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

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 damn_registrars ( 1103043 ) <> on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:37PM (#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 storkus ( 179708 ) on Friday December 07, 2012 @11:51PM (#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 Pope Raymond Lama ( 57277 ) <gwidion@mpc[ ] ['.co' in gap]> on Saturday December 08, 2012 @12:18AM (#42223011) Homepage

    And can a VMWare hosted Linux desktop do 3D? And about decent 3D?

  • by Tough Love ( 215404 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @12:23AM (#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 Yvanhoe ( 564877 ) on Saturday December 08, 2012 @12:53AM (#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.

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