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Pangolin – Mobile AMD laptop with Ryzen CPU and Radeon graphics (system76.com)
500 points by bananicorn on March 16, 2021 | hide | past | favorite | 458 comments



I can't speak to the 4700u or the pangolin specifically, but I can offer this perspective on PopOS/AMD:

I've been using System76's PopOS with my Asus Zephyrus G14 (4800hs) as a daily driver and I really like it. (freelance/web)

The battery life is comparable to Windows (on integrated graphics mode, it has graphics switching available)at 7-10 hours with 70% brightness and balanced power settings using VScode and firefox.

The g14 has a 75wh battery vs the pangolin's 49wh, so I would expect less battery life from the pangolin despite the 4700u having a lower default tdp, since the 4800hs likes to sit at around 6-10 watts when doing non-intensive tasks anyway.

In 2021 I'm not missing any major programs. It's pretty incredible how much is cross-platform now.


Would buy in a heartbeat if it had a 4k display. Hard to go back to 1080p after six years of Retina and 4K displays.


Honestly find it hard to notice much difference in the display quality between my 1080p 2018 XPS laptop and my 1800p 2019 Mac laptop. Actually the XPS is slightly preferable to me because the matte vs glossy finish outweighs the extra resolution at that size for me.

I guess that could just be my sight, but the reviews for the XPS laptop vs the 4k model of the same were pretty much unanimous on the 4k variant being a waste of battery for a neglible return on image quality, so it's at least not a fringe view


> the XPS is slightly preferable to me because the matte vs glossy finish outweighs the extra resolution at that size for me.

I have a ThinkPad, and this has been my experience. Sitting next to my Macbook Pro 13" retina, there is not much difference. 14" 16:9 1080p vs. 13" 16:10 1600p. The matte finish + slight diagonal increase closes the gap between the two. Unless you're in your 20s with perfect vision, I doubt the average person could tell a visual difference between the two.

I will also say that at 13", the difference between 16:9 and 16:10 is practically nonexistent. Especially 14" vs 13". I thought this would be a major issue for me. But it's not. On a 27" desktop monitor? Sure, that can make a difference.


It could be your sight, or the size of your display. You never mentioned how big it was. If it's a monster 18" laptop then the difference between 1080 and 4k is a lot more significant than if it's a 14" display where you almost can't even tell the difference. It's all about pixels per inch. I always prefer higher quality pixels as opposed to more of them, I don't mind 1080p if it's extremely accurate colour and amazing viewing angles, but that's just me.


That's fair. I can notice the difference between 1080p and 1440p on my desktop monitors which are 27" (or between the 1080p monitor and the 1080p laptop).

Both laptops are 15".


I have an XPS 15 from around the same time and the 1080p display feels a little poor. What I notice most is the long pixel response time. I'd take a 1080p OLED over a 4K LCD anyday. I'd also take a 4K OLED over either any day as well. High refresh rate and/or backlight strobing would be nice to have as well. Battery life isn't as much of a concern to me. I know not all users have the same priority as me. It's nice that consumers have options.


> 1080p OLED

Yep. What's getting lost in this whole discussion over resolution and whether >1080p is necessary is the issue of panel quality. Most laptops have always had absolute shit that is useless for photo editing or color-accurate work. Even at the high end they rarely advertise things like gamut coverage.


Does anyone sell an OLED laptop display? I thought it was just in phones and giant TVs still. The standard today is pretty much that good laptops are IPS and bad laptops are TN


I've seen options with OLED from HP, Lenovo, Dell, Asus and Razer (always on a few select models though).


There's a big difference when it comes to trying to read complex characters 贅沢な醬油の会社の面接体験を受けようとしています。

I absolutely hate viewing text on my LO-DPI PC vs my 6 year old HD-DPI Macbook Pro or either my 4 year old android smartphone or my 1 year old iPhone or my 7 year old iPad. It's like playing a NES game vs a PS4 Game. Sure some are fun and it's nostalgic but the world as moved on and lo-res is old.


"lo-res is old"

This is exactly what the product people who are building blazing fast, high spec laptops with top-of-the-line circa 2006 displays need to hear.


Theoretically the best balance between high resolution (you can't see any single "normal" pixel anymore at normal viewing distance and normal eye sight) and battery usage is 1440p.

But support for 1440p on Linux (and as far as I know not just Linux) is crap.

Anyway in my experience having a high quality display is much much much more important then the display resolution (as long as it's at least 1080p).


I'm curious what support you think 1440p needs specially or where you think Linux falls down? I've got a 1440p primary monitor for my desktop and the only device to have issues with it is my PS4 pro which only supports 1080p or 4k video out even though 4k mode if often upscaled 1440p


Wayland currently only supports integral scaling, so as long as you don't want the content on the screen to be noticeable smaller (no scaling) or bigger (scaling by 2) you have a problem.

Sure some wayland implementations do support fractional scaling but only in a way which leads to not so crisp fonts and images (scaling by 2 and then down scaling the pixel output to the given 1.x scaling factor), which defeats the whole point of getting a higher resolution screen.

Sure if your 1440p screen is also size wise bigger this might not matter but then my argument was always about increasing resolution without increasing monitor size. E.g. like a 1440p14" Laptop or similar.

Also a perfect size scaling on a 1440p14" to make the UI be the same size as on a 1080p14" monitor is technically impossible, through there are ways to get solutions which are good enough anyway (but not scaling to exactly the same size but something close by, separately for each font and other elements in a UI).

And while X impl. might work better, lets be honest X is dead. Still used, sure, but dead anyway.


The non-crisp rendering is only true if you use xwayland applications. Wayland apps support fractional scaling.


No issues running multiple 1440p, 144hz monitors on Linux for me.


> could just be my sight

It is

1080p to 4k is such a large difference


Really? On a 13" display? I bet in a blind AB test at a normal viewing distance you wouldn't even be able to accurately tell me which is which.


There's no need to bicker about this. A 13 inch display at 4K has about 340 pixels per inch along the diagonal. At 1080p it would have about 170 pixels per inch.

Perfect vision is usually understood to be the ability to discern details of about 1/60 of a degree, or 0.29 milliradians. By the arc length formula (s=rθ), we find that the distance needed to precisely align this angle with the level of detail provided by a 1080p screen is about 20 inches.

In other words, if you sit closer than 20 inches away from your screen (perhaps not that unlikely for a laptop), you might be able to discern details beyond the 1080p level. This would only be possible for extremely contrast sensitive small details, like text in a small font size at 1:1 (no DPI scaling).

So... it's a bit complicated, but I suspect 1080p would be good enough for nearly everyone at 13 inches, but move up to 15 inches and I could see many people preferring 1440p.


This isn't a complete analysis.

High DPI screens are able to render text without aliasing, and that makes a significant difference, especially with less-than-perfect eyesight.

What you're saying is true insofar as I had to squint up to a 1080p screen at 13" to actually see the pixels. But everything was slightly blurry, and switching to a "Retina" (1600p iirc) screen fixed that.

Which was the lack of subpixel aliasing: you can make those screens look blurry as well, by turning it back on. But a 1080 without it just looks like it has janky text rendering.

An actual 4K screen is unnecessary at 13", imho, but the extra pixels are harmless except in battery life. I do detect a real difference in textual rendering between 170ppi and 227, because it's the difference between leaning on subpixel aliasing and turning it off while still getting good results.


I never understood the "eye resolution=screen resolution -> good enough argument".

First of all the cone spacing in the fovea is around 31arcsec or about half the arcmin you assume. IMO that is more relevant than the 20/20 vision number because that number is not based on any intrinsic quantisation of the visual system but rather mostly limited by blur which tends to be very much not gausian -> not an ideal low pass filter for most eyes.

Now consider the nyquist shannon sampling theorem that tells us that any signal we want to fully capture needs to be sampled at at least twice the frequency of the highest frequency of interest. So if we want to be able to fully represent any state of our visual system on a display we need at least twice the resolution of our visual system (ignoring for a minute that that assumes an ideal lpf which your eye is not as stated above). so already 4x your 1arcmin resolution number.

But that all quickly becomes rather theoretical when you look at jagged elephant in the room: aliasing and scaling! a lot of what we look at is either rendered with pixel precision being very prone to aliasing at scales that are much much larger than your pixel pitch (see this worst case demonstration https://www.testufo.com/aliasing-visibility) or image or video files that might be displayed at a size that isn't an integer multiple or fraction of its native resolution. scaling just like aliasing causes artifacts that go way beyond the scale of your pixel pitch and one way to mitigate the issue is to just have a very high target resolution to scale too. So yeah I don't thing "can't distinguish individual pixels" is a meaningful threshold and even way beyond that there is still benefit to be had even for those with less than perfect eyesight


I use small text. Readability absolutely improves around the 8-10px ranges.

Especially with Chinese/Japanese characters, these can sometimes become unreadable on smaller fonts on 1080p.

I have two 14” Thinkpads I switch between which have almost identical setups, but one is 1080p and one is 1440. I’m not buying another 1080p if I can avoid it. And yes I have been tweaking fonts and X11 quite a bit already.


And people can’t really tell 30fps from 60fps from 120fps either, right?

Once you see and appreciate the difference, you can’t unsee it. Anything less is jarring.

Print media figured out three to four decades ago that print buyers prefer at least 144 lpi for black shapes, at least 300-600 dpi for grey images, and minimally 300 dpi but ideally 1200 dpi for colour photos people will consider high quality. (Note: For reader convenience I’m mixing lines per inch or lpi with dots per inch or dpi here, lines is per screen but there may be several screens per image, so dpi is the source material you’re trying to reproduce with screens.)

We’ve been settling on computer screen quality for too long. If all we did was video, fine, but we spend most time simulating print.


Can't find any results for 13" displays. But there have already been several blind tests carried out for TV's that show people can make out the difference.

http://www.hdtvtest.co.uk/news/4k-1080p-201311153442.htm

https://carltonbale.com/does-4k-resolution-matter/comment-pa...

https://www.slashcam.com/news/single/4K-vs-8K--Who-can-tell-...


I would bet money on you being wrong at 2-3 feet away


I went from a 27" 4k display to a 27" 2k display on my desk and I notice the difference every day. I only switched for higher refresh rate.

The biggest thing keeping me on my Macbook is it's hard to find a 13 inch, hi dpi, close as possible to mac keyboard laptop. The Razer 13 inch was sooo close but they made tilde and backslash half keys for some reason....

https://www.ultrabookreview.com/wp-content/uploads/2019/12/k...


I'm pretty sure most people see a huge difference between a old-style MacBook Air screen and a MacBook Pro screen. The Air is a 1080p 13in display. The Pro isn't even 4k, but the difference is extremely noticeable, especially if you are looking at a document or code (even from 24-36 in away). Seeing the difference between Apple's retina display and 4k? Well, that is difficult.


Would love to take the test. I can bet all my life savings that I will be able to tell the difference on first second. Difference between those resolutions is HUGE and I immediately see the difference.


I find it weird that non-Mac laptops either come with 1080 or 4k display options. Mac displays look incredible, and the 16" MBP resolution is 3072 × 1920 - basically 70% of the pixels on a 4k monitor.


Indeed as backend developer screen real estate is much more important than super accurate colour or viewing angles.


I'm a backend developer as well (or maybe full-stack, hard to say) and I switched my 4k to 1080p long time ago, because it wasn't worth it. On the other hand I like good viewing angles and nice colors. Unfortunately the latter isn't too good in basically every laptop I tried and... my current monitor (eh).


Full-stack dev here, running 1x1080 23" (top) + 3x1440 27". No real interest in moving to 4k, 1440 is the sweet spot for my workstation. The only problem... need more monitors!!


Do you run your mac at native res? The default is 900p with pixel doubling (and some fonts at native res). Basically anything other than doubled or native has a performance and battery life penalty relative to those two modes.

This has less space than 4k at 200% (normal for 15") or 1080p at 100%.


I suspect OEMs buy standard panels that usually come in those sizes. I'm also guessing most OEMs don't sell enough of the same models to justify going custom-made


I think it's to avoid fractional scaling.


And the crazy thing about that is that Windows handles fractional scaling perfectly, and I hear that Linux environments mostly do (but I have no experience), while macOS uses an absolutely stupidly bad technique that literally makes the higher resolution worse than having a lower resolution screen in most cases: rendering at the next integer, and scaling down. That way, it’s impossible to draw pixel-perfectly, and fine detail (like text) is always blurry. The mind boggles and I still have trouble believing that they actually did this, when their grip of their ecosystem made them the OS in the best position to do it right.


macOS uses an absolutely stupidly bad technique that literally makes the higher resolution worse than having a lower resolution screen in most cases

That's not my experience at all. For a while I was using a 27" 4k display at an effective resolution of 2560x1440. Obviously it wasn't as nice as 5k at 2x scaling would have been, but it was much sharper than a native 1440p display.


I think you misunderstand what's happening with macOS resolution scaling. What you're describing is assets being rendered down and getting blurry; but this doesn't happen to text because text is vectorized. You're right that some assets like icons and such will be less sharp at 1.5x than 2x, because 2x will have an actual asset and 1.5x will have to be scaled down.

How does Windows fix this? I have used so many Win32 apps that are jus broken in one way or another on HiDPI displays, most shockingly Visual Studio, my experience of HiDPI on Windows is always worse.


I've had better luck with fractional scaling on Windows over Linux. Can be hit or miss if any given Linux application will handle fractional scaling well, but the desktop environment (KDE Plasma on Ubuntu) does fine with it.


My experience with it and multiple screens is not great.

Not sure why it is that way - it's just a matter finding a global pixel size, rendering all screens to these bitmaps and then 2D scaling them down to panel resolution.


It depends on your age. At 50, even 768x1366 would be good enough if it had fractional scaling. ;-)

Now, seriously, I find it hard to see the difference between 1080 and 4K. What would be nice is a good HDR display panel.


you don't need 4k for retina at that size. 2880x1600 (3k?) will do 221 ppi


4k will also absolutely destroy battery life, 3k is a good compromise


Yup, 1080p was the first thing I saw. We're in 2021 and 1080p should be considered obsolete by now, yet still many new laptops come in 1080p.


Do you want just 20 minutes of battery charge or what?


4K laptops can have reasonable battery life. See almost every>= 4K Ice Lake and Tiger Lake laptop for example.


I know, eh ? Why is every linux laptop manufacturer insistent on using panels that they fished out of a dumpster behind a 7-11 ?


If somebody zoomed everything out on a 15 inch screen, would you be able to tell the difference? Have you done the test?


I'm really unclear on the motivation for sticking a 50wh battery in a machine which can easily burn 25+wh in normal operation.

If the computer can only hold up a 1.5 hour battery it really doesn't satisfy the use case of a laptop, doubling the battery up to 99 wh really allows for a 3-4 hour minimum battery life and a longer battery life for non-GPU work.


You can still carry it in your bag and plug it in at home/work.


This. I have a laptop that I rarely use on battery. It spends most of its life on a desk tethered to an external monitor. The advantage of being a laptop is that I can take it to my parents' house on the weekend, carry it back and forth to the office, etc.

But then, at the office, they got some HP Elitedesk minis, which are very small - but use regular desktop CPUs - and I bought one for myself. Now the laptop spends most of its days in a drawer because the desktop is much beefier and just as portable.

Of course, there are use-cases that a computer requiring an external screen and AC to even work can't handle. That's why I would be much more interested in having a "big" laptop, as in powerful CPU, tons of RAM, glorious screen. Could even be tempted to throw in a dedicated GPU. Don't care about it being 1 cm thin, featherweight and all-day battery. I do care about it not spinning up its fans when I'm just running vim in a console. I don't mind lugging around 2-3 kg of copper if that means the CPU can do a lot of work in silence.

I have a friend who's moving much more around, in meetings, etc. Her old macbook air is perfect for what she does. Also, the latest and greatest AMD wouldn't make a difference for her job, but she would clearly hate to lug around a heavy, bulky beast.

I think the issue is that, with today's technology, there's clearly no one size fits all. And there seems to be a trend in laptops to optimize for size and battery-life. Luckily, there are people for whom this is the right compromise. Don't know if they're the majority, but clearly there are other use-cases for which choices are more limited.


Especially in a post-COVID world where home offices are more common and possibly with even less travel, I think battery life is quite overrated for many people. I have a Serval Workstation (i.e. high-power laptop) from System76 and absolutely love it. The battery doesn't last very long especially if I'm doing heavy-lifting on the GPU, but I very rarely go somewhere I can't plug in. I need to be able to fold up my "workstation" and take it with me, sure. But I can work from the airport, many planes, from my couch, from most coffee shops, etc. I just have to plug in when I get there. I would rather plug in when I get somewhere and have a much more powerful machine at my desk.


Indeed, LG's 32wh battery laptop rated at 23 hours instantly comes to mind.

For Intel based laptops built in the last 10 years basically the only thing making a difference in battery life for laptops with same CPU is screen, and battery.

Everything else is almost the same everywhere. NVME SSD + WiFi will uniformly eat 2W. Power conversion will also eat at to 500-800mW. All other peripherals combined will unlikely to eat more than 1 watt, with exception of 1GB ethernet if working full speed.


Battery life is a proxy for somethings you do care about: how often does the fan come on and when does thermal throttling impact performance notably? If you don't travel, a desktop will cost less, last longer, and do more than a laptop — in part because the system won't be throttling. I spent about 20 years being laptop-only and went back to a desktop recently after realizing that it'd literally been years since I'd had any significant amount of on-the-go work which I couldn't do on my phone.


I routinely travel!

From my desk, to my easy chair, to my bed, and back again.

Not hard on my battery (two of those have charge cables handy) but difficult to pull off with a desktop.

Now that you mention it, it's been more than a year since my laptop has left my home. Ouch.


FWIW, I found that losing that tended to remove low-productivity time - I do work at my desk and call it a day, whereas it was a little too easy to be hunched on the couch surfing HN. If I really want to do something, walking over to the desktop only takes a few seconds.

Granted, becoming a parent also meant that things like watching a movie are “haha, I’m going to sleep” now, too.


Not me, I get a lot of work done in bed, probably more than half. The easy chair is not a productive setting, I grant you. Lately I prefer to pick up the kindle or tablet for a short break from the desk, and this is probably more conducive to work than switching from "getting things done" to "browsing HN/Twitter" on the same machine.

I use a sit/stand desk but barely ever sit at it, so fifteen minutes of down time here and there helps.


For me battery life means I can go outside somewhere to get some fresh air/inspiration (hobby computer music production). It doesn't frustrate me to have to take the power brick along, but it is nice when I can replace that weight in my bag with a small midi controller.


Does graphics switching in popos works without full system restart or at least without restarting X11? I didn't think there was a way to make switching graphics work in linux without either restarting X11 session or restarting the machine completely.

On related note - does external display works without nvidia GPU? A lot of manufactures have lately decided to hardwire external HDMI connection to descrete GPU and hence it has been pretty painful to use NVIDIA powered Laptops on Linux. :(


I have an older system76/galago laptop(Intel graphics). I use it with 2 external 4k(HP/Z27) monitors with no issues. Previously used with 1 4k, 1 1920xSomething/Portrait. Resolution switching works fine. Also, PopOS gnome UI comes with build-in tiling, feels like slightly nerfed i3. It also works fine across monitors/virtual desktops and so on. PopOS desktop is X11 based and I havent played with Wayland on that laptop


I was considering to buy a G14, but got distracted with other stuff. Can you please share a few details on how you use it?

- What kind of external webcam do you use? Does it have any problem with any video-conferencing software?

- Do you access any streaming service (with DRM)? Any issues?

- Any issues with drivers, returning from sleep/hybernation?

Thanks!


I've have a G14 with RTX2060 and I'm very happy. Battery life is good (4-6h work with IDE etc) and webcams work as intended. DRM is mostly a non-issue, at least not more than on any other Linux install.

The nvidia driver is a bit of a pain to set up, especially if you're on wayland or if you want to use displays via USB C (reverse prime does not work yet due to an nvidia driver bug, so you need to use the nvidia gpu as primary when docked). Other than that, everything works and the community (arch wiki and rog-core) provide good support for getting everything up and running. A bit of configuration and a somewhat recent kernel will be needed (it's pretty new hardware after all), but it's not that hard if you either know Linux or are willing to spend some time. I'm running this config for 8 months now, so the situation from a fresh install might be even better.

Similar to the sister comment, I came from an XPS 13, but I'm happy. The laptop is a bit heavier, but in exchange you get a lot more power, far more RAM (up to 48GB), more ports and, subjectively, a dar better keyboard. Initially I wanted to stay with an XPS, but now I'm happy I made the jump.

EDIT: One unbelievably good point I initially forgot: You can run a VM with GPU passthrough on the laptop. If you need Windows with graphics performance, especially on the go, this is an incredible advantage.


>EDIT: One unbelievably good point I initially forgot: You can run a VM with GPU passthrough on the laptop. If you need Windows with graphics performance, especially on the go, this is an incredible advantage.

Can you speak more to this? Does Pop_OS! configure this (more-or-less) out of the box? Would it work with any Nvidia card or are there restrictions?

I'm interested in such a setup and have done research from afar. I've developed on Linux for years, but have heard GPU passthrough can be difficult unless you wrangle drivers a bit.

EDIT: I'd also like to use it for CUDA in Linux. Do you have to reboot when enabling GPU passthrough (not a dealbreaker, just curious)?


> Can you speak more to this?

Sure! Regards working out of the box, you'll probably have no luck with that. VFIO is still somewhat of a niche and VFIO on a laptop is a niche of a niche, so you'll need to expect some command line usage and a bit of config file editing. This being said, getting it to work is not too hard and, if you've done VFIO in the past, you should feel right at home.

For the initial setup, you can mostly follow the guide on the arch wiki [0]. You might need to adapt it a bit on ubuntu(-based) systems, but the major points are the same. The only difference to the usual setup is that you need to include an APCI-table [3] to get the laptop driver to work in the VM. This reddit thread [1] describes it quite well. The author of that thread also has a repo [2] where he published his files and on which I based my scripts on. Note that you need the usual CPUID work-around (see the "Error 43" section on the arch vfio page). Also, you'll need an USB C to HDMI/DisplayPort/... cable and a monitor for the initial setup, after that you can use a dummy plug [5] and looking glass (also described on the arch wiki) to use pass through without external monitor. The setup is also very stable for me, with the exception of the looking glass part - if you absolutely depend on the setup, having a monitor handy will save you a bit of headache, but you can always revert to a VM display in the worst case.

Regarding GPU support: It should support all GPU configurations, but you should check reddit etc to be sure. If you're talking about other laptops, the situation is a bit different. The big advantage of the G14 is (1) that the GPU has its own IOMMU group and is therefore easy to isolate and (2) that the display ports are well split between the two GPUs (the HDMI out and the internal display are connected to the AMD iGPU and the USB C DP-channel is connected to the RTX). This is rather rare, but makes setting this up (comparatively) easy. Note that the USB channel of the USB C out is not routed via the GPU, so if you're connected to a docking station, its display ports will be used by the VM, but the USB ports are on the host, still. This, however, comes with the drawback that you can not pass through an USB controller, as the groups for those do not work out. The ACS override patch (see arch wiki) might fix this, but unless you need to use audio interfaces, the "normal" USB redirector will suffice anyway.

Rebooting is semi-required. In order to change from VM to Linux and back, you'll need to [un-]bind the nvidia driver and switch to vfio-pci. Going from Linux to VM is only possible when nothing uses the nvidia driver, which either needs a restart of your display server or only using the iGPU for all apps (quite easy on sway/wayland, haven't tried on X). The reverse should work as well - the author of the reddit threads above has scripts to do so, but this did not work out for me. Leaving the vfio-pci driver for the GPU is not an option either, as this will prevent it from going into the low power state and therefore heat up the laptop and use up the battery. Because of this, I usually simply reboot. In summary, if you don't mind rebooting, having the GPU bound to vfio-pci via kernel parameter on a secondary boot option is by far the easier way :) But it should be possible without, it'll just be a bit of work.

To work with CUDA, you'll need to have the nvidia driver loaded, but you'll want to have that anyway to enable low-power states, as mentioned above. Using only the iGPU for display is possible in combination with CUDA, you'll simply need to stop your CUDA-apps before unbinding the driver. That's actually the setup I use, too :)

Hope this helps!

[0] https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/PCI_passthrough_via_OVM...

[1] https://www.reddit.com/r/VFIO/comments/hx5j8q/success_with_l...

[2] https://git.deck.sh/shark/g14gpu

[3] Since the original link is down for me: You need the ACPI table [4] and include it like this in the `<domain>`-part:

  <qemu:commandline>
    <qemu:arg value='-acpitable'/>
    <qemu:arg value='file=/home/cole/vfio/acpitable.bin'/>
  </qemu:commandline>
See: https://git.deck.sh/shark/g14gpu/src/branch/master/win10.xml...

[4] https://git.deck.sh/shark/g14gpu/src/branch/master/acpitable...

[5] https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B086MKR9WH - no affiliation, anything should work


I have the Dell G5 4800H (AMD iGPU+AMD dGPU), there are a couple of graphic driver issues under Linux. I'm using the USB-C connection which is connected to the iGPU.

* Locks up on suspend/resume

* Locks up when inserting an external USB-C monitor

* Requires a recent kernel to work properly (5.8 or later)

* Locks up without amdgpu.runpm=0 kernel command line

* dGPU can't be turned off, so increases power consumption

* Locks up with vsync on with the dGPU

* Kernel warning on startup, but doesn't affect stability

Besides these issues (which can be worked around), it's very solid.


Wow. I've got a Dell Latitude 5505 with a 4700u.

It's worked great so far except for plugging into Dell's USB-c dock in the morning. This is a guessing game of which (of 3) monitors are going to work, often requiring opening/closing the lid a time or two or turning on/off screens.

Battery life is decent (VERY good if you turn down brightness and ssh to your work) and it's blazing fast. It does get egg cooking hot when unplugged and running the GPU (games).

Running Win10 currently, but trying to figure out which Linux is going to run with 3 monitors without doing hours of research. Suggestions welcome. Guess I'll try PopOS next.


I have a Dell monitor which has a built-in USB-C hub. I experience similar issues when plugging in my MacBook Pro - the monitor part works fine, but the keyboard/mouse usually takes a few attempts at plugging in ("docking"). Might not be your laptop so much as Dell's USB-C dock acting up.


I had a G14 that I ended up returning. for points 2 and 3, I had no issues at all in the few months I used it.

A side note: the build quality was extremely disappointing, coming from an XPS 13.


I use it with Fedora happily, and for work I have to use Zoom daily. I did have to replace a fan with one from Aliexpress due to rattle, but haven’t had issues since.


I run Pop!_OS on my T480 and it's amazing - really stable with great battery life. They've struck a nice balance between the stability of Debian and the modern-nature of Ubuntu. The only apps I miss from Windows are Office (mostly Excel) and OneDrive.


Strange. I tried using Pop!_OS on my Acer Aspire E15 and my experience was quite the opposite experience: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=26113962


I have a Lenovo IdeaPad 520 with a Ryzen 5 3500 running Pop_OS. It works great, but battery life hovers around 4 hours (I have no idea how long it is supposed to last under Windows, though).


> I've been using System76's PopOS with my Asus Zephyrus G14 (4800hs) as a daily driver and I really like it. (freelance/web)

Thank you for the pointer. I have the exact same laptop and tried Ubuntu on it - couldn't even change the screen brightness.


You won't be able to change the brightness or use the keyboard shortcuts by default, but it's pretty easy to use mainline to get the latest kernel which will support those features.

This would also work for Ubuntu.

https://github.com/bkw777/mainline


Ubuntu 20.04 lts?


Yes.


It's so unfortunate that it's called Pop! OS. That name is unspeakably awful. It screams "toy not suitable for anything serious."

It wouldn't turn me off from System76 if the hardware were good, but it's just... bad... real bad.


Any more, all I care about is how searchable the name is. That's something to like with Debian and Ubuntu.


Why aren't there any bold laptop manufacturers? This is a 2021 laptop that uses USB-A primarily, a meh panel, and no particular standout design features. Why do I have to get a mac if I want actually good design?

System76 should take a risk and truly make an interesting laptop. leaving the standard, boring design to the big name companies.


System76 is probably one of the least bold laptop manufacturers because they can't afford to be. As other comments have noted, much of their hardware are largely rebadged devices from other manufacturers such as Clevo, because the main selling point of System76 appears to be the software experience and hardware integration.

If you want great design that matches a Mac (overall, better in some areas, worse in others), look at the flagship ThinkPad models, Microsoft Surface devices, etc. There are many laptops that have "standout design features" such as convertible designs, novel display and input options including pen-and-touch, etc. If anything, I think Macs lag behind in these innovations, although they have other benefits.


I bought an innovative new convertible tablet from HP in 2008. I now appreciate Apple's hesitancy to implement innovative designs before they're ready for prime-time. Sometimes, quality of execution is more innovative than the concept.


I still have a vintage 2010 HP TouchSmart tm2 sitting around. It was certainly an early execution of the convertible idea, and I appreciate it for that. Doesn't stop me from also appreciating my modern Surface Book 2 and Dell XPS 13, though.

Anyway, that's basically the creation myth of the iPhone, no? That it supposedly was basically iterated on for quite a few years before the technology got to the point where a high-quality execution was allowed. I also had Windows Mobile smartphones and remember the iPhone releasing. I didn't recognize or appreciate that difference then.


I also had WM phones at the time of the iPhone release. Most WM users at the time, myself included, were power-users who criticized the iPhone for a lack of features and never actually bought one. I couldn't install my network scanning app, connect to exchange, or even copy/paste with the iPhone, so what was the point?

Turns out I was entirely wrong: Apple wasn't positioning this phone for IT/business professionals for corporate use. They were building a consumer product. The feature set they were prioritizing was entirely counter-intuitive from my perspective. The features that I thought were gimmicks at the time ended up being the features that made it successful: natural multi-touch input, a (then) gigantic screen, and a bare-bones UI/UX. It had nothing that I wanted or needed, but it had everything that they needed to open up the market to millions of people who weren't using HTC bricks on their Verizon corporate plan that their IT admin configured for them.

Just search "windows mobile" on YouTube and look back at the awful (but feature filled!) experiences we used to think was awesome. For example: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXDgsZvSTP8


I think the Nokia N95 was the best phone of 2007


hmm - aren't there Eluktronics laptops (https://www.eluktronics.com/laptops/) which also uses some rebraded chasis for newest Ryzen laptops? Even if you are forced to use rebranded chasis - i think there are better options out there. The pangolin model looks pretty meh tbh.


I couldn't find any laptops with the new Ryzen mobile on this website.


I think it's a combination of:

* extremely, extremely thin margins

* in general, users are pretty low-discretion, which makes it hard to meaningfully differentiate your product

* deeply entrenched competition (what % of laptops are sold at best buy/etc?)

* the users who are high-discretion are going to be extremely demanding users. They're going to nitpick over small details in both hardware and software. And they're probably going to be installing their own OS (or at least reinstalling the existing one) and will generally be more demanding of both product design and support. Also, they probably have the tech skills to correctly point the finger at you when it's your fault. Whereas less discerning users might just go "Ugh bill gates!"

Doesn't help that the "linux laptop" niche was probably a big part of this "niche laptop" market segment and Dell and Lenovo are both kinda warming back up to that niche. e.g. the newest XPS's all work great on (latest kernel) linux.


Reminds me of this medium post [1]. Apple might make it look easy but all those little things they do are really difficult and require massive scale to get at a reasonable cost.

[1] https://beneinstein.medium.com/no-you-cant-manufacture-that-...


I don't know what laptops you are looking at ?

The XPS 13 competes directly with the mac in terms of (familiar but) industrial design, standout display and inner design (with the white carbon fiber) and USB-C ports for a lifetime. Stating it first, because its the most obvious competitor.

The Razer, Asus, HP and Surface flagships have clear standout designs and similar features.

The only 2 laptops that are purposely boring are the Thinkpad and System76, because they seem to cater to people who need them as work machines, first and foremost. (LG Gram is not a flagship)


I'm on my 2nd XPS 13. I switched to it and linux after being severely impacted by the butterfly keyboard (i.e. having to fly to a different country to get it repaired, only to have it break again a few months later).

I don't _hate_ the XPS 13, but I wouldn't recommend it and I probably won't be getting a 3rd one (unless they change).

The build quality just isn't there. First of all, the flexible chassis is annoying. If I pick it up on the side with one hand, it's likely to flex enough to trigger a trackpad click. Secondly, while it's pretty quiet, it does get rather hot. Third, the trackpad and mouse aren't Macbook-quality (butterfly keyboard aside). In my first one, the trackpad and battery had to be replaced. The keyboard on my current one (9300) has very mild issues (I think they reduced the travel distance and it, like butterfly, is somewhat susceptible to dust/dirt)

Not sure what I'll replace it with. Will see how the reviews for the Framework laptop are.


They got rid of the butterfly keyboard on the latest Macs, no?


Yes, but I prefer Ubuntu and I'm under the impression that running Linux on Macbook's isn't great ??


I would imagine part of the explanation is that Apple is a trillion dollar company and System76 is a million dollar company.


Microsoft experimented with bold ideas with their surface series. They have fantastic displays (3:2, 4K, multi touch), keyboards, and touchpads. But they have the same issues as Apple’s devices, you cannot open the machine and change components, and the I/O are a bit limited (USB 3, SD, USB-C, propriety port for charging).


System76 doesn't design their own laptop hardware, as far as I know.



And that's the reason.

OEM are very risk averse. They only produce cookie cutter designs because most of their buyers themselves look for most casual buyers.


My xiaomi notebook looks a bit like a mac clone and as 2x USB-C ports and 2x USB-A ports. It is not without its problems, but if you want a reasonably priced laptop that looks like a mac I would say it is a pretty good choice.


I'd have to disagree. I bought the Mibook Pro a few years ago after it seemed to get quite good reviews, but it is an absolutely miserable machine to use

The iGPU has a hard-locked 64MB of RAM allocated to it, which means the Nvidia graphics chip is ALWAYS on, causing it to get maybe 2~ hours of battery life at best

The build quality is miserable, I ended up replacing all of the screws in the machine to make it more properly sturdy (which also fixed the case flex causing the fans to grind to a halt if you nudged the machine too harshly)

Linux support still isn't 100%. The Nvidia blob doesn't support GPU switching for what ever reason and Nouveau just causes kernel oopses

After suffering with it for so many years I finally bought an "MSI Modern 14" Ryzen laptop, which I'm moderately content with. I'll probably send the Mibook off to some people I know that work at Red Hat so they can at least improve its Linux support for those who still have it though


Besides build quality, the problems you have are with Nvidia. What should Red Hat do? Forward your strongly worded email to Nvidia?


I'd be sending it to Nouveau project members. So they can work on ironing out support for its MX150 GPU


> This is a 2021 laptop that uses USB-A primarily

Seems like the reasonable choice, given that host-side USB-C is still dead in the water.


If you want something like a Mac there are plenty of options. Off the top of my head there's Lenovo Yoga, Dell XPS, and Microsoft Surface.


I've grown to love my Dell XPS (with Linux). It definitely has some rough edges. Dell shipped what I consider a faulty machine. The trackpad is wobbly/bouncy. I had a tech come out to replace it, but he ended up having to send it to "the depot" due to a screw being sheared. I hadn't touched the screw. The depot returned it to me with a missing/broken case LED, unplugged speakers and one WiFi antenna that won't seat. Even still, the machine is beautiful. Even the fingerprint reader works in Linux. I use the heck out of it and battery life is quite good. Also, I upgraded my RAM to 32G and my SSD to 512G. This thing also has another M.2 slot just in case I want to put another SSD into it.


What is so bold about the MacBook design in 2021?


Not a "fan" of Macs but a fanless laptop without having to get 5 year old performance in return and the touch bar is still very rare outside Apple devices.


Aren't the current rumors/expectations that they are dropping the touch bar?


Hopefully. The fact it's never migrated to any other project outside the 'Pro' laptops seems to point to an obvious conclusion.


Agreed, although on that front it completely baffles me that they didn't release a Magic Keyboard Pro with TouchID and Touch Bar at most one release cycle after throwing the Touch Bar into laptops.

I find them completely useless and am ready for them to be gone, but it's like they didn't even try.


That it’s exclusively a Pro feature?


Fanless performance is a microchip innovation not a bold laptop design.


Apple can design custom everything and has the economy of scale to justify it. The PC space is also more competitive, Apple managed to associate their brand with luxury and charge a huge premium for their hardware, a laptop with equivalent specs would struggle massively to sell at the same price when you could purchase similarly powerful laptops for half the cost that would run the same software.

At this point Apple can design any gimmicky piece of hardware, stick their logo on it, sell it for three times the price of equivalent third party products and still run out of stock on launch. You can't beat that.


It wasn't always the case. Also, Dell, HP, Lenovo, etc. have more than enough economy of scale.

$1000 for the M1 air is not a huge premium. It's actually very cheap.


> It's actually very cheap.

Which is a huge problem for the competition. I know that I can get just get a cheap Mac and it will still be fast, it will still have a great screen and the build quality will be higher than the majority of PC laptops.

I happen to like macOS, so it's not a huge issue, but if I want to get a laptop for Linux, then I need to go to a store to see the models. Otherwise I can't be sure if I'll like the screen, keyboard or overall look an feel. The minor price difference for an Apple product is acceptable, given that I know what I'll getting a usable laptop regardless of which model I pick.


I don't think $1000 can be called "very cheap" when the median laptop price is around $650, and you can get basic Windows laptops for under $300.


Yet $1000 is cheaper than some phones from the same manufacturer. Which is, of course, an apples and oranges (pardon the pun) comparison. But boggles my mind, nevertheless.


I expected to pay almost double


It's been the case for a while though, and I know for a fact that Dell offers form factors very similar to MacBooks. But even then, the market is a lot more fragmented when Apple offers a full ecosystem of devices.


Just before M1 it was hugely uncompetitive. Higher ended macs throttled thermally so bad that using more than browser with 10 tabs and Jetbrains IDE caused them to grind to a halt.


The Mac markup is not 100%.


For SSD upgrade prices, it is actually more than a 100% markup compared to retail prices for the most premium Samsung PCIe SSDs on the market. Apple's markup is multiple hundreds of percent compared to mid-range PCIe SSDs on the market.

Retail prices already include higher profit margins than bulk order prices would include, which makes this markup even more egregious.

I calculated it the other day, and Apple is charging $0.52/GB for SSDs on their M1 MacBook Air.

Samsung's 980 Pro is under $0.20/GB for the 1TB model on Amazon right now. That is arguably one of the best SSDs on the market right now, and I'm fairly sure Samsung' 980 Pro is actually significantly better than the internal SSD that Apple is using on the M1 MacBook Air.

That means Apple is charging a 160% markup above retail price, minimum.

The Western Digital SN550 1TB PCIe SSD is priced at about $0.10/GB at retail on Amazon, which means Apple is charging over a 400% markup relative to the retail prices of that perfectly good SSD. Most users would not be able to tell the difference between the SN550 and the internal SSDs Apple is currently using.

I recognize that other OEMs can sometimes charge steep upgrade markups too... but Apple's prices for storage are personally annoying to me because the M1 MacBook Air seems reasonably priced until you get into the upgrades. I wanted to get more storage, but I'm not going to pay $0.52/GB for additional storage these days... I just don't find it reasonable.


I’m talking about computers here though, not parts. Spec for spec, is an Apple computer really 2x more expensive?


Certainly. Computers are made of parts. Apple charges egregious prices for upgrades, some companies don’t. System76 is the focus of this whole discussion, and they charge extremely reasonable prices for SSD upgrades... not hundreds of percent markups.

Since we’re on the topic of System76, a fully upgraded Oryx Pro (except leaving the GPU at the base option) costs about half of what a fully upgraded 16” MBP costs (also leaving the GPU at the base option), while offering similar specs — $3158 vs $6000. The System76 chooses to go for a 144Hz panel instead of a HiDPI panel, but different people value different things. The System76 obviously has a better port selection (for most people), while obviously not being as sleek — but it’s not huge either, it’s reasonably thin and light. It’s more durable while not as shiny. It’s easy for people to pull out the “no true Scotsman” defense at this point, but it all depends on what the customer is looking for. It’s Apple’s fault if they don’t offer enough variety to meet the needs of their customers.

I’m sure I could dig into comparative analysis of other OEMs vs Apple and come up with other examples, but this one is easy enough.

Spec for spec, Apple charges much more than twice as much for many important upgrades... so a sufficiently upgraded Apple laptop can be more than twice as much, even if it’s often “only” a 70% markup or something. That doesn’t excuse charging egregious prices for storage. Customers want storage, and Apple withholds it unless customers want to pay a large ransom. They solder the SSDs so that customers cannot upgrade their own computers.

I own an M1 MacBook Air. I’m not some “Apple hater”, but their upgrade pricing is truly appalling, and for all their talk of environmental friendliness, their attempts to thwart aftermarket repair and upgrades significantly hinders the total potential lifetime of their products, which increases their environmental impact relative to what could be.

I bought the 256GB/16GB model, and that 256GB SSD is borderline too small for me to deal with, and I’m not even like an average user that would be attempting to store music and pictures on it. I’m almost exclusively using it for software dev and web browsing. I would swap out the SSD, but... that’s obviously not possible.

If I can’t make the 256GB of storage work long term, I think I would rather sell this thing and buy something else than give Apple $0.52/GB. The M1 is good... but it’s not priceless. My opinions are subject to change, of course.


>Since we’re on the topic of System76, a fully upgraded Oryx Pro (except leaving the GPU at the base option) costs about half of what a fully upgraded 16” MBP costs (also leaving the GPU at the base option), while offering similar specs — $3158 vs $6000.

Not sure where you're getting these numbers. Comparing like for like and maxing out the Oryx, and the Mac's processor, they both have 64GB RAM and a 4TB SSD. The price I'm getting for that Mac config is $4800 vs the $3168 that you mention. $6000 doubles the Mac's storage to an 8TB SSD, which the Oryx does not offer. 6K is indeed a lot, but how many PC laptops even offer an 8TB SSD at any price? I haven't seen many.

But I digress. That's roughly a 50% markup, which is indeed a lot. For the extra $1500 you get a much higher resolution display (2880 x 1800) with good color reproduction, much better build quality, macOS and the Mac software ecosystem, Thunderbolt ports, Mac trackpad and keyboard, etc. Maybe these things are not valuable to you! But it's not like you're not getting anything for that money. The products are not equivalent, even if their specs were the same on paper.

I own System76 products and Apple products, and have owned countless PC laptops in the past. I do the math regularly and know what I'm paying for with Apple stuff, and it's almost never a 70% markup. And Apple stuff has specs you just can't find in other products, like the high-res displays and high number of Thunderbolt ports. Which isn't to say it's perfect! I don't like the Touch Bar and would like an SD card reader and HDMI out. But in general, statements about the price inflation are overblown. It exists but it's not as bad as many people think.


I agree that I made a mistake on the storage capacity comparison, I was walking and looking things up on my phone and got briefly confused.

The rest of your points I’ve already addressed. More thunderbolt ports is actually bad for most users if it comes at the expense of ports they can actually use without a dongle. The build quality is not really any better... I’ve owned both as well, and I’ve also had a work MacBook Pro 15 with the butterfly keyboard. Until recently, Mac keyboards were the worst in the industry, including reliability. Now they’re decent, but nothing to write home about. Definitely not an advantage. Trackpads are what you make of them... Apple certainly makes good ones, but it’s not 2010 anymore. Every mid-to-high end laptop I’ve used in the last 5 years has had a good trackpad, but I still reach for a mouse even on my Macs.

I already addressed the display as well. It’s a trade off. Apple doesn’t offer high refresh rate displays on their laptops, which matter to some people. If they didn’t matter, Apple wouldn’t put them on their iPad Pro.

System76 used to offer 4K displays (optionally matte) on the Oryx Pro, and mine was exceptionally good! And that’s higher resolution than Apple uses, in addition to the wonderful matte effect cutting down on glare. I’m just guessing the massive ongoing part shortage has affected which displays they can actually acquire for the moment.

So yes, I agree you get different things with a Mac, but those things are unlikely to be worth 50% more to most people, with the exception of macOS itself... and that’s only valuable to people who like macOS or are literally required to use macOS.

> in general, statements about the price inflation are overblown. It exists but it's not as bad as many people think.

I started this conversation by pointing out the price inflation I care about the most: storage, and it’s on the order of a 400% markup. It’s extremely awful.

If Apple would be environmentally friendly and allow people to repair and upgrade their computers, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, because I’d have a 1TB SSD in my MacBook Air, and it would have cost me $100. If Apple would charge a healthy 100% profit margin, I would probably have paid them for the SSD... I’m just not willing to go to 400% markup.

Apple has basically always charged egregious upgrade prices, it didn’t start when they started soldering things down, so the small number of people like myself who would actually upgrade components should not be considered a threat to their profit margins... but even if most people did it, Apple should allow it because it’s the right thing to do long term, even if it impacts short term profits. Instead, they seem to be optimizing their products to eek out every last percentage point of profit. Which is understandable... it is a company, but it would be nice if they didn’t. They already have hundreds of billions of dollars of cash.


>If Apple would be environmentally friendly and allow people to repair and upgrade their computers, we wouldn’t even be having this discussion, because I’d have a 1TB SSD in my MacBook Air, and it would have cost me $100.

I mean, yeah. This is the one thing that's basically inarguable. Their computers increasingly do not contain serviceable parts, except for the Mac Pro, which is absurdly expensive. I suspect they just prefer compactness and longer battery life to repairable devices. I have to admit this isn't something I care about very much because I don't upgrade my machines and I use them until they break, which is often around a decade with Macs. Because you have different preferences I can see how you'd find these changes upsetting.


Indeed. Just looking at the M1 Air (which I am quite tempted by).

$999 Starting Price. tempting

+$249 +265Gb SSD (and a 8th GPU core)

+$200 +8Gb RAM (to a reasonable 16Gb)

+$200 +512Gb (to a nice 1Tb)

So that's $649 for a 768Gigs of SSD, 8 Gigs of RAM (and a GPU core). Cost of 1Tb gen-4 and a stick of RAM is about $200


The fact that paying those inflated prices after the initial purchase isn't an option is already enough to turn me away from buying any of them (or even the laptop itself).


I think it's more (and it's not just Apple playing this game) that the entry model/price is horrifically under-powered. It's there to hook you in on the price, and that's it. The rest of the pricing is then designed to pull you along the upgrade ratchet.

i.e. You've paid the absolutely necessary $249 to get the 512Gb... then it's only $200 to get an extra 512Gb. Once you've overcome that first hurdle, the 2nd looks almost good value.


Yeah. I've said it before, if you do a like-for-like comparison (of notebooks, I've found this to be less true on their desktops) then their prices are often in line with other manufacturers. Every time I've bought a MBP (2007, 2009, 2012, 2017) I've done a comparison with non-Apple laptops and found that a spec-for-spec equivalent from most manufacturers is going to be roughly equivalent in price to Apple's (usually a range of about $300-400 on the prices, Apple being near the top but not always the top).

Now, if you spec out their Mac Pro, especially as it gets updated so infrequently, those get very out of line with competitor hardware quickly.


It depends on the products, for some of them I'm fairly sure it's well beyond that (their new headphones come to mind). For their macbooks you're almost certainly right though.


My Huawei Matebook Pro is most of what I wanted in that space. 3000x2000 screen, USB-A on one side and C on the other, all day battery, nvme instead of soldered in SSD.

Still has soldered in RAM, unfortunately.


All day battery is partially thanks to LPDDR that need to be soldered.


They have to take whatever designs are coming out of China and can only make minor adjustments to the specs.

Apple has huge volume, big margins a very tight supply chain and a mountain of cash in tax havens. They have a lot more options.

If a seller like System 76 adds too much margin on their models people will buy a Clevo rebadged by some other seller which is a shame because System76 are adding value with their firmware and OS tweaks.

I am looking forward to the day when a company like System76 can release their own designs but without being in Apples position of fleecing customers for music, video, apps, cloud, mobile, tablets etc in a closed ecosystem it might be a long time coming.


It’s fairly expensive to develop and pay for tooling on an entirely new notebook. It’s relatively inexpensive to start with a whitelabel design from Clevo or Tongfang instead and leverage the existing tooling and validation work.


Thinkpad X and T series laptops are excellent machines. They’re all in the process of getting at least a 2k display, 11th gen intel chips (or amd in the case of T and X13), etc etc


Perhaps you may be interested in https://puri.sm/products/librem-14. Some more info about its innovations: https://puri.sm/posts/librem-14-adding-librem-ec-freed-embed...


I'd love to replace my thinkpad. But I need/want things that seem unavailable.

* trackpoint + buttons (can be without touchpad, disabled anyway) * full keyboard * strong durable * removable battery * 4k screen * ecc 64-128gb * rj45 * lots of ports * hardware switches to disable: networking, camera, mic,..

Thinkpad's are move farther away each year. I hope some company will fill the gap.


I was/am thinkpad user also. I have migrated to desktops. They are cheap enough to have one at the office and one at home.

Sure the above wont work for everybody, but if you are like me, you unpacked the laptop at home and at work each day at exactly the same space, where all the cables and extra monitors were.

I used to use laptop in coffee shops and outdoors, but nowadays between phone, and tablets (wel phone and kindle in my case) I almost never feel the need.

Buy silent box, mobo for overclocking and underclock it for extra silence, and throw the box under the table.

Still have my laptop, but its mostly just "backup" and in case I travel somewhere, but honestly I don't care about it as much


With the quality of networks these days it may pay off to just have a single beefy desktop at work or home and a very simple desktop in the other location that you just use to remote in to the first. Keeps the environment consistent over time and even allows leaving long running computations running and picking them up later. Two remote stations and a headless server in a rack somewhere may even be better. No worries about noise and cooling.


What remoting software do you recommend


Honestly, it depends on what you need, and what your platform is. Windows has its Remote Desktop, which works fine.

I’m on Linux, and use mosh as a more reliable ssh client.


mosh + tmux


Mosh and tmux is classic setup. If you need x11, I have recently found x2go to have the best performance.

I use wireguard to access my home network when I'm visiting my parents.


Exactly what I did. 2 desktops at home and office, sync via dotfiles for OS config, documents via Nextcloud and src via git.

A laptop (xps 13 9360) for traveling or working in remote places.

Even have a yubikey on each desktop and one for travel. All storing the ssh keys.

I don't use the laptop for months, open it and update the packages and dotfiles before going for a travel and that's it. Ready to go.


> sync via dotfiles for OS config, (...) src via git.

This is something other than just having your dot files in git, and system config in git via etc keeper?


i just keep my personal dot files in git, not system config.

Systems are slightly different, at work i have two 27 inch monitors and at home i have one 30 inch, and I do play some paradox games on home computer on ocasion


My main reason to go for a laptop was that I wanted to continue coding where I left off and not have to worry about differing settings and system configuration.

Did you solve those problems? and if so how?


I do all my development in VSCode, and symlink my settings to a git repo. VSCode really let's you customize a lot of stuff, and if you lean into it as your development environment, you get awesome cross platform support.

That same git repo has scripts that apply some of my system configurations, and a readme to walk me through the GUI stuff I have to do.

My first few setups were hard. I had to debug some weird issues on my Linux install. (Not sleeping properly, remapping some keyboard keys).

But now I've got it cased. I setup 3 machines (2 Linux, 1 windows) over the past couple days and all are essentially equal development experience now. Was super fast to setup l. If your going the Linux route, make a repo where you record all the tweaks your making so you can redo them if you need to on a new machine.

It's shitty the first time, but now I know I can buy any new machine and have it ready to rip in mere minutes. With my custom keyboard layout (home, end, pageup, pagedown, alt, cntrl, alt+tab), my custom VSCode hotkeys, my ssh key identity management, my terminal font and themes, my system hotkeys (moving windows around and switching workspaces). Now that I've got all this setup, it feels great. Feels very fluid on all 3 machines.


3 machines Syncthing setup between desktop, laptop and a cloud instance in case laptop wasn't on to sync and the desktop is off for some reason. It takes about 15s from connecting the laptop to the internet to having the files synced to it. Just need to remember to save files in emacs.

Setting up Syncthing in the cloud was a challenge, had to tunnel the web-ui with ssh port forwarding.


I do it with Windows by using remote desktop.

If you don't want to do something like that, with a Microsoft account a lot of settings can be applied to multiple machines.


I use Linux for application development. Python, C++, occasional R and use linux containers as well.


I too went desktop route. Built what I want - including lots of ECC memory. I too have a laptop for backup and travel (and a Chromebook used as RDP client).

Sync isn't an issue. All work is on VMs, and they get backed up every day to my Synology.

My backup laptop is a 6 year old Thinkpad, which hasn't been out of it's bag in over a year.


The downside with this is extra effort to keep them in sync. Depending on what you do, syncing can be easy (or even trivial if you do everything remote anyway) or more annoying.


Just install Syncthing. And if you have an Android, you can even sync photos/notes to and from the device to your computers.


Syncthing has been life changing. Very much "set it and forget it".


cannot say enough good things about unison

https://www.cis.upenn.edu/~bcpierce/unison/


Rsyncing home directory worked for me for 15 years.


Carrying a disk on your commute is easier than carrying a laptop.


>>>*laptop at home and at work each day at exactly __the same space__, where all the cables and extra monitors were.*

Nope. Actually, just like with my phone chargers, I like to have a laptop charger in all the spaces I like to compute.. I like to have a charger in my bedroom, my living room and in the garage.

I used to have this for all my machines - though I now have a new HP Omen (bad ass machine) - but I only have one charger for it currently.

I havent touched my ipad in a really long time.

But here is a tip - this super light and super cheep USB screen is AMAZING to have with a laptop:

(This thing was $69 when I bought it - but its now $99 but still - a USB only monitor is fantastic.

https://www.amazon.com/AOC-e1659Fwu-1366x768-Brightness-3-0-...

What I do, is I make it the top monitor - and I have this TV Tray stand that is at the perfect level for me to have my laptop on my lap, a tray or a TV tray, and then I have the AOC monitor on this stand and I just move up to click on that mon...

And this is dope because during this pandemic, I am trying to take every free training I can get my digital hands around.

https://digitaldefynd.com/free-udemy-courses/

So I have the training vid on the top screen and then I can use whatever program(s) I need on the laptop...

Blender courses are a good example of how this works great. The point is to have the two screens stacked vertically so that you only move your eyes up and down and dont have to turn your neck...


I'm on the same boat as you: my ideal laptop would be an x220/x230 on the outside with a 1440p display and a modern CPU on the inside.

I can't understand why Thinkpads are moving away from this absolutely perfect design in the name of... slickness?

Why are laptops with a minimal (or non-existing) touchpad so difficult to find? Once you start using the trackpoint your wrists feel incredibly relaxed at all times.

Why do so few vendors offer RJ45 ports? When in the lab, I find my self needing one almost daily.

Why this trend of including keyboards with shorter and shorter travel distance?

There was a campaign to bring attention to all these details a few years ago which (surprisingly!) resulted in Lenovo releasing the "Thinkpad 25 anniversary edition" [1] which ticked most (but not all) of my boxes and which is unfortunately no longer available.

Do people really prefer the new design trends? Am I out of touch with reality?

[1] https://www.lenovo.com/us/en/outletus/laptops/thinkpad/think...


The X220 is nowhere near an "absolutely perfect" design, it's way too wide. I still use one as my daily driver, but come on. The screen bezels are huge, the keyboard stretched to fill its wide footprint, and the power plug juts out the back where it gets stressed against the floor in any cross-legged, or other tilted back usage setting.

The X61s was far closer to an absolutely perfect design, it just needed less plastic in the chassis. Things started going downhill with the X201s in the transition to wide aspect ratio displays, and X220/X230 arrived at full retard on that trajectory.


You are completely right. The X61s is a better design (I happen to own one too!), I completely forgot about it as, due to its much slower CPU, I must have put it away somewhere in the attic many years ago :)


...slow and 32 bit. Got one too.


> ...slow and 32 bit. Got one too.

Slow by modern standards, being pre-Nehalem, yes. But not 32-bit, the X61s tops out at a 1.8Ghz c2d L7700, which is 64-bit:

https://ark.intel.com/content/www/us/en/ark/products/32243/i...

  Intel® Turbo Boost Technology: No
  Intel® Hyper-Threading Technology: No
  Intel® Virtualization Technology (VT-x): Yes
  Intel® 64: Yes
  Instruction Set: 64-bit
  Enhanced Intel SpeedStep® Technology: Yes
  Intel® Demand Based Switching: No


I honestly love overhearing you discuss your perfect computers, because it doesn't seem impossible that you might get your wish! One really interesting possibility is to recycle the X61s chassis and use modern PCBs, chips, and peripherals to get you what you want. Another possibility is the creation of a PC ecosystem similar to the "Red Camera System" where yes, your m2 module costs $5k instead of $500, but it it comes in a machined aluminum module that fits perfectly with the rest of your tricked out customized laptop.


Likelihood of people actually using products they buy is overestimated, I think.

Lots of games on Steam has achievements for extremely simple tasks, such as launching the game for the first time or playing it for five minutes, and popularity of those is typically around 82.5% and 75% respectively among audiences for most popular titles.

IOW, 17.5% of PC game enthusiasts pay for a game and immediately put it on a shelf and don’t even double click on the icon. 25% reaches past the loading screen. Of all purchasers, maybe 10% reaches the final boss or end of the storyline. Potentially less.

A person who has issues with a mainstream laptop for its lack of an Ethernet port few years into ownership, who knows how many of those exist in the whole world?


I would like to think that there are *dozens* of us!

At least, many people in HN and most people in /r/thinkpad seem to agree! :)


The X1 nano is the same width and height as a X220 but half the thickness and significantly lighter. The X13 is very close to that too on the lower end. What would you change in those?

Having been a user of the old X lines throughout the years the current X/T and X1 lines seem like a definite improvement to me. And I also use the trackpoint exclusively.


I own both the x230 and the x395 (which is, externally, almost the same as the x13) and I can definitely feel a difference when typing on the much more comfortable x230.

It's mainly due to two factors: 1) thanks to having a very small touchpad, the keyboard is closer to the edge and I feel much less strain on the lower part of the arm, near my wrists, which becomes more apparent after long coding sessions; and 2) the key travel is much longer and typing feels "better" (I make far less mistakes).

Also, because the x395 is almost half the thickness, they could not fit a bigger battery (which is definitely my main complaint on these newer machines).

Don't get me wrong, the "X" series is great and I will probably get the latest version when I need a replacement *but* I'm sad they make these sacrifices in the name of "design".


Have been using an X1 Nano for a few weeks now and so far it's been quite nice. Light as a feather, decent keyboard/trackpoint/trackpad, reasonably battery life, and the 16:10 screen ratio works so much better on this size than 16:9.

Feels quite well built despite the low weight, too. It doesn't sacrifice on solidness to achieve its weight.


The X1 Nano seems like a great buy. I think I will hold out for 9th gen X1 Carbons to drop in price, however, because I want to bump up the RAM to 32gb and keep the laptop for a long time, lessen the chance of my workloads outgrowing the machine. Or I will wait for the T series to get the 11th gen Intel chips and 16:10 screen

Plus the extra battery life in the Carbon. But the X1 Nano beats my 2020 intel macbook air in battery life from the benchmarks I've seen, which could be longer I have not found lacking


Yeah I made the same consideration. Carbon G9 has some distinct advantages but I needed the laptop sooner than later (who knows how long it'll take the G9 to come down to reasonable prices in the current environment) so I went ahead and bought the Nano.


Yeah given a time constraint I would make the same decision easily.


I think there is definitely space to at least offer some SKUs with all that, albeit at a high markup (kinda like the Mac Pro).

However I think that yes, most people (including me) prefer the new to the old. Eg.: I dislike full keyboards because it shifts my hands to a side and moves the mouse further away. I tried track points but I find touchpads superior. I don’t need an RJ45 because even if I wanted to use it, I’d much rather have it on a USB-C dongle with pass through power, so I only have one cable to disconnect when moving around. And call me crazy, even though I use a mechanical external keyboard most of the time, I actually like typing on the butterfly keyboard more than on other laptop keyboards I have and had.


Not a solution that scales, but if you really want a modern CPU variant of the x230, check this: https://www.xyte.ch/shop/x330-pricing-list/

They also have the T25 frankenpad: https://www.xyte.ch/shop/t25-frankenpad-kit/ and https://www.xyte.ch/thinkpads/t25-frankenpad/


Have you looked at the P series laptops?

> Why do so few vendors offer RJ45 ports?

I'm guessing that because laptops are portable machines, almost nobody ever uses the network port and if you need one, you can use an adapter with the USB port.


> Have you looked at the P series laptops?

They come close in number of ports and battery life *but* they still have an excessively big touchpad, don't have a 13 inch version and start at 1.7 kilos (which makes them less than ideal for carrying around).

But I agree they are the very nice machines and we keep a bunch of them in the lab.


It's worse than you think: They are somewhat hamstrung in their hardware decisions by the current offerings from those Apple/Ultrabook chasing OEMs, but in this case they jumped the shark entirely and removed the 2.5" drive caddy.

The nearly identical Clevo NL51RU/NL50RU [1] has a 2.5" drive caddy but a 36 Wh battery. Take a look at the internal photo of the System76 unit at [2]. It's the same laptop. Heck, they didn't even bother removing the boss and brass insert for the 2.5" drive retaining screw by the left speaker.

System76 is not an OEM, they whitelabel and have tweaks made to Clevo/Sager laptops. I think they do a great service to the Linux community with PopOS and driver development/compatibility to make those into machines where Linux "just works" out of the box, don't get me wrong.

This obsession with thin-and-light goes completely counter to the whole point of "Our laptops’ guts are fully accessible!". They say they've got a tactile keyboard, to fit in 20mm thin right on top of the heat sink for the high-power Ryzen processor and discrete graphics I think I'm pretty safe in assuming it's a pathetic <1mm key-travel scissor unit.

1" thick or more is not too much. You could fit in all the ports, as well as an 80 Wh battery, and cooling to run at boost frequencies for more than 20ms. You don't have to match the dimensions of a Macbook Air and be able to slice tomatoes with the wrist rest.

[1]: https://laptopwithlinux.com/wp-content/uploads/Clevo-NL51RU-... from https://laptopwithlinux.com/product/clevo-nl51ru/ [2]: https://assets.system76.com/products/pang10/internal.png


> 1" thick or more is not too much.

I think it depends a lot on an individual's needs. Like in my case, a recent laptop purchasing decision revolved around qualities that make a laptop particularly good at being a laptop — that is, high portability, low/no noise, little/no heat. Power and ports were a cherry on top because I already have another machine that fills those needs.

In that situation, 1" isn't necessarily too thick, but it is negatively impacting its functionality as a laptop, if only because added thickness implies added weight (especially for sizes larger than 13").

With that said, ultraportables shouldn't exist at the cost of models more oriented toward power and flexibility… they should be an option alongside more traditional laptops.


IMO thickness isn't a much problem but weight and footprint is.


I agree with your general sentiment. (He says typing on his Dell XPS 13...) But it also seems to me that ditching a drive bay to get a bigger battery is the definition of a design decision and not in any way jumping the shark.


This may interest you:

https://www.xyte.ch/

I have a thinkpad x2100 and it is a great laptop.


Thank you for this. I look at every System76 announcement dreaming of this screen size, this keyboard, this trackpad.

I am glad I am not the only one.


Thanks for sharing this, it looks outright incredible. I love my x201, but it's starting to feel a little long in the tooth these days... I may end up getting one of these. What's the battery life like?


I can typically get 4-6 hours with an OEM x201 battery? I really don't try to max out the battery though. It really depends on your usecase as well, as I don't do anything too harsh with it.

I have an x200 as well, so if I was really worried I could just carry a spare battery.


I've been looking around for a good linux laptop dev machine and am starting to resolve around the idea of having multiple desktops. It's cheaper with better support for replacing parts as well as linux.

The laptop market churns way too much for my liking and I feel like the second I move away from my macbook pro (work) I'm going to be disappointed with the quality.

When it comes to development, my goal is to be able to ssh into my linux box and use that for most development (tmux + vim). That plus ZeroTier and I now have access to my dev machine from wherever.

Even on large codebases written in Typescript, vim + plugins are "good enough."

macbook pro + live inside an ssh terminal seems to be working well enough for me.


The closest I came was my XPS 15 9560. The build quality and hardware was excellent. i5 + GTX 1050 + 8GB RAM + 256 GB NVME + Thunderbolt. Linux support was phenomenal, especially on a rolling release. After about 18 months of owning it, I upgraded the memory to 16GB and storage to 1 TB without any problems. Unfortunately, I ran into a few issues trying to use it as a work and home machine.

1) Mixed DPI is insanely bad on Linux, and that issue is amplified if you have Nvidia hardware. At least as of last month, Wayland and XWayland are basically unusable with Nvidia. Since the laptop screen is 4k, but I was using a Thunderbolt dock plugged into 2x1080p monitors, I'd have to turn off display scaling on the laptop, and, because I was stuck on X11 because Nvidia, I'd have to restart the laptop for the scaling change to take effect.

2) There was no Thunderbolt dock support for unlocking full disk encryption, so if you wanted FDE, you either had to unplug the laptop from the dock, open it, type the password and plug it back in every time you turn the laptop on, or just not used a Thunderbolt dock. This wouldn't be a big deal except I was restarting the laptop frequently when changing pretty much any display parameter.

3) There was no clear best practice for managing switchable graphics. There are options like Bumblebee that I never really figured out if they were working properly - especially for games. Then, Nvidia supposedly added a "primus-run" feature to the driver, but again, it seemed to just not work. Eventually I settled on "prime-select" but that involves rebooting every time you switch.

4) Selecting the Nvidia graphics disabled on-board audio. I had to either use USB or Bluetooth. I never figured this out despite countless hours of messing around with alsamixer. My best guess is that it was trying to direct everything over the HDMI out even though that wasn't plugged in. The Intel drivers were loaded, just every time I selected the Nvidia chip, the audio devices would disappear.

In the end, I settled on picking up an Acer Aspire refurbished from eBay. It has an i5 10400, 12GB RAM, and a 512GB SSD. I put a 1050 Ti in it without any problems. The total system ran me $500. It's much nicer. So the moral of the story is for me, if you do go Linux laptop, avoid Nvidia like the plague.


>4) Selecting the Nvidia graphics disabled on-board audio. I had to either use USB or Bluetooth. I never figured this out despite countless hours of messing around with alsamixer. My best guess is that it was trying to direct everything over the HDMI out even though that wasn't plugged in. The Intel drivers were loaded, just every time I selected the Nvidia chip, the audio devices would disappear.

Try sudo alsactl restore

I have a Dell G5 with Nvidia RTX and my headphones do not work when I start it

Took me a few months of investigation, but that alsactl command fixes it in 90% of situations


> I put a 1050 Ti in it without any problems.

Possibly a stupid question, but isn't a "1050 Ti" an Nvidia chip? How did this help you with the driver issues?


Unfortunately, I need CUDA for work. However, with a desktop and static resolution (not changing from laptop 4k to dock 1080p all the time) I can comfortably use X11, and without power management issues (no battery on desktop) I don't have to switch between Nvidia and integrated graphics.


I had the same problem. As lenovo seems set on making thinkpads more like macbooks I just embraced it and got the m1 macbook air instead of another thinkpad. It’s amazing, as long as I don’t need to repair it.


I would cry tears of joy to get a laptop with mouse buttons. Trackpad gestures are a gimmick and so much harder to user than buttons. Apple did it to be "bold" and everyone copied them.


Apple has only ever shipped single-button mice with their computers, so turning the whole trackpad into that button on their laptops was a pretty simple evolution. Gestures came much later.


This is one of the reasons I still enjoy using my old XPS. The buttons are great: nice deep solid clicks. Even doing stuff like dragging windows around is so much better than on a touchpad-only design. (I've used Macbooks with the old "hinge" style touchpad, and they're even worse than using a double-tap-and-drag gesture, just because of the force needed to keep the button pressed.)

Given the number of people these days who don't even own a desktop, I don't understand why mouse buttons aren't the standard. With the XPS I can even play casual games while sitting on the couch. No need to move to a desk and dig a corded mouse of the drawer!


I moved from Macbook to a ThinkPad (trackpoint+trackpad+mouse buttons+trackpad buttons).

I never used gestures. But I seriously miss inertia scrolling. You never realize how much a pain in the ass it is scrolling web pages until you don't have it. Firefox has it, but you have to turn on an environment variable to get it and it feels a bit weird to me. Chrome does not have it all on Linux. And the way they are implementing it means that every app has to reimplement inertia scrolling on its own. Sigh. At least you can hold down the middle mouse and use the trackpoint to swiftly scroll.


> But I seriously miss inertia scrolling.

Maybe I'm mistaken, but this is just when you scroll, release your fingers, and it slows to a stop instead of stopping instantly, right? I have that out of the box here on Linux. Firefox + X + touchpad with the synaptics driver.

I had thought this was what "Use smooth scrolling" did it in the Firefox preferences.

Edit: I also just checked and I have this in my terminal (Konsole), text editor (KWrite), and PDF viewer (Okular) so this is at the very least not a Firefox only thing. It feels exactly the same in each application. I bet it's a feature of the touchpad driver.


>Trackpad gestures are a gimmick and so much harder to user than buttons.

They're not a gimmick if well implemented. Useful gestures are very dependant on deep software integration, however.


And is there anything as enduring and resistant as the thinkpads?

I accidentally spilled a glass of water on my old thinkpad w, and all I had to do was to replace the keyboard (happened twice). It also helped that I could find spare part easily online. Would it be possible with lesser-know brands? It also fell several time on the ground but never broke anything. I'm honestly very interested to know if there are laptops as durable as thinkpads.


Sounds like you want something along the line of what Purism is offering. Not sure about ECC ram on a laptop. Haven't seen that one yet.

https://puri.sm/products/librem-14/


The one thing that stops me from getting a Librem 14 is the utterly hateful decision to have a tiny right-shift key to the right of the up arrow. Like seriously wtf Purism?


Oddly enough, I almost never hit the right shift key. I touch type pretty fast, but the left pinky does a lot of work. I suppose it comes from CAD stuff and (let's be honest) WASD gaming where my left hand is on the keyboard and right hand is on the mouse.

But I totally agree: Input and output to the user (keyboard, trackpoint/mouse buttons/touchpad/screen) are of critical importance. I can be really effective on a decade-old Thinkpad (with the IPS display mod!) and woefully out-of-date processor, but if it takes too long to adjust to the keyboard I'll be frustrated every time I have to use it.


Thinkpad P series has ECC


Screen is only 1080p


For sure, this doesn't meet all of the wishlist specs.


I don't understand why many of these workstation-class laptops have num. pads.

It is so annoying to type with your hands off-center from the screen.


I don't understand why many workstation-class laptops DONT have a num pads.

It is so annoying to have to type long sequences of digits without one.


This debate makes me wonder what it'd be like to have a keyboard layout in which the num pad is in the middle of the keyboard, such that on a qwerty keyboard Q-T, A-G, Z-V are on one side and Y-P, H-L, B-M on another, with the numbers in the middle (separated by a buffer space).

I know this sounds crazy, but IME the worst part of keyboard ergonomics on mac laptops is that my hands are much closer together than my shoulders are; widening to shoulder width makes for much more comfortable typing.

I'm sure nobody will crazy enough to build a laptop like this, but it makes me wonder...


Nice idea. Keyboard design is stuck in typewriter era and my shoulders and wrists could use an ergonomics upgrade. There's nice split keyboards, but the price is steep (~300 euros vs my current sub 10 euro keyboard).


I've been typing on a ~60eur let's split for the better part of a year now. Made myself some nice armrests out of scrps of locust. My more expensive keyboards don't hold a candle to it imo


By "scrps of locust" do you mean scraps of Robinia pseudoacacia (black locust) wood?


I agree you probably won't find this in a laptop ever, thanks to the standard keyboard design still being stuck with strange quirks, some of which were already outdated in the era of actual typewriters.

That said if you're a numpad user a keyboard with centered numpad is pretty much the best concept other than the rabbit hole of custom ergonomic keyboard layouts. Either way you can only get into that realm with a lot of money unfortunately.


Go down the rabbit hole! :) You’re one text file away from plopping a numpad anywhere you want on the laptop’s keyboard. Right Alt + K is the center of a numpad on my XPS 13.


Oh don't worry, I'm already neck deep. Anything other than a 40% columnar staggered layout doesn't cut it anymore ;)


Many Korean tripartite (세벌식) keyboard layouts have a virtual numpad accessible with shift. In a particular layout I'm using [1] it is HJKL:YUIOP for 0 through 9, so you can type 3.141592 with shift plus L.J:JYPK. Note that most symbols from the numpad can also be typed with shift, and full stop and comma can be specifically typed with or without shift. To me it is much better than the ordinary numpad (even at the middle) because it only takes two rows instead of three rows.

[1] https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:KB_Sebeolsik_Flnal.svg


As someone with a disability who types with one hand, please for the love of God don't make this the standard


I've considered it!

I use an ErgoDox, and there's just enough space in the middle for a numpad.

But I often stick my phone there, and I just don't think I'd use it very often. Technically I can pop up a layer to turn the right side keys into a numpad (advantage of ortholinear) but I don't quite have the muscle memory to really take advantage of it so that's basically wasted.

I've mulled over having a special lighting routine that lights up only those characters, in distinct colors, that would probably get me close enough. But it's just enough hassle that I never get around to it.


I've been thinking about buying a trackpad and an ergodox and putting the trackpad in the middle. Think it will fit? Think that's a good idea? Where do you put the mouse when using an ergodox?


I have a Moonlander and a Magic Trackpad. I tried putting it in the middle and you can make it fit, but I haven't found it to be very comfortable. My keyboard is slightly tilted, so moving my hand to the middle also necessitates vertical movement, so overall I prefer it off to the right side. For minor movements I just use a mouse mapped to the keyboard and I want to try a trackball on my right as well.


I use a trackball to the right of the righthand side

A trackpad should fit, because you really want the halves parallel to your shoulders or just a bit tighter. Though as I think about the movements and gestures, you might find one of the halves interfering by being where your wrist naturally wants to be.


That does sound neat and would actually be quite withing the realm of possibility for a System76 laptop since their controllers are open-source. If you got like 50 people to chip in, you could probably get the production cost for one unit under 100$, which is still cheaper than most desktop split keyboards on the market.


You could always get this e-ink keyboard that is being crowd-funded the nemeio where you can I guess completely customize the keys https://www.nemeio.com/ - seems interesting and could allow you to easily explore alternative layouts but not sure how good the ergonomics of a keyboard like that would be but it seems interesting to me.


I've been vaguely pining for an Advantage keyboard with a trackpad in the middle. In a typical display of mainstream keyboard makers being completely stuck on the same track, keyboards with an embedded trackpad have it on the right, despite laptops providing a ubiquitous example right in our faces and hands.


Interesting... are there any keyboards with a trackball in a position easily accessible by the right thumb? (I haven't used a trackball myself but I've heard good things...)

EDIT: hadn't seen the sibling commenter mention https://atulloh.github.io/oddball/ which looks interesting, but perhaps too minimal for my taste (eg; where's the space button?)

Ergodox, if you're reading this, an integrated trackpad/trackball solution would be pretty appealing!


Afaik the ‘Ultimate Hacking Keyboard’ does that via its modules: http://xahlee.info/kbd/iergo/UHK_addon_modules_trackball_330...

Turns out it even has a touchpad, though its size is pitiful. Alas the whole keyboard reeks more of ‘mechanical + wacky layout‘ approach, with dubious ergonomics aside from the split halves.

Otherwise, trackballs on keyboards don't seem too rare: image search turns up this Adesso board (https://www.hippo-deals.com/products-images/1500/65915.jpg or better-ish https://www.adesso.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/2017061601...), something named KeyTronic, etc.


This 100%. Or a trackball. Look up the oddball keyboard or the ultimate hacking keyboard with its modules concept.

I've been thinking of getting an ergodox and putting a trackpad in the middle..not sure if the windows Trackpads on Amazon will work on Linux though.


Get an mnt reform and build your own :D Or just invest the few bucks to go for an mvp: split 60% keyboard and a separate numpad simply stuck between the two splits. If you like it, build it properly. :D


I already use a separate keyboard for each hand when I'm at my desk (external magic keyboard for left hand, right hand on laptop, with the unused half of the external keyboard underneath my propped-up laptop). Works great!

I don't usually do a lot of numerical stuff so rarely need the number pad... it'd just be nice to have a wider laptop keyboard when I'm roaming about (though tbf I'm not sure I'd want a laptop that large...)


This is a great idea!

It is also far more ergonomic than the current status quo.


It would be a great step.

Next step would be adding more keys under thumbs: backspace and arrows would be good candidates.


Some laptops have this on the touchpad, with a printed grid of numpad keys there.


Perhaps because you can buy a separate numpad if you want one, and then have the best of both worlds: both a numpad and a centered keyboard?


I don't want to have to assemble my laptop in parts. Why not the webcam and the mouse and the speakers while we're at it.


> Why not the webcam and the mouse and the speakers while we're at it.

Given the reportedly awful quality of webcams and especially speakers on those Clevo laptops, you might be on to something...


Assembly shouldn't be required (could be pre-configured from factory) but I don't see any reason why the top deck of a laptop couldn't be modular so the same model could support a more MacBook-like config with a centered keyboard + trackpad with no numpad and larger speakers OR an off-center keyboard and trackpad with numpad and smaller speakers.

Actually, thinking about it, it strikes me as slightly absurd that this isn't an option on at least a few mainstream laptops.


Great. I need 4 speakers for my quadrophonic music files! ;-)


Perhaps, one can just buy a mouse and have the best of both worlds?


Do numbers constitute even 5% of your keyboard usage time?


Depends on what you're doing: any kind of 3D work requires a numpad to be effective, since that's typically where camera controls are bound in every workflow I've seen.


This only applies to Blender. No other 3D software that I know of requires numpad hotkeys. I've been using Maya/Houdini/zBrush for years, never touched the numpad, that feels too awkward. If numpad keybindings in these apps do exist - I never knew about them, never needed to, never will.

(because left hand is on the keyboard, and right hand is on the mouse or stylus, and putting down the mouse to reach for a numpad is just weird.)

Doing it with the laptop would be even worse, I imagine.


Same goes for Cinema4D, wouldn't know of any numpad shortcuts


I'll say I personally can't use numpads, and they're total wasted space for me, so I try to avoid them on my keyboards and laptops, especially because they put the keyboard off-center on said laptops.

However, I think there are use cases and people who prefer using them. Some software is really geared around the full cluster being there. I've got a full size, numpad-ed keyboard (some old stock DEC thing that went to a mid 90s alphastation I believe, I got it for dirt cheap) attached to my "windows gaming machine", and I use the numpad on a few shortcut-heavy games.

Otherwise, though, I just don't have any muscle memory for it. I have to look and hunt/peck for keys on a numpad. I'm mostly using bash and vim for work, though...


I did work experience for a week for my IT course when I was about 15 in the offices of a petroleum-selling company. I spent a day or two in the accounts department absolutely amazed by the ~50 year old lady who was showing me how she input numeral data into the old green-screen workstation, fingers flying over the numpad inputting quantities and prices. As someone who even then felt I was 'good' with computers, I was stunned and thought I'd never get to that level.

Now I feel crippled whenever I'm on my laptop, which doesn't have a numpad, my own fingers flailing uselessly over numbers that whilst in mind are not available to my right hand.

I should probably get one of those external numpad USB things, but I much prefer a whinge.


To some professions, they do.

This includes a surprising variety, from accountants and POS, to 3D modelling artists...


Outside of typing out emails or schpiels, yes. If I discount Ctrl, Alt & Shift - probably significantly more than 5%.


Excel users yes.


I feel you, but after having chugged around 17 inch laptops for a while, I've come to the conclusion taht if I need a "big screen" I usually can place an external monitor + a ten-key USB thingy in that place and then just have a good 13 inch for other moments.


The NEO2 layout has the numpad on another layer under the right hand, no numpad needed.


> It is so annoying to have to type long sequences of digits without one.

I can't remember when was the last time I had to type more than 8 at any time.


even if I had that use-case, I'd still be annoyed having the typing home position off-center.


go split / layer keyboard, and you will change your mind. I will never go back to a num pad, cause it would mean the loss of layers and a 60% TKL.

Until you experience it, you will not have the experience.

Either UHK v2 or Dygma Raise. Both are great.


I don't understand why most developers that work in a stationary location use underpowered/thermally-constrained laptops rather than a desktop machine.


Because I work in multiple stationary locations. Even during pandemic.

If I really wanted to work on desktop I'd need to buy a car and bother with transporting it few times a week, or I'd need to buy multiple desktops and move only external SSD.

And in that case it would be a luxury, but I'd still want a laptop for occasional work and entertainment from couch.


Or you could have a powerful desktop machine and SSH/RDP into it from a less powerful laptop.


Latency from multiple locations would be a problem, also would need to expose it to the internet, and static IP is a problem. I'm sure there are solutions to this tho, but not worth it IMO.


I was wondering that about myself for a while. Upgraded from a laptop to a desktop and it's awesome. The ease of maintainability (and upgradability) and ergonomics of not having a laptop on the table are awesome. Plus it's much cheaper.


Ever try using Blender without one? You absolutely need the numpad for 3D programs and game engines, otherwise it's outright painful.


You can always add a usb numpad, but you can never remove one that is already there.


True. Why do they sell laptops with screen built in?


They do sell them without built in screens too - Mac Mini for example.


They don't call them laptops though.


A long time ago I used to own a laptop that I bought from a friend after someone stepped on it and broke the screen. I removed the screen and installed some version of Linux on it.

It turned out to be quite fun and useful. Not a very good laptop if you want to use it where you don't have a screen, but it was kind of like a modern TRS-80. You could treat it like a keyboard and not have the laptop screen get in the way of the larger desktop monitor (back then it probably would have been a CRT) I actually wanted to use. In a sense it was actually less awkward than a normal laptop for the way I usually wanted to use it.


Excellent idea! Then you can reposition it so that the useless numpad doesn't force the main keyboard to be off-center. ;-)


Because all laptop users make use of the screen.


A large number of laptop users just use them on the desktop, tethered to a big screen, in clamshell mode. This includes almost every vlogger setup one can find...


Except the primary design goal of a laptop remains portability to some extent. And not having a screen would make it an incomplete device.


I use it like that 80-90% of the time, but the on the rest I just use it purely as laptop on the couch. I like to have both options.


Surely this is just due to a lack of knowledge? If you're never going to use the portability, then you can get a much more powerful desktop than a laptop given the same amount of money.

Having a built in UPS is pretty sweet for some use cases though.


>Surely this is just due to a lack of knowledge? If you're never going to use the portability, then you can get a much more powerful desktop than a laptop given the same amount of money.

They can also just like having the option of portability, and appreciate the less bulk. Plus, they do use it once in a blue moon outside (at a conference, traveling, etc).


That's what my original argument stated,

> Because all laptop users make use of the screen.

If they wanted less bulk, they could buy an Intel Nuc or similar form factor device.

The screen and portability are the compelling feature of the laptop design.


Then they would be better served by a desktop.


Im not a top tier user of blender but I get by via remapping some of the relevant keys. I don't use all the features, but I feel like having no numpad is well supported in blender, and is irrelevant in Unity and Godot. Can't speak to unreal.

Using a mouse is very bad for my shoulders if it's too far away from my center. Numpads are simply not an option for me, unless I had an external one in a special location.

I think the numpad users are outnumbered by the indifferent and numpad haters. I'm in the latter column.


I did think that for the first few weeks of using Blender, but I find I don't use it any more. I think perhaps once I was using Blenders verb / constrain / snap model I stopped using the ortho views. So for example (G)rab / X / (10)units. (S)cale, Y, 1.5. (E)xtrude, Y, Snap.


Six years ago, I searched long and hard for a 15.6in screen laptop with a SSD and no numeric keypad. HP had just come out with the first of their Omen series of gaming laptops.

I've sort of regretted the decision. Not the keypad part, I still hate those, but there are other little aspects to the laptop I still don't like, or didn't work quite right.

I don't know, I guess I shouldn't really complain. For all the expense, the 16G of RAM and SSD are holding up well after this time. The programmable gaming keys didn't work quite right for my purposes (I just wanted dedicated PgUp / PgDown, Home and End, with the shift and Ctrl variants), and the battery life is crap these days (glued in). It still mostly works though.


If you were a blender user, you would understand.


Lots of people don't care.

It can be important to keep the trackpad close to centered on the keyboard for easily use of both, but the screen not aligning by a couple inches is purely aesthetic.


To me a num pad is a waste of space, but my Dell M6800 with a 3rd mouse button on the trackpad - wonderful luxury!


I do dislike them too.

It would be better for that keypad to be on the left side, as it interferes less with mouse use.

But, a friend of mine, was asking specifically to get a laptop with such an extended keyboard.


They're optimizing for the professional accounting Olympics use case.


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