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From OS X to Ubuntu (perriault.net)
544 points by bpierre 316 days ago | hide | past | web | 392 comments | favorite



IMO if money isn't an object, OS X is a better call when it comes to laptops. If money is tight, going for a Linux box is almost as good.

Linux on desktops - as in, not a laptop - has worked pretty much flawlessly for me for >10 years. Not much else to say there. If desktop or server, this shouldn't be a discussion.

As far as laptops go, I've just had better experiences with macbooks. Linux on a laptop is still 100% usable and gets you everything you need. Getting things set up can be a way bigger PITA on Linux, like function keys, sound, and god forbid, wirless. I've never installed Linux on a laptop and had wireless not suck, at least a little bit. Mostly just randomly dropping connection. It's gotten better in the last few years, but it hasn't reached that perfect reliability that my mbp seems to have. Ubuntu seems to break a bit more on average - and those errors are a bit more likely to be obnoxious, or blockers even - like during boot. Not saying this is commonplace, but I've NEVER had OS X kernel panic on me during boot.

Again, I would be perfectly happy a linux box instead, but for me it's worth a bit of extra $$ for what has seemed to me to be better reliability.

Most of my experiences have been with Ubuntu LTS releases but really, I've tried all the big ones, and on quite a few different laptops over the years. YMMV of course.

Edit: all that being said, prob will switch over when this one dies, because touch bar... lol


Linux laptops: buy pre-installed. If you want linux and you want to be sure everything is functional, AND you don't want to devote lots of time to a "project" buy a pre-install. Dell Developer Edition laptops (XPS 13, 15) make great laptops. I hear good things about system 76 and purism as well.

Save time. Support having good laptops and good drivers. Buy pre-installed. Paying the "windows tax" and installing a Linux on a windows laptop isn't just more work, it is bad for the ecosystem.


> Save time. Support having good laptops and good drivers. Buy pre-installed. Paying the "windows tax" and installing a Linux on a windows laptop isn't just more work, it is bad for the ecosystem.

I wish I could. Unfortunately, I live in a country (Taiwan) where no one knows about Linux. It's impossible to buy a pre-installed Linux laptop here.

You know the most ironic part? My job here is to certify hardware (including a lot of laptops) to work on Linux... so that you guys in the US and Europe can enjoy it :)


> I live in a country (Taiwan) where no one knows about Linux. It's impossible to buy a pre-installed Linux laptop here.

Quite some years ago, I went into a smaller electronics store in Germany because I had seen a nice notebook model on their website that had an SKU without operating system.

When I spoke to the clerk, he was completely puzzled that I would want a notebook without Windows. I can still hear his words in my ears: "But you need an operating system!" I tried to explain to him that there exist other OSs, but to no avail. I walked away from that purchase after imagining how support would go if I had any problems with the hardware.


Go online and buy corporate versions (that usually come with FreeDOS) so it gets a corporate license and no builtin windows


@ePierre:

> I wish I could. Unfortunately, I live in a country (Taiwan) where no one knows about Linux. It's impossible to buy a pre-installed Linux laptop here.

It's odd because Taiwan has a very strong IT root, and the Open Source community there is strong. It's true regular PC users don't use Linux, so are the regular PC users in America. Even government supports open source softwares.

[1]: https://www.mindmeister.com/303031964/open-source-community-...


There was another post on hackernews today about some new Dell ubuntu-based workstations[1]. The webpage that the post refers to mentions worldwide availability, so maybe dell might be an option for you at some point?

[1]https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13360339

Also, it looks like that their ubuntu edition and the windows edition of XPS-13 come with the same wireless cards this year (It used to be broadcom on windows, intel on ubuntu versions), so there might less differences between the two this time around.


Not sure about GP, but here in Argentina a packages can take lots of months (or just a few days if you're lucky!) to get through customs. Not to mention 50% import tax, amongst other things.

It ends up being so complicated and expensive, that just buying a winbook is cheaper. (fun fact: a plane ticket to NYC plus the price for my MBA is less than what it sells for here!).


That is not quite true.

For example, every time I see these type of news and go to the German web site, those laptops are usually listed as "product not available" or "product no longer available".


Same, never have I gone to Dell and seen XPS in stock in a European store. EVER. It's a while since I checked and maybe I'm just always there at the wrong time in release and stocking cycles, but XPS seems almost impossible to get hold of from the Dell store.

Edit: just checked and they have them in stock. Well done Dell.


For what it's worth, though the prior XPS line did come with Broadcom wireless on the Windows variants, they give you a full service manual describing how to replace it. It took me about $30 and half an hour to put the same Intel chip that the DE comes with in the Windows one I bought at CostCo. Wireless has been flawless with that chip.


That's bizarre, considering 40% of Dell computers sold in China come with Linux.


Parent is from Taiwan and not China. They are different countries(for most parts of world).

Check out https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiwan,_China

  >> However, the term is problematic and potentially ambiguous because since 1949, two sovereign states with the name "China" exist, namely the Republic of China (ROC, founded 1912 and now commonly known as "Taiwan") and the People's Republic of China (PRC, founded 1949 and now commonly known as "China")


Sort of different countries that share a sea border and a common tongue, I have at least a base understanding of 20th century Chinese history. It would be bizarre if you were unable to buy a Linux laptop in Canada if 40% of Dell's sold in America came with Linux.


It's a sea border with visa requirements and mutual distrust, and the US does not hide behind a Great Firewall (yet :P). I don't even think the common tongue helps a lot, both the characters/translations and the physical keyboard are different. In my experience, the IT world in Taiwan is pretty independent and not any closer to China's than to that of the USA/Western world.


My guess: They will not have Linux for long after their purchase.


I had the same issue I live in Australia I bought a XPS 13 from dell (same laptop as developer edition) I had not choice but to have Windows 10 preinstalled. No idea why they made the OS choice region locked...


The XPS 13 has a different wireless chipset than the developer edition. The only way to get the same chipset in Australia is in the Precision line.


The xps 13 this year seems to have the same wireless chip on both windows and developer editions. They both seem to have the same killer wireless chip.

Developer edition xps13: http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/xps-13-9360-laptop/pd?3x_n...


It is good to note though that not all "same laptop but different OS" are actually the same laptop. Be wary and check hardware before buying the windows version to put linux on... it wont always work. (In this case obviously, the wireless is at least a non issue)


yes the 9360 is exact same model I purchased in Aus.


>> Linux laptops: buy pre-installed.

The fact that hardware - though much improved in the past 15 years - is still a crapshoot on Linux, particularly when it comes to laptop hardware, is so frustrating.

Windows will work on practically any combination of hardware. OS X will work on any hardware it is permitted to operate on. Linux is the only consortium of operating systems that still suffer from the inability to "just work out of the box". I can't see how it's ever supposed to be "the year" for linux when just getting it to run properly on hardware requires buying OEM meant-for-Windows, but we-promise-it-works-with-linux garbage.

Is a "pre-installed" linux laptop even cross-distro compatible? If the laptop comes with Ubuntu pre-installed, what are the odds I can replace it with CentOS or Arch? Is the laptop "designed for linux", or "designed for exactly what is factory shipped, and nothing else"? Can I even do a fresh install of the shipped operating system, or do they hack in additional manufacturer packages/kernel drivers that require you to never reinstall on top of the shipped install? How about OS upgrades? Are they reliable, or do you risk running into compatibility problems, even with a new version of the same distro?

What we really need is a BSD/unix/linux[1] competitor to OS X. RedHat tried, and IMO failed. We need another closed-source unix/linux-based operating system that throws away X.org and its attempted modern replacements, that can directly compete with OS X. I'm tired of waiting for the open source world to try - and fail - to gather momentum. And tired of Apple, who has the best unix/linux operating system, fucking us over with every hardware release.

[1] How do you type a literal asterisk on HN? Backslash and double-asterisk don't work. nix. \nix. nix


>Linux is the only consortium of operating systems that still suffer from the inability to "just work out of the box".

Google the laptop model + Linux before you buy it. That increases the odds of getting a "it works out of the box" experience.

You'll also usually find pretty straightforward instructions how to get things going quickly if they do not work out of the box, or the simple fact that the machine is not well supported.

Also, if you had done enough Windows installs you'd know that things very seldom "work out of the box" if you do a clean install, especially with laptops. Instead, you'll have a fun time hunting bloated driver packages from some slow obscure chinese FTP server.

In addition hardware support on Windows gets worse over time. For example: Have an older Samsung laptop, wanna run Windows 10? Tough luck. [1]

On Linux you'll have this problem _very_ rarely, if ever, as hardware support (among other things) keep improving over time.

[1] http://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/05/31/windows_10_samsung_f...


My dad and I have the same Samsung laptop from 2012-ish. It came with Windows 7, and after upgrading to windows 8, a lot of stuff stopped working. Samsung didnt have "special" drivers for windows 8, so a lot of stuff (like the backlight buttons) didnt work properly. Eventually they fixed the problem, but they were weird out of date drivers. Windows 10 had no drivers at all.

I moved my laptop to Linux full time around the Windows 8.1 transition (which had also re-broken the drivers somehow). Everything worked great in Linux for me until kernel 4.2 or something when backlight brightness stopped working. Then after a few weeks or searching, I found a parameter that made it work again.

After applying the fixes to my dad's laptop, and setting up a few of his "must have" programs under wine for him, he claims that Ubuntu runs better for him than Windows ever did.


> Everything worked great in Linux for me until kernel 4.2 or something when backlight brightness stopped working.

Interestingly, this also happened to a lot of Vaios when people upgraded to Windows 10. Now, your Linux was eventually fixed while my Vaio is still running at 0% backlight with zero response from Sony.


I dont know what changed in linux at kernel 4.2 (or maybe it was 4.1 or 4.3? I dunno. it was early 4.x), but I was able to fix it with a kernel boot parameter (acpi_osi=linux acpi_backlight=video). This tells the GPU to control the backlight, and everything works. Theres a lot of different laptop configurations of who powers and who runs the backlight. linux has all these options set up, but it has to pick one by default. So my laptop didnt "just work" on a fresh installation, but I was able to fix it.

I think I know what happened in windows: windows itself has no backlight driver, and the standard GPU drivers have no backlight handling (or do, but its disabled by default). So previously, these laptops would ship with a special Windows 7 driver that would handle the backlight. But its "so much work" to port that driver to windows 10... so they don't. So in this scenario, my laptop originally worked. A fresh installation would require proprietary Samsung drivers, and samsung has stopped providing those for windows 10... literally no fix available (it's possible the windows 7 drivers still work? to be clear, Ive never checked if there are work arounds or other drivers available. I switched to linux before windows 10 came out, and my dad is happy with linux resolving his backlight issues, so Ive never had to look it up)


> Google the laptop model + Linux before you buy it. That increases the odds of getting a "it works out of the box" experience.

I would happily do this when was a university student about 20 years ago.

Nowadays, I want to go whatever store (physical or online) and just take what I want to buy.

Yes, there are some online stores for GNU/Linux, but as I discovered with the one I bought (Asus + Ubuntu), it might happen that some things don't quite work.

Also the models being sold aren't that enticing, XPS is the exception.


> > Google the laptop model + Linux before you buy it. That increases the odds of getting a "it works out of the box" experience.

> I would happily do this when was a university student about 20 years ago.

> Nowadays, I want to go whatever store (physical or online) and just take what I want to buy.

Well, if you do that little research, I suspect you might be disappointed even if you were to stick with Windows 10. With devices as complex as notebooks, I think a few hours of spec-reading and comparison is warranted.

Otherwise I quite plainly wouldn't know what to grab from the shelf once I'm at the store.

Maybe I'm more discerning (you might say: anal), but I like to do a little research for purchases like this.


> Nowadays, I want to go whatever store (physical or online) and just take what I want to buy.

If you bring Linux on a USB stick, a good store will let you boot into it on the exhibition piece. At least, that was the case for me, and it definitely contributed to my buying my notebook at that particular store.


I hadn't thought about this. Thanks for sharing :)


>Nowadays, I want to go whatever store (physical or online) and just take what I want to buy.

Look, I understand you that purchasing a Linux laptop with the same certainty of polish that a MacBook has is just problematic. But:

That honestly sounds like a personal problem. And quite a problematic one at that. Do you go into a grocery store and grab the most flashy looking product too? I would hope that you have read up a little bit about nutrition and can take the 5 seconds of your time to see that Flashy Box consists of 90% sugar.

And if a quick Google search of the suggested "model + Linux" is too much time for you whenever you spend $1000+, then how do you find the time to type out this comment?

You merely pointed out one small reason for why you find yourself getting a fully compatible Linux laptop problematic. Your time argument is applicable on the wider issue of not knowing, which you hinted at with your Asus experience.

See: there are a whole lot of things a newcomer doesn't know when they want to get a Linux laptop.

1. They have to know that they have to know beforehand how compatible the laptop is.

2. They have to know how to know how to install additional drivers.

3. They have to know how to revert or otherwise (guess what: I don't know) in case of a similar Wi-Fi driver problem you experienced.

4. They have to know that, in order to get a competitive battery life on the current LTS Ubuntu and Fedora 25, they have to use the terminal to install an additional package (TLP, I didn't know that without it battery life is quite miserable).

5. And this is the summary and the stresser: I don't know what else they, and I, don't know.

Not knowing the things you don't know, that's what you - at least I - don't have time for.

The Chromebooks, those look nice. Linux, without the hassle. I like those. They pass the parent gift test, because it seems like those are the only ones you can just give a family member and never hear about again. No driver issues, no TLP to know to install. And they're so fast! You open the lid and it's ready to go! Why doesn't a distribution pick up Chromium OS and GNU it up, or take the best pieces of it?

As a hardware side note, it appears to be that you sort of get what you pay for. If you want something that runs the seemingly workstation focused Fedora distribution, you probably want a "business" laptop (Lenovo ThinkPad, Dell Precision, HP Elitebook). Ubuntu is more lenient when you tick the 3rd party box during installation, which means most laptops worth their salt appear to work, think $1000+ (the non dev XPS, the ZenBook, VAIO). But don't quote me on that.


I have a 2013 MBP and mu wife a cheap 14" Dell bought around the same time. Fun fact: using my Samsung TV as a second display didn't work in MBP running Mavericks and worked in the Dell running Win 7. After I upgraded to Yosemite/Win10 things got inverted and now I have to stop coding in order my wife can watch Netflix in the TV with her girlfriends...

Bottom line: windows has crappy driver support for old hardware


I strongly disagree with the sentiment that the solution is "another closed-source unix/linux-based operating system that throws away X.org and its attempted modern replacements, that can directly compete with OS X"

We don't need more closed, we need more open. What we need is massive rewards for open hardware via customer money. As long as wireless cards and graphics cards are closed by default and drivers are BLOBed up it's a losing battle by default. I do believe there's an opening to mini-disrupt Apples hardware (specifically laptop) sales by providing the "Apple experience" of bundling up everything in a neat package with strong branding. Focus very hard on the professional niche, ignore everything else. The key is finding hardware vendors that will play ball (and investors that are willing to take the boring low margin hardware risk). Linux has 30-40% of Apple's market share.

I suppose a bigish player like Dell could also work. I had the feeling their Linux line was more of an afterthought but the current release note of an extended Linux line looks pretty great. I'm not sure about their marketing and approach it isn't focused enough (just sell it as the ultimate developer box imo) but that news had me very excited. Good job Dell :)


That's not the Apple experience. The Apple experience means - well, used to mean - an entire ecosystem of hardware, software, content, distribution, marketing, branding, business partnerships, and development.

Linux doesn't work with absolute consistency because FOSS people still don't understand that source code is a tiny part of the bigger user experience.

The big challenge in the PC business isn't the OS, it's the politics of community building around a platform - "community" meaning users, hardware suppliers, developers, investors, and channel partners.

Linux has a relatively tiny community which only really interests developers, which means that the big hardware companies don't feel any great commercial pressure to support it.

This might change if Team Linux had an evangelical organisation that could negotiate and do politics at the appropriate levels. But politics is a much harder problem than writing code, so that probably won't happen any time soon.

Edit: at the moment some of the distros have evolved to do some of that work, with varying levels of success. But if you want to play in the consumer space (which is a superset of the developer laptop market), you need to do a lot more than release distro installers and hope Dell or someone else will pick them for its hardware.


One of the things that attracted me to FOSS in the first place was the complete lack of marketing, i.e. lies. At first I was a little taken aback by the way so many projects would advertise prominently flaws in their product (bugs, missing features, design limitations...), but quickly I got used to it, and now just seems the normal thing to do. Whereas marketing comes across as blatant, manipulative BS.


> FOSS people still don't understand that source code is a tiny part of the bigger user experience.

I don't think that understanding is the major problem. The FOSS community just has a huge surplus of developers and practically no designers. From there on, it's a case of "if all you have is a hammer": If you're most adept at coding, you will try to solve every problem through code.


No, GNU/Linux needs less fragmentation.

It needs a full OS stack, from the kernel to the UI toolkit, that is guaranteed to be the same, across all distributions.

Where are the Mac OS X frameworks on GNU/Linux?

Nowhere, because each distribution might be using a total different way to play sounds, music, doing SIMD, process images, accessing databases, UI toolkit ....


> that is guaranteed to be the same, across all distributions.

Then there wouldn't be "distributions", plural.

> Where are the Mac OS X frameworks on GNU/Linux?

Where are the macOS servers? Where is macOS running on a raspberry pi? Where is macOS running on your home router? On your watch? On your supercomputer? GNU/Linux does just fine.

macOS suits one use case, and one only (though it's very visible); don't make it sound like everything else sucks.


From Apple point of view those examples aren't interesting from business point of view.

If GNU/Linux wasn't free as beer and people had to pay for it, all those use cases would never have happened.

Hence why it is almost impossible to sell software to GNU/Linux users, and one has to get by writing books, selling consulting services or support.


Wait, macOS is free as in beer but all those use cases didn't happen with it, coincidence?


So where is the free macOS source code to build my own gizmo, profit and don't give any money back to those developers that helped me get rich?


Free beer means you get the beer for free, it doesn't mean you get the recipe.


This has actually always been one of the major benefits of FreeBSD (and other BSDs too).

I consider it an accident of history that Linux won out. We (devs, sysadmins, users) chose this fragmentation for some reason I still don't understand.


Choice, to me, is important.

I like that I don't _have_ to run a specific piece of software if I don't like the way it behaves/looks.

I can pick something else that gets the job done in a way I prefer


Don't kid yourself. If IBM had thrown its weight behind FreeBSD instead of Linux in 2000-2001, Linux would be the greener-grass "what if?" OS and FreeBSD would be on most of our phones. Individual users had nothing to do with it.


Even back then, Linux had more traction on embedded systems. FreeBSD was mostly desktop systems, though multiple architectures were supported.

The Sharp Zarus, Nokia stuff, and other efforts pioneered the way for Linux on phones.


Yes, that's actually the way I remember it around that time. People were just generally excited about hacking on Linux and the community as a whole had a sense of popularity about it that began in the 90s.

OTOH, I'm willing to accept the notion that, given all that, the big players still pushed the industry direction.


We all agree. How do you achieve that goal when device vendors have no interest in working with a distant third Linux in the OS ecosystem, much less your elegant but totally unproven PjmlpOS?


I don't, hence why I moved away from GNU/Linux as desktop OS.

For embedded use or being a POSIX clone on the server, it does just fine.


'I strongly disagree with the sentiment that the solution is "another closed-source unix/linux-based operating system that throws away X.org and its attempted modern replacements, that can directly compete with OS X"

We don't need more closed, we need more open.'

The main problem with Linux, IMO, is its inability to attract proprietary software. And while I really like many aspects of open source, it has devalued software (and software developers) in general for many people. Further, Linux has been largely an exercise in "borrowing" the most successful ideas from proprietary software. It has also been a poster child for poor UI design and inconsistency between applications.

I love the idea of a macOS competitor using FreeBSD. It could include Linux compatibility as FreeBSD does now. For bonus points, write the entire new GUI in Swift...


> If the laptop comes with Ubuntu pre-installed, what are the odds I can replace it with CentOS or Arch?

Very high.

For the most part, drivers on Linux are determined by the kernel version[0]. Arch typically runs a pretty new kernel, so anything that Ubuntu supports, will most likely be fine. (That applies to pretty much all desktop-oriented distros.) CentOS is server-oriented, and typically runs a pretty old kernel, and as such you need to be more conservative in the hardware you choose. That said, they do backport a fair amount of hardware support from newer kernels.

[0] The exception to this rule are closed-source drivers, but even those tend to be tied/limited to certain kernel versions.


Not to mention, that before buying my Dell XPS 15 (at the time) in order to run Debian, I mostly relied on Arch's documentation to know if it was a good purchase or not, and what wifi chipset to choose :)


The Arch linux wiki is one of the best maintained and up-to-date on hardware issues. It helps that Arch itself tries to ship only vanilla software: as few modifications as possible to the kernel, too, unlike the bigger distros.

Excellent source of information.


A notable exception to this rule are Nvidia Drivers, which are close-source. When switching from the initial distribution to the newer one, you'll fall back to the free Nouveau driver and need to reinstall the NVIDIA zone by yourself.

It's not too difficult but can be surprising if you're not expecting it because your thought everything was in the kernel like I did.


>We need another closed-source unix/linux-based operating system that throws away X.org and its attempted modern replacements, that can directly compete with OS X.

In context of laptops, Microsoft is in a position to kick serious ass on this front should they wish to. Their Surface hardware line is vastly superior to Apple at the moment.

Windows Subsystem For Linux (WSL) looks promising but is still in its infancy. Unfortunately it will likely have severe limitations for some time, and even then there's no escaping the fact it runs atop Windows.

In my opinion, there's a few rather crazy options:

1. Ship the Surface line with a hypervisor by default. Provide full official driver support for the hardware in both Windows and Linux environments. That means first-class Wacom support on Linux. Ditto power management, touchpad and wireless. Run Windows and Linux simultaneously, with interop support.

2. Reengineer the Windows kernel to update itself without the incessant need to reboot all the time. Windows Update is a piece of crap that needs to be replaced by a proper package manager anyways (at least under the hood). Then, double down on WSL until it's practically at parity with a real Linux install. Failing that, integrate a guest VM with full hardware acceleration and driver support.

3. Microsoft develops their own Linux distro and calls it Windows Developer Edition. Fuse the best parts of each OS together. Windows' existing graphics infrastructure ported as a desktop environment. Native D3D. Native Windows binaries. First-class driver support. A UI oriented towards pure modularity and customization.

I concede the third item is simply fantasy, but we can always dream.


I don't get why people insist that the whole "bash on windows" things makes it a suitable replacement for Linux. It's like when people say "oh, but OS X has a terminal as well".

I don't use Linux just because of the terminal. Package managers (and the ability to deterministically install/uninstall packages!!) are one of the strongest pilars. WMs I like are another (we'll each have a preference, mine bine i3wm). And finally, a [somewhat] sane, understandable filesystem hierarchy.

Windows is still so, so far from all of those, that it's still not even close to being a suitable replacement.


> Package managers...

But bash on Windows includes apt. It's all of Ubuntu running on the Windows NT kernel instead of the Linux kernel...

> WMs...

Windows has one of the best window managers around and you can make it do pretty much anything you want.

> ...understandable filesystem hierarchy...

Done. And it's actually simpler than any Unix filesystem that I've seen. Obviously millions of users and devs use the Windows filesystem to great success. What parts of the Windows fileystem are you having trouble understanding?

Imagine a filesystem where you don't spread one single application's files around to 10 different locations which differ based on the target distro...that's Windows.


It's not the same to dumping some package manager on top of an OS (like apt on bash) to having it be part of the core OS.

When a package manager is part of the core OS, it handles ALL installed apps, and can update, or remove anything.

apt on bash won't update my firefox, or let me uninstall apps. Stuff will make it in sideways, and won't be tracked by any package manager.

> Windows has one of the best window managers around and you can make it do pretty much anything you want.

Like I said, there's a strong matter of preference, but what can objectively be said is that ONE window manager isn't enough for everybody, and everybody want something different. That's why you have different WMs on Linux.

Also, Windows' WM (whatever it's called) can't do any of the stuff i3wm does, so you're just exagerating.

> Obviously millions of users and devs use the Windows filesystem to great success.

Users don't count, because they barely interact with it. And when they do, they have to follow guides, because they can't understand it. Go ahead. Ask any windows user where specific stuff is stored.

> Imagine a filesystem where you don't spread one single application's files around to 10 different locations which differ based on the target distro...that's Windows.

Why is that a good thing? If you want to know how owns a file, we have package managers to track that.


> ...can't do any of the stuff i3wm does..

What exactly do you think i3wm can do that Windows 10 can't be made to do?

Windows 10 has tiling and workspaces. I can add any number of automations via AutoHotKey.

> Users don't count, because they barely interact with it...

Didn't I mention the millions of devs that are on Windows? I also live with a 3rd grade school teacher and she absolutely uses the heck out of the Windows file system. Anyway - as a developer, I use Linux, Mac and Windows to build Node.js and Cordova apps and I use them all fully. Linux for servers, Mac for iOS builds and the occasional Swift app...and Windows for Android and Web development. I just can't see what you think is so "unusable" about Windows filesystem.

Honestly, it just sounds to me like you just hate Windows without even knowing anything about it.

> It's not the same to dumping some package manager on top of an OS (like apt on bash) to having it be part of the core OS...

It might as well be since even on Linux you have to break out of the package manager often in order to get work done!

Have you not seen the hundreds of FOSS projects that ask you to install by curling a shell script right off their site? You can't do shit with just a package manager.

In any case - I'd rather not get stuck using one OS forever. Linux leaves a LOT to be desired. That's why I use multiple systems and I am well versed in each of them. Life would seem so dull if I only knew one OS. I feel sorry for people who are so adamant about never using some tech because of their politics or whatever.


>> Windows is still so, so far from all of those, that it's still not even close to being a suitable replacement.

As a developer who does not develop using any Microsoft technologies, this couldn't be farther from the truth. I left my previous job specifically because all 600+ employees were unequivocally required to use Windows. The company and coworkers were by far the best I've worked with, but it became no longer worth the daily frustration of fighting my toolset just to even try and get work done. Oh, you are using VMs on Windows? No, you cannot have a case-sensitive folder share. Symlinks accessible on both the host and guest? Never!

Windows is a disaster. Neither Putty nor cygwin provide an acceptable remote terminal, and PowerShell is a joke as a local console. Multiple monitors with multiple spaces/desktops per screen is impossible to use on a native install, and the third party offerings are all buggy beyond belief. Win+Tab looks like something a 5 year old would design.

I'm back to working for a company who will buy the hardware you request. I finally realized I'm senior enough to be able to ask for the hardware and software licenses I need to be productive; any pushback during the interviewing phase or post-interview negotiations simply means I move on to the next company. I am grateful to have reached the point where I have the freedom to choose.


If you don't get it, try it. It's not just bash. It's the whole Ubuntu userspace. Yes, you can use apt-get there.


See my above reply for details to sibling comment, but basically, dumping a package manager on a running OS isn't the same as having a package manager to properly track installed apps.

This apt-get will only track stuff installed via it, while there's dozens of other stuff that just made it in sideways.

Also, ¿Can I run X, i3wm, etc? ¿Can I get rid of the entire Windows DE?

My point is, I don't use bash, because I want all the above. I've no complaint if you prefer windows, that's your choice. But don't tell Linux users that windows is now the same just because you have bash.


but it's _on windows_ so what's the point?

:P


A better OS stack, where devs are busy moving beyond C, has better asynchronous IO stack, kernel level thread pools, embraces a mixed architecture with separated kernel and personalities, driver crashes don't bring the OS down, embraced by the games and graphics communities, allows for multi-GPU usage ....


Hardware support + you can run the Adobe suites, Microsoft Office, etc.?

I think WSL will be very successful among developers. You can just get any laptop from the store that runs Windows 10 and have Linux running at native speed (except I/O, which is currently a bottleneck in WSL) at the same time without the hardware compatibility problems, etc.


More hardware support, more software, better software, more users...

What's your point?


Whenever in doubt buying a laptop for Linux, just consult the Arch Linux wiki on the specific model. If the given model (such as the XPS 13) is popular in the community, the amount and quality of the information collected there is mindblowing.

For example: the pages about the past 3 releases of the XPS 13: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dell_XPS_13_(9343) https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dell_XPS_13_(9350) https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dell_XPS_13_(9360)

From the compatibility point of view, usually more important than the distro is the kernel version. There are some minor exceptions to this, such as Ubuntu vs Fedora 25 on the 9343.

Ubuntu compiles the kernel with CONFIG_ACPI_REV_OVERRIDE_POSSIBLE=y (due to Dell asking for it), and Fedora does not. This results in the soundcard working properly in HDA mode under Ubuntu, but not working properly in I2S mode under Fedora. But this can be fixed, it just takes time and effort to find these information yourself.

No, the year of the Linux desktop - when you can just buy and use a laptop with Linux just as you do with Apple - has not come yet, and will not come in the near future.


>Windows will work on practically any combination of hardware.

I strongly disagree. When the dinosaurs roamed the Earth and I tried to dual boot, Debian ran everything on my desktop from the get go. For Windows, I had to hunt for drivers for all the hardware, or use the provided disks (which was annoying since I hadn't originally bought an optical drive)


Nowadays, that's not an issue with Windows. On all my machines, the drivers either came with Windows or Windows downloaded them from Windows Update.


I disagree too, I had to install the ethernet driver, the wifi driver, the soundcard driver and the bluetooth driver manually frome some shady websites on the Internet. The worst was the ethernet driver because I couldn't just download it without internet, I had to use Linux to download it and put it on a FAT formated USB stick.


I disagree. Installing Windows 7 and 10 on newer hardware usually leaves me hunting for network drivers _before_ windows can then go about automagically installing the rest of them.

Even after installing the network driver, there's usually some ACPI or platform device it can't automatically install and then I'm stuck hunting device IDs and chipset drivers.


Just buy from a company which specializes in building laptops for Linux, they chose those components for which there are free software drivers already available so it never will be a problem.

1. http://system76.com/ 2. http://tuxedocomputers.com/ 3. https://www.entroware.com/

and so on ...

This way you're not only helping yourself but also invest into companies which make sure stuff is working on Linux, as they grow all the other OEMs will see the potential and adapt (hopefully).


> Windows will work on practically any combination of hardware. OS X will work on any hardware it is permitted to operate on. Linux is the only consortium of operating systems that still suffer from the inability to "just work out of the box".

Linux is exactly like Windows in this regard: it works just fine as long as you have the right third-party drivers. Hell, I remember having trouble installing my ATI drivers on win7 because win7 fallback was 640x480, and the braindead driver installer window was taller than that - you couldn't see the bottom of the window to click on the buttons (and windows wouldn't let you drag the top of the window offscreen). In the XP days, having windows completely fail to work with NICs was so frustrating that a friend of mine slipstreamed a vanilla installation disk with 676 NIC drivers on it, so 'no matter where you installed it, it would get network!'

So no, Windows doesn't work on 'practically any hardware' - you need to have the right drivers for it, same as linux/bsd/whatever.


> So no, Windows doesn't work on 'practically any hardware' - you need to have the right drivers for it, same as linux/bsd/whatever.

Sure. But it seems silly to acknowledge that fact while omitting the fact that hardware manufacturers actually always build drivers for Windows and they hardly ever build them for Linux.


> OS X will work on any hardware it is permitted to operate on.

OS X is only "permitted to operate" on computers designed for it, though. Linux doesn't have issues running on models where the manufacturer actually supports Linux.


Asterisk show up fine if followed by white space * ... The question is how to show (asterisk)nix?

Apparently three asterisks + nix = *nix


Ha! Funny enough, triple asterisk actually renders as <i></i>* - an empty <i> tag followed by a single asterisk. Oh, HN, you. But thank you, something that visually renders properly.


I have taken to using _ as an alternative...


I go for ^nix


Great point. I had two laptops with pre-installed Linux. Both were not even cross-update compatible. Video driver of my System76 laptop broke after the first major Ubuntu update. XPS 13 Developer Edition failed to hibernate the very fist time I closed the lid. WTF? Both laptops cost well over $1k.


> The fact that hardware - though much improved in the past 15 years - is still a crapshoot on Linux, particularly when it comes to laptop hardware, is so frustrating.

Anecdata: I've only ever had good luck with my laptops. All bought without OS (other than a make-believe FreeDOS installation).

Granted, I pondered a while which laptop to buy -- but I would do that in any case.

My personal experience is that it's surprisingly easy to get it right nowadays.

In fact I distinctly remember being baffled at how hard it was to install a particular driver -- only to discover that the system balked correctly: the driver didn't need to be installed, the device had been working all along, out of the box. I was banging my head against non-existing walls; these turned out to be harder than existing walls ;-)


> Linux is the only consortium of operating systems that still suffer from the inability to "just work out of the box"

I'm sorry to disagree, but after a fresh install of windows you still have to install a ton of drivers for specific hardware plus a ton of reboots after each one.

In fact IMHO Ubuntu offers a way better "out of the box" experience than windows does nowadays.


>OS X will work on any hardware it is permitted to operate on.

I've actually hacked the OS X installer to work on an older MacBook that wasn't "supported" anymore.

I think it was OS X 10.5 and the installer had something like this in there:

if(MacBook<3,1) ThrowError();

Rather amusingly everything worked after I changed that one line in the script...


I did the exact same thing! I was a tiny bit proud of that clever hack. It was just too easy to really feel good about it though.


> We need another closed-source unix/linux-based operating system that throws away X.org and its attempted modern replacements, that can directly compete with OS X.

Jordan Hubbard is at iXsystems now. FreeNAS/TrueNAS & PC-BSD/ TrueOS.

So maybe.


This is Linux laptop buying in a nutshell.

Used a nice little laptop for years in college. I kept fighting it on the headphone jack. It would not recognize when it was plugged in, or the sound did not work period. Hot keys would not work. Etc, etc. Besides that, everyone would always comment on what a nice little laptop it was as I ran it into the ground.

When it died I bounced from HP (horrible, came with AMD graphics that would overheat and AMD cut support for a month later, while still selling them) and then Dell (mostly horrible, but due to Sandy Bridge having horrible graphics support, the Dell had a short power cord, the USB shorted out)

Got System76 Lemur, it was like my old laptop, very small, very quiet, hardware switches for wifi, brightness & turning off screen so they would work. Ivy Bridge would freeze X if I closed and opened the lid enough, but that disappeared with the next version of Ubuntu. Similar issue with Skylake Lemur, went away when I used Manjaro with Mesa 13.

There is a small premium vs Dell or HP systems, but those are Dell and HP systems. You get what you pay for. Loud, poorly design pieces of crap (at least when I bought them). If you are willing to drop a grand and a half on a Macbook you would still save money on a System76.


> Ivy Bridge would freeze X if I closed and opened the lid enough, but that disappeared with the next version of Ubuntu. Similar issue with Skylake Lemur, went away when I used Manjaro with Mesa 13.

This kind of issue is why I stopped bothering with linux on laptops and got a macbook.

EVERY single laptop I've used linux on (which were all researched before hand to include hardware that's not supposed to have issues with linux, and this includes a system76 lemur ultra laptop I had with ubuntu pre-installed) has had issues along these lines (e.g. random graphics driver freezes, suspend/resume issues, backlight issues, wifi issues, randomly freezing during boot etc...).

Random suspend/resume issues were by far the most common issue. With every laptop it would work like 95% of the time, but that remaining 5% of the time where it decides it doesn't want to resume is enough to make it unusable as far as I'm concerned. I've not once ever had a macbook (with OSX) refuse to suspend or resume on me.

Sometimes you could distro hop, update your kernel etc... to get past them, but there would always be some new issue along those lines that would crop up eventually. I felt like I was spending more time distro hopping, reporting bugs, trying to work around bugs etc... then I was actually doing anything productive.


If I use an updated version of Mesa, the issues go away. This is Intel's fault, not X and not Ubuntu or Manjaro. This really is not different than waiting for an updated driver. I understand you had issues, but mine, that are similar to yours, went away with an update.

Intel hardware is not problem free on Windows or Mac OS X. I have a dual boot of Windows 7 on my older Lemur. The Intel driver, which last I checked, had not had an update in years for 7, still has graphic glitches in a few places. Firefox with Suspend tab extension will not render the side bar correctly (or the toolbars) on 7. Intel's drivers are just not that good.

I do not have this problem with the Mesa drivers on Linux. As far as I can tell, I do not have any problems. The Lemur is rock solid. The only reason I bought a new one was because I abuse the poor thing and System76 had a sale.


> I've not once ever had a macbook (with OSX) refuse to suspend or resume on me.

Oh, you're fortunate. I'd not seen it prior to Yosemite but the two MBP's (mid-2012 15" and early-2015 13") I have here running Yosemite and El Capitan both with external displays manage to wedge their graphics and have suspend/resume issues. The newer one in particular gets rebooted every day or it eventually wedges its display (ssh sessions continue to work, so I can sometimes recover).


I bought an Asus 1215B netbook that came with GNU/Linux pre-installed (Ubuntu), sold via Amazon a couple of years ago.

Guess what, the Ubuntu devs decided they should replace the Broadcom closed source WiFi drivers by the half-working open source ones, so during six months I didn't had a working wireless connection.

Asus could not support us, and Ubuntu forums were full of hacking the old drivers into the updated ones, or have patience and wait for the new working ones.

I had to disable sleep and hibernation, because it would only wake up again by forcing a full reboot, taking the battery out.

Still have it with GNU/Linux, just to have a machine around with it running directly on hardware, instead of a VM.


I believe Ubuntu allows you to choose between closed source drivers from the vendor and open source ones.

It even asks you during install. I think it's on the very first page they show you.


Not in this case.

If you wish I can try to track down the online forum discussions, with the hacked down suggestions from the Ubuntu developers that decided to throw away the broadcom drivers during an update, just because.


Just a PSA from my own research recently: be careful with the XPS. https://www.google.com/search?q=xps+coil+whine

As far as I know they haven't resolved it yet.


Can confirm, Precision M5510 (facsimile of XPS15). I usually have headphones on and even without them the whine is tolerable and becomes part of the background noise, however your annoyance tolerance level will vary.


Does the coil whine only happen with Linux? or does it happen in Windows too?

Was thinking about the latest XPS w/Kaby Lake CPU... but this would give me pause.


It sounds like it's an issue for Windows too


Can anyone point me towards the new Dell XPS 15 Developer Edition (does it exist)?

I'm able to find the Windows version [0], as well as the XPS 13 Developer Edition [1], but no XPS 15 Developer edition.

I just want my 15 inches. I did 13 for years and the pain still haunts me.

[0] http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/xps-15-9560-laptop/pd

[1] http://www.dell.com/learn/us/en/555/campaigns/xps-linux-lapt...



I've looked at it, and they include a pretty useless NVIDIA Quadro instead of a video cart you could use for occasional gaming.

Granted, the last 3D game I've ran on my XPS 15 was Half-Life 2, and it's pretty fast even on the integrated Intel video card.


I use the XPS 15 (2015) and I run Linux with zero problems. While not marketed as a Linux machine I've had zero issues getting 16.04 server (no unity) working.


I'm using the 2015 XPS 15 too, likewise with no significant problems.

The default Ubuntu distro with Unity, because I think it's nice.


I've heard the XPS13 has a nearly-15 usable screen size because of the tiny bevel, any owners care to verify?


I have the Developer edition of the older 13 - its a 13" display in closer to an 11" form. The 13" and 15" have really tiny bezels to hit their dimensions, with the new 15.6" being 14" wide.

The 13" developer edition was close enough to perfect for me with the 1920x1080 display, battery life takes a hit with the 4k screens. Getting a 15" this time around, but expect delays on the developer edition, they usually launch a few months after the regular 15" while they sort new drivers.


In a lot of ways, System76 was a better user experience for me than the Dell XPS 13. But yes both are good (from someone who has both).


I recently had good luck with the Dell Inspiron 5565 with the AMD A12 APU I got for my son though I knew it might be a crap shoot. Everything worked out of the box on Ubuntu 16.10 including sound and sleep but I had to blacklist, iirc, `i2c-hid` so the touchpad would work consistently.


Is the Dell XPS 15" Developer Edition model actually available in Europe? Where can I buy one online? I would rather not talk with a Dell salesperson to buy just one. There don't seem to be any resellers in Finland who give a rat's ass about Linux.


Does anyone ever try to install Windows from scratch on these new laptops? They have far more problems than Linux out of the box - no Wifi drivers, no correct display driver so everythings stuck at 1024x768. No touchpad driver on one of them.

Meanwhile, I've installed Arch and NixOS on a Chromebook Pixel 2013, Chromebook Pixel 2015, Lenovo X1 Carbon and a 2015 Macbook Pro in the last 18 months. Never had a significant issue, other than sound not working on the Pixels until I ran `yaourt -S linux4-samus`.

When these threads pop up, I often get the impression that people are relaying experiences from 5+ years ago and assuming nothing's changed since then.

Meanwhile, I don't have to deal with OS X's obnoxious behavior: the fact that I can't have a touchpad be natural scroll with an external mouse that is normal scroll. The fact that PageUp/Down/Home/End act completely inconsistently when using a "Windows" external keyboard with OS X. The feature-less window manager. Finder. Etc. If I have to spend 20 minutes tweaking Linux on my laptop, it's a small price compared to bending to OS X's quirks. In my opinion, of course.


Exactly. People don't seem to realise how the entire hardware industry holds Windows' hands and even then it isn't THAT much better than a volunteer driven effort. One wonders where Linux would be if the hardware manufacturers showed it even 50% the love they show for Windows.


I think you are onto something with running linux on a Chromebook. For years I have struggled with deaf wi-fi on laptops running Ubuntu, I spend half my evenings reconnecting the wifi on a Lenovo laptop, and that is with an external wifi dongle as there is no chance of getting the internal wifi working.

I am writing this on a Chromebook Pixel 2013 variant, the wifi on this machine and every other Chromebook I have used is rock solid. I like the 'design classic' aspect of the Pixel (original flavour) and I didn't want to take it to pieces or leave it broken. Therefore, new Chromebook. My new cheap (£250) Chromebook is the Asus one with the HD screen, zero moving parts and a tough aluminium case. Everything on it works except for the internal speakers (sound is on HDMI) but I don't need sound to read my emails and write stuff in 'vi'.

Rather than go for an esoteric linux I went for the ease of Gallium OS. This is an XFCE Ubuntu with all the hardware sorted except that HDMI sound problem...

Now for ports... I presume next-gen Chromebooks will be USB-C, I just wanted a glorified keyboard/screen with wifi that worked, however, the ports are proper ones on the Chromebook, no fiddly mini HDMI or other leads that restrict the movement of the laptop. Battery life - realistically I can go all day but I get range anxiety if I do that so I carry the brick.

I run DHCP on the cheap Chromebook complete with a reverse proxy so that my dev environment (still on the old laptop) can be worked on via the Chromebook (which runs keyboard/mouse sharing via Synergy) and via the phone/tablet for testing.

I believe that the next generation Chromebooks are going to solve a lot of problems for me, my cheap chromebook doesn't do sound, the screen is non-touch but HD, the keyboard is not backlit (I use an external keyboard now) and I am not sure it has a CPU... I wonder if the android running next-gen Chromebooks will eat into the non-pro, non-developer market that Apple are trying to make their own, if this does happen then the Apple market share will start to diminish.


Yes! We are on the same page completely!

The new $500 Samsung with HiDPI screen? I do all of my development remotely like you, but on an Azure VM. I just want a nice screen to look at when I typing into vim via mosh. At $500, I'm really hopeful that there will be a steady stream of Linux-capable, HiDPI, USB-C enabled hardware for the forseeable future. I already own three chargers that will charge it.

Yes, I love Chromebooks and I'm not that into Chrome OS. Thank you Google!


Wireless hasn't been a problem (for me) for at least the past 3 years. The really dramatic improvements happened prior before 2010, and things have only gotten better since then.

Bluetooth is still a damned mess. That, and battery life, and GPUs "just working", are the big differentiators IME. Of course YMMV.


My experience matches yours. Wifi has worked for me for ages now, with various chipsets, but battery life has been very hit-and-miss, GPUs are almost a lost cause, and function keys/backlighting/cameras/other non-essentials are hairy.

That said, the sibling comment has it right. Why am I buying laptops that don't support Linux if I'm going to use Linux on them? From now on, I'll only buy things that have Linux support as a first-class objective.


> Wireless hasn't been a problem (for me) for at least the past 3 years

Same experience here. My guess lingering reputations take more than 3 years to die off. Everything has surprisingly worked well out of the box me with my two Xubuntu installations I've done the last week. This is coming from a FreeBSD-land, where I'm used to setting up configurations files to load drivers and installing Xorg, xfce and it's plugins from scratch.


With some powertop tweaks battery life can be as good as in OS X. I do in fact get a bit more juice from Arch than from OS X in my MBA.

My setup is a very minimal on Arch, so the comparison is slightly unfair but it shows my point. OS X doesn't do any special magic. Linux can achieve equally low power consumptions with decent drivers and correct setup.


I think that is a very fair comparison. With OSX a minimal setup is not even an option.


> Bluetooth is still a damned mess

You can say that again. If you ever get a mic working, that is.

Through the years, my headset has switched back and forth between "works flawlessly" and "I've no fucking idea why it won't work or how to make it work".

My current status is the latter, and there seems to be no clear understanding on why it fails. Even though my setup is the exact same (except for OS updates, of course).

Meanwhile, nothing else has failed. Ever.


ah, Bluetooth still involves a lot of googling and trial and error. I have no BT devices with a mic, but have achieved streaming audio to speakers. My set up is currently stable but after a reboot I have to repair the speaker (like an iPhone does, whereas OS X remembers and I can just choose the speaker from a list even after pairing it with another device) The first time I got it working I wrote it all down, step for step, repeated the steps after a reinstall and it failed.

Second time I did it differently and wrote it up on the distro forum,you can see it here http://forums.bodhilinux.com/index.php?/topic/14043-bluetoot...

Seems like it got a lot easier between Bodhi Linux 3.x and 4.0 (Ubuntu 14 vs 16).


Given not all manufacturers are friendly with Linux, you just need to cherrypick a bit. For example if you get a laptop that has only Intel components, or all Intel plus an Atheros wireless card, everything will just work.

You might only experience issues in the latest Intel iteration, while they fix some glitches. But Macs have also had teething problems.

ARMs will also become more an more a great option. For example Chromebook Asus C201 can be run with free software and firmware. And it's great & cheap.

The general rule of thumb is, if there are free drivers, it will work well. If not, it won't. Or at least, you might suffer the effects of planned obsolescence.


>As far as laptops go, I've just had better experiences with macbooks. Linux on a laptop is still 100% usable and gets you everything you need. Getting things set up can be a way bigger PITA on Linux, like function keys, sound, and god forbid, wirless.

You aren't doing a fair comparasion. You are comparing macOS on a Macbook with Linux on a generic laptop. I have a wonderful, hassle-free experience with Fedora 25 on a ThinkPad X240.

For anyone else, if you want Linux on a laptop without having to do additional work to enable hardware support, use Ubuntu or Fedora on a ThinkPad from X, T or W series.


I guess you can still find weird wireless cards, but in practice, I've gone a decade or so (3 upgrades) without issues. A really minimal research will likely give you a fully compatible choice.

Anecdata: I have a wifi extender at home just so a MacBook doesn't disconnect every few minutes. ThinkPad with Intel wifi and Linux didn't need it.


I commented elsewhere that in the room with my router I have frequent wireless issues with my MacBook...but not with Linux.


Agreed, just get a laptop with any of Intel's wifi chips and you're almost guaranteed Linux won't have a problem with it.


For Intel cards default setup works, but is not optimal, i.e. it is slow. In particular transmit aggregation is turned off by default.

`sudo modprobe iwlwifi 11n_disable=8`

http://support.system76.com/articles/wireless/


Yep. Atheros chipsets also tend to be quite reliable. Broadcom used to be bit of a red flag, dunno if they've gotten better.

https://wireless.wiki.kernel.org/en/users/drivers


Broadcom still sucks. 50% of the time i boot my mbp in Arch the wireless interface just straight doesnt load even though the drivers are loaded and it is recognized with lspci


Some Atheros are not only reliable but ubercool. They support a gazillion options, including promiscuous mode, power saving, higher power transmission, etc.

In fact, Alfa Atheros antennas are the preferred option of those doing pentesting. Besides, I have great experiences with some models connecting to super low SNR networks where Broadcom would never ever connect.


Even that little bit of having to research is enough to deter mainstream users, and so we're back to OS X or Windows. A Linux distribution or two has to get to the point where it's stable, doesn't have some sort of possible compatibility issue with hardware, and is strongly supported and encouraged for mainstream use by a large PC manufacturer.


We're still far away for mainstream users. I mean, people on HN still seem to skip the quick component check. A big shift takes time.


I agree, but I think that big shift doesn't happen without big support from somebody.


That's why I did my research, bought compatible hardware, and spend money on software and services which support Linux. Raise the stats, vote with money, write Linux software - what else can we do?


Nothing, you need one of the large manufacturers to slowly divorce itself from Windows and offer well-designed, well-suported linux machines.


I have two laptops, the 2015 macbook and a yoga 13 with linux on it. The yoga 13 was refurbished and has hardware issues and freezes from time to time[0] on both linux and windows(hence why I bought the macbook)...but the wireless on the macbook drops so frequently I've stopped using the macbook and use the glitchy hardware laptop. The laptop is heavier, a few years older, and uglier (missing screws at this point), but is a more pleasant usage experience over that macbook any day.

Ready for the kicker? When running Linux on the macbook, the wireless doesn't drop, but the macbook does not have a linux keyboard driver so I can't use it outside my house.

Sample of one, etc.

[0] It crashes every few days while running continuously, to give a sense of time. The macbook's wireless drops at least once every hour or so. Hence why the laptop is better for me than the macbook.


I have to flap my macbook's wifi and/or reboot several times a day. I can't find out how to fix it from their joke of online support - just a load of people bitching about the same thing and deleting the plist file, IIRC, which is a temporary fix.

Very frustrating.


> and god forbid, wirless

Stick to Intel WiFi chips, and you'll be OK. They provide an open driver (iwlwifi). Second best is probably Qualcomm Atheros (ath10k), also open driver. Stay away from the rest.

Intel 802.11ac cards work really well on Linux. The only problem with laptops can be nasty blacklisting (Lenovo is notorious for that). I.e. if you buy a WiFi card separately and it's not from the "approved" list, the UEFI firmware will reject it preventing computer from booting, and there is almost nothing you can do about it, except buying a card with correct ID from the "approved" list. Not sure if other manufacturers are as nasty, but I encountered this with Lenovo.


You can often install a hacked BIOS wich do not contain such a blacklist, which you can find on the internet, installing which may or may not be a good idea though.


It is possible for some older models. But not for recent ones. Or at least so far no such method was published.


>I've never installed Linux on a laptop and had wireless not suck, at least a little bit.

I've installed Ubuntu on probably at least 20 computers (conservative estimate) and have only had wireless suck once or twice.

I'm currently typing on an old Dell Inspiron N1440 running Ubuntu 16.04 and if I remember correctly, this is the one where wireless didn't work when I installed the OS, but I ran some updates while hardwired before I got to address the wireless issue and the updates fixed it for me.

Also special function keys work as well.


I've owned 3 laptops over the last few years and have struggled to have problems like this save 1 example where the wifi took a bit of work (this has since been fixed). I have found the newer asus zenbooks pretty well, I had a thinkpad, and even an asus gaming laptop (I do deep learning work) and haven't had the problems people report with things like the nvidia drivers.

I use fedora though.

A few things here: Don't worry about being on the bleeding edge with linux. I'm sticking with fedora 23 for a while. I still update the kernel and the like. Other than that, things have by and large worked for me. I would love to hear contradictory stories though. I'm not sure where the gotchas are. I'm definitely not so starry eyed about linux that I know there are problems, but I've found I can't use stand windows or osx.


> Getting things set up can be a way bigger PITA on Linux, like function keys, sound, and god forbid, wirless.

Still? When I bought a new notebook in 2012, the particular model had been out for 3 days. Yet there was a very detailed installation guide in the Arch Wiki for that particular model, and the only issues I had were with the brightness keys on the notebook (both for screen and keyboard backlight). The backlight control via UI worked, but not via keys. Was fixed a few months later.


It can be a huge PITA on Linux. You need to study the hardware and Linux support before you buy. Walk in a store, and buy a random laptop, chances are good something in it won't work very well.


I just bought a laptop to switch my aging mother from Windows Vista to something I could remote administer more easily. Bought one of the laptops from the "Ubuntu certified" site and most everything just worked out of the box, including audio and Wifi.

I'll probably be switching from Macs to either Linux Mint or Elementary OS once the new XPS 15" are out.


I replaced my work laptop last friday with a new IBM x260. Everyting just works.

The wireless range is insane too.

Even the built in LTE modem "Just works" with networkmanager/modemmanager.. it's awesome.

I had to install one piece of software though, and that was fprintd (to use the fingerprint reader) and add a line to a pam.d file to use it.

The _only_ thing that has not worked yet is the Fn+F4 to sleep however it is a keyboard scancode thing as the laptop immedately goes to sleep when i close the lid and wakes when I open it again (without _any_ issues).

Oh.. and in bios I swapped the control and Fn keys as not having control all he way to the left was driving me insane!


Linux or not, I'd personally stick with Mac or Surface hardware for laptops, because they're the only good touchpads you can buy, everything else is just junk in comparison.


Could anyone suggest some resources for building a Linux desktop computer from scratch? I've been a Mac user forever and I'm interested in building my own desktop computer, but I honestly have no idea how to select components, much less how to tell if they're compatible with Linux or Fedora. Any help would be appreciated.


As pointed somewhere in this thread, the Arch linux wiki is a good resource for hardware compatibility issues. It doesn't really matter if it focus in one particular distro, it's the same kernel after all.

https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Category:Hardware

To my limited knowledge, intel hardware has excellent linux support. If you need a little more muscle in the GPU go for nvidia rather than AMD.


> all that being said, prob will switch over when this one dies, because touch bar... lol

I wonder why there's such lack of belief in everyone. I think this touchbar is just a temporary transition-time solution and we'll have a decent replacement in a year (tactile feedback, retina-resolution, etc.)


I never had any complaints with Linux on laptop except battery life, it sucks. MacBooks have a battery life of at least 8hrs, my 2012 model has a battery life of 8hrs, I have to charge it once a week, since I don't use it for more than 2hrs daily.


I cannot compare to Mac, but my laptop running vanilla Ubuntu with default config of tlp is at least as good as, or better than, Windows 10.


Of course, Ubuntu's UI and basically everything is superior to Win10, but I am yet to see equivalents of 8hrs battery :-) (except if you buy a very costly Windows Laptop)


It is very dishonest to claim that Linux is 100% usable when wireless drivers crash frequently and wireless throughput never matches that of proprietary drivers.

Not to mention battery life is almost always worse.

Sad, but true.


The irony is, I have far more problems on my 2015 MBP with the Wifi drop-out rate than I ever did on Linux.


What chipset and OS are you using with Linux?


> Linux on a laptop is still 100% usable and gets you everything you need.

Unless one is into proper UI/UX design experiences, game and graphics programming specially with multi-GPU and all those nice buttons on the laptop.


There are so many desktop environs for Linux, some mimic OS X, some Windows (XP, 7, 8/10), some unique that if you can't find a UX experience on Linux that is acceptable then the problem isn't Linux, but it might be you!

Game and graphics programming - fair point.

Nice buttons, assuming you mean that row of lights and so on that laptop designers seem to love, always just work for me. Volume, wi-fi, etc work. What doesn't work is the "open a calculator" type button, but I could fix that with a bit of customizing key bindings. As it's so easy to open the "everything finder" in the DE I use ( Moshka/E17) it is easier than reaching for those off-keyboard buttons.

Maybe you need to distro hop a bit more?!


> some unique that if you can't find a UX experience on Linux that is acceptable then the problem isn't Linux, but it might be you!

Nice way to welcome outsiders into the GNU/Linux world, then don't complain non-geeks don't feel welcome.

I use GNU/Linux since Slackware 2.0 and have used quite a lot of UI managers, probably all the most known ones.

My remark of UI/UX was from the point of view of someone that also does it, creating software for people that want to know as little as possible from computers, regarding their actual work.


IIRC macOs does not support OpenGL 4.5 or Vulkan. Also there is currently no high performance Apple Hardare to do things like CUDA or other GPGPU programming. CUDA on Linux is really an easy thing to do. For Game programming tools like Unreal Engine 4 are afaik alreasy supported on Linux, which gives you multiplatform support. For graphics, music or 3D modelling windows is currently the only solution.


Not related to the blog post but why are the websites form lenovo + dell (and acer) so god damn awful?

lenovo.com redirects me to https://www.lenovo.com/se/en/ since i'm currently in Sweden. I then get nice server error as greeting: 403 - Forbidden: Access is denied.

If I try to access lenovo.de I get often no response... also for subsequent pages...

On dells website it takes an awful lot of time to filter their laptops. It's not even 100 items... why does it take so long?

Acer has a nice compare function. The only problem is that you can't compare laptops of their business line with the home ones. They also have too many different models. The compare function doesn't showcase any difference.


This, this, a thousand times this. One thing that Apple has done very well is put together a website that:

  A.) Tells you what they are selling, and
  B.) Can sell it to you.
Why is it so hard for other vendors to figure out that this is a pretty good way to sell computers?

My girlfriend bought an Asus Zenbook the other day; it's a really nice machine and made me wonder whether there might be a Zenbook for me. So I ended up on http://www.asus.com/zenbook/global/index.html. Is there a product list? No. A comparison feature? No. A way to buy, like, anything at all? Fuck you, says Asus. Here, have a bunch of annoying marketing copy; if you like that enough then maybe you can buy from some online retailer who has screwed up the model-numbers, unless you'd rather go to a shop were some know-nothing highschooler will try to make a commission by upselling you.

Had the same experience with HP. I take your word for it that Leno and Dell and Acer are similar. Really made me appreciate Apple's retail mechanisms (as much as I'm aiming to exit their ecosystem).

Seriously, industry: WTF? Get it together, guys!


Lenovo's website is the least of their problems. I'm in the USA and ordered a Thinkpad. They ship out of China. No one in their call centers can give any kind of order status. Their information is days behind. I canceled an order (after they cut the price to try to get me to change my mind) and the thing still shipped. It seems like their Thinkpad factory just pumps them out; no kind of true build to order.

The only good way to get their machines is through a reputable reseller who has them on a shelf.


> One thing that Apple has done very well is put together a website that:

  A.) Tells you what they are selling, and
  B.) Can sell it to you.

  C.) Be able to configure a US keyboard when you're not in the US.
I'm in the UK, but I've used a US keyboard layout all along from the days that I bought an obsolete Sun3/50 to use as an X terminal. My last ThinkPad was bought in the US by a friend who came from there and sold it on to me. But if I wanted to buy a new laptop with a US keyboard from Lenovo or Dell today, their web sites don't provide the option. Apple do.

(I'm sure it might be possible to order one over the phone, but why should I have to?)


I wonder if it reflects how they manufacture them. Do they print the keycap labels on demand?


I think the problem here is that Apple doesn't really have to have a huge product range because they are pretty much focused on the premium price range.

On the other hand, manufacturers like Asus, Lenovo and Dell have everything from the economy to premium range which makes the content organization a natural headache. And it looks like nobody has figured out a good way to fix everything up.


But Dell has a pretty nice web site despite having a huge range of products.


Yes and no. UI looks wise it is ok, but UX wise it is a nightmare.

When I try to find a product I often can't find it. Or I can only find the previous year/range's version. Or I can only find it if I pretend to be in the US. Or mostly it is out of stock. And all this time direct links works so the products exists, I just cant find them consistently.

Went through this recently trying to find the XPS13 DE for a friend. He bought his first macbook pro in the end instead(a 2015 one just after the touchbar launched).

Yes their SKU stock is massive compared to Apple, so navigation will be trickier, but why do they need to make it so hard by hiding products etc.


I believe that is solely the reason some listing websites came up just to search for products. Plus in most cases, you really aren't suited for the whole range. Trade-offs.


I have been using Asus Zenbook for the last 3 laptops; I just go straight to Amazon or Ebay to buy them, the experience there is quite better (besides I want a US keyboard instead of Spanish).


The other manufacturers also haven't figured out how to organize their models.

As far as I can tell, Dell has just a handful of models (XPS, Precision etc.), but if you go and look at the XPS 15, for example, it's a grid of dozens of SKUs with various specs instead of just a single page with customization options. It's not even a matrix -- with models varying by CPU and RAM and disk and such, you'd expect that at least they'd arrange them visually in some kind of table. It must be a nightmare for non-technical people.

They're all like this, and it becomes hilariously complicated when the manufacturer has, like Lenovo, dozens and dozens of models, and it's impossible to understand what the difference is between them and which ones are targeting which uses. (You have to ask why they're so unfocused, too. Is it an intentional tactic?)

Asus seems to be one of the few to understand this (aside from Apple); their Zenbook site is pretty friendly and focused. Though they still insist on nonsense model names like "UX390UA".

It's not just PCs, of course. It's all consumer electronics: TVs, sound systems, what have you.


I've never been a product manager but IMO it probably goes something like this:

"The framistan line is successful but I hear from our customers that we should have some options that add [x] and drop [y], while having support for more [z]."

"We need to create a new line, a totally separate brand from framistan that has way more [x], [y] but no [z] at all. The competition has entered this space and there is clearly a market there."

They say this as often as they can, iterating over various x, y, z triples and they maximize the product line, perhaps until they hear feedback like yours.

Apple, OTOH, does whatever they want, targeting limited segments in order to keep everything simple. They lose out on lots of opportunity by restricting themselves to just parts of the market. But they also have a money tree, so it doesn't really matter.

Re: nonsense model names. As a technical consumer I much prefer these very-distinct names that change with each new release. When I read a review, it's very likely that I'm reading the right review. When I'm buying used, it's very likely that I'm getting the right product. Brands like Amazon Kindle Fire, MacBook, IMO make searching for and finding the right stuff harder. I can appreciate the elegance of a simple product name, though. Typically they're concealing the true model info under some other header, but it's usually harder to identify.


You're probably right. But it doesn't explain why Apple is so good at this and so few other companies aren't. They must realize the confusion they're creating among consumers. Is it because they're still rooted in 80s/90s PC culture?

Nice brand names like MacBook doesn't preclude having precise model IDs, though. The MacBook range mostly has unique model names (and Apple publishes a full list [1]), for example.

As a counter-argument, an example from TVs: The same TV models are sold all over the world with different identifiers. They'll do things like tack on an "E" for European models. But it makes it really hard to find reviews, because the same Samsung model sold in the US as UN40J5200 might be UN40J5300E in Europe, and you don't necessarily know how to translate between the two identifiers (though they often have a system about what the letters and digits mean so you can decode them, kind of). You might find a review for Samsung UN40J6200 and hope that it's close enough.

[1] https://support.apple.com/en-us/HT201300


> Apple is so good at this and so few other companies aren't

> Nice brand names like MacBook doesn't preclude having precise model IDs, though. The MacBook range mostly has unique model names (and Apple publishes a full list [1]), for example.

I guess the difference is that Apple doesn't list each and every configuration option as a different product, but only shows them when it's relevant: During the purchase process / checkout. While Lenovo, Dell and Co. show a collection of slightly different configurations as separate cards in what looks like a very generic e-commerce theme, Apple wants you to make decisions step by step:

- Visit central product page (iMac / iPhone / Macbook / Macbook Pro / ...)

- Follow store / purchase link

- Select one of very few base models that are distinguishable by major (!) attributes (like screen size or the good/better/best-principle)

- Adjust details (CPU, RAM, etc.) as needed. Or don't and just opt for the default base model.

This process covers 27 different product variants in a step by step checkout workflow that is easy to grasp and understand by the customer.


That's because Apple is not afraid to shut down a product that still makes money, and offer less choice to customers.

Typically when they released the iPod nano, they decided to stop the iPod mini even though some customer would have still chosen it.


the part you missed is that the money tree didn't magically appear and allow them to do that. Apple's ability to have discipline and know when to say no, sticking to the specific markets they know they can make large margins in is what created and feeds the money tree. Why make 40 lines in every variation at razor thin profits, when you can make one line at huge margins? Not sticking to that model is what's getting apple in trouble, even if every tech comment whines about how apple has done everything wrong since forever.


Apple is in a somewhat strange position. I'd argue that they are competing with Asus/Dell/etc. as a company, but their products aren't, in that you first decide between Mac/PC and only then decide on a model. Obviously not true in all cases (i. e. I love Apple to death but had to resort to a very custom desktop for some ML work). But its right often enough to make additional models a losing proposition for Apple: they'd just be competing with themselves.


You're probably spot on. I'd like to add that this is the problem with many "Product Managers" - they aren't MANAGING the product. Their job is to take this noise (because that's what this is) and distill it down to something structured and logical. No wonder Apple makes so much money. You can hate them, but they get this (mostly)* right.

* There are rumblings by many about the mac laptop variations not being cleanly delineated.


> It's not just PCs, of course. It's all consumer electronics

I recently bought an induction hob, and it's exactly the same.

Bosch for example have a series 4, 6 and 8 and within that, models with various configurations. At first I assumed series 8 was the best or newest, but there are low and high end models in all of the series. I looked through the manufacturers specs, and even in terms of features I couldn't see anything different between the series, only between induvidual models. Maybe the series refers to what day the 'design team' came up with it?

I tried to look at some reviews online to see what people said was the best - I live in Northern Europe and haven't yet picked up the language so looked at reviews on UK and German sites. Except the models available there aren't available here, and vice versa.

At the end of the day they are all pretty much the same (they all cook stuff), so I just went to the shop and picked one that wasn't too cheap or too expensive and looked the prettiest (Wife Approved TM).


This is so frustrating! It's not like it can't be done; System76 manages to present a really nice base-model + customisation experience, so why can't Dell?


Even worse when you're trying to dig through a maze of URL's to find drivers, half the link will go to the US site which will then get redirected to the regional one where the file doesn't exist. Had to do it once for a network drive with "export restrictions" it took hours to find their awful, half working driver. IME Dell are one of the better ones.


This is a really good point. I'm a lenovo guy and I've bought from their official site a couple times. It takes forever to render and the customizer is clunky.

Just give me a basic webpage with checkboxes and a price that gets auto updated.


Completely agree. Many pains in the ass from ordering my 4th generation X1 Carbon off Lenovo's site, even while tracking the absurdly lengthy shipment. My past Mac purchases were pleasures, by comparison.


Yeah try ordering anything from Lenovo on your iPad... their site is buggy as hell. I mean, how much effort can it take to clean it up?


> So, is Linux ready for the desktop? > For me, the answer is yes.

Honestly it's been ready for years on the desktop (of course, this does not apply if you are an expert user in Y software only available on Z platform and need to use it for your job/company, etc...). Ubuntu 16.04 did not bring anything significant on the table, it's just that most people have not noticed. I switched full Linux back in 2009~2010 and I have never looked back since.


It's been ready for over ten years. I switched in the early '00s.

As well as giving me a reliable* platform to work on, this had the enormous benefit of allowing me to say "I don't know anything about Windows any more, so if you want me to help you with your computer you'll have to switch to Linux" to friends and family. Many switched, and I must have saved myself months of fixing Windows machines.

So I offer a heart-felt thanks to Linus, GNU and the Debian and Ubuntu maintainers every day.

* Last week my xorg.conf disappeared. After half an hour cursing while I found and fixed the problem, I realised I couldn't remember the last time computer problems had impacted my productivity - it has certainly been several years. I obviously have no idea how Windows runs now, but my recollection is that it wasted several hours a month.


I would argue that your asterisk means Linux is nowhere near ready for wide use on the desktop. Non-technical users can wreak all sorts of havoc with an OS setup, and it needs to be somewhat hardened to that (my personal favorite story is having to fix a friend's Windows install that somehow associated .exe files with Word, so Word became the shell and displayed the unicode garbage representation of explorer.exe).


Agreed, I think it's less about being able to get it right, and more about being unable to get it wrong (because users can and will get it wrong in every way possible).

Linux is able to get it right in almost every way imaginable, but I can't think of any distro that's as resilient to the user as Windows. Almost all the bloat, crap, and bad decisions seem aimed ostensibly at making it difficult or impossible for the user to ruin their system, and obviously they still are far from impervious.


> needs to be somewhat hardened to that

Oh so you mean like folks reinstalling Windows all over again? Seen that happening many times.


I agree.

I installed Ubuntu MATE on my sister's netbook ~2 years ago and when I asked her a few months ago if the netbook still runs the system I installed, she said "yeah, no issues".

I know so many people that use their computers just for web-surfing, image viewing, watching movies and listening to music (+ skype maybe) and since they are (generally speaking) not interested & uninformed in any other things (e.g. Photoshop), Windows OS is even frustrating for them - just because it ends up installing tons of malware through clicking pop-ups while they are web surfing. They have no idea how to get rid of those toolbars and they don't know they can try google for help. Linux is a safe neighbourhood, a peace of mind and ready (at least) for these users - and I guess there are millions of them.


Yeah; switched my 50 year old mom to Linux three years ago. People still acting like every distro is Gentoo.


To be fair to Gentoo (which has it's share of problems[0] for sure)... it is still far more organized than older distros (Slackware, etc.) in terms of packaging, automation, currency, cross-compilation, security and community. Also, it supports more platforms and features. For Linux all around, the bar has steadily raised. The complexity of a modern system is staggering, Gentoo is the only platform I know that goes the extra mile to allow you to modify everything without sinking in a swamp of maintenance. Yes, there's a convenience cost - but there's a long term cost to not bothering that other platforms extract from you over time.

[0] https://bugs.gentoo.org/show_bug.cgi?id=597804


Its rolling release nature can make it feel overwhelming if you don't surf the bleeding edge. I ran a Gentoo desktop back in the day and if I didn't `emerge world` once a week or so I'd find myself sinking into that swamp of maintenance that you refer to.


Switched my 68 yeard old mom to Linux five year ago. No complaints since that, except for video (so I upgraded CPU) and printer (cable or port is damaged, switched error handling to «cancel» instead of «pause»).


I feel old now. Running Linux since 1995, everyone in my family uses it.


I saw Linux for first time in 1997 (SuSE 5), running it since 1999, so yes, you are old, thus I'm still young.


I've been using Linux on all my machines (desktop/laptop/servers) for years too. I haven't missed any piece of software much, but I would like to express my hate towards Adobe and Autodesk, who don't care about Linux at all.


What keeps many people on Windows are games.

Valve, through Steam, has made monetization of Linux games more viable. So now there are many titles available on Linux compared to years ago.

There's still a gap, but I hope that Vulkan gets traction and becomes the de-facto standard rather than DirectX. DirectX was pushed through a lot of FUD controversy during the evil years of Microsoft (they claimed that in future Windows versions OpenGL was going to be put behind a compatibility layer with a performance hit, and developers freaked out and moved to DirectX. Then it didn't happen).


As much as I hate to say it, opengl still has issues in comparison to DirectX. Just getting an opengl context is comparatively quite difficult and that still doesn't give you input or audio.


Yes, but the performance of OpenGL drivers for complex scenes has improved drastically in the past few years. nVidia is mainly to thank for that.


Also, perhaps through growing consumer exposure to mobile, it feels like the graphical (and input complexity!) expectations for games have actually dropped recently relative to their traditional acceleration or stability. It's really only high resolution FPS and strategies that demand the full capabilities of modern desktop/console-level graphics processing.


SDL does, though.


I agree that desktop on linux is ready, with the main trade-off being: you have to spend more time setting things up, but you can customise your software/hardware to any level you want. ( and just like Y software, there's X hardware that might not work with linux. those damn printers... )

Btw, I also started with Ubuntu but I'm finding Arch a much better and up to date distro.


Arch is definitely the way most Linux users go once they get in a comfort zone with their existing distro (Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, etc...) and want to get something with better hardware support or even better software support (with Arch's fantastic AUR!). Antergos makes it easier than ever to jump into Arch, too.


> and just like Y software, there's X hardware that might not work with linux. those damn printers...

The two biggest issues I've ever had with linux are printer support and modem support. Time solved both issues before developers did, no one uses dial up and I no longer print anything at home.


Even printers (and scanners) are fine as long as you pick the hardware based on Linux driver availability.

I love how using an ageing Canon USB-scanner just works without any configuration on any new install of Ubuntu, because the driver is supported by the SANE project. No vendor-specific software needed; just open up Simple Scan and… scan.


What is it that you like about Arch? Maybe I should give it a shot, although with Ubuntu you know you'll have both the solutions and the software available somewhere.


Almost everything is most up to date, in ubuntu you get versions that can be years old. And no, that doesn't really mean it breaks things. I have antergos for a couple of months now. I have about 1500 packages installed, never got anything broken like I had the `sudo apt -f install` every few weeks in ubuntu.

And ubuntu comes a bit bloated out of the box. At least for a "normal" power user that knows how to install the things he/she needs.

I'm also impressed from the support in the packages. For example, you need a new fancy editor? latest version? Atom, VS Code? sure, just install it from the package manager. Maybe need the latest of node.js? or vivaldi browser? It has them. It's much more complete than I thought. No need to look for .deb packages on anything.

And last, I won't have to change anything in 6-12 months when a new version comes out. There are no scheduled releases from what I understand. You can always be up to date.

Personally, I don't see any single reason to install ubuntu again.


Hmm, that's interesting, thanks. I currently have provisioning scripts for Ubuntu that will set up any machine just the way I want it from scratch with one command, so moving all that state is not trivial, but Arch sounds very interesting. I'll give it a try, thank you!


No problem.

Yeah, setting up the environment is a hassle. Happy to help if I can.


Thank you for your offer! I'm sure it'll be straightforward, it's just work that has to be done :)


I don't want to sound rude, but Arch and Antergos aren't exactly the same. I think if you intall Arch you'll set yourself up with a much better understanding of your system for when something goes wrong.


They are essentially the same, it is the same repos. In fact once you have installed antergos you can remove the antergos repo and you essentially have an arch system.

Many arch users often say "you must go through our annoying installation process to understand linux better!" - but that's only true if the person migrating to arch is a linux newbie.

Frankly I've been using linux for 20 years and now that I am older and a parent I have much better uses of my very limited time than going through an obnoxious chroot install and configuring some files in /etc. Antergos is great.


From what I've read, it's a "light installer on top of it". For now it works pretty well for what I need. And coming from OSX and ubuntu it's a good step I guess. I'll try just arch on a VM to see what the differences are.


For personal use its the most up to date and because its rolling release i never have to actually upgrade or wait for releases. Also newer kernels for newer hardware.


Doesn't that break things too often? I always run across at least one breaking change on each new Ubuntu version, and I'd imagine this happens much more often with a rollling release OS, is that not the case?

Also, how is packaging? With Ubuntu, someone always has a PPA for everything.


The thing with the rolling release is, that you get a few small updates each day/week, so if something breaks, you generally know where, which makes it easier to pinpoint the problem and fix it, then after a full distro upgrade.

However, in the one year I have been using Arch as my main distro, I had only two small breakages.

The first was a recent upgrade of openvpn, which required you to move some folder from one place to the other. however this was a known breaking change, so it was announced on the Arch-announce mailing list. :)

The second happened this weekend. I had been using the infinality-font-bundle, which provides a patched fonts set that is beautifully rendered. However it seems that the developer hadn't been keeping up with the new versions of fontconfig and the had been some new options added, and after an update gdk-bixbuf2 needed one of them to function. (which resultet in missing icons) This was fixed after 5 minutes of googleing.

So not something very dramatic.

Packaging:

The package manager is pacman and the standard repos already have a lot of software. And then there is the AUR, where everybody can upload build-scripts for stuff that is not in the official repositories. Most of the time they work great, there hasn't been any software at all that I had to download from a browser.


Not based on arch, but in places where I've worked that have adopted continuous deployment models, there are a lot less breaking changes and those breaks are usually smaller and more manageable.

What I'd like is a stable base system with cutting edge apps, but I don't know if any distro offers this.


I've been using Arch for ~2 years now and haven't had anything break, I do a pacman -Syu (updates everything) every week or so.

Arch has AUR (http://aur.archlinux.org/) which has probably way more things than PPA have


I'm away and not on my main machine at the moment, but I've heard of problems for people who have installed Infinality fonts in the last few days.. So I'm looking forward to fixing tht when I get home.


I've been running a full system upgrade (now in https://github.com/l0b0/tilde/blob/69f7997f77f1a380be89d36e2...) just about daily on my desktop and two different laptops for years, which even Arch people seem to consider too bleeding edge. As long as that keeps working infinitely more often than an Ubunto upgrade I'll keep doing it. Nobody was more surprised than me, but rolling distros (or at least Arch) are fantastic.


I switched in the early to mid 00's and it was ready then, nothing fundamental has really changed. Currently I'm switching to it again because the game situation has improved.


Opinion follows: I don't think so.

My three day old vanilla Ubuntu desktop install completely froze up on me the other day. I wasn't doing anything out of the ordinary - browsing Reddit with Firefox. It was a mostly default Ubuntu install (nvidia and broadcom drivers) and otherwise completely up to date.

I was frustrated enough I haven't bothered to troubleshoot it yet, but my best guess is somehow I ran it out of the 16 gigs of memory in my desktop, and the default install either didn't create a sufficient swap file, or it was not very proactive in swapping.

If I can freeze a basic install by browsing Reddit with the default web browser, there's something fundamentally broken.


> If I can freeze a basic install by browsing Reddit with the default web browser, there's something fundamentally broken.

I would agree if you could show causation, but this is only correlation. I could tell you how many hundreds, maybe thousands of hours I do exactly what you've described with NO freezing, but so could a lot of others. I'm sure others yet can tell you of freezing.

None of this is perfect. But one anecdata does not a readiness state (nor lack of it) make.


Is it a brand new machine?

My PC, which runs Windows, does the same thing. I've determined that it's actually an issue with the power supply. It has nothing to do with the operating system.

I guess what I'm saying is, do some troubleshooting first before you blame it on Ubuntu.


Nvidia drivers are always a worthy culprit.


The only time ubuntu has crapped on me was due to a failing hard drive. Check your hardware.

Note: sometimes a bad drive works fine under windows but dies under linux simply because windows doesn't happen to use the fault sectors.


I've been switching back and forth between OS X and Linux for the past several years. I'm currently at a year and a half into a Linux streak and really enjoying recent advancements. My Dell XPS 13 typically gets 10 hours of battery life.

Linux itself is quite stable. Simply install a recent distro and off you go. If you're using a heavy Window Manager you'll get all the convenient configuration applets you need. The real issue, IMO, is the desire to tinker.

OS X is a bit limiting in what you can do with it. I haven't seen anyone with custom window decorations in OS X in a long time. Short of running a software update we aren't capable of tweaking kernel versions and system utilities. If we stick to the same limitations in Linux it's going to be near impossible to break.

Once the Linux tinkering sets in you'll find that you've installed a bleeding edge kernel, changed some repository sources, modified Xorg.conf, ./configure && make && make install'd an obscure library (then (mostly) uninstalled it), and installed Python 2 alongside Python 3 without rebooting for two months. Good luck rebooting at that point ;)

With great power comes a great desire to shoot ourselves in the foot.


Oh come on, I've been a Linux enthusiast for over a decade now and it's been years since I've even touched xorg.conf, installed a kernel that didn't come from a standard repo, or had trouble rebooting due to a change I made to the system.

Linux has gotten significantly less painful over the years, and it's not just that I'm more familiar with it now. Installing a mainstream distro these days is easier than the last time I installed Windows (granted, that was XP).

I finally caved and started using a Mac for work. I was afraid that I would like it so much that I would just have to buy one for home, but I actually find Linux is still pleasant to use, I still think I prefer it over Mac OS.


Not only that, I don't even run X as my root display server. Sure, XWayland is around, but only because of Chromium apps (`google-chrome-unstable`, `visual-studio-code-nightly-bin`, `slack-desktop`, `riot-web`).

And the best part is, Wayland (Ozone) support is already in Chromium, it's just not really enabled right now.


sadly I have yet to come across a functioning tiling window manager for wayland.


Sway (written in C, I contributed the libinput config), Way-Cooler (written in Rust, if of any interest) and Orbment all ride on top of 'wlc'. They're all at least somewhat functional. I think there's a few others but I haven't tried any of them.


Thanks, I will keep an eye on sway. :)


My life has been great these last years, and mostly due to this:

https://xkcd.com/963/


What distros are you people using? Mine doesn't even come with xorg.conf anymore.

(with that said, cant wait for Wayland to finally happen)

I have a news for you people: some distros


Neither does mine. That's why life has been great for years!


Sadly, I second this. But even tweaking the themes or the trackpad sensitivity is a huge time sink that waits for me to bite the bait in a weakness moment.

About the Python 2 alongside Python 3 et similia: fortunately, integrating Virtualenv for python and Docker for all the rest in your workflow solves many of those crazy lib dependencies causing instability.

About the xorg.conf and instable kernels, I'm VERY SURPRISED there's not a Linux kernel fork, heck even a branch that is pre-optimised and stabilised for those 4 or 5 most common Linux laptops.

And if it's unreasonable to delegate this effort to the kernel devs, how about Ubuntu starts to maintain an XPS13-2015/X1Carbon2016 variant of the kernel deb package?


Linux? Desktop? Different answer from different people.

For me I've always been optimistic. Linux as desktop offers choices and freedom. I've been running Linux as my main desktop since Fedora Core 1 (you can count). Overall the kernel and desktop environments (window managers) are getting better (especially KDE). Of course, there has been learning curves and all sort of frustration, many weird problems to attack but never a real showstopper AS LONG AS you had the time and passion to research (learn) and fix them (at least it is how I have built up my Linux skills tree).

It's about freedom and choice, also the habit that has formed over the years.

I do use a MacBook Pro 15" for work (on the move, portability, battery life is better than running Linux on it - plus the wireless driver hassle - no worth it - as long as iTerm2 and homebrew is in place - don't care), but the pretty much all grunt work is done on my workstations (2 optiplex) in office and home. They both are running Arch Linux + KDE Plasma 5 (Xfce4 and other light weight WMs as alternatives). I just feel relaxed and in control of the OS (can do pretty much what I want - like mount a part of physical memory as ramfs/tmpfs and use it to do heavy I/O tasks etc... similar to drive a manual car ;-)

I don't mind using a Mac but do consider Linux as a good and free alternative when coming across things that do not work well on Mac. It may not work for all but you'll have to give it a try to know.

In addition, better consult and seek advice from Linux veterans regarding distribution/desktop environment/window manager choices, known hardware support issues and best practices beforehand, save you time and trouble ;-)


With regard to Power Management

TLP may be useful for people who run Linux on laptops TLP – Linux Advanced Power Management http://linrunner.de/tlp https://github.com/linrunner/TLP

Laptop Mode Tools is the then standard way of power saving, not sure if it is obsolete now. https://github.com/rickysarraf/laptop-mode-tools

In addition, Intel's PowerTop and other stuff on 01.org can also be useful if running on Intel architecture (GPU).

I had been running Ubuntu 8.04, 10.04 12.04 on Dell Latitude D630 and E6410 (suspend to memory worked fine `pm-suspend` and then `systemctl suspend`) for several years, during that period of time laptop mainly sat on docking station as a desktop so I couldn't care less about power management, performance was first priority (e.g. no HDD spin-down `hdparm -B 254 /dev/sdX`, no swap devices, vm.swappiness=1 etc...).

HTH


Disclaimer: I have been using Linux as my main OS for many years now....

However, I actually agree with a lot of the below, the alternative programs on Linux aren't up to scratch with tools people build their livelihood on (Illustrator, Photoshop, Sketch etc).

But the opposite is true also, I find development painful on OSX, I get pissed when starting with a new company and they assume I want a Mac. My stack is LAMP, it's what the servers run, its what I want to run on my local development machine as well.

I am currently on Windows / Virtualbox with a full desktop version of Ubuntu 16.04 and its a great setup, best of both worlds, I can develop natively and if there is anything I need to do that is beyond the capabilities of any Linux Replacements (e.g I had to some pretty heavy vector editing the other day), I have Windows available just a minimise away!


For those of you looking for a nice little Linux laptop check out System76's Lemur.

https://system76.com/laptops/lemur

I have the older Skylake version and it runs just fine as long as you use Mesa 13 (I use Manjaro so it is not an issue).

System76 does little things such as commit driver fixes to the kernel and flash a custom bios and firmware to make the hardware run better with Linux. If you want to good hardware support on Linux you can't go wrong with buying laptop from them.


I just wish they (or a comparable competitor) opened up shop in Europe. Ordering from the US is doable, but the hit-or-miss import tax sucks, and for warranty the distance and economic zone mismatch mean delays and high shipping costs.

That said, they make great laptops. I love my four year old Gazelle.


For all your OS X coming to Linux, a word of personal advice. Use a distro with KDE, Kubuntu is great for beginners and install ubuntu-make (https://wiki.ubuntu.com/ubuntu-make), a command line utility that installs your dev environment.

If you feel a bit more adventurous and want the all of the newest Software try Manjaro-KDE.

Why KDE?

KDE has a traditional Desktop experience, that can be tweaked in every way. It is much more polished and all the other Linux desktops and it uses Qt5 as it's base - so the team doesn't need to develop the widget toolkit and can focus on the desktop. Lastly gtk apps look much better in KDE than Qt apps in Gnome.

BTW: I was a long time Unity and then Gnome user, so I know what I am talking about. I switched to KDE this summer and never looked back.


The choice of desktop environment is quite a personal matter. I would recommend Gnome 3, which is especially polished on Fedora.

The early transition years from Gnome 2 to Gnome 3 were rough, and I switched to KDE for this time. KDE was fine, but Gnome 3 has been polished a lot in the last view years. So I switched back to Gnome 3 and never looked back :).


> The choice of desktop environment is quite a personal matter.

Absolutely.


If I recall correctly, Kubuntu was the reference KDE platform when Plasma 5 made its debut (two years ago). Nowadays, it seems Fedora leads the way, but Kubuntu is a great choice nonetheless. BTW I'm using Kubuntu 16.04.


Is there a common high-level scripting tool for Gnome, like AppleScript?

For me it's all about the APIs. When I want to do something like:

tell application "iTunes" to return every track whose genre is "Rock" and rating > 3

then I don't want to mess around with API documentation for 10 hours and trying lots of different music managers, then importing my large library, just to lose all the tags.

I expect similar APIs in the file browser, text editor, photo library, contacts, calendar, and web browser apps too. A common API is what makes an ecosystem to me.


Yes and no, there's a standard API called D-Bus. If you want to browse it you can run a program like D-Feet and choose "session bus". It's not tied to a particular language though, rather you need bindings to it. In addition, it's somewhat more complex than AppleScript, and the APIs that most apps provide are rarely documented. It does have the concept of standard interfaces, so many apps will often implement identical APIs.


For the most part all software/hardware combinations are pretty solid for a majority of users. Those that required very specific things - obviously not. Hell I'm a developer and switched to Chromebooks since I only need a browser and ssh. Everyone should always be out there looking at other stuff - chances are you can discover something new or even better than what you thought possible.


> Everyone should always be out there looking at other stuff - chances are you can discover something new or even better than what you thought possible

This is a great point. I bought Dell's first Ubuntu laptop offering back in '07 or '08, and am still thankful I did to this day, even though the machine has long since retired. Back then the MacBook Pro was a very solid offering, and a Linux laptop was almost a joke. But I still have Youtube video tutorials I recorded from that laptop, it was a great machine and your point is as true now as it was then. Try it out, don't just sit there ignorantly whinging, is my version. :-)


In my humble opinion,

OSX : Productivity, Linux : Development, Windows : Games

I've been with all of these for all my computing life & still doing the same.

OSX/macOS is great for anyone who doesn't want to meddle with their system, especially if you use iDevices. Though developers have historically liked OSX, it could be apt for web development or anything non resource consuming (like java/android). For e.g I symlinked my android sdk (15 GB) to another SSD and had the android studio run from the native partition & the android studio's instant run feature sure made whole lot of mess and took 1 hour to compile ~2,00,000 lines of code. Of course this is not the fault of OSX, but I can manage partitions better & expandability is cheaper in a linux based system. Of course

Linux : I use an external SSD with Arch Linux for android development with the Mac. It has improved my development productivity multifold. Of course you might need some tinkering to do, but will be straight forward unless it involves GPU. Basically GPU drivers, especially Nvidia sucks big time on linux.

Windows : DirectX.


The game situation is changing fast. Even CivIV was just announced that it is coming to Linux.

Perhaps the Vulkan drivers will make it even better to write crossplatform games.


Plus, wine works marvelously nowadays, with lots of games getting platinum or gold ratings, some even on the day they're released.


> OSX/macOS is great for anyone who doesn't want to meddle with their system

We use ubuntu for that here. Outside adding your own dotfiles the machines are completely untouched. Works like a charm.

Okay, I admit I have also changed my desktop background ;)

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