[kde-linux] New laptop suggestions

Duncan 1i5t5.duncan at cox.net
Sat Nov 21 16:01:35 UTC 2009

John Layt posted on Sat, 21 Nov 2009 10:36:24 +0000 as excerpted:

> Graphics: As always the big one.  Intel chips have the best support, but
> with very notable exceptions so check carefully, and is not as fast as
> the others. Nvidia have very good but closed support.  ATI are open but
> still not as good as Nvidia (last I heard, I stand to be corrected).

Be careful with Intel if you're getting the latest and greatest.  
Apparently, the left Intel hand didn't talk to the right, and for Poulsbo 
they went out and bought a graphics solution from a third party, without 
ensuring that they had rights to open source it either with drivers or 
with specs.  So it apparently has only servantware Linux drivers.

But their older stuff should work reasonably well.  Do note, however, 
that the Intel freedomware drivers have been out in the lead, adapting to 
new technology, and while the hard work is all done now, they're still 
pulling the bits together, especially in what's currently released and in 
the distributions.  There's a now a bit dated but still very informative 
blog post where keith packard (IIRC the lead intel freedomware driver dev 
-- paid /by/ intel) describes all the choices, no-dri, dri1, dri2, kms, 
no-kms (kernel mode setting), xaa, exa, uxa, some-other-variable, 2-3 
choices each for IIRC four different variables, that's a LOT of 
permutations, and at this point some hardware works better with some 
permutations, some with others, some with older drivers some with newer, 
such that (other than poulsbo) it's normally possible to get a well 
working setup, but it might take some trial and error, and the skills and 
possibly distribution resources to install and configure the different 
combinations until something works well.  Hopefully, that will be solved 
by this spring's distribution rollouts and everything intel (save for 
poulsbo) should "just work" once again, but meanwhile...

amd/ati/radeon freedomware drivers are reasonably good (tho lack 3D in 
some cases) with the current drivers, but they're about 20-40% on the 
journey that intel is just finishing (95%+).  So there's potential for 
some instability there.  However, being the second ones thru has its 
advantages as many of the traps that beset the first one thru can now be 
avoided.  They also seem to be taking a slightly more conservative 
approach to breaking stuff in the process, so it's likely to be far less 
bumpy a ride than it has been for intel users.

nvidia's still proprietary-only, unless you want the 2d-only nv 
freedomware drivers, or the newer but less stable reverse engineered 
nuevoe (sp?) drivers.

The simplest routes, then, are either buying something with a good rep 
and Linux pre-installed (or at least RH or whatever certified), or buying 
a model that you know works.

> One last point, ASUS and Toshiba have the highest quality and lowest
> return ratings in the industry, HP has the lowest, make of that what you
> will.

I've been quite happy with my Acer Aspire One, FWIW ordered from Canada 
since no one in the US seemed to be shipping the "L" suffixed Linux 
versions, only the X suffixed eXPrivacy versions, but that's going to be 
too low-end for many.  I got a AOA150, first gen but with the 120 gig 
true SATA connected drive, not the semi-proprietary zif-ribbon IDE 
connected 8 gig SSD.  They have a bit bigger/better now.  There's a 
couple user sites devoted to them, the first of which follows the PR side 
a bit more, including new models in the series, the second, no longer 
updated but still quite useful, the technical side a bit more:



Duncan - List replies preferred.   No HTML msgs.
"Every nonfree program has a lord, a master --
and if you use the program, he is your master."  Richard Stallman

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