UMPC Adventures: the Mix Yoga






A common theme in my life is unnecessarily small computers. Naturally when I heard that you could buy a metal-body UMPC for $450 I was intrigued. Thus began my journey with the Mix Yoga.

The Good


The Mix Yoga is a gorgeous little UMPC, and everything on it feels solid and well-built. It somehow has a heft to it that says "quality" while at the same time being just light enough to hold in your hand for extended periods. The keys are slightly cramped, but backlit and very satisfying to use. The screen is well-lit and very high resolution, having about 2000 pixels along the long axis. It is touch-enabled and supports an active stylus.

The Bad

It's pretty buggy sometimes, and really not the fastest. Many people reviewing this computer will say that it's useless for anything more than one task at a time, but I didn't have that experience. I actually brought this to a hackathon and used it as my main computer when I forgot the charger for my main laptop, and it held up admirably. I was installing netbeans, downloading the java sdk and eclipse, and browsing the web at the same time, all while running windows. I anticipate that with linux it'd be even faster.
That said, there was a reason I was having to do all that at the same time. This machine has slow disk I/O operations, and the processor is kind of slow, which creates a bottleneck when trying to install large amounts of software.
As for the bugs, it does weird things sometimes. I've pulled it out of my pocket to find it restarted while asleep and booted into my linux system (I dual boot with it, more on that later). When in windows it'll sometimes start the fan up and not ever turn it off (even when it goes into sleep), which can only be stopped by shutting the computer down and restarting it. When it restarts, the fan will turn on and not stop, and can only be stopped by shutting the computer and waiting a little while. Sometimes it just doesn't stop though. I threw it into my backpack one day only to pull it out the next and find out the fan had been running all night and my battery was at 10%.

Since I'm not one to give up on such a sexy little machine so easily, I'm going to be making a log of my efforts to turn this into the best side piece I can manage.


Step 1: Acquire Lunix

As something of a hacker, I require a decent hacker operating system. That means Lunix, the hacker operating system created by Linus Torovoltos, the famed Russian computer hacker.

I tried three different versions of Ubuntu: 14.04, 16.04, and 18.04. 14 wouldn't boot to a desktop, 16 was quite buggy and showed artifacts on the desktop, and 18 seemed to work comparatively well.
I downloaded Linux Mint, FreeBSD, and Fedora and threw them at the machine as well to see what happened.

Problems with stock Ubuntu:
  • Sound not working 
    • fixed the sound by following the directions here: https://askubuntu.com/questions/119080/how-to-update-kernel-to-the-latest-mainline-version-without-any-distro-upgrade
    • (note: I installed kernel 4.18) 
    • buggy-sometimes doesn't work 
    • I also had to perform the command "sudo alsa reload" in order to get the sound to work 
  • brightness buttons not working 
    • Fixed using method detailed in post #2 here: https://forum.xda-developers.com/windows-10/general/one-mix-yoga-alternative-os-t3815725 
  • Sound buttons not working 
    • fixed using the same solution as "sound not working." 
    • buggy, sometimes still doesn't work 
  • Screen rotated to the right at all times 
    • Fixed using method detailed in post #2 here: https://forum.xda-developers.com/windows-10/general/one-mix-yoga-alternative-os-t3815725 
  • Wifi interfaces disappear and wifi icon disappears after suspend 
    • Posted on the ubuntu forums about this: https://askubuntu.com/questions/1073733/wifi-interface-disappears-after-suspend-intel-dual-band-wireless-ac-3165 
  • Fan not working(?)
    • I'm not really sure if this is a problem or not, because the processor almost never kicks off enough heat to bring the temperature over 60C (I had to start training neural nets to get it that hot in ubuntu), and the fan is generally buggy and a liability more than anything else.

Problems with stock Linux Mint 19:
  • Sound, brightness buttons don't work 
  • Screen flipped to the right at all times 
  • Screen close suspend not working 
  • Crashed on wakeup from suspend 
Problems with stock FreeBSD 11.2:
  • Boot would stop at "could not connect to IO range" 
Problems with Fedora 28
  • could not change screen rotation with xrandr
  • screen resolution actually was really nice by default, and brightness buttons worked 
  • wifi would not work on resume from suspend 
  • no sound or sound buttons 
Summary: Ubuntu and Fedora seemed to hold up the best on this strange device. I ended up sticking with Ubuntu because of the wealth of information on the web about getting it to work in adverse conditions, but I will probably revisit Fedora because I REALLY liked how the interface looked when I spun it up.

Step 2: Make EVERYTHING Work

Over the course of the next few weeks, I'd be mucking around with scripts and kernel modules trying to get the damn thing to be a workable linux machine. Here's what I did:
  • Fix(?) the wifi
    • Despite my best efforts, I couldn't seem to figure out how to solve the problems with the Intel 3165 wifi card inside the machine. I tried:
      • upgrading the kernel
      • switching out iwlwifi
      • disabling and re-enabling the chip
      • generally mucking around in the /sys/bus/pci file entry for the device and passing in different values
    • I eventually cracked and bought a small wifi dongle, which ended up having a similar problem (of course). I fixed it by writing a script that could be run to disconnect and reconnect the dongle, which apparently solves the issue until you suspend it again.
  • Touchscreen rotated
    • It was a fairly painless xrandr encantation to get the touchscreen to register events in the correct orientation
  • The fan
    • No progress on that yet, the computer seems reasonably happy without it so it's been low-priority.
  • Sound/sound buttons
    • Interestingly, using the fix detailed above and installing Xubuntu fixed most of the problems. The sound buttons worked and the internal speaker would make the noises. For some reason, it only seems to work with music though. As soon as pauses in the sound start happening, the sound becomes disjointed, quiet, and garbled. Have not discovered a solution yet.
My solutions to most of these problem involved scripts that I could execute, that I added to my PATH. Still working on getting them to run correctly on resume from suspend.

Comments

  1. That's a bit worrying though about the fan constantly turned on even when the device is in sleep state! Do you think other One Mix Yogas are having this kind of problem as well? Or is it just with your device? I wonder if there is a firmware update that can help resolve the issue... Or if its actually normal that the fan is constantly on, lol.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. True. I think it might be an interaction between Windows and the device firmware, because when I use linux it does not have this problem. To be fair, when I use linux the fan doesn't work at all (except in Fedora, somehow). I think an effective avenue of investigating this problem might be to look at how the drivers in fedora are running the fan, but I have not had time (given that the computer seems to work fine without it) to investigate this yet.

      Delete
  2. I can't believe you programmed using Eclipse and NetBeans on it. I installed this stuff on WIN 2 and plan to when I get One Mix 2, but I never considered installing those on One Mix Yoga 1

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Holy crap! I wasn't expecting them to come out with another one so soon, sounds pretty awesome though. Yeah, they seemed to run fine in Windows, but I can't say I compiled any particularly large projects with them on it. I still use it every day as a python development and note-taking platform, and it works great for that purpose.
      Here's hoping that they have better Linux support on future iterations. This latest one was just so close to being perfect, but to me it still seems it fell slightly short.

      Delete
  3. Could you please tell me few words about quality of the device?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. What would you like me to comment on, specifically? My general thoughts on the quality of the device are in the above article. To re-iterate:

      "The Mix Yoga is a gorgeous little UMPC, and everything on it feels solid and well-built. It somehow has a heft to it that says "quality" while at the same time being just light enough to hold in your hand for extended periods. The keys are slightly cramped, but backlit and very satisfying to use. The screen is well-lit and very high resolution, having about 2000 pixels along the long axis."

      I'll add that the device mostly seems built for Windows, and will take some polishing if you want to use the (vastly superior for this device) Linux effectively.

      Delete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

The Wearable Computer--A Synopsis

Smart LED Strips: Revisited