Microsoft’s Surface Pro is a tablet designed to showcase the Windows 8 operating system. But that doesn’t mean Windows 8 is the only software the tablet can run.’s Russell Holly  picked up one of Microsoft’s new tablets recently, and he’s been hard at work convincing the Surface Pro to run various Linux-based operating systems.

It looks like it’s actually pretty easy to boot Linux Mint or Ubuntu on the tablet, but not all of the hardware is supported out of the box.

Update: Russell Holly has posted instructions for installing Ubuntu on the Surface Pro.

Microsoft Surface Pro with Ubuntu

Holly is working on enabling WiFi support, but in a pinch you can always get online by using an Ethernet-to-USB adapter (since the Surface Pro doesn’t have an Ethernet port.

In other words, you might not want to drop $899 or more on a Surface Pro with the hopes of bringing it home and booting up Linux just yet — but if you’re a hacker/tinkerer interested in tweaking the tablet to make sure that touch, WiFi, and other features work, you may be able to get somewhere.

Or you could let Holly and others do the hard work and wait a few months until there’s a fully workable operating system or two available to download and install on the Surface Pro. It might take you a while to get your hands on the tablet anyway — most stores seem to have sold out shortly after the Surface Pro went on sale last week (likely due to limited supply and not necessarily immense demand).

While there are plenty of other computers that already support Ubuntu, Mint, and other Linux distributions effortlessly, the Surface Pro is unusual in that it’s one of the few tablets on the market with an ultrabook-class Intel Core i5 processor, a digital pen, and support for Microsoft’s optional Touch Cover or Type Cover.

Microsoft also offers the Surface RT tablet with an NVIDIA Tegra 3 ARM-based processor and longer battery life — but that tablet’s Windows RT software is locked down more firmly, making it tougher to install Linux or other alternate operating systems.

via tabl3ts and

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10 replies on “Microsoft’s Surface Pro Windows 8 tablet can run Linux”

  1. Any chance of a link to Russell Holly’s article on this? Even with secure boot disabled in the UEFI, my Surface Pro refuses to boot any kind of media except Windows 8 install or recovery. The screenshot above could just be a VM, not a native install… I’d have to see it in action to believe at this point!

  2. As usual, if you’re an end user (most Ubuntu and related distros users are (ie. me)), you’ll have to wait a year or more in order get all the hardware working reliably and almost have the same feature support and performance as Windows drivers.

    That’s why if I plan on using Linux on anything, I buy stuff that are at least a year old or only put it on older devices I already have.

  3. ummmm, so what ….. If I want to run Linux I’m going to pickup a cheap netbook with a decent sized battery, I’m not going to load it on an $899 surface pro The only reason to get the pro is to have full windows. If you don’t need that there are better and less expensive options.

    1. Spoken like a true consumer. As a geek I can appreciate this as a project.

      1. Precisely. This is another one of those “because you can” projects that might turn into something with more mass appeal.

      2. spoken like someone on a budget. I enjoy plenty of “because you can” projects with my 600 MHz cell phone, nook, old netbook and chromebook, all of which I picked up for next to nothing or out of the recycle pile. I only meant to say that you don’t need to drop $899 on a surface just to have some fun.

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