The Snapdragon Situation

After Apple unveiled their ARM-based Apple Silicon devices, the industry suddenly scrambled to pump out their own devices running non-x86 processors – now with renewed enthusiasm after less encouraging attempts like Windows RT. Still, it seems everyone got some catching up to do in the RISC space to catch up with the fruit company.

But this post is not to be a history lesson, instead I tell you about a recent purchase of mine: A 2-in-1 laptop computer – the Hyrican Enwo Pad 1. Or Hyrican Student Pad One. Or Pipo W12. Perhaps there are even more aliases, I am not sure.

A nice-looking little Surface-clone. Image credit: Hyrican

In any case, it looked promising: A Qualcomm Snapdragon 850 at heart, paired with 8 Gigabytes of memory, 120 Gigabytes of SSD (or eMMC?) storage, a SIM card slot (!) and a nice 2880×1920 12,3″ screen. Certainly not incredible by any means, but good enough for office or university work. All this was on sale for a mere 200€, which seems almost too good to be true, but who am I to question local electronics stores? So I got on my bike and came back one cardboard box richer.

My first goal after unpacking it was to update everything to its most recent versions, that included upgrading the included Windows 10 2004 to Windows 11 22H2. Everything seemed fine, except for the refresh rate seeming off – which turned out to be the case. I did not bother fixing this however, my actual goal was to nuke the existing installation to replace it with Linux, preferably Fedora. It had a full UEFI implementation, so nothing should stop me, right?


After creating a bootable USB drive and getting my USB-C-to-A adapter ready, I was quickly greeted by an error about security policies – of course I had to disable secure boot in the firmware settings. Trying again I was pleased to successfully boot into GRUB – but that is were the story of success ends. Trying to actually boot into the operating system was greeted with a few lines of logging before freezing and rebooting. What was the issue here?

Well, as it turns out, Qualcomm does not actually support Linux, at all. Which is odd keeping in mind Android is also based on Linux, with that being basically their bread-and-butter. In any case, I needed a so-called device tree, or DTS, file. Qualcomm CPUs do not speak ACPI, which makes these DTS files necessary for Linux to use its hardware drivers.

So I could not get Linux running on this device easily. Of course, there are no community solutions for this obscure name-shifting device – I gave up on that idea and went back to Windows 11.

Problem is: I need some Linux tools for my university work. WSL or a VM should solve this problem though, so no issue, right?

Wrong again.

This chipset does not support virtualisation. That makes running proper virtual machines impossible, as well as WSL2 – which is required for the distributions in the Microsoft Store. I would not want to use WSL1 in any case for work. So no Linux this way either.

At this point I admitted defeat. This 2-in-1, as nice as it seems, is not useful for me. Unfortunate.

So where are we now? For Linux and technical tasks, x86 stays at the top. Windows on Arm support is spotty at best, and Linux support on these devices is way worse again. We will have to wait and see what the future brings on that front. Perhaps RISC-V will come to our rescue? Who knows.

Post Image by Coolcaesar


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