There was a surge of interest in open source-friendly smartphones that ran “true” Linux operating systems in the past few years. Those haven’t exactly disappeared but the focus has mostly remained on smartphones, save for one or two exceptions. Last January, a Chinese startup suddenly popped out almost out of nowhere with a curious proposition of a Linux OS that pretty much copies the iPadOS user experience. That same company has now started to get the ball rolling with an actual iPad-like product, the JingPad A1, which it claims is the world’s first consumer-level Linux tablet.
That’s a rather bold claim to make but really depends on what you mean by “Linux” and “tablet”. Android itself actually uses the Linux kernel and Ubuntu Touch, which did have at least one commercial tablet, is like a hybrid of Android and Canonical’s special version of Ubuntu Linux. Years before those, however, Nokia launched the N800 and N810 as “Internet Tablets” running a mostly normal desktop Linux stack, although they were, at least in size, more like pocket computers.
Presuming the JingPad A1 does launch to market, it could still somewhat make that claim since it would have JingOS pre-installed. This was revealed to be pretty close to Linux on the desktop as you would get today, just with a new user experience built on top designed to look and feel like the very touch-friendly iPadOS. Even that, however, is also based on open source Linux software, specifically KDE Plasma, one of the two most popular desktop environments for Linux.
In terms of hardware, however, JingOS is pretty coy about the specs but TuxPhones was able to get some more details. The JingPad A1 will run on an octa-core Unisoc Tiger ARM processor with 6GB of RAM and 128GB of storage. There will be an 11-inch 2K screen, an 8,000 mAh battery, a 16MP camera, and an 8MP front-facing shooter. It’s definitely a mixed bag but considerably better than what’s inside the PineTab, another Linux-based tablet that’s aimed more at developers, hobbyists, and tinkerers.
While both JingPad A1 and JingOS look great on paper, images, and videos, the real question is whether they will be able to deliver. The startup has yet to actually reveal any availability details, including prices and dates, and it won’t be surprising if it decides to launch the tablet on some crowdfunding platform later on.