remember the details, but my take-away was that that idea is a dead end.

I’ve got an interim solution, though - it’s not all bad. The tablet is running Cyanogenmod 12.1 (nightlies, as I like to live on the edge), with no GAPPS, just F-droid. Fennec Browser, Connectbot for ssh to other machines where I run emacs & git. I’ve got a couple of other tools, including MobileOrg, on the tablet itself. I managed to write this whole blog using these tools, and everything went well until publishing. Currently I have no sane way to push from my blog git repo to Ghost, but that’s another problem for another day. It does mean I had to crack out the laptop to finish off the post.

I’m hoping, when I’m in the desert, I can use it for notes, displaying and annotating drawings and generally being useful for instant data recall.

We shall see whether this is a functional system as the adventure progresses.