Fedora 29 on the TrekStor SurfTab twin 11.6 “Volks Tablet” (2016)

Do you still have a Trekstor SurfTab lying somewhere in your drawer? The tablet is equipped with an Intel Atom x5-Z8350 processor and 2GB RAM and comes with Windows 10 Home. With its meager performance, it’s only suitable for light Internet surfing or a little office use.

Maybe you have already reached the limits of the 32 GB of small eMMC memory and are looking for an alternative to Windows? I can report that Fedora Linux 29 works pretty well on the tablet. The Gnome desktop can also be operated with the touchscreen and the Chrome browser runs full HD videos from Youtube smoothly. After the installation, you only have to fix the position sensor so that the screen is aligned correctly. Here is an overview of the hardware compatibility:

Orientation sensorInstallation necessary
Secure BootYes
TPM v2Yes

Installation and Partitioning

The installation is quite simple. To align the screen rotation correctly, turn the device upside down and then click the rotation lock icon (top right menu). During the installation, remove all partitions on the built-in 32 GB eMMC memory and install Fedora with the default partition layout.

Of the 27 GB fedora volume, 16 GB will be available after installation.

You can encrypt your Fedora installation. If you later use the TPM module to unlock the encrypted file system, you do not need a keyboard to enter the password at startup. How to use the TPM for this purpose is explained in my article “TPM Encryption in Fedora Linux“.

Update 25.3.2019: The Kernel 5.0 update kills the TPM functionality on this device.

Fix Screen Rotatation

After installation, open a terminal and enter the following command to download a file with definitions and settings of the position sensors:

sudo curl -o /etc/udev/hwdb.d/60-sensor-local.hwdb https://raw.githubusercontent.com/systemd/systemd/master/hwdb/60-sensor.hwdb

The above command downloads from Github the latest version of the position sensor information file and writes it to a new file named 60-sensor-local.hwdb. The file contains information for many more devices.

Next step is to update die hardware database with this command:

sudo systemd-hwdb update

After a restart your screen should align correctly.

Problems, suggestions? Please leave your feedback as a comment below.

7 replies on “ Fedora 29 on the TrekStor SurfTab twin 11.6 “Volks Tablet” (2016) ”
  1. Nice tutorial. No bluetooth or wifi issues here. When using the SurfTab with the attached keyboard you might need to adjust some more as in my case the touchscreen was inverted, grub boot messages were bottom up and display rotation working the wrong way (see https://forums.fedoraforum.org/showthread.php?320779-Touchscreen-(Input)-trouble-on-Trekstor-Surftab-Twin-11-6&p=1820110#post1820110).
    Also I would not recommend to remove all partitions while installing Fedora. You want to keep the recovery (1000 MB) partition if you want to move back to win10 in the future as (my best guess) this partition might or might not include the key for activation of win10.
    Did you find a way to make the camera (GC2355) work?

    1. Hi NewFeLi, thanks for your feedback. Actually I cover the screen rotation issue in my article. Its easier than in the forum entry mentioned by you.

      Concerning the camera: I did not yet make it work.

      1. About the screen rotation: As mentioned in your article I too found out that the accel. sensor data were missing in the hwdb. Just adding the values didn´t fix the screen rotation in my case as it was rotating the opposite way. Also boot on grub was upside down and touchscreen input was inverted. Both couldn´t be “fixed” with just locking the screen rotation and adding the missing accel values.

    2. The Windows Recoverz Partition can be deleted as well. Windows RE, the Windows PE based Recovery Environment is part of the Windows Boot Partition, which does not contain the bootloader but the System itself (MicroSoft Terminology – The Windows System Partition is the one that contains the UEFI Bootloader). That aside, the Recovery Partition does only contain the driver-pack which is available as a single separate download from the Trekstore Support site and can either be used unpacked after Re-Installation from inside the device manager, to update the missing drivers, or be included for deployment, e.g. via Rufus while creating an USB-Stick, or manually via DISM.

      So the eMMC can be completely cleaned when installing Fedora, which is also recommended as else the EFIVars – the UEFI Boot-Menu-Entries – will not be cleaned, because GRUB assumes Windows 10 is still installed on the not anymore existing Windows-Partition, due to the Recovery-Partition and|or ESP (EFI System Partition) still being existent.

      If one wishes to reinstall Windows 10 as the only remaining system afterwards: I recommend to use the CMD Shell by pressing Shift+F10 when the Windows Installer is booted. Type in:
      > start diskpart
      in the opened separate diskpart windows type:
      > list disk
      .. now verify that the first entry – disk 0 – is indeed the eMMC|SSD and type:
      > select disk 0
      .. if – which should not be the case – the internal storage is not represented by disk id 0, change it to the disk you want to target. Now you can wipe the disk by typing:
      > clean
      .. Right after that, convert the disk to be of the Partitioning Format GPT, by typing:
      > convert gpt
      .. Go, check via
      > list disk
      .. if the disk is indeed GPT formatted now: you should recognize an asterisk|star in the last column, titled GPT.

      Depending on the BIOS Settings and the Boot Media you used to start the Windows-Installation, it might be that under the false assumption the eMMC|SSD being a removable disk, the Installer created a Microsoft System Reserved partition. You should correct that if you see such, by selecting the partition via
      > select partition 0
      .. and deleting that partition via
      > delete partition
      .. But as i said that shoud not be necessary in the first place, it is a – just in case – notion, after all.

      If you now use the Windows Installer you can just push for – NEXT – to automatically create a whole disk Windows Setup.

      I clearly advise and recommend against that, because it sets up a Microsoft Reserved Partition as well, as also a Recovery Partition, although Microsoft states itself that the latter is obsolete, because included in Windows itself and therefore not needed anymore. The MSR partition is bogus, too: It is just a 16 MiB scratch space to perform automated partitioning operations in case the Windows Partition has to be extended as it may be to small at some point in future … which simply will not happen … You install on a whole disk which means it will be at its limits by definition.
      Another issue is the ill-calculated size for the EFI System Partition. Scratch all that bogus and do it yourself. Start with creating the ESP:
      > create partition efi size=260
      This will create the EFI system partition. The size is given as 260, which means 260 MiB (MebiByte – Windows Style base-2 sizing). This is the minimum size the ESP should always have if you want it to just work, with all Operating Systems and UEFI-Firmware-Implementation independent of manufacturers and release dates.

      Now create a second partition for Windows itself, with all bells and whistles included, filling the available remaining space completely by typing:
      > create partition primary
      .. that is it. Switch to your installer window and in the partition selection dialogue use the lefthand button – REFRESH – to update the view to take the made changes into account. Then select the partition created and click – NEXT|INSTALL to let the Installer handle the rest, which is:
      – install Windows onto the created partition
      – use 4KiB Cluster-Size, to be foreward-compatible in case you wish to transfer the system in the future to another disk, which will likely be an advanced 4K disk
      – format the EFI System Partition with FAT32, also with 4KiB Clusters, Long File Names, Short File Name Compatibilty, 16-bit Unicode characters, Hidden Enhanced Attributes to allow for safe multi-boot with more systems installed afterwards, which then can, but do not have to use secure-boot, like Ubuntu and OpenSUSE do by default, without demanding it forcingly: it is just a default option, that can be revoked. Fedora is not there yet, as far as i can tell.

      Long story short, you learned how to get rid of Windows and anything else, by using the Windows Installer, opening a CMD shell, to start the diskpart-partitioning-software and after listing, selecting, cleaning and formatting the disk as GPT, you created the most simple custom whole disk setup, with a future-proof standards-conform EFI System-Partition to boot into a Windows, that – if you wish to – after finishing setup .. can be shrunk by -the choice is yours e.g.: via mouse by right-clicking the Windows-Logo-Start-Button, opening – Disk Management – or by pressing Super+R (Super is the Logo-Key) to open the Run dialog and typing in diskpart – so that you are able to mke use of the free space with for example:

      Fedora …

      Hope it helps. I just gave you and others the complete push, because that is all there is to it to do it right and working in any situation. In the case of Fedora, one has to choose the automatic installation into the after finishing windows setup freed room, by shrinking the Windows-Partition.

      This setup style is compatible (tested) with ALL major Linux distributions. And as it is often done wrong but not immediately visible, i wanted to use the opportunity to educate.

      Me too, still not found the camera Unicam GC2355 to be compatible with at least Debian Stable|Sid, Mint LMDE3, Deepin, Fedora 29, OpenSUSE Leap 42.3|15 + Tumbleweed, Arch|Antergos|Manjaro, Void, Ubuntu 16.04.6|18.04|19.04a|b, Solus, Endless OS: – Asides this Intel camera sensor, which is part of Embedded|SoC program and therefore just for oems to pry on, all in all these Linuxes work well with the Trekstor 11.6 2-in-1 Twins (32 WiFi|3G|LTE + 4/64 Wifi). Ubuntu-based Distributions have trouble with the Realtek 87xx|88xx WiFi+Bluetooth, bluetooth-service needs to be restarted in shell manually after activation, wifi works if bluetooth is used for PAN|File-Transfer or A2DP Audio Sink, Headset BiDi does not work at all: Wifi gets garbled, can be bettered by disabling energysaving for the chipset. Display-Rotation on boot is caused by Forced-HID-Closed enabled in BIOS, which seems necessary in Windows 8+, because else the Keyboard has to be removed and reattached to work, else the Twins remain staying in tablet mode and manual override via settings has hickups. Due to whatever reason, in some models the C5 Power level is not enabled for UEFI-charging, but can be corrected in BIOS, which is helpful if a true AlwaysOn, for example for push-message-alerts is needed. Virtualization is diabled by default, too, though can be enabled and works flawlessly and very well with virtualbox and vmware player, whereas on the 4/64 model virtualbox can be run parallel to hyper-v containers, docker runs if switched to windows containers, edge isolation is working, but crawling creepily. UEFI-PXE/iPXE boot over wlan works on some models, but obviously seems to depend on a specific set of bios settings, which combo couldnt find/verify yet.

      … What else? … Hmmmmm. Well, thats what came to mind right now. At one point in a future time i will share all findings, but .. well .. that needs time .. to complete .. and to write.

      So, anyway, hope it helps with these, more than fine machines, especially the lte model, which works although just 2G very well with a seamless-view in vbox for windows 10 Pro SAC | LTSC 2019 | Server 2016, to add 64-bit to the soup and run Ubuntu trusty+kde/xenial+unity/bionic-server | opensuse 42.3+plasma | Fedora 29 on X11: each via vcxsrv and wsl in the virtualized 64/bit win 10, with seamless win64 virt + lte enabled battery lasts a good 7 hours, while moderately coding in fedora and opensuse, snaps on bionic server, if display is dimmed to the lowest and sound is disabled completely (i use bluetooth only): If one knows its way aorund in windows, i recommend using ltsc 2019+store/as basis. If configured in detail even UnrealEngine 4 runs a fair bit for basic tasks, if complexity is held to a minimum and shaders are compiled for lowest complexity.

      Well, these Trekstors are heavy and the keyboard is .. ahem .. but they do work if you just need a nonnoisy piece of allrounder x86_64 with a fullhd display and multitouch. For web-and mobile (game, too) development, remote server management, scripting, etc. a good pair of eyes is needed then you can handle any task with these fattys.

      I recommend them …

      For those that just want to binge-watch in fullhd via lte, after fiddling around abit, you get up to 8 hours streaming out of them: 480p they last up to 11 to 12 hours.

      Hmm, seems i am much more positively connected to these babies than i thought // OKAY now i stop. Sorry … 🙂

      1. Oh, maybe of interest for creators, the 4/64 model runs fine for ableton live | fl studio | bitwig and the likes, recording in acid pro into raw projects (not prerendered, but live played) works fine, i use it with an m-audio and 1¾inch membrane mic, phantom delivered by the trekstor; recording directly to a smsung evo+ UHS-I 256GB µSDXC: enough power to run for about a 4 to 5 hour session, if anything else is configured to behave regarding resource-hunger, like display dimmed to lowest,internal audio, wifi and bluetooth disabled. Extending desktop with display via hdmi is s good as needed.

        Happy dangling!

    3. Hey NewFeLi, I reinstalled Fedora on my Tablet and found that I missed an important command: After downloading the file as described, one has to trigger a hardware database update with systemd-hwdb update. I included this into my manual now.

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