Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
Void Linux (musl) on the Huawei MateBook X Pro (bitcannon.net)
97 points by wezm on Oct 6, 2019 | hide | past | favorite | 71 comments

> musl appeals to me because I’m Australian and a sucker for an underdog it has a clean code base, permissive licensing, and is not a GNU project.

Although this is as good a reason as any, especially if someone is (politically) biased against the GNU project, I fail to see how and why the x86_64-musl target appeals to the OP in the first place. It ships a standard GNU userland, it uses GCC and GNU {core,bin}utils to (cross)compile most packages and GNU bash is a standard requirement for the build toolchain. Without the above, Void cannot exist.

A core property of the Voidlinux / musl-libc combination that goes unmentioned, is that one can easily leverage xbps-src as a native cross compilation toolchain to seamlessly (no porting/patching) generate static binaries for foreign architectures. As an example, one can generate static binaries for GNU tar and just use them on an android (bionic) device.

Finally, Void-linux ships with the xbps-uunshare utility as standard and allows a regular user to launch an unprivileged container with any distribution (like debian, ubuntu, etc). This way, the OP can enjoy the full gamut of software available on those glibc systems without the need to install and/or dual boot Windows.

> musl appeals to me because [...] is not a GNU project

I don't see the logic in this. There are tons of other GNU & GPL code on your machine.

Using Firefox on Windows appeals to me, even if Windows is closed source.

I can share similarly positive experience with the exact same model. I'm running Ubuntu 19.04 and everything pretty much worked out of the box, including nVidia drivers. The only thing I miss from the XPS 13 I used previously are automatic uefi/firmware updates.

I really wish this level of build quality and especially the 3:2 ratio would be available on more models. Occasionally switching back to 16:9 seems quite limiting now, especially on 13".

And while I agree the webcam is very unflattering, it's still perfectly usable if you aren't doing customer calls or anything like that where presentation is important.

I used to have a ThinkPad T42 with 1400x1050 14" display. That think was awesome for writing (both code and documents in OpenOffice Writer). I wish 4:3 displays got mainstream again.

I've been using Matebook X Pro for 11 months (Windows) and so far I am super happy with the experience. I am never switching back to a 16:9 screen.

Some things that bother me:

  - touchpad rattle (can be fixed [1])
  - keyboard backlight has a timer and turns off after some seconds of inactivity, there is no mode to leave backlight always on while laptop is awake
  - cooling of the charging circuit is poor and if you have some CPU load *and* charge the laptop at the same time, the fan will ramp up
These are small things that could be fixed in the next iteration, I hope they do fix them.

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=r67b1ZOZNVg

The two last points are also true on the XPS and precision line from dell.

If those are the largest issues then this really is a glowing recommendation by all accounts.

Why?! How do we still tolerate companies with decades worth of experience to still sell us products with poorly designed cooling on their premium line devices?

If it would be some cheap discount supermarket laptop I would understand it, but XPS is Dell's flagship and makes them some fine margins.

Personally I’m not horrified that a charging circuit gets hot when it’s under the highest possible load, given that the cooling solution in place (the fan) detects it and ramps up.

To my mind that’s just the cooling solution working as intended.

I have no hand-on experience but on paper the newer Matebook 13 [1] seems like it has a better cooling solution with two fans and two cooling heat sinks. I think the Matebook X Pro series could be improved in this direction as well. Also Matebook 13 seems like a great machine for the price tag, if only there was a 16GB ram version...

[1] https://consumer.huawei.com/en/laptops/matebook-13/

My XPS pulls up to 130 watts under full load and charging. That's a serious amount if current for that form factor (especially compared to other laptops), and still doesn't get too hot. They should have done a better job of cooling, but that doesn't bother me after repasting, padding, and undervolting.

>doesn't bother me after repasting, padding, and undervolting

See, there's the problem right there. As a nerd, I really enjoy tinkering and hacking with my tools to improve them, but as a paying customer, I expect the product to be properly designed and tested in the first place.

I'm so torn between this and the upcoming Surface Laptop 3.

On the one hand, I trust the SL3's build quality and support to be A+ (though I understand the Matebook is also well built). But the catch: I doubt the SL3 is going to be Linux-friendly.

Could your Linux needs be fulfilled by WSL2?

This is amazing and so on-brand. I can't stand Windows 10 interface, and this bundled together actually does look like a slick combo. I know I can install linux on virtually any laptop including a used Thinkpad, but let me put it out there: there's something special about the tiny bezel and a tiling windows manager. The look of awesomewm status bar near the tiny strip of black glass is enamouring.

I can't think now of switching my 15" macbook pro I'm using for work for anything non macos due to mobile dev requirements, but perhaps in another life this is the choice I'll make.

The only problem with buying a chinese laptop is that I would be afraid any non-trivial propriety code I write for a company would be stolen by the chinese to make their own product. I am not saying Dell is any better, they have an extremely close relationship with the US intelligence agencies but atleast I know they won't steal my code for competitive advantage.

It looks like great hardware neither the less and with apple being so arrogant these days with its keyboard and its warfare against the repair community it looks like an enticing option.

I have an AVITA Clarus that I purchased on clearance a few months ago. It’s been a great machine for what it is, and is very well supported in Manjaro (an Arch derivative).

I paid ~$175 for it, and it’s approximately on par with the MacBook Air I had a couple of years ago. Stats are i5@3.2Ghz, 8GB RAM, 128GB SSD, integrated graphics. It’s good enough for back-end web development provided I offload the “heavy” stuff to a hosted platform somewhere - which is generally how I develop anyhow, as I often do so from an iPad Pro LTE.

I wonder if this gets mostly upvoted because of the notebook or because of Void Linux. For me, mostly the notebook (Huawei MateBook X Pro) looks interesting, as I'm a MacBook Pro (Mid 2014) user, and I'm slowly looking for a good modern replacement (and I'm obviously not happy with the current MacBook Pros). As my future notebook would be non-Apple, I would want to install Linux, and want good Linux support, and otherwise a high hardware quality.

I like that this Huawei MateBook has an all aluminium unibody. (How much other notebooks are there? Maybe not necessarily unibody, but I like a solid body out of aluminium.)

A touch screen is also a nice addition.

His choice of Linux distribution is maybe a bit strange. I would probably go with Ubuntu or so, and hope to have even better support. E.g. I would want to use software like CLion, PyCharm, Steam, etc just out of the box.

Also, I would want to make use of the NVIDIA card. This is also nice for CUDA development. I wonder (I would hope) that this works fine with a more standard Linux distribution.

I wonder how the long-term usage quality is. My MacBook Pro 2014 works still mostly fine now (2019), and even the original battery gives me still about 3-4h of usage.

System 76 claims to offer an aluminum alloy laptop with Nvidia and Linux


but the quality is reportedly bad (flaky hardware, too-fast power drain, reflash bios to toggle discrete graphics (!), slow support) https://www.linuxjournal.com/content/review-system76-oryx-pr...

Yep. Mine is in the System 76 repair shop right now for the third time. Which is why I'm using my Matebook Windows laptop for dev. Extremely unsatisfied with Oryx Pro materials and build quality. Oh it's back for the third time because when they replaced the top case last time, they installed a defective touch pad. Never again.

That model is a rebadge of the Clevo P960(16")/P970(17").

> reflash bios to toggle discrete graphics

Really? My understanding was that the RTX series of GPUs support toggling discrete graphics on the fly if you use beta/dev versions of the drivers and X. Even if you don't, the worst case scenario should be having to reboot to enable or disable your graphics card, right?

If so, that's a step backwards - on my MX150 system, both nouveau and the proprietary driver can turn the card off (indeed, that's about all nouveau can do, and it does it by default).

That Oryx model in the link uses a GTX 1070

I have one for Julia CUDA development. CUDAnative.jl and the whole JuliaGPU stack works like a charm. The battery life is much better than it says it would be too. I regularly take this on an oversees flight and get 10 hours of straight programming time if I set it to conserve battery.

The only real problem is that when you plug it in it goes to a billion degrees and the fan turns on. Also the webcam is worthless. But other than that it's great!

I've been using Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro [1] for a little over a year now and there is not a single visible sign of wear. People have had various problems with this laptop, but mine is still in a great condition. I'm running Arch Linux and so far everything has worked without hiccups.

Build quality, in general, is very good. Some positive highlights:

- It has an aluminum body and feels very sturdy.

- Lid can be opened with one hand and even after one year it feels like when I first got it.

- Keyboard feels very nice: there's a great amount of travel and keys have a great clicky feedback.

- Touchpad is superb, very smooth and responsive. It's definitely better than that of XPS, but obviously not as good as Mac's.

Some negative aspects:

- Some keys started to squeak rather quickly.

- One of the speakers rattles at higher volumes.

- Screen of my unit had several dead pixels on arrival. Fortunately they are only seen in pitch-black darkness on a black background when the screen is at near max brightness. Not once have I noticed them during daily usage.

- Keyboard stays lit for a fixed time.

- Soldered RAM.

- Fans seem to not be of very high quality.

- Slow SD card reader.

Specs: Quad Core i7-8550U, 16GB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce MX150 GPU, 256GB NVMe SSD.

Overall I find it an excellent laptop with great specs. I got it for 920 EUR and it's impossible to find such laptop for such an incredible price where I live in Europe.

[1]: https://www.gearbest.com/2in1-laptops/pp_009171639711.html?w...

I've been running a matebook x pro with ubuntu mostly with the nvidia card disabled for about a year now and I have nothing but nice things to say about this laptop.

Steam works fine out-of-the-box but the GPU and CPU are not powerful enough to run newer games with high resolutions.

Screen ratio and resolution is amazing, battery life is not bad, is dead silent which I truly appreciate, and the keyboard is very very nice to type on.

Also, for the battery, after 1 year of hardcore use, it's at 90% of capacity, I don't know if this is good or bad TBH.

I wrote a bit about my configuration here if you are interested [0].

[0] https://memogarcia.mx/posts/linux-matebook/

> Also, for the battery, after 1 year of hardcore use, it's at 90% of capacity, I don't know if this is good or bad TBH.

I can't talk for windows laptops but my MacBook Pro 13" 2015 is at 87% after ~3.5 years of daily use. It's often docked in a Henge dock though.

For reference, I own an Xiaomi Mi Notebook Pro which is at 87% capacity after 1 year.

There are very few other options with an aluminium body. Razer laptops are one but Linux isn’t great on them from what I’ve read.

I’ll be interested to see how it ages as well. I have a 2013 MacBook Pro and it’s still in excellent condition.

> (How much other notebooks are there? Maybe not necessarily unibody, but I like a solid body out of aluminium.)

Chuwi — very cheap and practical.

Dave Lee has a review on the MateBook X Pro with some performance numbers included: https://youtu.be/W15yKKbHE80

I honestly use my webcam too much for the MateBook to make sense. The under-a-button camera is a neat packaging solution that’s useless in the real world when I’ve tested it.

I'm running Windows + WSL2 on my Matebook X pro. Couldn't be happier with the construction, performance, battery life, and the 3:2 aspect ratio.

I much prefer MacOS to Linux but I've been hard by the butterfly keys debacle and I'm now very wary of buying another Mac.

Huawei's laptops do look very good.

"and is not a GNU project."

This is the first time I have seen actively avoiding GNU. Is this common? Reasons political?

There are many reasons, mostly political. One of them is the stance on licensing, another one is similar to how many people avoid using Blink-based web browsers, to avoid GNU dominance on UNIX.

Two example are POSIX sh, where many people cannot tell difference between POSIX sh and GNU bash, or GNU coreutils (and other GNU utilities e.g. GNU tar) which contains many non-standard flags that are not present in POSIX.

Lots of people avoid GNU and go for licensing closer to bsd/mit if they want more freedom, or apache if they're worried about patents. There are also lots of companies avoiding gnu just in case it would theoretically force them to open-source something they want to keep private.

> Lots of people avoid GNU and go for licensing closer to bsd/mit if they want more freedom

is it fair today in this case that means freedom for the manufacturer/developer, not the user, which is the purpose of the gnu license?

>is it fair today in this case that means freedom for the manufacturer/developer, not the user, which is the purpose of the gnu license?

Well, the people who care about licenses are mostly geeks on the developer side. So they would naturally care for the freedom of the developer too, not just the user.

From the user side, a benefit is that a rich company can use a library/tool etc in BSD/MIT and

1) make a proprietary product based on it

2) give back to the library/tool help maintain them

whereas many companies wouldn't touch the library/tool if it was GPL, as they couldn't create their own proprietary stuff on it.

This means

1) more software being made based on open source codebases (even if they are proprietary, more software being available is better for users than less),

2) more involvement by big companies to help grow/fix/add features to the FOSS version of the lib/tool (e.g. consider LLVM's growth),

As a developer who prefers to use MIT/BSD-licensed codebases, my preference is because I want to license the code I’m writing as MIT/BSD, and I don’t want to expend mental effort figuring out if I’m using GPL dependencies, includes, etc in a way that impacts my ability to MIT/BSD my own code.

"Fair" is a moral judgement there. You'll find people who agree and people who disagree.

Pretty common attitude in the *BSD community, and the author says they spent some time using FreeBSD in the past.

Often the objection is the license, however, I think there is also a perception that the GNU stuff can be bloated, tries to be all things to all people, where something like BSD feels more direct, less over-engineered.

I run Ubuntu 19.04 on the same laptop, it's excellent. I wish the fingerprint reader worked and that Google would fix the chrome issues in Ubuntu but other than that it screams.

Macbook Pros are standard at my work, like a lot of companies, but I'm going to push to get the first non-Macbooks. Almost entirely for Linux support.

The Archlinux wiki for Macbooks hasn't been updated since 2015 (AFAIK) and even back then it was a bit rocky.

From experience it's a necessity to have a laptop with Linux in mind instead of tacking it on. It shouldn't require any sort of hacking to get working.

I have been running manjaro Linux on my matebook x pro for like 6 months or so. But because of work had to switched back to windows. Do wonder now that Huawei is shipping their Matebook x pro with a linux distro(deepin) in China , maybe they will release/fix the finger print button.

> "Given my laptop use was now more casual and for when travelling I wanted...3K 3000×2000 HiDPI touchscreen display, Intel Core i7-8550U CPU (4 core, 8 thread), 16Gb RAM, 512Gb NVMe SSD, NVIDIA GeForce MX150 graphics"

I would love to hear what you use for serious work is specced like. :)

Well, if you do fairly normal web development nowadays, that includes running a couple of local services (database, backend) and containers, iOS / Android simulator, VS Code, webpack dev server running, Chrome, db management tool, Slack on top of that etc - U-series processor is hardly adequate, and 16GB RAM is not enough to avoid some level of swapping...Just running Docker empty, with no containers, takes 3-4 GB on OS X...

Which is crazy, and I don't know how we managed to get to this, but it's the reality...Electron and Java being the worst culprits - 1GB RAM just to have a project open in VS Code and 1GB for Studio 3T just to be open and connected to local MongoDB...

I built a 12 core/24 thread Ryzen 9 machine: https://bitcannon.net/page/ryzen9-pc/

Is there any reason why you did not submit a PR for the package templates you created?

A 3:2 Laptop! How is the video performance on it?

It’s great. No complaints so far.

Pre-compiled binaries are a sin. What a shame!


> We know that Huawei and Xionomi are thieves.

Apple is well known patent troll that sues companies for round corners. They constantly try to make harder to repair their products and sue anyone who attempts to import part.[1] Why support there douchebags?

I see no need to pick the side here. I just take the product that suits me.

1: https://www.vice.com/en_us/article/a3ppvj/dhs-seized-afterma...

There are a surprising number of comments defending Huawei here. They're known to send engineering teams to Apple suppliers under false pretenses to spy on manufacturing techniques and try to recruit insiders. They profit from government espionage into global companies, and pay bonuses to employees who successfully steal trade secrets and manufacturing techniques.

Specifically for the matebook, Huawei stole a hinge design that allowed them to make their laptops thinner.

> An earlier Apple-related incident, according to one source, involved Huawei copying a 2016 connector design used to make the MacBook Pro hinge thinner while linking the display to the logic board. A similar component then appeared in Huawei's 2018 MateBook Pro, something achieved by shopping Apple's schematic around to various suppliers — most of which recognized the design and refused to build it. Eventually the company found a willing partner.


There's too much evidence against Huawei to dismiss their history of espionage.

Reverse engineering and designing to be similar to an existing successful product is one thing, but taking manufacturing schematics and manufacturing molds directly is a different ball game.

> Sorry if this sounds overly critical but I find it inethical to use the Chinese clones of Apple products.

Which part exactly was cloned from Apple? You mention Chinese. Would you find it more ethical to buy an American clone of an Apple product?

The only thing this laptop has in common with a MacBook is the design aesthetic. But that goes for the a majority of laptops from all vendors from all over the world nowadays.

What exactly was cloned? The look of it? They still had to mill the thing from aluminum, design the components to fit and operate well, and everything else that comes with developing a laptop. It's not like they even took Apple's frame and copied that verbatim.

In fact, they went a step further by including some features that a Macbook doesn't have. Apple doesn't have exclusive rights on aluminum frames or the color silver. Or black keys... so what exactly did they clone, really?

> What exactly was cloned?

The screen has rounded corners. Blatant theft of innovation.

> We know that Huawei and Xionomi are thieves.

You mean Xiaomi?

Sorry, but you're going to have to provide us a little more evidence when making these kinds of allegations. Don't all successful companies copy and steal? Nothing is really original nowadays, and hasn't been for hundreds of years. Shoulders of giants and all.

I mean other than the visual style what did they "steal" here? Do we all have to buy 4 year old MacBooks because Apple has you convinced their laptop is actually that unique?

You mean Apple/IBM/Lenovo never copy good ideas? It's also not like these Chinese companies are pushing the companies you call original and innovative to slash their prices by stealing their customer base: Apple fans still buy and defend Apple no matter how bad some of their hardware "innovations" backfire.

No one forced Apple to ship production to China. It was well understood what was going to happen before they did it and they did it anyway. It's hard for me to have any sympathy for their current position. Business is ruthless and Apple knows it. Apple has a long history of crushing small suppliers to their own advantage so it's not like their hands are clean in all of this.

I don't mind being price gouged, I can afford it, but Apple no longer makes laptops suitable for me.

Employers have been threatening and actively trying to outsource my employment overseas my entire adult life. This drove a lot of people out of the software industry. I made the bet that they would be less successful than they planned. Now I gouge them for access to my rare skills - a problem they created. I could easily have been wrong and if that happened these companies would have not supported me out the goodness of their heart.

I don't see a touch bar on this thing.

The Huawei certainly looks like a MacBook, but If you wanted that form factor to run Linux it would make sense to buy it and overwrite your windows with Linux than buy a Mac and overwrite that.

I always thought the “apple tax” was paying for a better experience with macOS. If you aren’t gointg to use macOS and use Linux instead it would make sense to buy the machine less expensive os (windows). Ideally you’d buy a machine without an os, but that’s not really an option on notebooks. If you wanted to revert to windows that windows based machine is also a better starting point.

I ended up buying a notebook with Linux pre installed. It’s been great and I’m surprised there weren’t more options for that route.

I have dual boot Linux running on two Macbooks at home. You don’t have to overwrite OSX.

I guess you already forgot how Apple stole the ideas of GUI from Xerox.

Steve Jobs gave credit to Xerox Research Lab in a few interview I saw. Xerox and Apple actually worked together and Apple used that tech to build a unique & creative product instead of copying an existing market and selling it for cheap leveraging the abusive labor policies.

Just curious, do you feel the same way when Apple "Sherlocks" developers in the iTunes and Mac app stores?

It's cheaper. I don't care about the ethics. Steal away!

Well, Apple done so much unethical stuff so its an open question who society should blame first

> Sorry if this sounds overly critical but I find it inethical to use the Chinese clones of Apple products.

Unlike most, not everyone is inclined to pay for the privilege of closed source, proprietary walled gardens (like those from Apple). People, especially those who believe in open source and free software ideals, consider the above practice unethical, which is probably why they don't buy Chinese made Apple laptops. Those users are largely in favor of sharing technological innovations for the benefit of everyone, instead of guarding them for a select few. So, no it is not unethical because, in the end, it doesn't harm the end user.

Guidelines | FAQ | Lists | API | Security | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact