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RedHat is hiring to make Linux run better on laptops (gnome.org)
245 points by soulbadguy on Aug 12, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 182 comments



As much as I like Ubuntu, I have a significantly higher level of trust in Red Hat to get this right for some reason. Maybe it's just confidence in the company's core principles.

I've hit a point where I'm ready to move on from my Macbook Pro after about 10 years and I've been looking at Linux laptop options. It's mind boggling that it's so hard to find good options.

Everything seems to revolve around "get a Windows laptop and wipe it" or "buy some flavor of old Thinkpad" with warnings about EFI and compatibility. Then there are company's like System76 who have what looks like a good offering on the surface but I keep seeing threads about bad experiences with them.

If I could order a laptop direct from Red Hat I'd do it without hesitation.


Dell sells a few "developer editions" of their XPS13 with Ubuntu preloaded [1].

[1] http://www.dell.com/ca/business/p/xps-13-9350-laptop-ubuntu/...


As an owner of a Dell XPS Developer Edition, with Ubuntu installed, expect every Linux application you have not to work with its high resolution display. I'm happy enough to get my terminal, Chromium and my IDE working with it, but 99% of applications are just not made for it. Also, before you enter Linux check if applications you use daily ( like Skype ) work well on Linux. Just try it on a VM first. I was really surprised to see what Skype looks like on Linux, especially in combination with the high res screen. Not only that, a load of things just dont work out of the box that you'd expect from a Windows or Mac machine ( small things like unplugging my earphones while the laptop is in sleep mode, turning it on and having no sound, until I find earphones to plug in and out again. ) Do not recommend. What I would recommend is trying out Linux for a month or so, with a dual-boot setup.


as a owner of a XPS 13 with the latest 6560u skylake and iris 540 .. and an edition that is NOT a developer edition... I couldnt be happier.

Ubuntu has been terrible. I switched to Fedora 24 on the XPS 13 and it has been brilliant. No other laptop (not even macbooks) come with that weight/power ratio.

Everything works - including skype, etc. suspend resume has worked absolutely perfectly.

I really, really recommend using Fedora. Ubuntu has not been delivering the experience that the hype expects.


The issue that made me give up the XPS 13 for personal use was that Linux still doesn't support having a secondary monitor at a lower pixel density. I tried about 5 different distros, they all looked terrible, so I had to return the XPS and get a MacBook that I knew would work just fine. Other than that the laptop was beautiful.


I simply scale the external display using xrandr --scale 2x2 (or similar, you can specify fractions).

Works way better than expected and I use it ten hours a day. At some point, Wayland solves this natively, but in the meantime this is an acceptable workaround.


It's crazy there is no obvious UI for this. xrandr can do so much more than the typical monitor settings panel.


They say you have to wait for Wayland for this to work correctly.


Yep, that's why I decided to return the laptop and wait until Wayland is the default on Fedora to try again. I love Linux, used it for years as my main OS, but it's hard to beat the convenience of OS X when it comes to productivity. I don't miss all the time spent trying to get music to play without audible clicks caused by faulty drivers, setting up my computer so it'd remember where my desk monitor is in relation to the laptop monitor, getting wi-fi drivers to stop dropping packets, etc.


I got mine yesterday. Replaced the preinstalled Ubuntu 14.04 LTs with Arch Linux and I was shocked how well everything worked. So far I haven't found a single thing that doesn't work and having installed Linux on a lot of laptops in the past that's truly not something I would expect. Apart from the icons in the Gnome app tray I haven't seen any issues with HiDPI either.


Agreed. I run Fedora as my main VM and it has been pretty damn solid. I tried dual booting and had some NVidia problems, but otherwise it was okay.

It is 80% there, and if I didn't just get a MBP from work, I'd probably spend some more time with Fedora outside the VM.

Either way, if MS doesn't clean up their act, I'm done with Windows after a long time of daily use.


except fonts...


Short version: a lot of us don't even think about the fonts as long as we have and ordinary monospaced one when we edit code.

Long version: It seems there are two kinds of people here:

Some like me never think about any font that finds its way into any mainstream distro.

Others seems to care deeply about them.

I find it useful to keep this in mind as I honestly find one of the highly praised Mac a usability disaster (tried honestly to work with it or around it for almost three years).


I ran Linux on the desktop for 19 years. I always used the same distro on the servers as I did on my desktop, just to keep it consistent. I changed a dozen machines over to a new distro, at one point, because I couldn't get my fonts to look good. So, yeah, I'm one of "those people."


Sure, but that doesn't mean improvement can't happen.

I personally would love to see a proper graphics application. I would use linux as my main PC in a heartbeat if a Sketch equivalent was available. I expect a lot of people have similar feelings or have one thing keeping them from completely making the jump.


Yep, my point is only that we shouldn't discourage people from trying because it looks awful and jarring - a lot of us don't recognize that and loves thise Linux distros. :-)


I'm one of those people that just can't tolerate ugly fonts. It drives me insane.

I recently got a MBP and the fonts are great. In 2016, Linux needs this fixed.


Fellow font-blind person here. It's hard for me to understand the intense emotional response other people have to fonts. I couldn't care less about fonts than I do about the colour of the circuit board my CPU is soldered on.


As a programmer, how can you not care? You stare at it all day.

That's like saying some art dealers don't care what paintings look like. They just sell the stuff.


I understand this might sound weird but I just don't think about fonts. In my head that is designer territory and ever since I realised I was colourweak and couldn't be one anyway I stopped even trying.

I know three types that I use: serif, sans-serif and monospaced programming fonts.

I do however care a lot about keyboard layouts, keyboard shortcuts and general snappiness of the OS so I am definitely a programmer ;-)

Edit: and I'm not a graphics programmer so I'm not an "art dealer" anyway, more like someone in logistics. :-)


There are definitely art dealers that don't care about what the paintings look like, and just want what sells. Personally, as long as it's readable...


This is one of the things I really love about Ubuntu. Ubuntu monospace is the most readable and unambiguous monospace font I've ever seen.


Out of the box Fedora has ugly fonts but that is easily fixed with Fedy http://folkswithhats.org/ takes two minutes and you have beautiful fonts just like Ubuntu :)


It doesn't matter on high DPI displays by the way.


The fonts on Fedora 24 on the XPS 13 is brilliant. I think gnome and freetype has improved to the level that the rendering is excellent.


Can confirm, with a Thinkpad T460s. Better than Windows and OS X.


Freetype's grayscale rendering works great on higher DPI displays, even the 1080P display on my 2013 Dell XPS 13 is sufficiently dense for me to not notice, and with some recent improvements in Fedora 24 I hardly notice the lack of subpixel rendering even on my 24" display at home (though it's still somewhat irksome, debating installing freetype-freeworld again).


I definitely noticed on Thinkpad's 14" 1600x900 display. However, after installing freetype-freeworld and configuring rgba rendering, the font rendering is better than Windows or OSX.


Skype is owned by Microsoft it's not a huge surprise that it's not a smooth experience on Linux.

Linux is a different operating system with a different philosophy. There are windows-y distros, but and the end of the day the core is very different and the UX is very different.

Switching to Linux is not like switching brands of cars. It's more like switching from a car to a motorcycle. The rules are different, the ride is different, the functioning knowledge you need is different. Don't expect your car-seat to work anymore, you'll need a different product entirely to achieve the same function.

Especially if you are switching for philosophical reasons, I'd say just bite the bullet and learn to adjust. There are a lot of huge benefits, but also a lot of things you're used to just won't work anymore.

I haven't touched Windows in 3 years. You definitely don't need it.


Skype is owned by Microsoft it's not a huge surprise that it's not a smooth experience on Linux.

Linux is a different operating system with a different philosophy. There are windows-y distros, but and the end of the day the core is very different and the UX is very different.

This is quite an irrelevant point. macOS is also very different from Windows, from the POSIX API (which makes it very similar to Linux) to Cocoa. And yet Skype works fine.

The real reason is more likely to be that Microsoft just doesn't want to support Linux properly. Of course, the reasons are more clouded, possible reasons are: virtually no marketshare on the desktop, large fragmentation, or they simply see Linux as a competitor that they don't want to give momentum. Given that they do support Android, iOS, and macOS, my guess would be the former two.


The new web client supports audio calls in Chrom(e|ium) on Linux nowadays.

rm -rf /opt/skype


There was quite a bit of talk that Skype on Linux is dead with the move by MS to the cloud.

But there's a new official client coming based on WebRTC :

https://community.skype.com/t5/Linux/Skype-for-Linux-Alpha-a...


Skype web works brilliantly on the chrome browser on Linux. I prefer it to the desktop client.

No video yet though


Stop using Skype. Can confirm that the WebRTC client works fine however.

Jitsi Meet is a self-hosted, enterprise-grade alternative which works just as well. It even supports larger video conferences than Skype.


"Hi, sorry, no I can't attend the Skype interview, lima on HN told me to stop using it"


Stop using Skype.

Easier said than done when colleagues, friends, and family use Skype for video calling.


Works surprisingly well with Jitsi Meet, since it runs in the browser and requires no setup. Just send them the link, they click on it, done.

Public instance there: https://meet.jit.si/

Company I work for migrated from Skype to Jitsi for meetings.


Mint + Cinnamon + HiDPI On and your are set. Running on a QHD+ notebook with this for over a year, no problems.


The high res screen (on an XPS 15, not 13) also drains the battery significantly. I opted for the "low res" 1920x1080 screen which works much better for my uses. I have an external 4k monitor when at a desk and a sufficient display when on the go.

This is all with Debian Linux btw.


You can fiddle with the settings to change the 'DPI' so that the apps look better/bigger. I'm very happy with the XPS 13 developer edition that i have.


Would second the XPS13. If you don't want to shell out for a high-end Thinkpad, it is a great option. Mine was the first "developer edition" and it is still running great. There is plenty of support for it on distros aside from Ubuntu. I have run Fedora on mine for years now.

The desktop experience of Linux in general is still a bit off, but if you are like me and spend 99% of your time in the terminal or a web browser it certainly gets the job done. You can always supplement with a VM if you have to run "that program".


Seems like the XPS is just as expensive as a T series Thinkpad.

I don't understand why the XPS is so popular compared to similar priced business grade Thinkpad and Latitudes.


My company was considering using these as our Linux option, but we couldn't enable full-disk encryption (Grub has an issue with encrypted NVME drives.) When I contacted Dell they said Linux was not supported via email, but rather through the community. (I'm now running a Thinkpad that's a few years old and it works much better than the XPS 13.)


Which Thinkpad?


X230 Tablet. The stylus works out of the box with Ubuntu 14.04.

Only nit is that the standby battery life is only a few days. I upgraded from the 3-cell (which was pretty old and lasted about two hours) to a 6-cell. I'm still testing it but it lasts at least 5 hours under moderate usage. I think with the brightness on low it could last 10.


I personally ran Ubuntu on the T520P and the T540P over the past 4 years. Both have yet to disappoint me.


I second JoshTriplett, thinkpad usually have great linux compat. right out of the box. I usually only get laptops without discreet GPU, but it seems that discreet GPUs (both amd and nvidia) are the sources of most trouble when switching to linux.

> If I could order a laptop direct from Red Hat I'd do it without hesitation.

Dell xps dev edition is the closest thing to that right now. but i definitely agree, it would be awesome to have a linux equivalent of the surface pro made by either redhat or canonical.


I think a lot of the GPU stuff has been largely solved in recent years, too. I have one and only one reason I will not use Linux on a laptop, and that is power efficiency. I have never managed to get any laptop to even 60% of the battery life it gets with Windows. Those times I've tried to use all of the PowerTOP calibrations, the end result has been unpredictable drops in performance and things like my trackpad just freezing at random intervals.

I'm on Mac for now. I really, truly want to be on Linux because I would like to use docker-compose for development sandboxing (and Docker Mac performance is unacceptable). But until I can get solid battery life, it's just not in the cards.


My GPU situation is definitely not resolved. I can't get it to switch to the discrete 90% of the time. and then when I do, I cant get it to swap seamlessly between intel for desktop and radeon for games. So my laptop is delegated to being a terminal and browser only machine.

Also, since 4.2, I can't change the screen brightness. I can change it during the BIOS splash, but once the kernel takes over, the key stops doing anything. The brightness slider moves around, but doesnt actually do anything.

It's a shame too, gaming is the one thing keeping my dad (who has the same laptop) from switching over to linux.


Can confirm on W520, W530, and W541 (I think). They all have terrible GPU support. The W530 for example has no video out muxer, so you have to use discrete graphics if you want any kind of external display, tanking your battery life. Brightness doesn't work.

Not only that, the W520, T420, and L420 [0][1] and W530 have BIOS/chipset bugs that mean you need to disable x2apic. Avoid unless you love tinkering with Linux.

[0] https://forums.lenovo.com/t5/ThinkPad-P-and-W-Series-Mobile/... [1] https://lkml.org/lkml/2012/12/18/1


Odd, my battery life improved when I switched from Win10 to Ubuntu-MATE. Well, I guess I also replaced the HD with a SSD so that helped. But I have had pretty good battery life with the default install.


I have an XPS 13 9350 running Fedora 24, and battery life is excellent. I have a friend with a different variant of the same laptop running Windows 10, and it has all kinds of power management issues.

(If you need a secondary monitor, the situation isn't so good, though. Linux is missing support for some i915 USB-C feature that can cause issues with some adapters.)


I agree that auto-processor-scale on Linux is not great, but I have been able to get good battery life from Linux by using LXDE and keeping the processor on its lowest setting at all times. (This may or may not result in unacceptable compilation times, etc, YMMV.)


You don't need to buy an old ThinkPad; current-generation ThinkPads work fine, as long as you avoid nVidia GPUs. All the other hardware (including power management) Just Works.


> All the other hardware (including power management) Just Works.

Well, a year or two ago, at least T440s ThinkPads came by default with a Realtek wifi card, for which there were no good Linux drivers [1]. Lenovo had an option for intel wifi card at no extra cost, but you had to be clever enough to choose that option when ordering the laptop.

[1] https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1239578


From my experience, this statement is far from true. I have both X1 Carbon (no NVIDIA) and a T460p (with NVIDIA) running Ubuntu 16.04, and some of my colleagues have X1's running Fedora.

There are various issues such as the laptop freezing when plugging in an external monitor (this can be fixed through a kernel update), crashes when waking from suspend / lock, Trackpad issues, problems with Bluetooth, problems with supporting 4k monitors through MiniDP, ...

So I'd say the stability of Linux on the new Skylake Thinkpads is far from optimal, although most of the hardware seems to be supported and runs.


it is because Intel borked skylake. Even windows users have issues.


How exactly did they "bork" Skylake? I haven't head anything about this


Something is wrong with the drivers for it. There's a long running "sleep of death" issue with Surface Pro 4s, for example, because of this.

https://www.reddit.com/r/Surface/comments/4nu355/finally_fix...


Yeah Skylake has LOTS of issues. External 4k screen with SKL keeps crashing, works fine with anything else.


My experience over the past decade doesn't quite agree with this. For ease of setup and use, I find that it's usually Intel > nVidia >>> AMD.

When my workplace gives a developer a new desktop (one of Dell's Ubuntu offerings, seems to always use AMD GPUs), that person's first day is normally setting up dual head.


Is it really very difficult to get nVidia GPUs working with linux?

I wanted to buy a laptop with a GPU for CUDA experiments.

I was looking at Lenovo Yoga 710 (14 inch with nvidia gpu). Am I going to have a bad time dual booting a linux distribution?


I've had mixed experiences with different GPUs very hard to tell. Laptop Quadro Series? Yes 750ti desktop? No 970 desktop? Sorta. It's unfortunate but it really seems to depend not only on platform but specific version of platform.

It's a mess.

Someone else in the thread said what I completely agree with if possible just get the latest Intel HD series it works pretty much flawlessly.


For desktop PCs, not at all, Nvidia GPUs are very easy to get working and will give the best performance.

In modern laptops, you usually have the complication of 'optimus' which allows you to switch between the onboard Intel graphics and the Nvidia GPU. This can be a bit awkward to get working, but it's improved recently. I've had plenty of issues getting it working right on Windows too.


Yeah... the optimus crap has serious problems. It causes my GPU driver to crash on Windows while I'm trying to give demos at work (not exactly a great look when your screen goes black and then your application's 3d display dies). It's not exactly the most stable thing, but can be great for power consumption.


On my T530, there's a firmware option to set the graphics to discrete-only, integrated-only, or optimus. The downside to discrete-only is the power usage. The downside to integrated-only is that the displayport won't work.

All three work great in Windows of course. For Linux, integrated-only is best, followed by discrete-only, and I've never had success with optimus.


I have a W530 that allows you to set it the same way. In my experience, you are ALWAYS better off to pick one or the other and leave it there. Some folks have had success with Bumblebee [0], however.

It's my understanding that newer Thinkpads don't have the BIOS option to switch and that this is much more of a PITA to get working.

[0]: http://bumblebee-project.org


I have a T460p with a dedicated NVIDIA graphics card, and it runs just fine under Ubuntu 16.04 with the newest drivers. Steam also runs fine.


With AMD/ATI, the problem was driver fglrx driver bitrot more than anything else, but that's been deprecated in favour of the newer amdgpu drive, which actually has some hope of being maintained due to its open source nature.

You shouldn't have issues with Nvidia hardware though.


> ...as long as you avoid nVidia GPUs

You also want to avoid AMD Radeon, which is even more problematic than nVidia. I think the best advice is "as long as you go for Intel graphics".


Absolutely true, but I haven't seen any ThinkPads with AMD graphics.


They were far more common in previous years. Currently the Thinkpad E series ships only with AMD graphics. In the past ATI/AMD Radeon graphics were also found in the Thinkpad A, L, R, T, X, Z series.


Actually it works fine even with Nvidia. You don't get all of the performance benefits but you can reliably disable and even use it using either PRIME or Bumblebee.


Looking on the site, they seem to all have Nvidia?


Look at the T and X series. Unless you are buying the very high end with discrete GPUs, they all have Intel.


Are you sure you want to risk buying a post-2014 Lenovo laptop? If they pulled shenanigans once, they are likely to do it again.


I'd never buy a non-ThinkPad from them. But I have yet to find something as well built as a ThinkPad from anyone else. (With the exception of Purism, but they can't offer warranties yet, which is a hard requirement for me.)


Just curious, why is a warranty a hard requirement for you?


Do you have any suggestions? I'm currently leaning towards the Lenovo X260 or an older X220.


I've been running Linux on the X220 (tablet) for 4+ years at this point; it's still a great machine (although I need to boot it up and clean the insides soon...), although obviously slightly dated in terms of hardware.

The X260 will likely work as an exact replica, but I haven't updated to Skylake yet so it's hard to say (ISTR there being some GPU buginess with Skylake at first). Otherwise everything should work almost perfectly out of the box, in my experience, though you'll probably want to tweak your power settings. The X260 will have a far superior screen, which if you're coming from a Macbook or anything will probably be important.

One of these days I'll upgrade and take my X220 down to the local hackerspace and get Coreboot put on it probably...


While I loved my X220, I don't see a good reason to get an older laptop today.

I'm a huge fan of the X1 series, which has about the same weight as the X260 but a bigger and higher-resolution screen. The X260 has the advantage of a hot-swappable, externally chargeable battery, and a better docking station; if you don't need either of those, go with the X1 and its awesome screen.


Get a T450s / x250 - they are very well supported.


That's the problem. I'm aiming for a 17".

That's where System76 comes in for me.


Dell's Precision 7100 workbeast comes with Ubuntu as a preinstall option.


Yep. After going through the configuration, this looks like exactly what I'm going to be getting at some point soon. Thank you.


That looks like what I need right there. Thank you.


It would be nice to have the option of something in the Chromebook or HP Stream price range built for Debian/Redhat/Arch to run.


Agreed. I use my laptop as a VNC viewer to my desktop, or a terminal. My wife uses it for browsing facebook. I only need a 200$ machine


Just get the XPS 13 - if you get one with the Iris 540 chipset, then you can play bioshock or DOTA. Yes - integrated graphics has gotten that good.

Moreover, the XPS 13 is the first laptop that can charge using a battery pack (Dell Companion ) and runs brilliantly on Fedora 24.

Ubuntu has consistently performed badly on the xps 13. There is no thinkpad that comes at the price vs performance vs size ratio as the thinkpad. Obviously, there is no comparison for the thinkpad keyboard :(


I have a t450s and have been running Fedora since last version, never had any problems that weren't related to what I changed on the OS. I'd consider the user experience overall to be more smooth than Windows, though not quite perfect. You may have an issue with nonfree binaries/codecs not working out of the box, but I've resolved all of those with rpmfind.net[0], and haven't had to worry about third party repos. Obviously that'd be a problem for some users.

I think Korona[1] is a spin of Fedora that has this stuff included by default, so if you want Linux that works out of the box, Korona + any Thinkpad is probably your best bet.

[0] http://rpmfind.net/linux/RPM/index.html [1] https://kororaproject.org/


I've been looking at Linux laptop options. It's mind boggling that it's so hard to find good options.

See Dell: http://arstechnica.com/gadgets/2016/06/the-xps-13-de-dell-co....


Ok people, let's go home. We have our single data point.


What are Red Hat's core principles?


Red Hat is the open source company, cheesy as that sounds. They don't lock anything but support, patent indemnification and ISV certifications behind a paywall. Don't want to pay for RHEL, they provide the SRPM's they used to build all their packages, go grab a rebuild (CentOS, Scientific Linux) and go to town (we use CentOS at work to run mission-critical loads, if we decide we need support later we can always switch). This is universally true of literally every product they have, from Satellite (Foreman+Pulp+Candlepin) to RHEV (oVirt), JBoss products, IdM (FreeIPA), storage (glusterfs+ceph).

Red Hat isn't a company that makes money by taking open source projects as a base and adding proprietary features on top, everything they make is under an open source license and anyone (regardless of whether the paid for it or not) can grab the source packages off their FTP server and build it themselves. Contrast this to Canonical who sells proprietary tools for Ubuntu (Landscape, a big sore spot for me), kept Launchpad proprietary for the longest time, Ubuntu One (though this is now dead).

And then we have the other big name in "Enterprise" Linux, SUSE, and we've got loads of proprietary software their sister companies sell (Novell, NetIQ) from eDirectory to GroupWise, the list here goes on.

Red Hat is an engineering organization dedicated to one thing. Sure, they have a sales channel and a large partner ecosystem, but at the core of their business is making fully open source products that people want to use (and hopefully buy support for).


Thank you for the detailed answer. I'm tempted to compare this to the Apache foundation (or rather, what I understand about the workings of the Apache foundation): curate well-designed, useful OSS and Free software.

Ideologically, I like this. I'll be sure to evaluate Red Hat when the opportunity arises.


Redhat was one of the first distros I used and I have the same sort of trust partly for this frivolous reason.


RH yes. Fedora i don't trust so much.

From what i understand they are hardly the same.


Fedora is a Red Hat community project, a large majority of people involved with it daily are Red Hat employees (go check out fedora-devel and see how many @redhat.com addresses there are). New releases of RHEL are usually forked directly from Fedora, if you can't trust Fedora then you probably can't trust Red Hat.


RHEL is not the same as Fedora and RHEL devs are not the same as Fedoras. From what i seen in the last few years, at least.

That they are employed by the same company, yes.


You are right that RHEL != Fedora strictly, but each RHEL release is branched off Fedora at some point and starts undergoing additional QA and engineering work. I'm not really sure why you're making a distinction between people working on RHEL and Fedora, Red Hat doesn't pay (many, 35 full time employees according to the 2016 conference) people to tinker around with Fedora all day, there is a lot of community involvement but Red Hat has a lot of people on payroll who maintain core systems that are used by both projects (they just land in Fedora first because that's the incubator) - see systemd, GNOME, LVM, md, glusterfs, the list goes on and on and on. These people aren't necessarily "Fedora" or "Red Hat" developers, they are GNOME developers, etc., but they frequently are involved with Fedora since that is the incubator for future RHEL releases.


The difference between Fedora and Redhat is like between consumer Windows and LTSB Windows.

One has faster development cycle, the other is regularly branched off and has longer support.


> Fedora i don't trust so much.

Why?


You don't have to get old laptops, most higher-end lenovo and asus laptops, like the ultrabooks, work quite well, you can even run on any of the recent macbooks with no issues. The fact that most laptops are sold with windows pre-installed is not a linux issue, but a product of miscrosoft's imperialism.


> most [...] asus laptops, like the ultrabooks

Watch out though. Some of the Baytrail netbooks are unfun for a variety of reasons with Linux. (Also with Windows). One of the longest threads on the Ubuntu forums is people trying to get Linux to run on an Asus X205TA.


Yeah I had a similar experience with a dell convertable with a baytrail low end quad core. An expensive coaster expect for the most basic kinds of tasks but if linux were running stable it would be a usable machine.


My ex colleague is now at Read Hat, and he told me one anecdote. The card reader of his ThinkPad didn't work. He created a bug in the bugtracker, got personally contacted by the guy who apparently does card reader stuff, and a day later he had a kernel, where the bug was fixed.


Yeah, RH support is absolutely AWE-maze-zing! I had the pleasure of using it at a former company. You got a problem and nobody tells you to turn the thing on or off. As far as I could tell, there were no script readers. It's like shibboleet come true:

https://www.xkcd.com/806/


> who apparently does card reader stuff,

You mean the guy wrote codes for card reader or the card reader manufacturer? :)


> I've worked at RHT and based on the turnaround, it's the guy that writes codes for the card reader. I'm still impressed but not surprised by the level of service he got. Red Hat has a great hacker culture.


RedHat seems to be trying to make their OS more accessible and mainstream friendly through their $0 developer license http://developers.redhat.com/blog/2016/03/31/no-cost-rhel-de.... Not that there's anything wrong with CentOS. So it's cool that effort extends to commodity hardware, too.

Sample size of one but as part of working down the Redhat certifications track I purchased an Intel NUC http://www.intel.com/content/www/us/en/nuc/nuc-kit-nuc6i5syk... for a low power lab machine; it's really just a laptop squeezed into a cube but everything I've needed to use it for works fine. Admittedly I have not tried wireless or bluetooth.

Hopefully that means laptops built off reference Intel designs will also Just Work. Interestingly NUCs are showing up now in the Hackintosh community because despite moderate specs next to a modern desktop, they're still competitive with Apple's current hardware. No doubt Apple will refresh this year; they seem to be overdue.


Fedora's bleeding-edge kernel support usually means better hardware support for newer laptops, which is great. One potential drawback, however, is the decision not to include any non-FOSS drivers in the installation package. I completely understand why they do it, but it throws a wrench into the idea of loading Linux onto a laptop and having everything "just work".

For instance, getting the Broadcom wifi card that comes with my Dell XPS 13 to work on Fedora has been such a pain in the ass (proprietary driver only) that most people recommend tearing it out and replacing it with an Intel card that has a more Linux-friendly driver.

If Redhat really wants better Linux penetration in the laptop world, at some point they're probably going to have to make a decision to either go the Linux Mint route and include proprietary drivers by default, or try to engage some of the hardware manufacturers to open-source their drivers.


Laptop manufacturers could also just avoid this problem by using modems that don't require proprietary drivers or firmware, like those from Intel or Atheros. This is an entirely avoidable problem.


I debated calling out the manufacturers as well, but it seemed unfair with the example of my Dell XPS 13. The laptop is installed with Windows by default, and the Broadcom card works just fine there. The XPS 13 Developer Edition (which is pre-loaded with Ubuntu) actually takes your advice and packages an Intel wifi card instead.

Certainly they can try to push the "Sell laptops with Linux preloaded and make sure everything works" approach (because let's face it, that's pretty much the only reason why Windows laptops are pervasive), but if you're trying to increase the number of people using Linux, I'd suggest that they might get better results as the thing one uses to repurpose their existing laptop.


I'll also give Dell some much-deserved credit for making available a full repair manual for their laptops (or at least some of them). I bought the Windows variant of the XPS 13 because Costco had the 16GB i7 model for $500 cheaper, and Dell gives you complete instructions for things like replacing the WiFi card.

Linux support isn't 100% perfect for me, by the way, but it's very usable. The main problem I still have is that power management is mediocre (I can't get it below about 8 watts idle generally), and the USB-C dongle you need for ethernet is very flaky under the current kernels. It works, but often requires unplugging and replugging for it to be recognized, and (very) occasionally completely hangs the machine a few seconds after I plug it in.


My XPS 13 Developer Edition has the Broadcom card, which makes it annoying to install distros. The proprietary driver has worked without problem as far as I can tell, but I'd really prefer a free driver.

(I do think it's fair to call out Dell for selling a Linux developer machine that can't even connect to the internet without proprietary drivers. There's no Ethernet port either.)

On the plus side, the retina touch screen works great. Even on my custom NixOS setup it gives me smooth scrolling and even pinch-to-zoom in Chromium Google Maps. Pretty cool.


Sorry to hear, I think your batch must have been one of the early ones. My understanding is that most DE laptops had an Intel card, particularly the models sold in Europe.


XPS13 (2016, Skylake) DE has Intel WiFi. Previous generation (2015) DE has Broadcom WiFi.

The Intel cards are nothing to write home about, either. Their only redeeming qualities are the availability of a free driver and Just Works experience in Linux. Otherwise, they are quite slow - so I understand why Dell puts Broadcom into Windows version.


Why didn't you buy the developer edition?


Because I saw someone selling a barely-used i7/8GB/512gb SSD of the non-dev edition on Craigslist for $800. Similar specs new would've been around the $2k mark.

Additionally, I was fine running Windows 10 at first and doing all my dev work in a Fedora VM, but the Anniversary Update has pissed me off considerably, leading me to want to migrate to a bare-metal Linux installation.


Just curious, what pissed you off about the Windows 10 Anniversary Update? That update hasn't made it to my PC just yet.


I think what pissed of many users was that the update messes with your settings once again, and that Cortana cannot be disabled anymore without messing around in the registry. Another point was that they forgot to turn off some debugging option they had presumably activated for their developers which opened up a big vulnerability.


Oh yeah that's a great deal. :)


I bought the windows version, because the hw specs I wanted weren't available for the developer editions. Luckily the archlinux wiki page for the del xps 13 (2015) made me aware of the issue with Broadcom wifi, so I picked one with an Intel.

No real problems so far, except the ones that were caused by me because it was the first time I've ever set up a linux on a laptop.


I tried buying it here in EU and the local Dell distributor flatly told me that they can't procure it at all. Figure that O.o


I got one of the original XPS 13 DEs, and a friend of mine had no issues picking up the latest revision recently enough.

If you want something a bit bigger, but that just works, the E5510 is excellent, especially once you have Ubuntu 16.04.1 (or a distro with the 4.4.0 kernel) on it.


The side effect is the Intel and Atheros are better anyway, BroadCom Wifi is utter crap IMO


I thought you still have to load proprietary firmware onto Intel cards?


Android and the first wave of Netbooks with GNU/Linux prove what manufacturers actually think of it.


FWIW, I recall the last time that Broadcom tried engaging the Linux kernel community was back when there was an open source (b43?) Broadcom driver, it "sort of" worked if you were lucky and didn't use too complex a network setup (If I recall it'd break on certain security modes?)

Broadcom showed up suddenly, dumped a badly written set of kernel patches and then disappeared into the ether, frustrating just about everybody involved


Have you tried Arch Linux? The install experience is quite bare metal, but once you're past that, the experience is very smooth. Thus far, I've installed it on five machines (three laptops) with varying hardware and had only one hardware issue (and even then only with the boot CD, where I had to add nomodeset to the boot parameters).

On second thought, I have also had a few issues back when I thought BTRFS would be a good idea. (It's not). Those were my own fault, though.


> For instance, getting the Broadcom wifi card that comes with my Dell XPS 13 to work on Fedora has been such a pain in the ass (proprietary driver only) that most people recommend tearing it out and replacing it with an Intel card that has a more Linux-friendly driver.

If your laptop has enough ports, you could actually buy a USB wifi dongle for ~3$.


You could try Korora, which is a Fedora-fork with goal of making it more user-friendly, so that includes easier access to proprietary drivers.

https://kororaproject.org/


Funny you should mention Korora:

https://kororaproject.org/support/engage/question/upgrade-li...

But both of my issues were not specifically Korora's fault, so no biggie. I love the distro otherwise.


Broadcom is useful if you want to have a hackintosh partition as well. I run Mint/Win7/Win10/OSX on a single QHD+ ultrabook with 1TB M.2 SSD, no WiFi issues under Mint (I am typing this using it right now).


This is very strange -i have the XPS 13 with broadcom and it worked out of the box. There was some problem for a while with the BIOS that caused wifi cards to be not recognized. Can you try with a recent lived?


The Broadcom driver should work now or, at worst, in a couple weeks. I think it landed in 4.7.


Source? I've googled around but haven't located anything to that effect.


I can't easily find the commits without my laptop, but it's the brcmfmac driver. Somewhat amazingly, Broadcom wrote the patches.


Googling around, brcmfmac seems to apply to USB devices: http://linuxwireless.org/en/users/Drivers/b43/

The one inside the XPS 9343 is BCM4352. I'm not seeing any indication of compatibility with a BCM4352 using a brcmfmac driver.


I always had both Windows and Linux (Arch) on every computer in my house (now only a few of them have Windows because I use Windows in VirtualBox in Linux). It seems to me that wifi speed in Linux is always slower than that in Windows. Drivers are the culprit? If you want people to use Linux laptops, I think you should make them really really fast (esp. at boot) so that everybody has to wow when they just try it. No need to use gnome or kde, openbox is fine as long as it's not ugly. Then wifi spped must be faster or at least as fast as in Window. Next is printing. In summary, most of the issues are related to drivers.


The boot speed was the main reason I even considered switching full time to Fedora. I had a windows 7 dual boot. I'd tried dual booting other machines in the past, but the boot up into fedora is just so quick that I've used my windows 7 partition to do my taxes, and once get a adobe illustrator file saved as a svg so i could work with it in inkscape. That's it.


>. It seems to me that wifi speed in Linux is always slower than that in Windows.

Firmware. Install it.


It is possible to use wifi driver without firmware?


I have a lot of mixed emotions about RedHat and to what degree they are a net positive or negative, but I'm glad someone is taking this on.

It was so frustrating for me that the 'Linux on the Desktop' effort started right after the numbers showed that everyone was trading in their desktops for laptops.

I wanted to program ON my laptop, not program my laptop.

After spending almost 18 months trying to get all of the hardware on my laptop to work with linux (this included swapping out the wifi card and learning ACPI scripting so I could cobble together partial fixes from four other sources, and learning Crusoe CPU registers to contribute a power saving fix back to Transmeta, both things I have absolutely no interest in whatsoever), I said screw it and bought a Macbook. I'm on my fourth now, and aside for some difficulty installing command line tools, it's entirely removed hardware as a source of stress and procrastination.


Please focus on reducing and avoiding regressions in the Intel gpu stack. It's gotten pretty bad in the last two years. Major regressions were introduced beginning with kernel 4.2's atomic modesetting changes, across the board.


Try removing the Intel DDX driver and using the default modesetting driver. It seems to be far less buggy for most people.


Two issues with that, the atomic modesetting regressions are in the DRM part. Also, I've tried the generic modesetting X11 drivers, and that one's very bad, does heavy tearing and is unusable on my machines. The best setup right now is to use the intel ddx with TearFree enabled plus vsync forced with compton. If you don't enable TearFree plus vsync via glx via a compositor, there will be heavy tearing.

New issues since Arch Linux's update to Mesa 12 are some weird drawing bugs that surface as flickering of the content for a few cycles (redraws) a couple times during the day. It's not screen flickering. The content is sometimes displayed partially and then, say, you type something, content flicker on each event for a few redraw cycles until it cures itself. If I had to guess, I'd guess something in mesa 12 and/or current X11 intel stack is very buggy.

How bad is this with the binary nvidia drivers? I couldn't use Wayland with that, but if there's zero tearing with nvidia, there's less incentive to use Wayland anyway.


Anecdotally most people seem to have a much more stable experience with modesetting, distros like Debian have even been promoting over Intel for a while. I use Arch myself and have had no issues.

Also DRI3 is a far better solution than the various TearFree hacks, less performance overhead, better integration with the compositor, and not hardware specific.

Nvidia drivers don't support DRI3 but they have their own double compositing hack that work as well as any other.


No, DRI3 is default in Arch and with that there's also heavy tearing, and I must enable tearfree plus vsync.

DRI3 actually has a weird bug when opening a video with mpv, where you can watch for a split second how a small rectangle is resized to the desired video window's size. This doesn't happen with DRI2 or Wayland.

All of this is most likely very GPU-dependent, so Debian cannot make a decision like that with confidence. I understand that the simple modesetting driver relies on Mesa and there's no UXA or SNA code which can introduce bugs, but I can assure you that when I tried the generic modesetting driver, it was one big tearing party.

BTW, DRI2 and DRI3 in Glamor mode is pretty much the same as the generic modesetting driver, because the SNA code isn't used at all.

I've been tyring my best to migrate to Wayland compositors, but Xwayland integration is still too buggy. But it might be an easier solution than messing around with xorg.conf.


Wouldn't be nice if there was a universal driver that you could use upon any operating system that supported universal drivers.

Alas not aware of any initiative or indeed reason that such drivers could exist, even in binary blobs it would be a step forward.


There is UEFI Byte Code (EBC) which at least in theory can be used to write drivers. http://www.uefi.org/sites/default/files/resources/EBC_Driver... Anecdotally, cards come with EBC drivers which flat out don't work.

There was also Forth Fcode used in Open Firmware. It was never widely adopted.

Basically any universal driver framework is going to be compromised in some way that you won't like. Either it'll be too slow because it cannot use specific features of the operating system. Or it will annoy OS developers by tying them to an ABI which they don't want to support forever. Or (like EBC) it won't be widely supported and/or won't work at all because in reality no one cares about this.


Like an api/abi drivers would target that OSs could use?


My main machine is an oldish ThinkPad T420s. It runs Fedora 24 flawlessly. Sadly not many machines seem to run Linux (any distro) perfectly. Part of the reason I haven't upgraded to a newer machine is because this machine just works and I am very lazy so trying to get a newer machine to run as well is more work than I care for. It isn't like performance has improved massively since SandyBridge.


I have a t420s also. In fact I bought a second as a spare. With 16gb ram and ssd it is a great machine.

The one thing I love about it that I can't find on any new laptops is that all the ports are on the back; power, Ethernet, displays USB etc. I can show up at a plant and plug in to the network and power and have a mousepad beside the laptop keyboard and binders and notebooks on the other side without getting tangled up in cords. For bigger stays at a site I bring a 27" monitor too but still no cords out the side. No new laptops have all ports on the back!!


YES! I love that also. I can deal with power on the left but when the hell do so many device makers put the damn power on the right side where my mouse will be?! The only ports I want on the side are USB and only on the left side please.


Is RedHat interested in contributing to Qubes, which uses Fedora? This would help advance the state of the art in desktop security and seamless UI compositing.


While this is indeed a great news, Are just two people enough for the wide range of laptop and devices out there in the wild ?

What i would really love to see is a cross distribution effort in the same direction : People from the main distribution coming together, identifying the main experience pain point a fixing them upstream.

I really think there is an under served (from both hardware manufacturer and distros) market of people who wants a better linux desktop/laptop experience. But until someone figure out a way to monetized that (like linux is on the server side), it will be hard to build on the desktop side the same kind of momentum that linux is enjoy on servers.


> Are just two people enough for the wide range of laptop and devices out there in the wild ?

because it is RedHat i'd guess they would target enterprise deployments and that would allow to focus on narrow set of hardware. Making good on those would allow the stuff to trickle down into the open wilderness.


better (10 years) late than never, right? :D


I am now close to 11 years at Red Hat and I have always used Red Hat Enterprise Linux on the various laptops the company gave me. So we're not late. We're just ramping up a bit more in this space :-)


While I personally run Arch, I recognize that many of the projects that make the Arch experience so nice are supported by Red Hat. (Not least because you have Lennart on the payroll.) Thanks for what you do!


I think what RedHat does for the community is absolutely fantastic and they've contributed a lot to Linux and open source technology.


But do they <3 open source same as MS does?


I know it's meant to be a joke but Red Hat have done an amazing amount of good for desktop Linux. I really appreciate their work.


Power Management should be top priority I think.


Sounds like RedHat is after https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+bug/1


Neat! Munich seems like a nice city to live in.


Yeah, two people will fix it.


This is great, because all distributions will benefit from it eventually, not just RedHat/Fedora. The folks at Canonical, in particular, seem to be very adept at leveraging the work of others for the benefit of Ubuntu.

I would hope these kinds of efforts lead to better collaboration and coordination between the different distros for improving compatibility with desktop, laptop, tablet, and even phone hardware...

...but Unfortunately I don't think we should expect better collaboration and coordination, due to the usual political and quasi-religious barriers between distros.


the year of linux on the laptop they said.


I'm currently running Gentoo on a T30, T60p, and X1 Carbon (1st gen). For the X1 Carbon I actually switched because Windows 7 was causing periodic freezes. Power managment and drivers are always what is missing, and getting drivers written in a timely fashion is hard. That said, if they focus on a subset of laptops then they could show some major improvements. I do wonder about the old M$ ACPI manoeuvring though, if vendors still aren't documenting features then there will be problems.


Please improve GNOME multi-display support anybody.

I have triple monitor setup, GNOME always crashes. I am using XFCE with some success on F22.


Welcome back, Red Hat Linux...

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Hat_Linux


I find the Arch derived distribution Apricity runs very well on my HP Spectre X360


Does it handle the pen/touch well? That's a nice looking machine.


Not really used the pen on the linux side much but touch works fine. double finger scroll & pinch to zoom works in chrome (but not firefox, or at least I can't get it working). The graphics are fairly snappy with wayland too.

I do have a few annoyances, eg the insert key is shared with prt sc and there is no right hand ctrl key (I remapped "menu" in gnome shell). Actually I do miss my x220 keyboard layout quite a bit :)


The problem with Linux on laptops is Linux itself. The notion of Linux on anything other than servers turns most consumers off. Imagine if Android were called Linux Phones instead. It would be a disaster.

Linux should be used incidentally to the device or laptop itself. Or it should be spared for those who really want to know and understand more about it.

I used Linux on a laptop for a couple of years and, mostly, loved it. I hope Red Hat doesn't brand it as such.


The fact that you've been downvoted is, I think, actually indicative of a major impediment to Linux's spread. Linux is not a consumer OS. There's no way around this: it is not designed to be user-friendly, it's designed to provide power to power users. Using Linux as a consumer is a miserable experience and the vast majority of people who have a choice will choose otherwise.

Unfortunately, the Linux community has such faith in their project that they're ill at ease with hearing about its failings. It's not clear why they should be, though: Linux is a (relatively) great OS for its intended purposes, and there's no need for it to extend to every possible use case. Linux on the desktop is a somewhat pointless goal, and the community would benefit from embracing that fact.


> Linux on the desktop is a somewhat pointless goal, and the community would benefit from embracing that fact.

Please no. Linux works great on the desktop, even for casual users. I have installed Linux on a few friends old laptops and they've all loved it. Distro's like Elementry, Manjaro, Mint and Ubuntu make it easy for casual users.

There are only 2 problems with Linux on the desktop remaining.

1) Games. A lot of gamers would love to switch but love their games that are currently Windows only at the moment. This situation is slowly improving.

2) The fact that almost everyone uses MS Office. MS works hard at making sure it doesn't follow standards so LibreOffice et al. won't be 100% compatible with it, so most businesses/people just revert back to MSOffice due to compatibility reasons. But if they all just switched to LibreOffice they'd get just as much shit done.


While I agree with you, I think you're forgetting how little competition there is as far as desktop OSes go. Microsoft is practically trying to run Windows 10 into the ground (disable pro features with the anniversary update, then force everyone to upgrade to Enterprise, for example), while Apple will never officially allow OS X on anything other than their products even if hell freezes over. This leaves Linux as a serious competitor with significant advantages in its community driven design, that allow a group to fork and existing project and make a modern desktop OS suitable for the average user. The problem is mostly that no one has bothered to do that, or done so successfully (Chrome OS was a great try, and I think it's here to stay, but it's still a little too locked down).


>Linux on the desktop is a somewhat pointless goal, and the community would benefit from embracing that fact.

given the way a lot of typical consumers use desktops/laptops - web browsing, skype, plus may be some business software, i.e. almost tablet use case, they would actually wouldn't even notice if their windows were replaced by a nice looking Linux with good power management and printing and in general working without a glitch. That one - working without a glitch is the main threshold it has to jump over.


I was really surprised by the down votes tbh.




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