And it just works...

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And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:04 pm

So I got a new laptop when I changed jobs. It's a Dell Vostro, forget the exact model number, but it's a pretty nice system except for the lousy screen resolution (that's a different rant). At my new company, we have no IT department. We are a bunch of engineers and techies and pretty much are expected to maintain our own systems as we see fit.

The system came with Windows 7 on it which, other than having to relearn where all the useful things are, has been fine. However I support custom Linux systems and run Linux as my desktop at home for a number or reasons. So, I decided to try an put Linux on my laptop and see how far I got.

It.... just worked. I was actually quite impressed. I put Kubuntu 12..04 on it, and out of the box, everything worked. Wireless, sound, sleep. I had to add APM stuff to get better fan control and power utilization. I installed wicd instead of the default KDE network manage, not because the former didn't work, but because the latter automatically shuts down the wireless connection when I plug in the wired. KDE even detects when I plug in a second monitor and does the right thing. The first time it asks what I want to do with it, then it just does it. So far I have had to fire up a shell and editor for one thing: to enable hibernate. There is a long discussion thread about it being disabled by default and why and whether it should be, but I re-enabled it, and it works great too.

I'm still working through how I want to set up my interaction with the network at the office and at home. I'm used to running with NFS home directories, NIS, etc. This doesn't get along well with a mobile system switching back and forth from wired and wireless, going to sleep, etc, but this isn't a Linux issue per-se. Not sure what I'm going to settle one.

All in all, this has been a much easier experience than expected.

--SS
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Aug 30, 2012 10:20 pm

I usually mess around with Solaris, but recently gave Mint (KDE) a try and also came away more than a little impressed about the out of box support. The repository ended up holding a number of other goodies including an iPhone Ethernet driver so I could tether.

It's good to see the platform mature like this. It needs to continue to improve like this. Cause it's all fun and games until someone has to use modprobe.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Aug 30, 2012 11:39 pm

Yeah, of course it just works lol :). I've been installing Ubuntu on random spare systems for basic use since Fiesty Fawn and was very impressed with the "Out of Box" experience. Even the installer was a joke to use, so much to the point that when I'm asked if Ubuntu would be difficult to install I respond with "I'd trust my Grandmother to install it on a system."

But you do have to ask yourself, how many of those devices are working using a "generic" driver, similar to a Windows WDDM? The last I checked, the video drivers display the actual version number which can be compared to the most current on the manufacturers website really easy. But the other small devices like Wifi, Bluetooth, ect may be using a "non-optimized" version installed from the repository.

Either way, the fact that it works out of box most of the time (for me anyhow and you this time around) is great!
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Fri Aug 31, 2012 12:30 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:So I got a new laptop when I changed jobs. It's a Dell Vostro, forget the exact model number, but it's a pretty nice system except for the lousy screen resolution (that's a different rant). At my new company, we have no IT department. We are a bunch of engineers and techies and pretty much are expected to maintain our own systems as we see fit.[...]

All in all, this has been a much easier experience than expected.

--SS



You have no idea how happy i'd be if it was the same at the company i work for......
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:39 am

If the experience was too easy and you feel cheated, then you can always try to install Arch or Gentoo :P

P.S. --> I run Arch and I do like it a lot, but it can be a real PITA sometimes.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Fri Aug 31, 2012 6:59 am

I've been very happy with Dell's linux driver support. In my little group of friends here at school, there's a pair of Studio 15s and a Latitude E 6410 and they've all been perfectly cooperative.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Fri Aug 31, 2012 7:15 am

Welch wrote:Yeah, of course it just works lol :). I've been installing Ubuntu on random spare systems for basic use since Fiesty Fawn and was very impressed with the "Out of Box" experience. Even the installer was a joke to use, so much to the point that when I'm asked if Ubuntu would be difficult to install I respond with "I'd trust my Grandmother to install it on a system."

But you do have to ask yourself, how many of those devices are working using a "generic" driver, similar to a Windows WDDM? The last I checked, the video drivers display the actual version number which can be compared to the most current on the manufacturers website really easy. But the other small devices like Wifi, Bluetooth, ect may be using a "non-optimized" version installed from the repository.

Either way, the fact that it works out of box most of the time (for me anyhow and you this time around) is great!


The video drivers are using the AMD/ATI binary blob, though I haven't checked to see how current they are. The wifi is also likely using a binary blob firmware which does most of the heavy lifting. Honestly, and especially for a work laptop, I'd rather run slightly less optimized drivers and have the stupid thing just work without me futzing with it. My desire to hack at the OS on any of my computers is pretty low...

The one thing I haven't really tested is the runtime on battery. Of course I haven't really tested it in Windows either. The battery monitor claims about five hours on a fully charged battery, but I doubt that is particularly accurate.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Fri Aug 31, 2012 8:56 am

Ryu Connor wrote:... Cause it's all fun and games until someone has to use modprobe.

This made me LOL!

Welch wrote:But you do have to ask yourself, how many of those devices are working using a "generic" driver, similar to a Windows WDDM? The last I checked, the video drivers display the actual version number which can be compared to the most current on the manufacturers website really easy. But the other small devices like Wifi, Bluetooth, ect may be using a "non-optimized" version installed from the repository.

Other than video, my experience has been if the repository has a driver AT ALL, it is usually pretty reasonable. The only exception to this in recent memory was the audio codec on the Asus M5A97-EVO I currently use at work; and that was because I migrated an existing installation of an older distro (10.04) to a relatively new motherboard.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:28 pm

Yeah, migrations never work very smoothly when talking about drivers :P. Did it just not work on the new board or did you have to manually reinstall the proper ones?
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Sep 06, 2012 3:46 pm

Repo didn't have a driver that would recognize the onboard codec as anything other than generic AC97. Had to download a source tarball from Realtek's site and build it. Need to rebuild it again every time there's a kernel update. At least it's a reasonably straightforward process.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:16 pm

just brew it! wrote:
Ryu Connor wrote:... Cause it's all fun and games until someone has to use modprobe.

This made me LOL!

LOL, me too. I still remember all the PITA to get USB working on an old Mandrake. Both Nvidia and USB drivers required kernel recompile IIRC.

But nowadays, yeah. For the last two years all Linux distributions I tried, worked out of the box. Zero problems.

SecretSquirrel wrote:So far I have had to fire up a shell and editor for one thing: to enable hibernate.

There was a thread about Mint recently, and I wanted to remember one handy terminal command, so I opened the terminal on my Mint installation, which was used heavily for over a month. Pressed "up", and ... nothing ... Then I realized I never actually used the terminal on this PC.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:26 pm

Madman wrote:But nowadays, yeah. For the last two years all Linux distributions I tried, worked out of the box. Zero problems.

Same here. I've even had my mom using Ubuntu.

She's actually dual booting now because she needed MS Office and wanted Netflix. When I head to her house, I usually see in Ubuntu though.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:35 pm

BobbinThreadbare wrote:
Madman wrote:But nowadays, yeah. For the last two years all Linux distributions I tried, worked out of the box. Zero problems.

Same here. I've even had my mom using Ubuntu.

She's actually dual booting now because she needed MS Office and wanted Netflix. When I head to her house, I usually see in Ubuntu though.

Has she tried Libre Office? It's usually sufficient.

Also, you could try to install Wine on her PC. Although it has it's problems, it works a lot better than I expected. Popular applications should be supported quite well.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Thu Sep 06, 2012 4:58 pm

Madman wrote:
BobbinThreadbare wrote:
Madman wrote:But nowadays, yeah. For the last two years all Linux distributions I tried, worked out of the box. Zero problems.

Same here. I've even had my mom using Ubuntu.

She's actually dual booting now because she needed MS Office and wanted Netflix. When I head to her house, I usually see in Ubuntu though.

Has she tried Libre Office? It's usually sufficient.

Also, you could try to install Wine on her PC. Although it has it's problems, it works a lot better than I expected. Popular applications should be supported quite well.

She was using Libre Office, but there came a point where she *needed* MS Office.

I know about Wine, but in this case it was actually easier to have her dual boot than worry about Wine.
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Re: And it just works...

Postposted on Wed Oct 03, 2012 5:17 am

SecretSquirrel wrote:
The video drivers are using the AMD/ATI binary blob, though I haven't checked to see how current they are. The wifi is also likely using a binary blob firmware which does most of the heavy lifting. Honestly, and especially for a work laptop, I'd rather run slightly less optimized drivers and have the stupid thing just work without me futzing with it. My desire to hack at the OS on any of my computers is pretty low...


I recently installed XUbuntu 12.04 LTS on an ASUS E45M1-M PRO AMD E-450 board, intending to use it as my HTPC. I found a HOWTO detaling what to do to get XBMC to use the built-in UVD engine, which entailed downloading the newest released catalyst binary blob and installing it, which basically creates a .deb tailored for you system which you can then install with dpkg.

I came away mighty impressed with how easy it was to keep the catalyst binary blob up to date. Of course, upgrading down the line might not be so pleasant, but for a HTPC with an LTS version of Ubuntu, I figured that this would not need to happen very often.

It boiled down to this:

Code: Select all
# This is the Catalyst 12.8 AMD binary fglrx driver for 64-bit Ubuntu/Debian installs
# prepare a folder for it
cd ~/; mkdir catalyst12.8; cd catalyst12.8/
# download it
wget http://www2.ati.com/drivers/linux/amd-driver-installer-12-8-x86.x86_64.zip
# unpack it
unzip amd-driver-installer-12-8-x86.x86_64.zip
# set the eXecutable bit
chmod +x amd-driver-installer-8.982-x86.x86_64.run
# this creates the installable .deb
sudo sh ./amd-driver-installer-8.982-x86.x86_64.run --buildpkg
# ... and install it. Simples.
sudo dpkg -i fgl*.deb


In case you are wondering, I chose to install XBMC on top of XUbuntu because it gives me a nice, lightweight fallback GUI environment with a good file manager and a nice terminal if something goes wrong in XBMC, plus it takes care of initializing the network and managing some other low-level OS permission releated stuff without me having to fiddle with it.

My previous XBMC setup was Arch based and it was just too much hassle for me. YMMV, of course.
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