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Some Machines Are Just Better With Linux


raymac46
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As a long time Linux user, I come from an era where everything was designed for Windows, and Linux was an afterthought. Some machines were fine with Linux; others ran badly or not at all. How things have changed!

A good example is my Lenovo Flex2-15D laptop. It's about 6 years old now. I got it when my Dell Inspiron notebook failed at the end of 2014.

It's pretty much an all AMD machine. Its quad core CPU is from AMD's Beema line - a low power APU that came out before AMD launched Ryzen. It's a bit more advanced than the Bulldozer line of chips but nothing special. It had a slow 5400 RPM harddrive and an Atheros based wifi chip. Originally it ran Windows 8.1 but I upgraded to Windows 10. What I really like about it is solid construction - great display hinges, nice keyboard.

Earlier this year I got a new Ryzen notebook and switched the Flex2 to my basement workroom. This gave me the opportunity to blow off Windows. This machine never ran that great with Windows 10 - especially the wifi which crashed every 20 minutes, necessitating a reboot.

Later I disassembled the laptop and put in a new Western Digital Blue SSD.

Now it's like having a new machine. The SSD is incredibly fast. The Atheros wifi was made for Linux - no failure at all with the baked in ath9k kernel module. AMD graphics are great as well - all FOSS , all the time. Even a heavy distro like Linux Mint Cinnamon only takes up 1/3 the memory footprint of Windows 10.

Hard to believe that you can get something that's this much better with Linux - specially a laptop - but there you go.

Edited by raymac46
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I've been a devoted Linux user for 20 yrs and have a high disregard for both Apple and MS.  But the lack of a decent Android emulator for Linux is making it more and more difficult to stick with it.  I'm down to one of my three desktops running Debian Mint.  I said many years ago that one of the reasons Apple lost out to MS with home users was that people wanted to use the same apps at home that they used at work and that meant IBM compatible.  Now people, including me, want to run the same apps at home as they do on their smart phones and tablets.  When cheap Chromebooks can run Linux and Android, why can't mainstream Linux run Android?

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2 hours ago, Bookmem said:

I've been a devoted Linux user for 20 yrs and have a high disregard for both Apple and MS.  But the lack of a decent Android emulator for Linux is making it more and more difficult to stick with it.  I'm down to one of my three desktops running Debian Mint.  I said many years ago that one of the reasons Apple lost out to MS with home users was that people wanted to use the same apps at home that they used at work and that meant IBM compatible.  Now people, including me, want to run the same apps at home as they do on their smart phones and tablets.  When cheap Chromebooks can run Linux and Android, why can't mainstream Linux run Android?

 

You have probably heard of all of these,

 

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/emulate-android-apps-linux/

 

https://anbox.io/#collapse8

 

https://www.makeuseof.com/tag/android-pc-phoenix-os/

 

https://www.fosshub.com/Remix-OS.html

 

😎

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4 minutes ago, abarbarian said:

Both Phoenix and Remix are just x86 versions of Android that would have to be run as dual boot or from VM or Vbox.  And both are slow as molasses run as virtual sessions.  And Anbox is a total joke.  Memu run from Windows, OTOH, works fine.  Particularly when run with a touch screen device like my Surface Pro 4.  But most Android apps will work OK even with a mouse.

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Personally I have no use whatsoever for smartphone apps or for that matter Windows apps on a desktop, so Android compatible Linux is of zero interest to me at least. I'm happy to run a real browser and office programs with keyboard and mouse as I have for three decades.

Edited by raymac46
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Maybe it's just me, but I cannot say that Linux has run better than Windows on a lot of machines I have worked on. Back when I got started, you were in a good place if you had a vintage Dell desktop with Intel technology and Nvidia graphics, but things got bad if you had VIA/S3 graphics or for that matter early ATI stuff. I also had a  Dell Mini 12 netbook that ran horribly on Linux - and it came with its own kluged Linux version. I don't think AMD/ATI got its act together until the mid 2010s.

When it came to wifi I had trouble with Broadcom and ralink adapters. All that stuff is in the past now, and just about any x86 PC will run great with Linux.

Edited by raymac46
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securitybreach
4 minutes ago, raymac46 said:

Maybe it's just me, but I cannot say that Linux has run better than Windows on a lot of machines I have worked on. Back when I got started, you were in a good place if you had a vintage Dell desktop with Intel technology and Nvidia graphics, but things got bad if you had VIA/S3 graphics or for that matter early ATI stuff. I also had a  Dell Mini 12 netbook that ran horribly on Linux - and it came with its own kluged Linux version. I don't think AMD/ATI got its act together until the mid 2010s.

When it came to wifi I had trouble with Broadcom and ralink adapters. All that stuff is in the past now, and just about any x86 PC will run great with Linux.

 

Yeah at one time, there were certain chipsets that you stayed away from. You could get them to usually work but most required an extra application or a manual load of the modules.  There were a couple of tools back then to get Broadcom drivers working (usually) but I do not remember the names of them.

 

Luckily, that is mostly a thing of the past as the kernel is massive now and has modules for most every piece of hardware out there (besides proprietary ones like Nvidia).

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I had good luck when I started with SuSE on a Dell Optiplex back in 2003. After that Dell, my machines were all in the Lenovo family and I never found any serious issues--only a couple of minor ones solved with help from folks here.

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10 hours ago, raymac46 said:

Maybe it's just me, but I cannot say that Linux has run better than Windows on a lot of machines I have worked on. Back when I got started, you were in a good place if you had a vintage Dell desktop with Intel technology and Nvidia graphics, but things got bad if you had VIA/S3 graphics or for that matter early ATI stuff. I also had a  Dell Mini 12 netbook that ran horribly on Linux - and it came with its own kluged Linux version. I don't think AMD/ATI got its act together until the mid 2010s.

When it came to wifi I had trouble with Broadcom and ralink adapters. All that stuff is in the past now, and just about any x86 PC will run great with Linux.

There was an app called NDISwrapper, as I recall, that allowed you to use the Windows drivers for wifi adapters that didn't  have Linux kernel support.  I used Skype before MS bought it and that often had problems with pulse audio.

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securitybreach
20 minutes ago, Bookmem said:

There was an app called NDISwrapper, as I recall, that allowed you to use the Windows drivers for wifi adapters that didn't  have Linux kernel support.  I used Skype before MS bought it and that often had problems with pulse audio.

 

 

Yup, that was it. I want to say that there was another called bc-cutter or something like that.

 

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16 minutes ago, securitybreach said:

 

 

Yup, that was it. I want to say that there was another called bc-cutter or something like that.

 

 

b43-fwcutter - "utility for extracting Broadcom 43xx firmware". It's still around and still the easiest way to install that Broadcom fw AFAIK.

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securitybreach
2 minutes ago, sunrat said:

 

b43-fwcutter - "utility for extracting Broadcom 43xx firmware". It's still around and still the easiest way to install that Broadcom fw AFAIK.

 

Nice, memory or you had to deal with it a lot. I think I only ever had one machine with a broadcom device.

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14 minutes ago, securitybreach said:

 

Nice, memory or you had to deal with it a lot. I think I only ever had one machine with a broadcom device.

 

It comes up in Debian User Forums a bit. I've never had a Broadcom device thankfully.

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If you had old Dell laptops you got to deal with Broadcom a lot. I never used NDISWrapper but I used bc43-fwcutter plenty to get Broadcom drivers working. If you had a desktop and needed wifi, you could usually find an Atheros card that would work out of the box. Today it seems you need some sort of firmware for just about every wifi solution but it's out there. Not many wifi cards are totally DOA with Linux.

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Well, it's not that big a deal any more. If an onboard wifi adapter fails, i always have a couple of USB based ones I can use. One of them is Atheros and the other is Realtek. They both work fine with Linux.

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securitybreach
32 minutes ago, raymac46 said:

Well, it's not that big a deal any more. If an onboard wifi adapter fails, i always have a couple of USB based ones I can use. One of them is Atheros and the other is Realtek. They both work fine with Linux.

 

Yeah, I also have a couple of usb Atheros (ones that can do monitoring mode) as well.

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2 hours ago, raymac46 said:

Well, it's not that big a deal any more. If an onboard wifi adapter fails, i always have a couple of USB based ones I can use. One of them is Atheros and the other is Realtek. They both work fine with Linux.

Today, you are more likely to have wifi fail with Win 10 than you are with Linux.  Win 10 doesn't like some older wifi.

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I have an older laptop that has an Atheros 956x chipset. It works fine with Linux but often creashed when I was running Windows 10 on the laptop.

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Supporting Linux should not be a big stretch for Lenovo. Older Thinkpads have always been a go-to choice for installing Linux. My T430 has an "Intel Centrino" platform with wireless, chipset, processor. I did need some non-free firmware for the wireless but everything else works great. I was careful to avoid the Optimus dual graphics, so I just have the Ivy Bridge internal one.

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