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System76 is moving product design and manufacturing in house (system76.com)
617 points by b01t on Apr 20, 2017 | hide | past | web | favorite | 323 comments

The posts comparing various laptops to the Dell XPS 13 and calling them similarly sized are missing a key point: the XPS 13's lack of bezels. It is a 13" screen, but due to the lack of bezels, it basically fits in an 11" chassis.

I think that's an often overlooked detail and one of the pieces of "sexiness" that makes it very difficult to want to switch away from an XPS 13: it's so damn portable.

System76 needs to come out with something comparable to that before I can switch. The market of people who want something rugged/durable/functional are already taken care of by the Thinkpads. The market that is still untapped is that of the Linux ultrabooks. Developers and other Linux enthusiasts basically just want a MBA/MBP that runs Linux natively. Do that, and people will flock to it.

> The market of people who want something rugged/durable/functional are already taken care of by the Thinkpads.

Are mostly unhappily taken care of by the Thinkpads. The brand has gone downhill since IBM sold to Lenovo, which has steadily eroded the level of quality that can be expected from a Thinkpad-branded laptop. Modern Thinkpads aren't nearly as serviceable or as durable as the Thinkpads of IBM's era.

People who stick with Thinkpads today tend to do so because a) the enterprise support is still relatively solid, b) no real competitors for the Trackpoint, if you want one you need to get a Thinkpad, c) the keyboard, while not as high quality as it used to be, is still great relative to most of the market, d) Thinkpads are still basically reference laptops for Linux, and as a customer, it's reasonable to assume that there will be good hardware support.

If System76 wanted to go after Thinkpads, they probably could.

I use Thinkpads for Linux as they are well built and trusted brand that has yet to disappoint me and are well supported by Linux. Plenty of room for System76 to just do a Linux-thinkpad better by focusing on the Linux laptop segment of the market.

Edit: I just popped over to System76 to look at their laptops and I must say I really prefer the way Thinkpads look when compared with System76. I realize that this a dumb reason to choose a laptop but I have encountered no better judge of build quality than how a laptop looks. Every stupid looking laptop I've ever bought has been a disaster (parts break off, camera dies, weird crashes), whereas laptops who had a physical design which I liked (macbooks, thinkpads) have held up much better.

I'm still using a 10 year old Thinkpad X200 as my primary laptop because it's mostly been downhill from there.


>the enterprise support is still relatively solid

That's not the experience I've had with my own company's support requests with Lenovo, and the lousy support relative to Dell is a prime reason why most clients I work with are dropping Lenovo for Dell.

Seconded. We are a major enterprise customer of Lenovo's and have been deeply disappointed with the level of service particularly vs. what we used to get with Dell (~6 years ago).

Maybe some PC company will get the idea to hire retired IT people to do tech support remotely. I think it would be competitive to off shoring.

Relative compared to, you know, companies like Acer or Samsung, which aren't really in the enterprise support market, and whose products enterprise IT shops would have to largely support themselves.

It's funny that you wrote about Thinkpads, for example currently Thinkpad X1 Carbon (5 gen) is the best ultrabook on the market (including macbooks pro, yes nowadays macbooks pro are ultrabooks).

"best" is subjective - it doesn't have a "click anywhere" touchpad (it's still a mechanical hinge-based design), there's no 2x display option, battery life still doesn't come close, and so on...

Subjective indeed :-)

> it doesn't have a "click anywhere" touchpad (it's still a mechanical hinge-based design)

Looking at the pictures, I'm more interested in the physical mouse buttons and trackpoint. I miss the buttons I had on my last computer.

> battery life still doesn't come close

Сlose to what?

FYI https://www.notebookcheck.net/Lenovo-ThinkPad-X1-Carbon-2017... Among other things pay attention to the weight - 1.144 kg and don't forget ThinkPad's still have the best keyboard ever.

A recent ultrabook selecting topic https://www.reddit.com/r/thinkpad/comments/66ad57/why_i_went...

Close to macbooks...

I don't think System76 would be wise to get into the Ultrabook market from the get-go because of the much tighter thermal/power requirements.

If you're going to get into the laptop market with a focus on maintainability, your competition is the T470, not Ultrabooks in general or the Thinkpad X1 Carbon in particular, which, as your Reddit link pointed out, has a downside in that the memory is soldered to the motherboard.

T470 is also an ultrabook as it comes only with ULV CPUs, but it provides a certain level of upgradeability.

Soldered memory is not a real downside if 16GB is enough to run all needed tasks, as it helps to make laptop more lightweight and portable (1.144 kg !! and in the same time Carbon has a decent set of ports). So Lenovo provides a good choice for the folks that need to maintain something - T470 and for the users that do not do any hardware upgrading - X1 Carbon (gen5).

Does Thinkpad X1 Carbon 5th work well with Linux? Linux is pushing me towards the XPS 13

Also looks like the X1 is capped at 8GB ram? 16 GB is a minimum, and you can easily get on an XPS 13.

Typing this on Carbon 3rd Gen. Linux works perfectly, out of the box, and always has been. Its a fantastic laptop, much better than the XPS. The keyboard is a different league, with proper travel and feel, and the build quality is much better. It feels solid, yes very light.

Doesn't the XPS13 only go to 16GB? My understanding is that you need DDR4 to get 32GB RAM in a laptop.

16 is OK I think for a ultrabook.

My goal is to have a 16 GB ultrabook for when away from my desk, and a 64 GB workstation when at my desk.

I always try to find the beefy laptop to replace both, but I am never that happy in either place. Too heavy for the road, too slow for the desk. Been trying for like 10 years, and sad every time at the laptop I end up with.

* In theory the CPU in the XPS-13 supports 32 GB says Intel, but I have never seen a true Ultrabook with 32 GB. Which is a bit sad of course...

I have had 32 GB in my (i7) W530 since I got it (about four years ago) and I'm almost positive it's not DDR4, although I'd have to check to be certain.

Interesting, it is 32GB of DDR3. That is the only one I know of so far, so I guess it may be time to start comparing chipsets.

As an owner of the 13 and the 15, yes. The 13 has a ULV i7 with <=16GB. But the 15 has a full i7 and goes to 32.

I would be surprised if it's capped at 8GB RAM. My 4th gen X1 Carbon has 16GB.

Can you find me a link to buy it with 16gb?

You have to upgrade the CPU and then the 16GB memory option becomes available. (At the time of writing, the two CPU upgrade options are the i5-7300U and the i7-7600U.)

Hah terrible page design!

So XPS 13 has a similar problem where you need to buy the max CPU to get the 16 GB upgrade.

So comparing side by side..

XPS 13 with 512 GB SSD, 16 GB ram, i7-7560U CPU, 3200 x 1800 screen is about $1900.

X1 Carbon with 512 GB SSD, 16 GB ram, i5-7300U CPU (a touch slower), and 1920x1080 display, and force shipped with Windows (could not find ubuntu version) is about $2800

X1 does look nice, but not sure it is $1000 nicer than XPS 13.

Agreed, I find Lenovo's site very frustrating.

I'm not sure if the link[1] will work, but there is a version of the XPS 13 Developer Edition with Ubuntu and 16 GB of memory for $1,949.99. I find the slightly largest display of the X1 Carbon appealing (seems like a good mid-point between 13" and 15") but it would be hard to justify the price difference, especially since it's lower resolution.

(The X1 Carbon 4th Gen had an option for a high-DPI display; seems weird that the 5th Gen apparently doesn't.)

[1]: http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/xps-13-9360-laptop/pd?3x_n...

MBP-quality trackpads and MBP-equivalent battery life. I can't understand why battery life isn't higher on the list of "must haves" for people who want a nice linux laptop.

I've had that all-day battery for years on various Thinkpad X1 Carbon's that I've owned. Linux doesn't do as well as advertised but I can still go 6-8 hours of active use (it will last all day and all night if the screen is off (like when I forget to close it before I go to bed).

Completely agree, and would add another favorite feature of MBP - 16x10 aspect ratio rather than 16x9.

16x10 is the ideal laptop screen ratio. I'm very disappointed in it's general lack of availability.

Some laptops have a built in battery along with a swappable battery. The battery life people could get one of these and get enough spare batteries to smoke the mac several times over.

Yes, several thinkpads do that. I have a T440s with an extra battery and swapping the battery without turning it off is great.

Linux will even tell you the charge for each battery (Ubuntu Gnome 17.04)

Except that you'd be required to reboot the OS every time you swap. Which is what a lot of developers would rather avoid.

Maybe they could have a tiny low power battery that could last 5-10 mins to reboot-less battery swaps

Re-read the post. Built in battery plus swap-able battery.

For me battery only needs to be about 2-3 hours. Otherwise I am moving from plug in to plug in (I leave chargers in many places like work, office, living room). Long enough to take a short flight without plugins.

I suspect that as more and more workplaces move to open-layout plans and have an increasingly mobile workforce, max unplugged work time is becoming more and more valuable as a feature.

At previous jobs we were just very generous with the chargers. Everyone having a single charger connector (MBP) is super valuable . This is good because then you dont bring a charger with you, because you know each meeting room has one or more chargers. Each seat in the office has a charger etc.

Companies sometimes say "Yeah but $90* X is too much" ... But it costs a lot to have people wiring/unwiring chargers all the time. 3 minutes at $1 a minute adds up to $90 really fast.

We do that at work. Things get complicated with the latest-generation MBP of course - now we have the old MagSafe charger, ThinkPad chargers, USB C chargers, as well as HDMI, DP, and USB-C Thunderbolt video connectors.

Yeah, i dont think apple knew they had a good thing with one charger. Even the lower wattage chargers worked in the bigger units etc.

Our first few USBC MBP users in our office are having a ton of "fun" with that. Also the "which monitors do and don't work with this thing? Which adapter(s) do I need for this one again? Damnit that didn't work, lemme try this other one..." game. TONS of fun.

If your workplace can't provide you with a charger, maybe it's time to start polishing your resume.

I'm the same, but I still want battery life of a MBP. Less battery life == more energy usage == burning lap.

Do you ever have to do any laptopping for more than 2-3 hours in a place where there is no opportunity to plug in to a power source? My experience simply says that's really unlikely for me, and my couch and desk at work are 99.999% of the use cases. So battery allows me to meet these vendors halfway.

Traveling folks often deal with this, which is why I'm seeing a lot more of us switch to iPad Pros or Surface Pros instead of MacBooks. Portability and battery life are often the only concerns when you're in airports and hotels and conference rooms and coffee shops all day. Airports and airplanes are getting better at putting power outlets in handy locations, but there still are not nearly enough to guarantee you'll be able to work.

Nearly every time I travel I'm working on a PowerPoint or some kind of documentation for an hour or two in the airport, then two hours on the plane, finishing it up at a coffee shop when I meet up with my coworkers, then presenting it for several hours at the client. None of those places are guaranteed to have power available to me.

Sure a lot of people have laptops that sit at their desk always plugged into an outlet, only running on battery when they pop into a meeting for an hour or two, but plenty more people actually need portable devices. That's the entire reason the MacBook Air was such a smash hit, you see them everywhere with both traveling businessmen and college kids, both of whom need something light and portable with amazing battery life. Both of whom are willing to forego an octo-core i7 and 32gb of RAM in exchange for 10 hours of battery life in a device that weighs less than 3 lbs.

Luckily difference devices exist for the different use cases that different people have.

> Do you ever have to do any laptopping for more than 2-3 hours in a place where there is no opportunity to plug in to a power source?

Yes, almost literally every day.

My typical schedule is to show up for standup at 9, then be at a diner by 9:30. I work from there until noon, then back to the office until 2 to charge my laptop. At 2 I leave and work from a hammock in a park or something similar.

That's ~6 hours every day of working where there isn't a power outlet nearby.


A person who travels frequently doesnt need a *nix laptop.

It appears you're contradicting an ancestor's lived experience :) Is it really so ridiculous to suggest that sometimes, people who use Linux (let's call them technical) travel a lot? Is the idea of a programmer who flies around the world to present their work at conferences really so ridiculous? (There are lots of other archetypes, like consultants, SME owners that are still very technical themselves, et cetera.)

Funny story: I was on a long-haul flight. The person next to me noticed all 3 of us were using linux and we had a laugh :)

I'm an engineer that travels a lot for conferences and I use Linux almost exclusively... I'd love a svelte laptop with long battery life.

A lot of Apple's battery life success seems to be due to the software—both iOS and MacOS. Android's only just now starting to kind of catch up with iOS on power management, and MacOS doesn't beat other laptops because they use giant batteries or something. I'd expect it to take 7-8 figures of focused investment in the Linux kernel and probably some significant mountain-moving to get peripheral projects (windowing system, init maybe, various driver vendors) coordinated and going in the the right direction to improve Linux's power management much.

Hell, even the Apple browser is more respectful of battery life than its competitors. Power draw seems to be considered carefully at every level at Apple, and it shows in their results.

I can't even tell what stereotype you're trying to riff on here...

And why is that?

The touchpad was the biggest reason my laptop purchase stayed with rMBP, the 16:10 screen is nice, and the non-funky keyboard layout helps too...

Looked at the layout of one, and the right shift (the one I use most) is crossed with the arrow

This. I've always been a Linux and OpenBSD user, but I'm buying a MBP 13" next week mostly for portability and battery life, planning to run macOS instead of Linux just because of this.

As an example, the Xiaomi Air 13 is smaller and lighter than an MBP 13, with an equivalent trackpad, albeit slightly smaller battery (8h web browsing), for ~750$. Also aluminium unibody but easily serviceable (even has a second SSD slot).

There are many laptops on the market that have MBP-equivalent battery life. Trackpad is another matter, but for example Thinkpad's have a better keyboard.

> I can't understand why battery life isn't higher on the list of "must haves" for people who want a nice linux laptop.

My laptop is plugged in almost 100% of the time. If it needed to be plugged in a full 100% of the time, that would be at most an extremely minor hit to usability. I need a laptop that I can move, not a laptop that I can use while it's being moved.

Interesting how many people here are asking for trackpad quality.

I always use my laptops with a mouse plugged in, and disable the trackpad (and pointless touchscreen on my work computer) as one of the first things I do.

I would love to have a laptop with no trackpad at all (or maybe just one of those tiny nubs), leaving more space for a better keyboard.

Well, I'm typing this on an X61 (the laptop type). Yeah, vintage :)

It at least ships with a draft-n-capable Wi-Fi card, so you could use it for remote desktop? :P

T9300 (2 @ 2.5GHz); 4GB; Intelgrated GM965; 2xMiniPCIe (1 for Wi-Fi); 1024x768 :(

(For reference: I push mine WAY too hard. This is tab 406... I do use The Great Suspender, but, um. It does great (genuinely does hold up) with <15 tabs though, and the GM965 handles 1080p through mplayer and 720p in Chrome really nicely.)

I'd say these two aspects are equally split between software development and hardware design. Now I don't know how System76 fares on the software side, but are they really up to the challenge? I'll be watching closely, but am not expecting much.

> The market that is still untapped is that of the Linux ultrabooks. Developers and other Linux enthusiasts basically just want a MBA/MBP that runs Linux natively. Do that, and people will flock to it.

You nailed it. I'm someone who only works in Linux but admires (and desires) the form factor of a MBA.

With a full-size escape key, and even a trackpoint option. That'd be nice.

I used to covet my friend's Dell due to the lack of bezel (after making fun of his laptop choices for years.)

Then - we got on a video call. To compensate for the bezel, the webcam is on the BOTTOM of the monitor... which meant looking up his nose.

Actually, what I want is a 17" screen (it's not just the pixels, I need the fonts to be big enough for my aging eyes) that is not crazy heavy.

I don't understand the recent trend of very-high-resolution devices that strongly recommend you not adjust their 250% default scaling.

OK, you have lots and lots of pixels that are too small to see individually or in combination. Put in a cheaper screen with the same functional resolution. Lower price, same quality.

The quality is not the same. Lower resolution + anti-aliasing makes the text blurry.

If my screen requires 250% scaling to be usable (which I am not making up - that is precisely the scaling it "recommends"), then lower resolution with pixels that are six times bigger is not a loss of quality. Large black squares composed of smaller black squares are not somehow ineffably superior to large unitary black squares.

Wait, wat? Are you using bitmap fonts?

Scaling of vector fonts in modern desktop systems doesn't work that way. Scaling is done before rasterization, and you would get perfectly sharp edges with 250% scaling.

Why do we need another XPS 13 when they already have the developer edition of it that supports Ubuntu?

Like others have said, Lenovo's Thinkpad contract with Red Hat is tenuous at best and their quality has only been getting worse. Its not a default install, its not first class, and Lenovo is not dedicating staff to driver support in consumer products. We have the XPS developer edition program making great ultraportables for Linux. We need a business class workstation notebook in the 17" form factor with ruggedness and great features that has complete and total Linux support and inclusion out of the box.

This. Plus at least two USB 3.1 Type-C (Thunderbolt/DisplayPort) ports with USB Type-C charging would really make it stand out.

Strictly speaking this is Thunderbolt 3 (PCIe) which when the proper adapter is plugged in, can become HDMI, DisplayPort. And it would be USB 3.1 Gen 2. USB 3.1 alone implies Gen 1 which is the same as USB 3.0.

The HP Spectre (W2K28UA) I have has three type-c ports. One is USB 3.1 Gen 1, is not Thunderbolt, is power. Two are Thunderbolt 3, USB 3.1 Gen 2, no power. (No power icon anyway, I haven't tried plugging the power adapter into either of them, maybe it'd work.)

Regarding USB Type-C charging - I have 2015 Chromebook Pixel LS with two USB Type-C ports (one on each side of the laptop). The charging works on both ports which makes sense and I'm fairly sure this is the first ever laptop to allow charger to be plugged in on both sides of the laptop - convenience not to be underestimated. So from my point of view USB Type-C charging should work on every USB Type-C port.

> USB 3.1 alone implies Gen 1

Does it really? I say slap anyone that implies that until they stop doing it.

Very true. I've played with both and XPS 9360 and 9560 (the latest 13 and 15"): The 13 is smaller than my rMBP 13 (and size wise is between it and my girlfriend's Macbook). The 15 is only a little bigger than the rMBP 13.

I _love_ the bezel or lack thereof. The only weirdness is that "bottom of screen" webcam, but I barely use it.

And if you get the 9560... wow. 4K display, GTX 1050M, i7 w/ 32GB. I'm very happy.

I would also add that if they can also get the same quality trackpad as that of MacBooks, I would also flock to it.

This has bothered me for a long time. Why are PC trackpads so awful? Why don't PC makers just do what Apple does with their trackpad?

I believe they're trying. Microsoft has a "Precision Trackpad" spec for this purpose:


Or even what phone manufacturers do with their screens. The problem isn't ability though it's cost. The market for laptops is seriously cost competitive and customers don't know if a trackpad will be good or bad until after purchased (with the exception of a few brands like apple).

I think it's patented.

Isn't a trackpad essentially a touch screen? Non-Apple phones to that just fine. There's the tactile feedback, but even the old-style physically-moving trackpad would be better than what vendors have today.

If portability is important to you I suggest checking the Xiaomi Air 13. It's as lightweight as an XPS 13, and almost as small (+0.5cm in length and width), with arguable better keyboard, touchpad, screen and general build quality for about 1/2 the price.

It's nice to see this - I'm definitely interested in seeing computers built and designed for Linux.

I must say, however, I don't see that need for desktops. Custom desktops are relatively easy to build, even for customers.

A well designed linux laptop, with no driver issues, good build quality, that doesn't sacrifice performance for thinness? That's what I'm missing.

Well, I have no issues building a desktop, but if somebody asked me about what (modern) components to choose for no driver issues, I wouldn't know. Avoiding issues and getting support could certainly be worth something.

I find that buying 6mths behind just under the state of the art gets you 90% of the performance often for half the cost.

I've been custom building my desktops since the 90's and I can't remember the last time I had an issue with hardware, I think it was a Geforce MX440 so ~2003.

The driver story on desktop hardware for Linux is absolutely great (in my experience) if the hardware has been out 6mths or more or uses a core chipset/device that has.

I have given this advise on Hacker News before: on eBay 2-3 year old workstations can be had for 300-400 Euro. Typically these are workstations from companies that replace machines every 2 years or so.

These are typically equipped with Xeon CPUs, plenty of memory, sometimes ECC etc. Moreover, since they are usually HP/Dell workstations, they are certified to be compatible with Red Hat Enterprise Linux, so all the hardware is pretty much guaranteed to work.

Just to give one random example:


Xeon CPU, 32 GB RAM, 500 GB SSD for 425 euro.

I love buying old workstations, however power costs have to be considered.

For example my 2x Xeon 2670 (16 cores/32 threads) is quite the power hog.

Your example is pretty good since V2 Xeons are Ivy Bridge le vel and consume noticably less power than V1 equivalents.

However that particular CPU is basically i5 not i7 (just 4 cores/4 threads).

This is very cool. I wonder how much the electricity costs would be if I let that machine stay on 7/24 for a year. Power, in Germany, is a bit expensive (learned the hard way).

Unless you want your PC to sleep and wake back up. That still takes a while to get resolved with every GPU apparently.

Such a simple thing, (as far as a user is concerned) yet also a complete show stopper when it doesn't work right.

ACPI is a busted-ass standard. OEMs are free to, and do, do pretty much whatever. Again, the only relevant standard from an OEM's perspective is "does it work on Windows".

Last year I bought a i5-4690k, some slightly outdated but top of line mobo, 32gb DDR3 2400mhz and a bunch of 1tb WD Black... Total price was about 800USD yet it feels like I had bought something much more expensive, everything I throw on the machine runs fast, even the HDDs are fast enough that I don't feel need for SSD.

Only mistake was buying AMD 380x for GPU

What did you regret about the 380x?

I ask because I have been thinking about having my next card be an amd one because I'm tired of having to deal with proprietary drivers with my current nvidia card...

I was using only nVidia my whole life, and got tired of some of their business-related bullshit.

So I thought AMD was going to be better, because they try to be good and nice...

Well, AMD hardware is NOT good as nVidia (example: 380x in particular is really fast, but EXTREMELY power hungry, so much power hungry that AMD had to greatly cripple it, sometimes it starts stuttering heavily in games before it gets hot, and when I look at logs, the reason was it reaching power usage limits).

And they are bad at marketing, but also do the bad things that nVidia do at marketing, for example AMD shills do exist, I got banned from chat rooms after asking how to fix bugs (because they want to give the impression their drivers are bugless... but they are complete crap too, even their Open Source driver for Linux is so much crap it was entirely rejected by the kernel team), they deny their cards have physical bugs (RX480 has same issues as 380X, but ALSO has unbalanced power usage, drawing too much power from the mobo and damaging it), and so on...

I tried asking for help with my card issues with both AMD, Sapphire (the manufacturer) official and non-official channels, and I was treated very badly, people would ignore tickets, give me non-sense information, and several times they told me to just return the card and buy another one (I can't do that because I purchased my computer in US, but I live in Brazil, if I could do that I would have switched my 380x for a nVidia GeForce 970, back when I bought the 380x they were in several countries the same price).

Also AMD drivers don't crash the OS like nVidia ones do, but they crash a lot more, in all OSes, AMD drivers restarting (And taking your game/software with them) is fairly common, also weird error messages (like updater crashing, control panel crashing, etc...)

> their Open Source driver for Linux is so much crap it was entirely rejected by the kernel team

No, amdgpu was not rejected by the kernel team. A particular implementation of the driver was rejected because it implemented an abstraction layer, and that would make it nearly impossible for kernel devs to maintain.

> drawing too much power from the mobo and damaging it

If you could point to an example of this happening, I'd appreciate it. My knowledge of the situation is that some models of the RX 480 can run slightly out of spec, pulling a little too much power from the motherboard. Any motherboard I've heard of could withstand that. And if you really care you can enable an option in the driver that causes it to run strictly in PCI spec.

I'm not an AMD shill, I just think you've misrepresented some of the issues at hand. AMD make mistakes, for sure. But not every mistake is as crippling as you've implied.

"slightly" out of spec you mean pulling 7.7 amperes from a part rated to 5.5 amperes, and that might (due to dust and other factors) pull all the 7.7 amperes from pins that are supposed to have only 1.1 ampere running trough them.

Just look in the AMD own official forums for threads created before they made driver patches, for example in one thread a guy put a photo of his molten blockchain mining rig, and then there was several pages of people calling him a nVidia shill, and noone helping.

The handling of the incidents were so bad I stopped visiting AMD forums entirely, it was just pure hostility to anyone with any problem, even unrelated problems.

I couldn't find the post you were talking about (I was really hoping you could provide a link). Instead, I found a thread filled with people talking about how you have to be careful with your mining rigs because "Any electric appliance can catch fire." [1]

Bitcoin mining isn't a great example; if you look further into that thread, it's not just AMD users whose rigs have caught fire in the bitcoin mining situation.

1: https://bitcointalk.org/index.php?topic=1776853.0

for some reason I usually get downvoted when I bring this up, but I still believe NVidia is a better experience on Linux than AMD.

Like you, I always ran NVidia because of their support for Linux, but recently tried to use an AMD card for a Linux build. I ended up buying an NVidia instead, and all my problems have gone away.

For me, the big problems with NVIDIA drivers started showing up when I moved to a rolling release distro (OpenSUSE Tumbleweed). Proprietary drivers don't like frequent kernel upgrades.

The 380x and 390x are HOT. Newer Radeons are much better in that regard, and generally very decent cards - 470/480 and the recent rebrands/reclocks 570/580.

MY 380x only get hot when using the default fan control, that is complete crap.

With my custom fan curve it starts to get limited in performance while still around 60c (and fan noise is still not 'perceptible' over the sound of a game for example), because it instead hit power limits.

The 380x has same power limit as 380, despite having more GPU power available and double the RAM, I have no idea why they made such crappy decision.

Is power problems are so severe, that undervolting the card make it MORE stable and faster, because it reduces total power usage, and triggers the power limits less often. (same thing apply to 480 by the way, people found out during the 'PCI slot melts' crisis that undervolting it made it behave much better).

I own a 380x but it's in the corner gathering dust because of buggy drivers and crashes. It doesn't keep running long enough to get hot in my case.

When WiFi finally got to the point when 90% just works was huge. 2009?

Bluetooth can still be a PITA though...

It has gotten really good in the last 5 years. I only have been using OpenSUSE with Bluetooth though.

I still hit bugs with Arch and I know they can hit Ubuntu as well[0], for instance, If anyone can connect to an amazon echo as an audio device I'd like to know what version of bluez and/or pulseaudio they are using, as it stopped working after an update a while ago...

[EDIT] Though to be fair, I think they did call out bluetooth as one of the things Ubuntu was going to focus on in their next release IIRC.

[0] https://askubuntu.com/questions/871630/cant-send-audio-to-am...

I don't think WiFi is that common in desktop hardware.

In business not really, the majority of home users are on WiFi though.

Ok, I would assume this is something that might differ between countries. Here in Scandinavia I've met extremely few people running their desktops exclusively on WiFi since it's generally unreliable when having lot of devices talking to same AP/WiFi router in a noisy environment with lot of other networks taking up same frequencies. Actually, I would say running Powerline to desktops is more of a standard approach here.

Uhh.. Hi, I'm a Scandinavian (Swede). I got a desktop exclusively on WiFi. I've never seen an office or a home actually use "powerline" (Network over electricity network).. Oh well, one anecdata against another anecdata :-)

Swede here too, trevligt att råkas :)

Powerline networks are mainly utilized by people living in concrete multi-story houses that either do not wish to install a proper Ethernet backbone to all rooms or take a gamble with WiFi due to higher cost, thickness of walls or other reasons that might seriously affect connectivity as mentioned before.

I used to run my own IT support company with several employees (think Geek Squad) having both enterprise customers aswell as private sector and people running Powerline is actually a lot more common than you might think (my parents for instance are running it along with WiFi in their house - deskop, IPTV and camera surveillance is on Powerline while tablets and phones are on WiFi).

During all my years in IT I've encountered two situations which I can remember where WiFi was used on a desktop machine instead of Ethernet or Powerline - one was a car dealership where they had a salesman sitting in a "glass box" and they were sharing building with another company (so, no Powerline) and other situation was a enthusiast that built himself a new computer and his new Asus motherboard came with 802.11n built-in..

Personally, I am running all my desktop machines on a 10Gbit CAT6a network I have at home (I do have a WiFi as well but it is on another VLAN with no access to network infrastructure - mainly used by kids) where I have possibility to stream multiple 4K streams from my FreeNAS server while downloading huge files of the Internet without even breaking a sweat - try to do that over a WiFi connection and you'll hit into a brick wall pretty fast.

I'm in the US. I'm told houses are bigger and further spaced apart here. So perhaps that is why it's more common here.

The reason wifi is more common in the US has to do with cost.

Most people when buying a new house can stomach (not sure why, because it can't be a large portion of the overall cost of a new house) multi-line pulls from each room to a central wiring closet. Plus, you have to have that central closet (or panel at a minimum) somewhere out of the way, and most people just don't get that kind of tech (the idea of a central area for a home server, plus networking stuff, etc).

So - the lines aren't installed (at one time, houses were offered with the option, and if you are willing to pay today, you can still get it - but most people don't). After the fact retrofits aren't done because such an install is very difficult to do (especially in modern houses with horizontal firebreaks between the verticals, little to no attic with vaulted ceilings, etc) - which also means its expensive.

So instead, people go with wifi. It's cheap, no need for a dedicated wiring/network termination panel and/or closet, and can be taken down and taken with you if/when you move.

Personally, I prefer a wired system; when I moved into my house I installed a few drops myself where I knew there'd be some dedicated hardware (TV area, my office, library, and my shop); the other rooms I never installed anything because it didn't matter. For those, the wifi I have fills in those blanks adequately. I ran all the lines back to a custom wiring closet I built in my shop, and terminate everything there (plus a few of my servers live there too).

This sounds plausible to me. Here in Omaha, when I lived in an apartment and there were 30+ APs visible I had to be careful to pick the frequency based on what worked and what didn't, and when I did get it to be reliable I had short range. I am pretty sure this was just because of noise and cross-talk.

Now in a house I see maybe 10 APs and they are all at the edge of their range and I rarely need to tinker with it and it works all the way across the street.

On laptop, sure. But on desktop? I've never met anyone using something else than plain old RJ45

Happens all the time. Lots of people in apartments/houses who don't want an RJ45 running through the hallway nor do they want to pay for RJ45 wiring (particularly when renting).

Interestingly, in the last 10 years I've not met anyone who bothers with RJ45 in the home. Everyone in the UK gets a free wifi router with their broadband, and tends to just use that.

Not saying you are wrong, just different areas are different.

My parents live in a 200-year-old house with Cat6 ethernet in the walls. They needed to replace the electrical wiring, and decided to get it installed at the same time. I don't think they've regretted it, especially as thick walls attenuate the wifi signal. I'm pretty sure this is unusual, though.

More broadly, I think home desktops are getting rarer in the UK. Wifi is the obvious answer for portable devices with wifi capabilities built in, even in dense housing with lots of devices interfering with each other.

That definitely is unusual, but when you're doing a whole-house electric refurb (given what little you mention, it sounds like a tube-and-knob switchout, right?), you likely have everything torn up to hell and back, so you might as well fix or add anything else behind the walls while you can.

People do. One of my friends asked for a "USB to USB" cable last week. (you have how many phones but no USB cables?) Turns out that he wanted to connect the USB type A port on a WD My Cloud (NAS?) directly to his desktop, because connecting the drive via ethernet to the router and transferring over wifi from his basement desktop estimated that it would take 2 weeks.

I would say the vast majority of people use wifi for desktop. (Not myself personally except on the third floor of my house). You might be surprised by the percentages.

also don't underestimate the power of stealing your neighbor's internet. I have a fun little router that's named "dontstealmyinternet". I kept the router's default passwords but have it blocked. It gets about 5 attempts a month from new machines.

My < 6 month old, $4500 USD desktop has 2 x 1 GbE plus 10/100 BMC, but I put an Intel 7265 PCIe card in it and use that instead.

I do use one of the Ethernet ports but it just goes to another router next to my desk (connected via crappy Powerline to the rest of my network) for testing w/ KVM.

My media PC is on wifi because I rent the place and couldn't be bothered to lift the carpets to run a cable right around the room.

It's some piece of crap TP-Link but it works 100% of the time so far.

Consumer machines have WiFi pretty standard now, my desktop has WiFi. It came that way from the manufacturer. Not everyone wants to rewire their house to where they want their computer.

Hello! Nice to meet you.

I agree, but this is more of a documentation issue than anything. I stopped bothering to look at the Ubuntu "supported hardware" page a few years ago because I could tell from the graphics card listed (and not listed) that it hadn't been updated since about 2011.

I appreciate that hardware testing is complex and expensive, but I'd love to see an annual "high spec" and "low spec" Ubuntu reference build, with a price tag of maybe $1500 and $600 respectively, that have been tested and confirmed working with the current LTS.

That having been said, I wouldn't pay system76 a premium for it. I'd do what I've done every year so far, which is search a bit and then ultimately buy what I want and cross my fingers.

Someone could do the legwork of selecting one such system each year, put it up somewhere and collect referral commissions. Much like voter guides help those interested to gain political clout just by doing their own research and publishing it.

That wouldn't represent a support commitment from Canonical. I'm hoping for less of "this worked last time I tried it" and more "We've found this hardware fairly easy to support, and we're willing to commit to making sure that this specific combo works flawlessly in all cases, and will have functional upgrade paths".

> A well designed linux laptop, with no driver issues, good build quality, that doesn't sacrifice performance for thinness? That's what I'm missing.

It exists, it's the Thinkpad T-series.

I don't get all this hand-wringing over the need for hypothetical great Linux machines when we have Thinkpads available right now.

Thinkpads are great but if I buy a Thinkpad T-series laptop I'm forced to buy Windows with it.

Also it's not supported by the manufacturer. Thinkpads have great support from the Linux community but Lenovo doesn't officially guarantee its use (I would be happy to hear if I'm wrong on that).

Dont they have a contract with RedHat to ensure compatibility?

Yes, in my experience, the only thing that doesn't work is the fingerprint reader:


Indeed. Everything works on my X1 Carbon running Arch (via Antergos), except the fingerprint reader.

Thinkpads are great if your standards for screen quality are incredibly low. I can't speak for the ones released in the last couple years but seemingly all of the older ones have garbage tier screens. My T430 has a screen that is at best about as good as the screen that came with my 2009 Asus netbook.

My T460s definitely has a garbage tier screen. And garbage tier trackpad. The trackpoint feels like garbage too. And I had to replace the keyboard once because it was garbage and broke.

You can buy Thinkpads also preloaded with free DOS. (Usually a lot cheaper)

How? Hasn't been an option on the last 2 thinkpads I bought. Just went and tried to customize a T470 and nope, still have to get Windows.

If you're a student, you can sometimes still get it.

You probably can as a business customer? Not sure.

You used to be able to, I don't think you can any longer.

T450 owner here, running Ubuntu 16.04 LTS Desktop. My machine hangs when I unplug it from the Thinkpad dock. X rendering glitches are an hourly occurrence and X crashes weekly. In laptop mode, the trackpad handling is not up to snuff either. (I guess if I wanted all those features, I could just install Windows.)

You will most definitely want a recent kernel (16.04 ships with 4.4 - you want 4.8 or later). Also check the Arch wiki about Intel video to see if you can fix your problems with X (https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Intel_graphics), eg. switching from SNA to UXA.

Thanks for the link -- I'm still hanging when unplugging from the dock, but switching to UXA and disabling 3D accel seems to have quieted the glitches down.

I did try some newer kernels a few months ago, but then my wifi stopped working. But this should not be necessary when running a flagship LTS desktop Linux on extremely common hardware from two years ago! I expected more.

Linux hardware support often takes years to mature -- for example, the graphics hardware on my Haswell laptop has seen steady improvements despite being years old. I would strongly recommend against using a LTS linux release from around the time your computer was released. Its just going to be too old. Try Ubuntu 17.04, or take the jump and just use Arch. I use Arch on all my work and home machines, without issue. Maybe twice a year requires 5-10 minutes of extra work during an upgrade to ensure a package update works.

>I would strongly recommend against using a LTS linux release from around the time your computer was released. Its just going to be too old. Try Ubuntu 17.04

No point in doing that. Just use the hardware enablement stack. It gets you the 17.04 kernel/X/etc over the LTS base. Best of both worlds.

I'd never heard of the Hardware Enablement Stack. I am going to try this when I get near my Thinkpad, thanks!

For what it's worth, I tried a few different OSes, including Ubuntu 16.10 (which was the latest at the time), before settling on 16.04 LTS (which was released a year after the laptop came out). I plan to try 17.04 when I get some time, but I also expect to be disappointed. I got about 10min into an Arch install before laughing myself into a coma -- I've seen smoother Unix installs from the 1990s.

But I will reiterate: this is clown shoes. Expecting this kind of effort from desktop users is hostile.

I'll agree the the Arch installer could be better, but its not difficult, especially having done it a few times. The install starts pretty barebones and then you add on what you need - annoying if you want a 1-click to fully setup GNOME (or whatever) desktop, but perfect for people like me. You also get the benefit of learning how all the parts of a working Linux desktop come together.

Personally I find all-in-one installers annoying. I find I have to spend a ton of time removing crap I don't want and replacing it with what I do want. It would take me probably as much time or more to install and configure Ubuntu as Arch would.

You might want to check out Fedora too -- I hear the latest release is pretty great. Arch based distributions like Antergos or Manjaro might be good to check out if your only hangup with Arch is the arcane installer.

Re: the X issues... dump the Intel X driver for the modesetting driver (you will want a recent kernel for this). Made a world of difference on my Intel laptop.

That's not the case always. My first cheap thinkpad worked great, but the 2nd expensive one (T440p) has bad driver support for Wifi (on current and last Ubuntu LTS). Connections are unstable and throughput is ~0.3x of the dongle I use (both 2.4Ghz 802.11n). Hardware - Realtek RTL8192EE PCIe.

Always opt for Intel hardware. They have Linux device driver developers on staff. Sometimes the newest chips are not supported, but they always release something within a few months.

Yeah that's what I wanted too but unfortunately the supplier for my company did not have one.

What dongle do you use? I've got a Clevo laptop that otherwise works great w/ Ubuntu, but the wifi is pretty bad.

In case anyone is reading this from a search, I thought I should clarify, the wifi sucks in Ubuntu or Win10, so it doesn't appear related to linux.

Oh OK. My setup is dual boot but I've never had patience enough to spend enough time to test on Win. Just crappy hardware/drivers from Realtek then!

I use a TP-Link TL-WN823N. Did not require any 3rd party driver installs, just plug and play.

Which T is closest to a Macbook Air 11"?

There are many fine linux laptops in the desk-home type, 14"-17". The selection isn't so fine if you're looking for something that'll fit in your lap on the plane or train, and have 8G of RAM. Or at least 4.

You want an XPS 13 then.

I just used mine on a Ryanair flight a few days ago, cramped in the middle seat for 3 hours. The XPS 13 fit perfectly on the very small folding table, the top of the screen just sticking under the bottom of the pocket-thing that is always full of useless flyers.

I believe it has the same footprint as a MBA 11. And of course, I'm running Linux on it :)

XPS 13 is amazing and with Linux support it is fine, but that keyboard though. You need to test it to see if it fits for you.

I use a Thinkpad X230 - it has a 12.5" display with 8 or 16GB RAM. The latest model appears to be X270 -- same size display.


X1 Carbon series works great with Linux. Its a little bigger than 11", but still very light and slim and a nice display. I use a Gen 1 (2012) with 8GB ram. Installed originally Ubuntu 12.04, upgraded to 14.04 and 16.04. All worked great. I presently run Arch on it which was also easy to install and works great.

You just trampled over "doesn't sacrifice performance for thinness". And using on my lap in a plane or whatever, like maybe I would when laying on my couch, was never even considered. Are you sure it's a practical measure to judge by a product and isn't just an Apple-tailored one?

No I didn't, I'm saying that if a laptop doesn't have an acceptable form factor, its performance (or even existence) doesn't matter. I'm also saying that models in the T series do not offer form factors suitable for everyone, contrary to the GP's claim, and offering the Macbook Air 11" as an example of the kind of form factor not offered.

My wife has an X240, something in that series is equivalent to the Air. To be honest I would just go for the Apple, we have had quite a few problems with the Lenovo.

What problems? I have the same computer and love it.

The worst one is if I pick it up by the left side it crashes.

Ack. That's roughly where the CPU is, I wonder if some of the solder balls are cracking and it needs a reflow. I've never had to deal with Lenovo service, but it might be worth contacting them -- that is definitely a hardware issue.

Looking around the internet it seems a common problem with that model, we just pick it up by the right side.

Maybe x260?

It exists, it's the Thinkpad T-series.

Does Optimus work the way I'd expect it to these days?


Bumblebee has kind of fallen into a 'not officially supported' state as of xenial, but it will work if you are willing to spend a bit of time cajoling it by messing with drivers and blacklists and config files.

Nvidia also has an official solution now called 'nvidia-prime,' but it's awful. You have to log out and back in to change which card you're using, so you can't just spin up the discrete card for one or two taxing programs in your workflow.

But it can work the way you'd expect it to, if that's what you're asking.

I had bumblebee on my precision 5520, and it works fine. You need to meddle with it a little bit, but after that everything works fine. Actually, I loved it since I could have my X11 memory space controlled by Intel and my Cuda application development wouldn't have messed up the X11 while running. Something you expect to not happen, but happens all the time.

Bumblebee and optirun can be better, but it is usable right now.

Does it allow to connect external displays? Last time I checked bumblebee worked almost fine, but it didn't notice I connected an external display to DP hardwired to dGPU, and dGPU stayed powered-off. I got through a few workarounds for that, and even managed to get something incorrectly displayed, but nothing really worked like it should, so I gave up and I'm using this ugly nvidia-prime thing and just remember to set it in "performance mode" before using my laptop with external displays.

Well, it works fine when I use HDMI for the external display. I have not tested the DisplayPort.

Don't they have poor touchpads?

Nah, they're really good I find, maybe not as good as the apple glass trackpad, but certainly not bad. Plus, they have the awesome physical buttons along the top, combined with the trackpoint.

Pretty much all lenovo Thinkpad laptops works perfectly fine with Linux. Source: I have about 5, different models.

By perfectly fine, do you mean:

- Wifi is flaky (ier than on windows)

- Battery life is shit (ier than on windows)

- Sleep mode has one of the following problems

* Does not properly suspend (i.e. wakes up immediately when suspending, shuts down instead of suspending)

* Does not properly resume (i.e. kernel crash on resume)

* Sometimes does not properly resume (even more annoying to debug)

* Resumes randomly, when you don't want, often turning your backpack into a forge.

- Hibernate mode doesn't work (at all, your hardware has been blacklisted).

- Plugging in an external monitor occasionally causes everything to crash (but sometimes just compiz).

These are the most annoying problems I have on my Linux laptop. Admittedly, mine is not Thinkpad, but looking at reviews on the latest Thinkpad, at least the battery life issue seems to be ever present. These are pretty much the same problems I've had for the 10 or so years I've been running Linux on laptops. I would have thought they'd been fixed by now. 10 years ago, Windows had a bunch of these problems too, so it was excusable. Now, it's just embarrassing.

I still run Linux on my laptop because I like the dev environment and tools so very very much, but I would pay serious money for hardware that was guaranteed to just work (tm) with Linux, with all of the above solved by the vendor rather than by me. I used to enjoy these little problems, but now they just annoy.

The sleep mode problems are the most annoying to me, the most elusive to solve, and the most impossible to predict from reviews :/

Proud x201 user here.

Wifi works perfectly, suspend/resume, docking/undocking too.

As for battery life, it was around 19W/h when I first switched to linux after FreeBSD. After installing tld and powertop it is stable around 10.8-12W with wifi enabled.

Maybe you might want to try a recent distro, I'm using Fedora and I really like it.

Even my 3G usb dongle worked flawlessly with zero config.

PS: I remember having a flaky wifi under Debian 8, but that was due to an old version of wifi driver. It has since long been fixed in every distro I tried -including Debian-.

PS 2: My laptop is pretty old (x201), so your mileage may vary. You might want to check out thinkwikis for further info.

Partly, that's because the x201 is so old. It's had about 7 years to mature support.

I had an x201 new, and I ran into all those problems listed above for the first two years. Hell, I had to use a USB WIFI dongle for the first year or so because the drivers hadn't stablized.

Yeah, I'm so tired of hearing this come up when people are looking for Linux laptops. It's very old, and VERY ugly. Most of us want something modern that runs Linux well.

I can only speak about myself of course but running Ubuntu 16.04 on a thinkpad x250 I have absolutely none of the issues you have listed above. Maybe you hear more about people having bad experiences than good ones?

I remember having these issues on an x60 series maybe 8 years ago, but my friends who have thinkpads are all running them fine, even on the jankiest distros with a bit of careful driver picking

Owner of a Thinkpad X1 3rd gen running Debian (started with Jessie, now Stretch), and my experience is quite different but there are some things to know. Let's trade anecdotes:

> - Wifi is flaky (ier than on windows)

No problem there, always been rock solid. The chipset is likely to matter, my laptop uses an Intel chipset. Performance wise Intel may not be the best, but the Linux support has always been good in my experience.

> - Battery life is shit (ier than on windows)

A very common misunderstanding, and very easy to solve. The thing is, a stock Linux distro is made independently of the PC hardware that will run it. There's no integration like any PC vendor does when installing Windows, making sure the Windows configuration is well tuned. In order to be functional on most devices, a Linux distro is typically conservative, and will typically stay away from enabling low-power modes that are flaky on some crappy PC models.

But for most tier 1 PC brands, the hardware is fine and it's perfectly safe to enable aggressive low-power. So just install a package like The Laptop Project (tlp), or the older laptop-mode, and you're good to go. You can even tune the configuration, it's simple and well commented. For example, with a fast SSD (no spin up/down), one can be very aggressive on putting the drive into low-power.

With this done, taking about 10 mn tops, I have a longer battery life on Linux as on the stock Windows8.1. And this is as reported by the firmware through ACPI, so same estimator on both sides.

> [Various sleep mode issues]

There was a very nasty bug in Linux MMU set-up that's been solved in 4.8. Before this, it could trigger some random and sometimes hard to reproduce bugs on some models, leading to crashes on resume. I've been affected, and it was a pain. The bug was there for a long time apparently.

Since 4.8, it's been rock solid. Zero issues. And it's really night and day in term of user experience. In case some of your issues were related, you may want to make sure you're running a recent enough kernel.

As for the unwanted wake-ups in a bag turned into an oven? Only ever happened to me on my work TP running Win7. From experience, sleep is not perfect there too.

No experience on using an external monitor with my Linux laptop.

One of the main weakness is that there's no ODM integration if you install Linux yourself. With big brands like TP, it's still mostly been smooth in my experience, except for the nasty resume bug fixed in 4.8. If that's a problem for you, there are now vendors with pre-installed Linux. Then it's a similar situation to Windows.

> A very common misunderstanding, and very easy to solve.

If it were that easy to solve, I would think Linux installers would take care of this.

> The thing is, a stock Linux distro is made independently of the PC hardware that will run it. There's no integration like any PC vendor does when installing Windows, making sure the Windows configuration is well tuned.

You make it sound like Windows needs to be fine-tuned (by the vendor) to provide good battery life. This is absolutely not the case. You install a bare Windows 10 on a random laptop, and battery performance will likely be much better than on Linux.

Anecdata, but my desktop Lenovo workstation's suspend function worked well with Linux, but after an update (few months ago) it never resumes successfully. Nothing in logs -- just simply doesn't wake up properly. (4.10 kernel.) These are painful things.

> Anecdata, but my desktop Lenovo workstation's suspend function worked well with Linux, but after an update (few months ago) it never resumes successfully. Nothing in logs -- just simply doesn't wake up properly. (4.10 kernel.) These are painful things.

That sounds like my experience with Windows 10 on my gaming PC. I only use that machine when gaming, and while it has a <10 second cold boot time (god I love NVMe), I prefer to leave it running and let it fall asleep after a few minutes of inactivity. Some time last week or so, I noticed it never cycles fully to sleep; it will fall asleep and almost immediately wake up. I'm positive this was due to a Windows update, as I haven't changed any settings on it before or after the incident first occurred.

Now, this is on a PC I built, but I used a common motherboard (Gigabyte Z170M) and never had this issue on my previous build, also based on a Gigabyte Z series board. My wife's computer is a mini-PC made by HP, and it started having the same sleep/wake issues during the same week. Something in a recent Windows update has affected sleep states.

I had similar, terrible issues with my gaming rig when I let Windows auto-update from 7 to 10. I found that there is an option in system update to "restore" or "auto-fix" the OS. You might start by trying that.

I found that I needed to let the entire thing be wiped (including all software) and re-installed in order to get it working. A long time and complete pain in the ass, but it's much better now.

Just as a piece of warning if you go that route: MS decided that my legit MS office keys were "Pirated" because they were old and wanted me to upgrade (after telling me that it was a valid key 3 hours before) so I told them to pound sand and I was going to buy MAC's from now on, and I'm not a fan of Apple at all. They offered me nothing, but the chance to give them more money.

> Just as a piece of warning if you go that route: MS decided that my legit MS office keys were "Pirated" because they were old and wanted me to upgrade (after telling me that it was a valid key 3 hours before)

This happened to me after my first upgrade to Windows 10. I had a legit copy of Office 2010, and when I upgraded my Windows 7 installation to Windows 10 during the free year, I opted to do a clean OS install after 10 was activated. Upon reinstalling Office and inputting my key, at first it activated then it threw my Office install into an unactivated state and told me to contact my administrator. Umm, what? I'm the administrator and this was a retail purchased and licensed copy that worked fine before being installed on Windows 10. I even tried reverting to Windows 7 and installing Office on that, but it never activated and gave me the same message.

Thankfully I don't really rely on Office anymore and can get by with F/OSS alternatives or Office Online, but it definitely sucks that Microsoft appears to try pushing its business customers into O365 subscriptions and away from traditionally licensed software using what I feel should be illegal tactics.

Completely agree with you. I have in writing that my key would be good, even though the MS site said that there was an error and I needed to check with Customer Service. I then explained this to three people, whom found the written statement and said they couldn't/refused to fix the problem. They just wanted to sell my an O365 subscription.

As to how legal their tactics are, I'm not sure. I do know before I would never have considered anything other than MS, I'm now left to moving onto Mac's because I cannot give them more money and the work I do tends to now work in the Linux or alternative OS environments. Lots of industrial software that is touchy enough as it is...

I only boot into Windows once a month or so. This Monday, when I had my laptop sitting idle for a bit, I noticed the sound of the hard drive settling down and spinning up again in a regular pattern. At the time, I thought it was the Antivirus deciding to do an idle scan just when the OS put the drive to sleep, but now I think I might be affected by the same bug you mention.

That got an NVidia GPU?

Not much can be done with vendors that are actively hostile.

> Admittedly, mine is not Thinkpad

nuff said

I have been on the X2XX series for over 10 years, counting 5 laptops.

EVERY single thing has worked with Ubuntu (every single six months release, since 12.04 only used LTS releases) and required little to no effort.

As for a "Desktop" I haven't touched one at work since 2004. TBH I believe only gamers care. And gamers like to build/adapt their own hardware. Unless you can differentiate heavily and have something unique (something like building a RED camera or a super fast Electrical car) how is that going to fly in a marked that is in decline?

Keep yourselves to building a super high end laptop that can rival a Lenovo X series model and we will look into that.

Pretty much all laptops work perfectly fine with Linux. The only real reason to look for one with it preinstalled would be to avoid the MS tax.

They may work "perfectly fine", but they rarely work perfectly. There always seems to be some thing that doesn't quite work (function keys, HDMI output, card reader, graphics card switching etc.).

I haven't enjoyed building computers since I was a teenager. I'd much rather pay for someone else to do it. I pay for several people to come around my house and do things I know how to do but would rather spend my time elsewhere. This is no different.

> Custom desktops are relatively easy to build, even for customers.

My mum would disagree.

>Custom desktops are relatively easy to build, even for customers.

An ordinary desktop, perhaps, but a truly innovative product not so much. Consider something like Microsoft's Surface Studio and Surface Dial:



A Linux desktop with similarly novel modes of interaction would be awesome, and might be just the thing to bring the masses to Linux.

Exactly this. If you're a typical Linux user, you've probably already built computers from scratch. A MBP/MBA laptop aimed at Linux is where the need actually lies.

As they're already tested and setup for Linux, I'd probably just go with one of their systems. It's just one less thing to worry about.

I wish System 76 the best of luck, and it appears as they're now the main developer/sponsor of RedoxOS, which really excites me, but for some reason this blog post reads to me to have a healthy dose of naivety to it. It seems like they want to have their cake and eat it too. They talk about "robots and automation!" but do they actually know how to run a modern factory? Can the demand for desktop Linux systems actually support what they want to build? This is going to take a huge amount of scaling and hiring, and I hope this means that they're taking in significant VC funding.

I hope they aren't taking on VC funding. Linux PCs is hardly likely to see a hockey stick growth curve, and I don't want to see a Linux PC manufacturer be forced to sell itself due to over-promising to a VC.

I see the main developer works for System76, and System76 says RedoxOS is his "personal project", but does that imply System76 is sponsoring RedoxOS? Or does it mean they have an employee who works on RedoxOS at home?

This seems like an incredibly high bar/expectation to set for themselves, and while I'd love to see them succeed, I don't have a lot of confidence. The fact that they've decided to start out building desktops really solidifies that doubt. I just don't see a world where there is a demographic of people that both know about System76 and want to use a non-standard OS on a desktop computer, but also aren't familiar with building one themselves. In an enterprise environment, I don't see them making a huge dent either when many companies will already have deals with major enterprise manufacturers for desktop units, which are fairly easy to turn into GNU/Linux machines as is. It just seems like a sinkhole trying to pour effort into a form factor that has become incredibly unpopular over the past few years, and also (very publicly) setting the expectation that this effort will lead to the "the Model S of computers".

From a personal/consumer standpoint, all I want to see anymore is a competitor to the Macbook Pro, with a comparable track pad, display, keyboard, battery life and form factor. I'd love to move away from my MBP, but the closest competitor I've found is the XPS 13 and, while it's a great laptop, just doesn't hold a candle to the MBP in a few of those areas. I wish System76 luck and would love to see them prove me wrong. This press release, so early in the process, just seems like a lot of pressure for the company to live up to, especially based off of their past offerings.

I know how to change the oil in my car on my own, but I don't because it is more efficient to pay an expert to do it. I think the desktop situation is much the same. I agree with you that I do not see that as a large market, but perhaps System76 sees something we don't or knows the cost of this support better than us.

I agree with you on wanting decent ultrabooks. I have had too much trouble with Dell to risk more of my money on another.

I wouldn't exactly call ubuntu a non-standard OS.

I meant more as a non-standard OS to buy a computer loaded with.

I hope you guys have lots of success, we really need more options for linux on a laptop.

I don't know if I'm the only one, but I really want a 13 inch laptop thats thin/ultrabook format, with low specs and only a HD screen. All I do each day is use a browser and SSH into other machines, I don't need an i5/i7 processor and HiDPI display to do that.

My ideal laptop would be an XPS 13 sized laptop, with a 1080p screen, i3 processor, 8GB of RAM and as much battery life increases as possible.

If you're looking for 13 inch, standard HD screen with long battery life, and all you need is browser and SSH functionality, you might think about trying a Chromebook. The SSH functionality comes as a Google-made extension [1]. The CPU and RAM specs are usually lower than you mention, but in my experience the machine runs fine for video calls, Netflix, etc.

[1]: https://chrome.google.com/webstore/detail/secure-shell/pnhec...

I switched to an Acer R11 Chromebook for something small and handy and cheap. It runs fast enough for browsing and shell stuff. Keyboard is decent, and it isn't flimsy.

I've also install crouton for a full Ubuntu environment, which I use occasionally. But mostly I'm ssh'ing into my workstation and servers.

My only annoyance is the caps-lock key, which is now the Google search key. You can press Alt-Search for caps-lock, but it is slow and a little glitchy.

Thanks for the recommendation. I forgot to mention I only run linux, I don't want to be tied into an OS like ChromeOS when I don't have direct control over it. I have considered wiping one and installing linux over the top.

I've got a Toshiba KIRA V63, which is basically exactly what you want except with an i5 processor. If I put the screen backlight to 11% (which is readable for me when I'm in the library or whatever) and run powertop, I can get 9 or so hours of real work done on the battery (Ruby on rails for the most part, Chromium and Emacs, judicious use of wifi).

I highly recommend the recent mobile i5 processors. They are ridiculously low power and amazingly fast. I really do not want for anything.

Now you almost certainly can't buy a V63 where you live (only Japan and even then I've heard Toshiba are getting out of the business), but this is the spec I recommend. The 1080p screen is the most important thing for battery life and performance. Don't get a higher resolution screen if you want to do a full day's work away from the power mains.

I absolutely love this machine to death (and take it with me everywhere -- even to the onsen).

I don't know enough about laptops to do it, but I've pondered that someone could probably make good passive income by building a website that takes in a request like this and recommends laptops (like the 8 sibling responses to you are)

The problem here with linux, is that a laptop that works great with linux kernel x.y and distro z, may suddenly break when kernel x.y' comes out. So now you have to get ahead of the distro's and test all your machines for functionality with every upgrade. Sticking to really mainstream hardware here helps a lot, but that still won't keep from breaking when the next rolling update comes out.

Frankly, having used linux on a few different laptops, i'm not really sure how someone who wants everything to always work perfectly and isn't capable of debugging kernel drivers and tossing out patches runs linux. The few times I've seen this situation, it seems people are just putting up with the broken backlight controls, standby that doesn't work, BT drivers that wont pair, etc.. All things i've had to fix on my machines. (the latest being the keyboard hotkey to enable/disable the trackpad needed "tweaking").

My girlfriend uses the HP Spectre x360 (model 4105-no), which works great in Xubuntu 17.04. It's fast, silent and looks great. Maybe a bit higher spec than you want, but then if you want to run a web browser without noscript that's probably needed these days :-/

No hardware issues that I know of (but I had to uncomment HandleLidSwitchDocked=suspend in /etc/systemd/logind.conf to get it to suspend, and of course XFCE doesn't know what to do with tablet mode, nor do we …). The rather big trackpad might take some getting used to though :-)


XPS 13 sizes, 8GB of RAM, 1080p screen. The lower end CPU choice for the UX330 is i5. At least older UX Zenbooks worked with Ubuntu right away with the exception of ambient light sensor.

Can't you pick up an XPS or thinkpad with essentially your ideal specs and linux? The one thing is you won't get great battery life on the ultrabooks because they usually have smaller 4 cell batteries I believe.

No great battery life on ultrabooks? Have you ever even used one? The XPS has one of the best battery life on the market and other thin laptops like chromebooks have great batterylife while still being thin. The reason why 11-14" ultrabooks have good battery life is very simple: SSDs take up less space and are more efficient, iGPUs take up no space and are more efficient and no DVD drive taking up space.

I love my Chromebook with coreboot and archlinux, but I need a upgrade to a 1080p screen and more than 4gb of ram without having to pay $1000 for a overpriced laptop with a dual-core i7.

I only got about 4 hours on an older ultrabook (about 5 years ago) with an SSD. I'm not sure what you get these days but under in the 3.5-4.5 hour range isn't very good IMO.

Get a refurbished X220 or an X250.

You should try a chromebook plus or pro from Samsung. I recently bought one and I'm in love with it. I use it even for work except actual coding.

So many people here are suggesting the XPS 13, but there is so much Dell BS to put up with.

There are many configurations and many redundant options, and silly coupons that work on some models and not others. The buying options are entirely unclear, I think intentionally so. Just like HP and some of the other major OEMs. Please don't read this wrong, I love options, but I dislike foolish inconsistency. When I build a desktop I can choose any CPU, any GPU, any Mobo... When I look at the 4 models (lines, tiers, whatever) of the XPS 13 they have redundant options, 4 different ways to get to the same configuration with no reason I can see for a $200 difference in price. When I spend my money I want to know what I am buying.

Beyond the normal BS is that part of buying System76 is not giving money to microsoft. I think microsoft is evil, not an exaggeration, legitimately evil. Not giving them money is a huge selling point for me. I think this is a discussion for another thread and will not defend this here and now, Just take that I (and at least a few others) won't willingly give money to microsoft. So where is the option for an XPS with Linux, any flavor (or even Freedos or no OS) pre-installed?

Because none of the XPS 13 systems say they support what I choose for my OS, what is my recourse if I do blow away the pre-installed OS and something doesn't work? They are free to change the hardware when they please and I have ordered two dells with identical model numbers and gotten 2 different things (even in their business class of machines). They are making it clear that I am not their intended customer and mine is not their intended use case.

> So where is the option for an XPS with Linux, any flavor (or even Freedos or no OS) pre-installed?

The XPS 13 is available as a developer edition with Ubuntu instead of Windows preinstalled: http://www.dell.com/en-us/work/shop/productdetails/xps-13-93...

This reinforces the parent's point though, because now you have a fifth option with apparently different hardware on a different update schedule with different pricing. How much Linux incompatibility do you suffer from a regular XPS 13 versus a Developer Edition one?

I would have said this if you hadn't, thank you.

To continue with the pit that is Dell BS, why is the "Developer Edition" of this stuck at 4GB of RAM when one of the other tablet-like versions had 8gb. My current machine has 64, my last ultrabook had 16gb, and my father's phone has 6gb (OnePlus 3t).

Why would a phone that costs half as much have an extra 2gb of RAM and twice as much storage? The phone has 128gb internal and we added a 128gb card.

I think also https://puri.sm/ has to be mentioned here because they take the Free Software principles even further and will soon have a coreboot version with disabled Intel ME.

System76 gained some popularity from the frustration about the latest MBP, so i guess this is their response to that. I don't really buy the text about their vision and goals though, in the past they have not really been well known for great build quality or good design. They basically sold pre-installed Linux on rebranded chinese laptops. Their new goals are ambitious and sound too ambitious but i wish them best of luck.

I am quite happy with my 2016 MBP, by no means perfect, but my overall Mac experience did not change that much.

Right now the biggest thing that they have going for them is a fairly well known brand in the market, which is a big deal considering who they are up against. It's a real growth opportunity if they can really differentiate themselves with a quality experience.

One of the most well executed marketing stunts ever seen must be the "Powered by Ubuntu Linux" stickers that System76 provided back in the day when your OS was still relevant and people thought Ubuntu would be the next big thing in the desktop/laptop space.

I have personally learned so much from that experience that it is very difficult to overlook when thinking of brand hacks.

Don't be shy to look at what Apple is doing. They got it right! I would be happy to pay premium for an excellent build quality linux laptop.

Apple build overpriced low-end perf laptops with high build quality, I'd rather have performance at a way lower price.

Problem is: you're already pretty well catered to I should imagine. That's literally 90% of the OEM Laptop market competition.

The "build quality" means it looks nice, but it sure isn't durable. If you spill liquid on an Apple, it's a dead machine. If you drop an Apple, it's also dead. Thinkpads can survive a hell of a lot more abuse.

Every time a friend or colleague asks why I use "that" I simply thrown my laptop to the floor, pick it up and continue working on it.

Then I ask them to try the same with their Apple laptop.

That normally makes them never ask such questions again.

I learned that from an IBM (and later a Lenovo) sales person when presenting the X series. It's designed and built to tolerate real use. And some abuse :-)

People's needs and preferences differ.

I've used laptops for the last 10-15 years, often 8+ hours a day. I have not once dropped a laptop during those years. I'm completely okay with having a laptop that disintegrates when dropped and is better in other ways (thinner, lighter, longer battery life) as a result of not focusing on resistance to drops.

I guess it depends on your laptop. I dropped Macbook once (it was closed and there was a big scratch on case), but otherwise I'm very careful with it. I didn't drop my iPhone either. But when I owned old indestructible Nokia phone, I dropped it few times a week, just because I didn't really care. If I would own indestructible laptop, I might drop it as well sometimes. If I'm laying on bed with laptop and I want to sleep, I have to carefully position laptop on the floor. But I would happily threw it away, if I could, it would be so much easier.

Definitely agree on "If you drop an Apple, it's also dead.", but "If you spill liquid on an Apple, it's a dead machine." hasn't been true for me: Spilled a whole glass of water on my MBA which was running and it immediately turned off. After drying it on the heater for half a day it turned back on without any problems or damage.

Check out Louis Rossmann's Apple repair channel on YouTube. The vast majority of boards he repairs are broken because of liquid damage (he does actual board-level repair using microsoldering, unlike Apple which merely replaces everything). It's definitely a huge problem.

But isn't this a problem for nearly all laptops?

Mythbusted: "It's a more durable laptop because it's made of aluminum"


What does this have to do with liquid damage?

(Sorry can't watch the video right now because I'm on mobile data)

I don't believe that I actually want improved performance. I just want a smooth laptop that is thin, has long during battery life, and is price competitive. Essentially a MacBook at a reasonable price.

Downvoted: opinion presented as fact

Compare the cheapest Mac ($1000) to an $800 ASUS:



The ASUS has:

- a larger screen

- a better CPU

- a better GPU

- as much memory

- more storage

-disappointing screen quality(size isn't the only thing that matters)

-twice the weight

-1/4th the battery hours

-one of the worst touch pads around

That's maybe not a great comparison, it's a different class of product with worse battery life and much heavier. The MacBook Air has been optimised for a different use case.

The MacBook Air is an outdated product.

The closest real comparison is the MacBook Pro to the Surface Pro, in which case the MacBook is better at every price tier(expect for the touchscreen which is totally useful).

...an outdated product for $1k.


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