Install Ubuntu/Linux on Surface RT

Q: I have bought Microsoft Surface Rt tablet with cover keyboard, but I don’t like the Windwos RT OS system. Is it possible to install Ubuntu or any kind of Linux on the tablet? Any suggestions to do that?

A: Microsoft is taking the Apple model this time. The hardware and software of Surface RT is locked, so you are unable to run Linux, Ubuntu or Android OS on the tablet unless cracking it. For Surface Pro, you could try a regular UEFI based boot loader or use a virtual machine software in Windwos 8.

It depends on two things:
1. Flash the device from somewhere or boot it from removable memory.
2. The distro is signed by a key the device recognizes. Fedora should work and software hackers will most likely be all over it.

By the way. A ARM-based Surface RT deivce is not supporting the x86 based UNIX OS. However, I also noticed that the Ubuntu 16.04.1 LTS comes with the latest ARM-based server systems supported and it powered by certified 64-bit processors.

With a security path released by Microsoft, Windows RT operating system is not allowed to install non-Redmond approved operating systems such as Unix, Linux and Android on Windows RT tablets. It is no way to bypass its boot mechanisms in ARM-powered, locked-down Windows devices.


10 thoughts on “Install Ubuntu/Linux on Surface RT

  1. The Surface RT is a ARM-based device meanwhile UNIX distros are x86 based. Different architectures are not compatible due to the instruction set that the CPU is able to understand differs. Regarding this I would say it is not possible to install a UNIX distro in the surface RT. However it could be possible to install Android since both are ARM-based. Possible does not mean easy nor viable and furthermore it will be a port, a port will never be as fluent and bug-free as the originally intended OS (and you have to depend on the developer team for the updates, etc).

    To sum up: If you want Android buy an Android tablet (cheaper and better), if you want Linux buy an ultrabook/notebook. If you want a mobile OS and a desktop OS check out the Asus transformer AiO.

    Hope it helps.

    • Linux runs on ARM processors, as well as MIPS processors and others. Microsoft is attempting to monopolize the software on Surface RT hardware, and if the public doesn’t raise a big enormous stink about it, they might succeed.

      • Correction, Linux can run on ARM but many GNU/Linux (desktop) is optimized for x86. They can be ported, and it’s generally a lot easier than it would be with Windows but you can’t just assume a Linux distro will work on a given device.

        Especially, with how ARM has a very fragmented market and many devices make use of closed drivers. There has to be support for the device and that’s not always the case!

        While conspiracies aside, Canonical has already developed a custom boot loader to work with Secure Boot, which actually helps make it harder for certain malware to effect the system, and both Fedora and Red Hat are getting certified. While a more universal solution is coming out as well.

        So it’ll eventually be a non-issue!

        • Correction. Linux RUNS on ARM:
          http: //
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          The problem with the surface is that it is locked to Microsoft software. give it time, it’ll be cracked, someone will get sued over “jailbreaking” it, it’ll goto court, the judge will rule in exactly the same way as he did with Apple and we’ll have Linux on the Surface, in the meantime, you’re stuck with the Windows RT piece of rubbish:-(

  2. LOL The statement that Linux doesn’t run on ARM or is not optimized for it is the most redicolous thing I have ever heard. Linux runs on your toaster. The software on Linux is open source and therefore easy to compile for ARM everything has an ARM port.

  3. I can not trust how anyone can be on these days so ignorant that doesn’t know Linux operating system has largest hardware support than any other operating system in computing history!

    Or doesn’t know that Ubuntu use Linux operating system, and Android use Linux operating system. Ubuntu or Android ain’t different OS than Linux. They are all using Linux operating system and so on separating them as “Ubuntu, Android and Linux” is just mark of ignorance.

    Most hardware these days are developed with Linux, they are sertificated, tested and manufactured on Linux devices. The difference is just that on small portion of them all comes with Linux drivers or are finally meant to be used with Linux.

    And the Microsoft claim for Secure Boot is pure propaganda to do vendor lock-in. The secure boot does not protect against malware, it doesn’t add anykind new security. Instead only thing what it does is that it gives Microsoft a keys (read power) to control WHO can sell and WHAT to YOUR computer.

    It is DRM, Microsoft way to block competition out, not to secure the computer. It is pure BS if you know anything about computer security, what you don’t because you don’t even know basic things about operating systems.

  4. @MK

    I will agree that secure boot is DRM, however, it does offer a minor security advantage against people who have physical access to your computer. Particularly with laptops, secure boot can be used to prevent people from booting your laptop from a flash drive without hacking your operating system.

    Also, Linux is not technically an Operating system. It is a kernel.

    “GNU is typically used with a kernel called Linux. This combination is the GNU/Linux operating system. GNU/Linux is used by millions, though many call it “Linux” by mistake.” – http:\\

    The standard Linux distributions most people think of (Including Ubuntu), are based on GNU\Linux.

    Android, however, is NOT the same operating system. While it shares the Linux kernel, it is technically Dalvik\Linux.
    While They may share many low level features the two operating systems are fundamentally different.

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