Return to Level1Techs.com

Linux for laptop

Hello,
I recently bought cheap laptop without OS and were thinking about buying Win 10 license or try Linux on it. I do not game on laptop and do not use specific Windows-only applications, so my only requirements for distro and DE is:

  1. Browser with hardware acceleration for video (vaapi) and sync. It can be Firefox or Chromium based
  2. Support for gpu “hybrid mode”
  3. Icon in “tray” for nextcloud client

Full spec of laptop:
Intel Core i5 8265U
8Gb DDR4
128GB SSD
nVidia GeForce MX230

I read some about Ubuntu and Ubunt based Pop_OS but my only concern is web-browser with vaapi, they tried to implement it with snap but dropped it? Also i read about chromium-dev from saiarcot895 but sync does work in it. Maybe i need to google more, before asking but i am looking forward to your experience :slight_smile:

1 Like

This doesnt really work. You can get manual switching to work but its not going to work as it does on windows.

1 Like

The best distros for this would be Ubuntu or pop, but like Adubs said, you’re going to have a bad time if you want the MX230 to work like it would on windows.

1 Like

I hate to suggest this but his best source of documentation maybe arch Linux if he’s insistent on it. Ubuntu documentation ain’t the best lately but everything should work out of the box on both in theory.

It’s Pascal so driver’s from 396 up should be good :thinking:don’t quote me

Distro agnostic

Distro agnostic

An utter pita. But what you can try is run everything in Intel model. However to run something with the Nvidia GPU you’ll have to prime switch and reboot which sucks

You can try bumblebee but that project has stopped working after Maxwell :confused: from what I have found. Unfortunately there’s no good solution to making it work like Windows and you might as well accept poor battery life. Run in Intel for good bat life then in the rare occasion you need a GPU switch to Nvidia while on wall power. It’s how I got through school

As for popOS. It’s a great OS and really takes scripts to a GUI level and makes stuff easy but the scripts build on the same flawed logic below that requires a reboot or login log off to do. Which is ultra inconvenient because it interrupts the workflow.

All I’m saying is be aware of what your getting into

1 Like

I would stick with Windows on laptops. Reasoning being Linux is usually not good on battery, thermals and flaky device support (WiFi, Bluetooth, GPUs, etc.). This is, of course, anecdotal evidence, but I heard the same sentiment from people I know.

1 Like

I dont have any evidence but I found that, at least on the intel side, its not really much different on battery or thermals given some tuning. intel-undervolt and cpufreq configs made it feel on par with windows. again, no proof.

Wifi/Bluetooth havent been a problem for me since like 2012 but maybe I’m just lucky.

I suppose it got better, I mostly stick to Windows on laptops. My Linux experience is mostly limited to SSHing into a server at work these days. Haven’t tried running it as a desktop for a bit now.

Basically same here. Linux works best for me when it doesnt have a DE.

Windows in the streets, linux in the sheets.

1 Like

I get 20-22 hours on Linux, 14 hours on Windows.

Does PRIME offloading (DRI_PRIME=1) require a reboot for NVIDIA GPUs? I use an HP AMD laptop, so I don’t have NVIDIA PRIME experience, but it still seems very odd.

Wait, does Windows not handle it like Linux, except that you use a Settings item instead of a environmental parameter?

In my experience, battery life, whether Windows or Linux, is sub-optimal on average. I mean, we’re not all lucky enough to own LG Grams. Other than that, there are no issues with any of the other points of contention which you brought up in my personal experience (four laptops from different time periods and different manufacturers, except that my laptop can’t handle IOMMU because of some dual AMD GPU issue when it comes to that, which requires the iommu=soft boot parameter to be set, but that was found within fifteen minutes of searching online).

Truly a shame…

Um… I believe that there is a VAAPI patch for Chromium, but I’m not sure if any distribution actually uses it. There is an AUR package for it if my memory serves, but you’re not looking for Arch, now are you?

1 Like

did you do undervolting and temp/freq tuning?

Yes because it requires different drivers loaded into the kernel. It’s always been this way with Optimus and it’s hella annoying especially on my gtx970m combo with the core i7 6700hq

Yes again Windows is programmed to know where the switch is in the uefi for the change over. Linux doesn’t have the luxury and must do everything via the kernel so even if you turn off the Nvidia driver and use the Intel driver in prime hand offs you still have a Nvidia GPU in idle mode it’s never powered off

Other than this Linux is usually better about battery especially if you undervolt and do a variety of tweaks with tlp and optimize with powertop

Is nobody working on that UEFI switch support for the Linux kernel, or…?
Also, can’t you just have both drivers loaded at the same time?

Yes but then it turns on both and there goes your power savings period. It knocks it out completely.

Linux sucks with this period there is no making it good. That would require manufacturers to care in their EFI programming and also release this ability to kernel devs so right now all they have is nvidias not so nice support lol on making prime work well enough to be half decent.

Read more here

Arch Linux › wiki › index.php › H…
Hybrid graphics - ArchWiki

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Hybrid_graphics&ved=2ahUKEwjHwczS2p_mAhUJGDQIHYAEBQoQFjACegQIARAB&usg=AOvVaw1b7QedhjUDfuVi98nBJVjb

Microsoft › docs › … › Display
Web results
Hybrid system DDI - Windows drivers | Microsoft Docs

https://www.google.com/url?sa=t&source=web&rct=j&url=https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/windows-hardware/drivers/display/hybrid-system-ddi&ved=2ahUKEwjHwczS2p_mAhUJGDQIHYAEBQoQFjAAegQIBRAC&usg=AOvVaw37kWuegFFjcqdetL0nXf4w

Well, maybe things will get good enough on the Nouveau side in the future as more and more documentation gets released by NVIDIA. Still, that does not address the UEFI switch. Kind of reminds me of this: https://gitlab.freedesktop.org/libinput/libinput/issues/361#note_294871

I’ll take a look at those another day, as it is quite late and I have to go to school early in the morning (https://duckduckgo.com/?q=current+time+sarajevo&t=ffab&atb=v158-1&ia=time). Thanks for the reading material though, especially the Microsoft one!

1 Like

No probs yeah I wish it was better too but alot of it is to do with having proper support on the Nvidia end and EFI creators end than it is on the Linux kernel. So long as those reference libraries can’t be integrated to a Linux kernel because it’s propietary and so long as Nvidia allows freedom of different implementations which doesn’t allow them to easily make a proprietary driver for Linux that supports all setup, It’s going to be terrible.

As @Adubs said to me once. You simply won’t get good battery with hybrid graphics suck it up and choose a card to mainline

Trust me him and I have tried alot

1 Like

And to that I say “Battery life, on average, is terrible anyway. Just use a charger whenever possible and suck it up.”

1 Like

Right I use battery to hop from place to place and not loose work. Not sustained work haha plug me in

1 Like

Thats it, im selling my laptop and buying one thats all battery with thunderbolt support.

3 Likes

LG Gram.

1 Like