JingOS is a Linux distribution designed for tablets, with a touch-friendly user interface designed to resemble iPadOS or Android. The operating system is based on Ubuntu Linux and KDE’s Plasma Mobile user interface, but it features a custom home screen, status and quick settings tools, settings utility, file browser, and more.

After an initial release earlier this year, the software is under active development and today the team released JingOS v0.8 which is the first build to support over-the-air updates, include an app store, and other improvements.

Among other things, JingOS v0.8 has:

  • Support for setting a password and network connection when installing the operating system
  • Redesigned Files and Settings apps
  • Support for rearranging icons on the desktop/home screen
  • App resolutions automatically adjust to work better on high-resolution displays

For now the operating system requires a computer with an x86 processor, but JingOS will eventually support ARM-based chips as well. Jingling, the Chinese company behind the operating system plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in June for an ARM-powered tablet called the JingPad A1. Jingling is also considering releasing a version of JingOS for smartphones.

While JingOS is a Linux-based operating system built on open source software and the developers have made a commitment to release the source code, not all development is done in the open – there’s a GitHub repository for the project, but in a note the Jingling team notes that the Github project will be updated twice a year. And in order to download JingOS v.08 you currently have to follow a link from the JingOS forum, enter your email address, and wait to receive a download link.

I jumped through those hoops and took the latest version of the operating system for a spin in a virtual machine and it does seem to deliver on the promise of offering a tablet-friendly, Linux-based operating system. Pre-installed apps include a terminal emulator, Chromium web browser, File manager, media player, and WPS office applications.

The selection of applications available in the app store is fairly small – I couldn’t find Firefox, for example. But since the operating system is based on Ubuntu you can just fire up a terminal and use apt to install thousands of app – they just might not be as well optimized for touch as those available from the JingOS app store.

Also note that if you’re booting from a disk image rather than installing JingOS, the default password is 123456. I figured that out the hard way after walking away from my computer for a few minutes, coming back, and finding that the screen was locked.

You can find more details about JingOS v0.8 at the JingOS website, forum, and GitHub page.

 

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  1. The age-old problem since the DOS era: how do you unify a severely fragmented app-landscape? In theory making any linux touch-firendly should be extremely easy: all applications call GUI-libraries to draw the user interface, you only have to make these libraries touch-friendly! How do you make a touch-emacs? You make GTK draw large buttons. But besides of GTK there is motif, Qt, KDE and whatever, literal hundreds. And then there are the dumb app developers, who back in 2003 assumed a menubar will always be 32 pixels high and used hard-coded assumptions while developing the app, never considering different resolutions, high-density displays or touch. This is similar but still less complicated on Windows which is why Windows 10 has almost finished successfully implementing an universal touch UI, because they did exactly that: the OS-level UI interface got a touch-friendly layer, and that’s it. But they could do it because there are less such interfaces to apply this to: you either use the OS-provided one or you draw your own UI-elements in which case you get a zoom-option and an emulated mouse pointer and you are done. On Mac it would even better in theory since the whole GUI is vector-scalable, but the stubborn refusal on Apple’s part makes it a moot point. Well, maybe with M2 since it’s essentially a beefed up iPad…
    Anyhow with linux you can either make a GTK (and Qt and motif and…) to draw big buttons and lie to the app that “yes, your menu is definitely 32 pixels high, promise” and hope to break not too many apps (Maemo/Meego linux for example) or just try to develop your own user-land apps in place of 20-30 years old tools (but good luck trying to replacing emacs with something else). Linux as a whole will never be touch friendly because linux is not one platform, it’s a collection of compatible platforms sharing a single kernel but each forever frozen in it’s own time and developing paradigms. It’s what DOS would have evolved into had not OS/2 and Windows came into play.

  2. I’m totally don’t understand people who don’t trust Jingling or JingOS because they are Chinese.
    Lenovo is a Chinese company. I own two of their computers and I love them both. Do these people distrust Lenovo? Why not?
    Almost every computer sold in the US over the last decade or two has been made has been made in China. That includes Macs, iPads, Surfaces, Dells, HPs and just about every other brand. And those that weren’t manufactured in China undoubtedly have parts that were made in China.
    Do the people who distrust the Chinese own any computer or high tech devise? If so, they own Chinese products!

  3. Doesn’t look THAT impressive to me.
    If this was in 2009-2012, sure they’d get my vote. But it looks like a weird iOS/Android clone of GUI slapped onto an x86-Linux Distro.

    Just like Grant said above, this either won’t be successful.
    Or it will form its own niche within the Chinese Domestic Market, and survive/thrive there without affecting anyone else outside.

    1. I really don’t think JingOS will thrive in the Linux developer or user communities.

      The only things I’ve read about them in any communities has been rather incredulous.

      People are suspicious of their intentions, and commitment to open source. Their github claims that they’ll be updating the source files every 6 months. To me that seems questionable for something that has privacy implications.

    2. I agree. They even confirmed a “new desktop” other than plasma/kde probably will be based QT. Deepin Linux is already implemented that (QT based engine with GTK theme support etc.) their own development api called DTK. For Jingos one of the best options could be follow deepin and implement their work.

  4. “Jingling, the Chinese company behind the operating system plans to launch a crowdfunding campaign in June for an ARM-powered tablet called the JingPad A1.”
    Short info from me:
    Linux & Open Source =/= Chinese company
    I hope that Ubuntu Touch will develop into a finished product

  5. The OS looks fairly refined for an early attempt at a mobile Linux OS. At least compared to some other similar projects.

    However, if I’m being honest, I’m not interested in using any kind of app-store ecosystem from a company like Jingling.

    If I choose to move away from ChromeOS and Android towards something more directly based on Linux/GNU software, it would be because I want to distance myself from invasive ecosystems like Google. My first move wouldn’t be to jump into an unknown Chinese company’s app store.

    And I’m fairly certain that you’d be heavily relying on their app store too, because there’s an enormous lack of touchscreen support among Linux applications currently, so we’re probably going to see most of the initial application development from the Jingling team.

    Something tells me that this JingOS project’s goal is to get market share in the domestic Chinese market, and get some hardware partners to start using the OS on their products. Then they can leverage their market share to monetize an app-store/service ecosystem.