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Graphics Portables Hardware Linux

Ask Slashdot: Best Laptop With Decent Linux Graphics Support? 260

Posted by timothy
from the holy-grail-for-the-holidays dept.
jcreus writes "After struggling for some years with Nvidia cards (the laptop from which I am writing this has two graphic cards, an Intel one and Nvidia one, and is a holy mess [I still haven't been able to use the Nvidia card]) and, encouraged by Torvalds' middle finger speech, I've decided to ditch Nvidia for something better. I am expecting to buy another laptop and, this time, I'd like to get it right from the start. It would be interesting if it had decent graphics support and, in general, were Linux friendly. While I know Dell has released a Ubuntu laptop, it's way off-budget. My plan is to install Ubuntu, Kubuntu (or even Debian), with dual boot unfortunately required." So: what's the state of the art for out-of-the-box support?
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Ask Slashdot: Best Laptop With Decent Linux Graphics Support?

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  • by Hsien-Ko (1090623) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:35PM (#42222781)
    Intel.
    • Not sad at all for me.

    • by Tough Love (215404) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:08PM (#42222963)

      Well, AMD is looking good too, with currently shipping Fusion parts for laptops all being Evergreen or Northern Islands, both supported by the open source xorg Radeon driver, with a few exceptions such as full screen antialiasing, which seems to be getting close but currently requires the Catalyst driver. See here [x.org] for the current xorg driver state. Notice that everything you need for 2D and 3D graphics is there, up to but not including Southern Islands. Just taking a quick look around, it looks like the latest budget AMD laptops are Trinity, which is Northern Islands, which should work fine with the current Xorg driver. But definitely google the specific chipset. Power management... good question. I'm getting solid results with Ivy Bridge, I haven't tried AMD's laptop parts recently.

      • by Yvanhoe (564877) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:53PM (#42223147) Journal
        I believed this jazz and bought an AMD/ATI laptop after being bitten by nVidia's optimus comment (my nvidia laptop got stolen). Now I miss my nvidia laptop. The Radeon driver is really lacking, has a very high battery consumption, doesn't work well with many applications. The fglrx (proprietary) driver won't work with several Xorg version without that considered a major bug by the dev team.

        It is very possible that right now, if you want pure open source, Intel may be the one offering the most supported punch. I will really consider this option for my next one. I wonder if CUDA can be done with intel cards.

        The alternative is to use bumblebee on nvidia proprietary driver, which drains battery but allows to enjoy a decent graphical acceleration.
        • I wonder if CUDA can be done with intel cards.

          No, never, CUDA is nVidia only. But Intel supports OpenCL. [intel.com]

          Bear in mind that AMD leaves Intel way back in the dust in GPU performance, including embedded GPUs.

          • by TeXMaster (593524) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:25AM (#42223641)
            OpenCL is supported by all major vendors, and it can be used both on CPU and on GPU. However, Intel's support for OpenCL on GPU is only available on Windows. Until the GalliumComute framework is ready, we won't be seeing any open source OpenCL support anywhere. (Also, Intel's GPUs support OpenCL only from HD4000 series).
            • Thanks for that. You would think the top 500 guys would be anxious to get this on Linux and put some muscle behind it, wouldn't you? Or maybe they already are. There are a few big clusters running Radeon GPUs.

        • I believed this jazz and bought an AMD/ATI laptop after being bitten by nVidia's optimus comment (my nvidia laptop got stolen). Now I miss my nvidia laptop. The Radeon driver is really lacking, has a very high battery consumption, doesn't work well with many applications. The fglrx (proprietary) driver won't work with several Xorg version without that considered a major bug by the dev team.

          This has been my experience as well. AMD's linux driver is very woeful at the moment and they have shown VERY little sign of even caring. Just check the number of issues reported at cchtml.com, which AMD have been shown to read and even respond to, but are still unfixed and not even slated to be fixed any time soon. I hear the open source driver is making leaps and bounds but it's still not as polished as Intel's.

          The alternative is to use bumblebee on nvidia proprietary driver, which drains battery but allows to enjoy a decent graphical acceleration.

          I use this currently, and it actually works pretty well. Muxless gpu switching is a godsend

    • by marcansoft (727665) <hector@nOsPam.marcansoft.com> on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:33PM (#42223061) Homepage

      Which means the Optimus solution isn't actually all that bad. I have the opposite viewpoint: I bought an Optimus laptop assuming the nvidia wouldn't work, simply for the other specs and the Intel video. When it turned out that bumblebee worked fairly painlessly and I was able to use the nvidia to accelerate 3D while the Intel drove my displays, I was pleasantly surprised. The solution is a bit of a hack, but honestly, I don't really have anything bad to say about it. It's the best of both worlds: open Intel drivers which are stable and support modern interfaces like XRandR 1.3 and KMS driving the displays, and the clunky proprietary but fast nvidia driver sandboxed in its own backgrond X server doing 3D acceleration only.

      • by ah42 (109096)

        I honestly have to agree with the ease of setting up Bumblebee. When I bought my current laptop online, it was advertised as nVidia graphics, and nowhere did it mention intel... so I was disappointed (and quite confused) to find X using the intel driver. I had never heard of this Optimus thing, and 5 minutes later, I had bumblebee installed, and running.

        https://launchpad.net/~bumblebee/+archive/stable [launchpad.net]

        • by Thumper_SVX (239525) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:27AM (#42225223) Homepage
          I came here to pretty much say this. I actually got an Alienware M11XR2 for free (it was purchased by my work for an executive who decided he hated it, and nobody else wanted such a small laptop so it was given to me as a play box). I stuck Ubuntu 12.04 LTS on it, installed Bumblebee after a bit of research and it works fantastically well. I play FlightGear and Diaspora on it frequently, and just got into the Steam for Linux beta. I haven't had any issues with it at all.

          While I agree it's not an optimal solution (groan... oh the pun, the pun!) it works really well. I have just modified the launchers in my start menu to call /usr/bin/optirun when I have a 3D accelerated app installed. Just for the record I run Gnome-Shell instead of Unity because I seriously can't stand it, and editing the menu items is easier.

          Interestingly, that extra step is really not that different to what I do on my Windows laptop which has a newer Optimus chipset (Dell E6430); more often than not I have to go and modify the launchers in the start menu to make sure they use the Optimus chipset to run instead of the Intel. Although I do also use the Nvidia control panel for that.

          Hmm... maybe all that's missing is a control panel item for Bumblebee... I might have to break out my Python/GTK skills and throw one together :)
    • by AncientPC (951874)

      Intel graphics and wifi has a good Linux reputation. Atom was an exception because they used a 3rd party GPU (PowerVR).

      Thinkpad with a full Intel stack (CPU, graphics, wifi, SSD) is the preferred route. I prefer the T430 (14") or X230 (12"). The biggest draw back is low resolution (1600x900 or 1366x768). You may want to look into the X1 Carbon as well.

      If cost is an issue, I would choose an X220 or T420. I actually prefer the older models as they have 7-row, traditional Thinkpad keyboard vs the newer 6-row c

      • by DarwinSurvivor (1752106) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:37AM (#42223845)

        Another happy x220 laptop user here. So far my experience after 6 months is that the thing is amazing.

        • Screen resolution is only 1366x768 (bummer, but few non-huge laptops are any better)
        • With the 9-cell battery (default is 6) and pcie_aspm=force, I got 11 hour battery new, and 9.5 hours when 6 months old
        • Mic-mute button does nothing, but I've never needed it (output mute works perfectly)
        • Touchpad enable/disable does nothing, but I've yet to hit the touchpad by accident in over 6 months (and I used to do that regularly on my other laptops)
        • With the SSD the only noise is the fan which occasionaly turns itself OFF because the CPU (i3) stays below 50 under normal load and isn't needed 100%!!!
        • For non-AAA gaming, the intel chipset does just fine. 60fps in UrbanTerror at full resolution.I can even output full 1080p via ext display (haven't tried with gaming yet).
        • Actually, that DisplayPort supports 2560x1600 output without problems... 1080p is child's play for an X220 ;)

      • For touchpad, you usually want to make sure it's Synaptics for multi-touch support.

        Multitouch works on Elantech touchpads too.

      • If 1600x900 is too low, look no farther than the T530... a little bit bigger, but only very slightly heavier (not really noticable if both machines have a 9-cell battery installed) than the T430, and the screen is fantastic (MUCH better than the T430 1600x900 screens). 1080p, great color reproduction, extremely bright, high contrast, and very wide viewing angles as far as TN panels go. Now if only there was a 2560x1440 version... :D

    • by dbIII (701233)
      The submitter was complaining about an Intel chipset, so how the hell did this get modded informative?
      • No, he was complaining about nVidia Optimus (nVidia's switchable graphics), which isn't properly supported on Linux. The Intel graphics part seems to be working fine...

    • Interesting. I've always had lots of trouble with Intel graphics, but never any trouble with Nvidia. My current (2 year old) Dell laptop has an FX 1800. It really kicks tail compared to the newest ones some of my coworkers are using. Their (also Dell) laptops have Intel graphics (don't know which).

  • by byolinux (535260) * on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:36PM (#42222785) Journal

    I found its actually hard to get a machine that's decent these days, unless you're prepared to put up with a bit of crap.

    The solution is to build your own custom laptop -- http://www.avadirect.com/gaming-laptop-configurator.asp?PRID=25095 [avadirect.com]

    If you go for the "VISIONTEK Killer" wireless card, it has an Atheros chipset, so you can distro-hop to your hearts content. They also ship it with no OS if you like.

    • by Kazymyr (190114)

      Or buy from a company that allows you to customize every aspect of the laptop. I have an Eurocom Racer http://web.eurocom.com/EC/ec_model_config1%281,219,0%29 with Radeon HD6970M graphics. You almost can't get better non-Nvidia mobile graphics than that. Got it with no OS installed, and it runs xubuntu like a champ.

  • by damn_registrars (1103043) <damn.registrars@gmail.com> on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:37PM (#42222793) Homepage Journal
    What do you mean by "decent linux graphics support"? I have a Thinkpad with NVidia NVS 3100M discrete graphics and 512mb vram. I'm perfectly content with it for what I do, which includes 3d molecular modelling. KDE looks great, too. On the other hand I don't play any 3d games so I can't tell you what Call of Duty 12 or any of those look like on here. I would sooner write code in CUDA for the GPU than do that.
    R In other words, your sense of "decent linux graphics support" might not be the same as everyone else.
    • by willy_me (212994)

      Probably means "a machine that works". I use Linux at work and I started out with an older ATI card. What a mess, ended up putting in a cheap Nvidia card and that cleared up most, but not all, of my problems. Strange things still happen - like inverted colors in flash. Sure it can (and has) been fixed but I personally don't want to waste my time with such things.

      Overall, I would say that Linux drivers generally suck when it comes to video cards. The one exception is Intel as the newer iSeries CPUs

      • by Tough Love (215404) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:23PM (#42223023)

        Your experience does seem a little out of date. Try a Radeon 6450 for example, it's solid as a rock under both the open source and Catalyst drivers and for $40 you can't complain about the performance.

      • by Nutria (679911)

        but I personally don't want to waste my time with such things.

        Huh? The fix was trivial. And took no more than 15 minutes of research. Also, it was a solid fix that immediately worked so well that I don't now remember what I did to fix it...

      • Assuming he means "with Bios and drive support for 7 years" the Lenovo is the only choice. I have a T61p and use it for PCB layout (as well as OpenOffice and Opera).

        I also have a T43p from 2006, and just downloaded upgrades of all the stuff needed for a new Windows 7 professional install (for compatibility with the two family members who don't use Ubuntu). It was in daily use with XP till a week ago! I guess it will be another 7 years before it gets Win8, unless OpenBSD replaces Microsoft by then!

        New

    • by fa2k (881632)

      I had that card too. I was planning to use my Thinkpad as a desktop replacement, but I couldn't watch video on the second screen because of NVidia's TwinView tech. They set the refresh rate of the second monitor to something bonkers in software (but the actual DVI connection works at the correct rate), so video and even desktop effects suffer from quite bad tearing artifacts on the second monitor. This was between 1 and 2 years ago , it may have improved since then.

    • by tylikcat (1578365)

      It sounds like our experiences are similar. I'm on a Thinkpad 530w, with the dual intel invidia cards. I went through the hassle of setting up bumblebee when I first got it (and pulled down the latest intel drivers as it was too new for the repository to have support) but have been just using the intell drivers since the latest rebuild as they haven't been a problem for anything I'm doing.* ...but more to the point, what molecular modelling? I'm off in neurobio these days (and have been doing softbodied bio

  • I, for one (Score:5, Funny)

    by Black Parrot (19622) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:37PM (#42222795)

    welcome our new middle-finger-brandishing overlord.

  • System76 (Score:3, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:37PM (#42222803)

    Have you looked at System76? They make laptops preloaded with Ubuntu. www.system76.com

    • Re:System76 (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Tough Love (215404) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:32PM (#42223051)

      Have you looked at System76? They make laptops preloaded with Ubuntu. www.system76.com

      I just ordered one from The Linuxlaptop [thelinuxlaptop.com]. It's basically a Dell Inspiron. I could have gotten it faster and paid a little less directly from Dell, but I'm getting lazy, I want to just turn it on and have it work. I think, from now on I will only order from companies that pre-install Linux. It says something about their commitment.

      • by nschubach (922175)

        Nothing says professional like slow load times and a blurred out stock photo in the banner... I mean, it literally took me 3 minutes to load the page. And now it's down.

        • Re:System76 (Score:4, Informative)

          by Tough Love (215404) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @01:26AM (#42223457)

          Nothing says professional like slow load times and a blurred out stock photo in the banner... I mean, it literally took me 3 minutes to load the page. And now it's down.

          Slashdotted I'd say. And that's a good thing. I wish these guys the best.

    • Re:System76 (Score:4, Informative)

      by ittybad (896498) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @03:05AM (#42223751) Homepage
      I've been developing on a System 76 for about a year and a half now (the then Serval model). I absolutely love it. I've become hooked on the finger print scanner for sudo commands. The only problem that I recall having was trying to upgrade from 10.04 to 12.04 for Ubuntu. A bunch-o-things got all fubar. Reinstalling 12.04 worked like a charm and my overall experience got even better than before. I ended up having to put a windows dual boot on it for some windows/mac only video conferencing software for work, and System 76 provided all the drivers to make the windows installation work as expected. The bizarre "windows experience index" gave me a seven point something which is apparently good. I highly recommend System 76, but I have yet to try the other vendors.
  • by CajunArson (465943) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:41PM (#42222823) Journal

    System76 gives good support. They aren't the cheapest option out there though.

    If your goal is not to play 3D games, then Intel HD graphics have by far the best open-source support and HD 4000 graphics are actually pretty good overall. If your goal is to play games, then Nvidia or AMD with proprietary drivers will be your best bet, with the edge in driver quality going to Nvidia.

    AMD does have some open source support *BUT* the 7000 series cards (meaning everything released in the last year) are extremely poorly supported with AMD only having released part of the necessary documentation so far (and it took them 10 months to release the part that is out there....).

  • by storkus (179708) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:51PM (#42222871)

    There are two problems here:

    1a. You haven't specified exactly what you'll be doing: if it's just office crap, anything will do; but if you'll be running the GIMP, games, etc, you'll need higher-end hardware (both CPU and GPU).

    1b. Do you need x86/x64? If not, a Chromebook or tablet with USB-OTG and hub may be an answer; unfortunately, the below blob problem still applies.

    2. For GPUs there are two kinds of drivers: reverse-engineered and proprietary blobs; you almost certainly know this. NVIDIA is the king of the blob department, AMD/ATI is middle of the road, and Intel (along with older stuff like SiS) is mostly completely reverse-engineered or even released open. Bear in mind, the open drivers are messy: based on the state of the art, graphics is by far the most difficult thing to reverse engineer a driver for, and I really feel for the guys working on them! (Edit: AMD/ATI's blobs are well known for being a mess, too!)

    Bottom line: if RMS can barely get a machine to his liking, you'll have only a marginally less difficult time. Sorry.

    • by jgrahn (181062)

      1a. You haven't specified exactly what you'll be doing: if it's just office crap, anything will do

      Except for that which doesn't work reliably, e.g. locks up or has graphics bugs. Or that which needs bizarre, non-free or bleeding-edge drivers.

      but if you'll be running the GIMP, games, etc, you'll need higher-end hardware (both CPU and GPU).

      I don't know how you use the GIMP, but I use it for plain 2D image editing, and used that way it just needs to render bitmaps. Nothing your web browser doesn't want to do already.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:55PM (#42222901)

    Unlike system76, ZaReason, and every other f'ing company there trying to fix the mess. ThinkPenguin's been working with Atheros for instance on getting the complete source for a USB wifi chipset. That'll bring us the first truly Linux friendly USB adapter which is fully supported. There are two other older USB chipsets which are also not dependent on non-free software. The older N chipset has issues with some routers (then again it's really pre-N so that is to be expected) and the G chipset is well supported provided you stick to browsing the web and don't venture off to setup your own access point.

    Anyway. Back to ThinkPenguin. The company has a number of laptops at a variety of prices points that anybody can afford. They are starting at $500 and you can throw any distribution on them just about because the company doesn't depend on pieces that are outside the mainline kernel and/or other major projects nor proprietary. And to make you feel better they are HUGE contributors to free software. 25% of there profits go to Trisquel and other projects as well. They are also working on numerous initiatives to better support people around the world. For instance there manufacturing keyboards for a dozen languages/regions and have brought support for lots of other hardware to the US, Canada, Australia, and Europe (as well as elsewhere).

    • by Arker (91948)
      They sound like a great company, and paying $500 for a laptop isnt much if you can be sure you arent getting crap/unsupportable hardware in the deal. I will keep them in mind for my next purchase but... at the moment they dont seem to be shipping anything with ECC so I guess I will have to build my next purchase myself like usual.
  • by smitty_one_each (243267) * on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:56PM (#42222907) Homepage Journal
    I can use emacs at any resolution, irrespective of X11, pointing device, or keyboard.
    • by fa2k (881632)

      Sure, Emacs has always had good hardware support. This is about a lesser OS called "Linux"

  • by wangmaster (760932) on Friday December 07, 2012 @10:57PM (#42222915)

    Yes, Linus gave Nvidia the middle finger, and from a certain perspective it was for a good reason, but from another perspective, it's just "ranting".

    Nvidia has insisted on closed source proprietary drivers. Does this mean the drivers are crap? Nope, it just makes it very difficult for the open source community to troubleshoot/support them.

    ATI/AMD is in the same boat. They have proprietary drivers. Arguably, Nvidia drivers are better. In my experience the ATI/AMD drivers tend to have more bugs. They also have a tendency to release support for a new xorg-server well after the server has been released, thus forcing those of us on the bleeding edge to wait. On the otherhand, they help support the open source drivers, which is great. But, the open source drivers lag behind, so if you're a gamer and dual boot to Windows and have a great ATI/AMD card, it may not work properly under the Linux open source drivers or with a bleeding edge distro with the latest and greatest xorg-server.

    Otherwise, if you want "gamer-grade" graphics, you basically have a choice between Nvidia and ATI/AMD. Both have their tradeoffs.

    If you don't care about gamer-grade graphics cards, Intel drivers are open source, well maintained, and the new sandy bridge and ivy bridge graphics are more than good enough for almost anything but gaming (they're okay for low to mid-low end gaming but that's about it).

    My solution is a thinkpad w520 with optimus graphics. I use optimus graphics under windows when I want to game (quadro 2000m) and use the integrated intel graphics for linux with bbswitch to disable the nvidia gpu so my battery life doesn't suck. But it really does boil down to, do you want to game? If so, you have no choice but a proprietary driver or not-up-to-snuff open source driver. If not, stick with onboard Intel. Decent graphics performance and much better battery life than most discrete solutions.

    • by chmod a+x mojo (965286) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:39PM (#42223075)

      Don't forget, NVidia are great for supporting older hardware... at least a LOT better than ATI/AMD.
      ATI/AMD has dropped the HD4200 series cards as of something like 6+ months ago from the newer drivers. NVidia on the other hand still supports a huge range of older cards, and supports VDPAU on pretty much anything from the last few years at the very least.

      For non-gaming needs the radeon driver works out well for most cards though, so it's a trade off. And the X.org boys are ( or at least have been, I haven't been following too close lately ) working on getting VDPAU working on the HD4XXX+ hardware with the radeon driver.

    • by Agent ME (1411269)

      Nvidia has insisted on closed source proprietary drivers. Does this mean the drivers are crap? Nope, it just makes it very difficult for the open source community to troubleshoot/support them.

      Nvidia Optimus cards aren't even usable in Linux until the Bumblebee project reinvented support for the Optimus stuff on their own. If that's not complete *crap* on Nvidia's part, then I don't even know what we can call crap.

      • by mallan (37663) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:06AM (#42223591) Homepage

        No, not true - you can certainly use Optimus cards on Linux, you just have to choose between the integrated chipset or the dedicated chipset at boot time. What you don't get is the power savings from being able to dynamically switch between the low-power integrated Intel gfx and the high performance NVidia gfx. It's really not that big of a deal - the battery life on my thinkpad is just fine using the NVidia gfx 100% of the time.

        • "...the battery life on my thinkpad is just fine using the NVidia gfx 100% of the time."

          Unless you need more than a few hours of battery life at a time. I've been buying solely Intel graphics based Thinkpads for a few years now, and currently I no longer need to carry a power supply with me... the 9-cell in my T520 lasts all day (from about 6:30 AM to 7:00 PM when I get home, with a few short breaks for lunch and such... I use public transit, so it's usually in use during transit as well). Can't see doing t

    • by Arker (91948)

      Nvidia has insisted on closed source proprietary drivers. Does this mean the drivers are crap? Nope, it just makes it very difficult for the open source community to troubleshoot/support them.

      Unfortunately that does, indeed, mean they are crap. It makes them *impossible* to troubleshoot or support and it also means they wont even run at all on many linux systems! It's hard to imagine what one could possibly do to produce something that is more 'crap' than that.

      The fact is that 'supported' in the context of

    • by fa2k (881632)

      the problems with the open source drivers are in the areas of performance and power management. As for performance, I don't actually know, I have to take other people's word for it. I have an AMD desktop card and Linux native games work brilliantly, but there seems to be a problem with almost every Wine game.

      Power management is limited on the open source driver. You can choose between performance profiles for power saving and performance (hot, loud and fast), one in between and one adaptive profile. The thr

  • easy 3 steps. (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward

    1. download kinoppix or other live cd distro. ideally without binary blobs.
    2. go to a store like fry's or bestbuy
    4. reboot machine, disable safe boot, boot from usb, check hardware support.

    • by hazem (472289)

      And check the "little things" and not just main support. For example, I have this little Acer Aspire One (AO756) that I like a lot. It has a celeron processor and linux runs on it well. EXCEPT: I've tried everything I can and there seems to be no way to get an external microphone to work (it has a combo jack, like a cellphone). Also, the SD card slot does not work in Linux either. Both of these things work fine in the Windows 7 that the machine came installed with.

      I have hopes that future kernel updat

      • Indeed, the Toshiba laptop I just got in a trade is 99.9% supported in GNU/Linux. That 0.1% is the headphone jack; with pure ALSA it simply doesn't work, and with PulseAudio it works but has to be manually switched when I plug in my 'phones or external speakers. Also, with Pulse I get a nasty static from time to time and the only cure is to reboot (I've tried stopping and starting the sound system and no dice).

        Of course, the fact that the Intel HD graphics are fully supported is really great. Still, it's th

  • What do you mean I can't get a laptop with a Hercules mono graphics card in it?

    And who said CGA was "so last century".

    Hell, maybe it's time I upgraded.

    I noticed that I became much better at playing minesweeper after switching to an NVIDIA card.

    Hmmm... I think this morning's earthquakes [nzherald.co.nz] may have rattled something loose in my head ;-)

  • I would be tempted to buy a cheap chromebook [yes the ARM one] for $200, which allegedly run ubuntu very nicely. I would probably be tempted to either they drop in price to get rid of the old stock, or buy one of the new versions that come with a touchscreen next year.

    ...Oh you want dualboot. I assume you can still run chrome ;)

    • by hazem (472289)

      As far as I can tell, the newest Acer Chrome-book is nearly the same computer as their celeron-based Aspire-One computers. I have one of those and as far as I can tell, the computers are nearly identical. So I'm suspecting it should be easy to put any flavor of Linux on it, since it doesn't appear to be an ARM computer.

    • arrives tomorrow. Can't wait.
    • Re:Chromebook (Score:4, Informative)

      by Andy Prough (2730467) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:38AM (#42225295)
      Chromebook already runs a specialized version of Gentoo, which you can unlock in Dev mode and run (http://georgemcbay.blogspot.com/2012/10/go-on-samsung-arm-chromebook_25.html). For dual boot, you can just run a version of Linux on a USB stick (http://www.chromebook-linux.com/2011/11/booting-gnulinux-distribution-from-usb.html).
  • Wait for Haswell (Score:5, Informative)

    by Wyzard (110714) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:23PM (#42223025) Homepage

    If you can wait awhile longer before buying, Intel's upcoming Haswell processor is reported to have significantly improvied graphics performance [myce.com], and Intel GPUs are well-supported with free drivers in Linux and Xorg. They're less-powerful than NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, but should be fine unless you need to play high-end games on high quality settings.

    • by dmt0 (1295725)

      If you can wait awhile longer before buying, Intel's upcoming Haswell processor is reported to have significantly improvied graphics performance [myce.com], and Intel GPUs are well-supported with free drivers in Linux and Xorg. They're less-powerful than NVIDIA and AMD GPUs, but should be fine unless you need to play high-end games on high quality settings.

      Yes, and than wait another year or so until they get the drivers to work properly, which they still didn't with Sandy Bridge.

    • Yes, this. Haswell is the reason Valve is investing so much of its efforts on Intel Linux drivers. It will make buying AMD or NVIDIA cards pointless for gaming.
  • Decent Linux Graphics Support?

    There's no such thing. Wait until Valve/Steam get going and maybe... just maybe... But right now? Fuck no.

    • by Arker (91948)
      You really expect a company that requires you to install a rootkit just to buy their products is going to somehow improve the situation for Free drivers? Are you out of your blooming mind?
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:35PM (#42223065)

    My latest experience:

    1. I built an Ivy Bridge machine with the latest Intel onboard graphics. I installed Mint 13 KDE, and I got crashes like crazy.

    2. I put in an nVidia card, installed the nVidia proprietary driver, and everything has been smooth since.

    I've had this exact kind of thing happen on several previous builds. In every case, the solution that worked for me was to ditch the Intel onboard graphics and get nVidia.

    I know nVidia's proprietary binary blob sucks, but it's the only thing I've found so far that allows me to stay on Linux.

    Maybe other solutions work too, but my recommendation is (1) stay away from Intel graphics, (2) try nVidia first.

  • OpenGL (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:46PM (#42223111)

    If you want OpenGL support, you want nVidia.

  • I recently had this issue with my Slackware install on a brand new Thinkpad. I can't vouch for all systems, but on mine I was able to tell the BIOS to disable Optimus and use ONLY the Nvidia chip. It was a really simple work around. Although, I did have to use the Intel graphics during installation. But once I rebooted from the installer, I was able to switch the BIOS to the Nvidia chip and have been using it ever since with Nvidia's drivers. I'd like the power savings of the Optimus feature, but that

  • To my surprise... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by erp_consultant (2614861) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @12:16AM (#42223221)

    my MacBook Pro does an outstanding job of running Linux. You can dual boot it or run Linux in VMware or Virtual Box. No graphics card issues at all. Everything worked right out of the gate - sound, graphics, wireless, everything. If you can, try and find one a few years old. The new ones have those soldered on chips that make it impossible to upgrade. Get an SSD, take out the DVD, put in a second HD and you're off to the races.

    • Re:To my surprise... (Score:4, Informative)

      by tlhIngan (30335) <slashdot@wor[ ]et ['f.n' in gap]> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @01:34AM (#42223497)

      my MacBook Pro does an outstanding job of running Linux. You can dual boot it or run Linux in VMware or Virtual Box. No graphics card issues at all. Everything worked right out of the gate - sound, graphics, wireless, everything. If you can, try and find one a few years old. The new ones have those soldered on chips that make it impossible to upgrade. Get an SSD, take out the DVD, put in a second HD and you're off to the races.

      Actually, all you need are the ones that lack the "Retina" display. Apple still makes regular plain old Macbook Pros (13" and 15") with fully upgradable everything. Just avoid the MacBook Pro with Retina display and you're fine. You don't want it anyhow - running at native resolution is a good way to strain your eyes. And running non-native looks ugly on any OS other than OS X (Try running 1920x1200 on it - it'll look practically native on OS X, and ugly as heck on any other OS).

      So stick with the traditional line and you'll be fine. Easiest way to tell is because they still come with optical drives.

      No reason to not get the latest tech, especially as Apple is still manufacturing them.

      • Re:To my surprise... (Score:4, Interesting)

        by amorsen (7485) <benny+slashdot@amorsen.dk> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @04:48AM (#42224033)

        You don't want it anyhow - running at native resolution is a good way to strain your eyes.

        Do you have problems reading stuff printed on 1200 DPI printers? Professional offset printing must be a nightmare for you.

      • As long as you don't have an objection to running KDE, Plasma runs just fine on the Retina displays as the window components are resolution independent. It is the only workspace I know of that is unfortunately, but I've been running it for a while on my MBP and have zero issues. Looks fantastic.

  • by slacka (713188) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @02:28AM (#42223657)

    I've worked extensively with ATI, Nvida, and Intel Linux laptops and unfortunately there is no ideal solution. First, you need to decide whether you need open source or proprietary drivers. Proprietary drivers give vastly superior performance and expose the most OpenGL features. If you want support for the life of your laptop, be aware that manufactures will drop support after a few years as was done with my ATI X1800.

    The open source drivers tend to give the solid 2D experience and have great support for wayland and compiz. You also don’t have to worry about kernel updates breaking your drivers. With open drivers forget about and serious gaming. OpenGL performance is still terrible compared to proprietary drivers. Intel has the best open source drivers. If you need more performance than an integrated GPU can deliver, ATI has the 2nd best open drivers.
    TL:DR Propriatary -> Nvidia, Open -> Intel or ATI

  • I recently converted a 2008 vintage Compaq and a newer AMD 64+Nvidia graphics laptop to Ubuntu.

    The older laptop required editing a file in /etc to force an alternate video driver to load. The other laptop works best with a driver named nvidia.

    What worked for me was refreshing my memory by reading the classic explanation of how a Debian Linux loads drivers, noting a few key filenames, and doing the few simple steps to switch video drivers and restart the computer. After writing it down on a sheet of paper, s

  • Coming at this from the other side ... as someone involved in tech support (as a volunteer), we've recently had an issue that only shows up with the 3.5 kernels and the Catalyst driver. My own distro isn't using 3.5 kernels yet - the people reporting this were all using one of the latest *buntu versions. Since the original question was about Ubuntu, all I can say is be very careful. If the current LTS version doesn't have the 3.5 kernel yet, then go with that and avoid the issue.

    I have had good luck with nV

  • if you're aim is to go for fast 3D, your range of choice is narrowed down to either ATI or nVidia. and, nVidias drivers are the better one.

    yes, they are closed source, etc., but still they work.

    no open source driver for these cards produces a sufficient level of performance. and, they lack a lot of features that are important for laptops. for example, the open source ATI drivers doesn't scale the GPU clock, which means your GPU will run at 100% all the time, your battery will get drained with it real fast (

  • I do not have any issues with my Nvidia+Intel setup, aside from some mishaps when I upgrade my Linux kernel (Bumblebee sometimes becomes a zombie kernel module, which won't unload, and that isn't fun).

    There is Nouveau if you hate closed-source or something, but it has a lot of issues right now that should be resolved in the future: namely, that it doesn't support setting the clock rate of the GPU, so the GPU always runs at boot clock speeds by default. This means that your out-of-the-box performance with No

  • by Rozzin (9910) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @10:34AM (#42225265) Homepage

    There are several makers of Linux laptops, at this point:
    I've had great experiences buying from ZaReason [zareason.com], I know people who have had great experiences buying from System76 [system76.com], and ThinkPenguin [www.thinkpenguing] is another option.

    I'm writing this from a ZaReason UltraLap 430 [zareason.com] (see recent review on Ars Technica [arstechnica.com], and a video review by Tom Merritt [tommerritt.com] [note that there are a couple of mistakes about specs in the video]), which I love even more than the Thinkpad X-series that it replaced.

    My wife has a ZaReason Alto 4330 [zareason.com] that she loves even more than the Thinkpad X-series that it replaced.

    For work, I've had several ZaReason machines--including some Alto 3880 [zareason.com] laptops (the previous generation of what my wife now has). We got the Altos with 8-way multiprocessing (4-core + hyperthreading) and gobs of RAM, with run-times of 3-4 hours on a single charge and weight just over 4 lbs; they've made fantastic developers' laptops for us.

    And, for what you get, the ZaReason machines aren't even that expensive (seriously--a monster-power Alto is only ~$1k).

    If you ask for it, the computers even come with whatever username you want setup--you don't even have to fill your name into the account; you just turn the computers on and use them (if you don't ask for it, they infer it from the name on the order).

    As I understand it from my friends, System 76 is basically the same way, except that they're Ubuntu only.

  • by Analog Penguin (550933) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @11:46AM (#42225665)
    I recently bought a Clevo P170EM with a hybrid Intel HD 4000/Radeon 7970M setup. The Intel card was supported perfectly in Linux out of the box. Getting support for the 7970M took a few months, but the most recent Catalyst release supports it under Ubuntu 12.04, and setup was relatively painless. The only minor hassle of this setup is the need to restart the X server to switch the active card. I understand 12.10 is a little dicier due to the new version of X, and I don't know about any other distros, but I've been running this setup for a few months now without any problems and can highly recommend it. If the P170EM is too big, the P150EM is essentially the same hardware with a smaller screen. Every other hardware component except the fingerprint reader works perfectly in Ubuntu as well.

    System76 also sells machines with Ubuntu pre-installed, and they recently introduced a model with discrete graphics, so you could also look into either their computers or the Clevo computers upon which their models are based (I believe the Bonobo, their discrete-graphicsed model, is based on the P370EM).

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