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Linux/HPEnvy/Ryzen5 - formerly AMD vs nVidia... again

Discussion in 'General Linux Discussion' started by Kaitain, Jan 26, 2018.

  1. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    Having realised that even my "new" laptop is old enough to start school, I've started looking for a replacement. Given that, in the UK at least, there's barely any difference in price between intel/nvidia combinations and AMD A12 or Ryzen combinations (not latest generation) cost isn't a factor.

    If I go intel/nvidia... well, I'm familiar with the combination and can pretty much guarantee the performance, but since nvidia are rather unhelpful, my likelihood of being able to use the nouveau driver over proprietary blob are slim-to-none. If I go A12 or Ryzen, I have a rather smaller range to choose from, but can get full performance without 3rd party drivers.

    I'm pretty sure I'll be happy either way. I'll be using Gentoo/OpenRC, and yes I do know how to get steam working ;)

    So... the old question once again... nV or AMD?
  2. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    Of course, last time I bought a laptop, there was no argument...
  3. Gizmo

    Gizmo Chief Site Administrator Staff Member

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    I've always gone with nVidia on Linux. AMD's drivers are MUCH better than they used to be, but they still suck balls, apparently, compared to nVidia. The last Phoronix review I saw showed that the AMD drivers will still about 1/2 the performance on Linux as on Windows.
  4. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    I know, nVidia has always been my go-to, due to bad drivers etc. but I don't think that's as true as it was... for example here saw nvidia/proprietary pitted against amd/opensource with very mixed results... ignoring that the GTX1080 is nothing less than a very fast card.

    Unfortunately, at my price point (sub-£1k), it looks like I'm in GTX1050 territory, which apparently failed to complete all tests in last year's roundup. Which is why I'm also considering AMD...
  5. ThunderRd

    ThunderRd Irreverent Query Chairman Staff Member

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    I think the question is what you're going to do with it, and if that includes 3D, you just about have to commit to the blob. Otherwise, nouveau makes a lot of people happy.
  6. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    Well.... a store nearby was selling a Ryzen-based HP Envy x360 (Ryzen 5 2500U with Radeon Vega) plus both SSD and spinning rust disc, for about the same price as an i5+GTX1050+ugly-as-sin-case combo. I've imaged the Windows partitions and stuck them off on my NAS for now and Gentoo's building on it at the moment - will let you know how it goes.

    It's... gonna be fun. The graphics and NIC are only really supported in 4.15-rc9...
  7. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    I've got a rough kernel working that boots the machine, Plasma's nearly done building already. This thing absolutely screams along, it took the old A6 APU-based machine 24 hours to build Xorg, Mesa, Plasma etc.... this'll be done in 3.

    I've had to make a couple of workarounds I'm not happy with, and a few things don't work yet. Curious lock-up when setting the hwclock if I don't have legacy support (CSM) turned on in EFI. That normally points to something missing from the kernel, so I'll explore clock drivers later. Also, wpa_supplicant isn't correctly encoding passphrases, so NetworkManager's pretty useless. I have to create the entry manually with wpa_passphrase. Last time I had that happen was another broken dependency... oh well, few hours of poring over log files awaits.

    And that's before I try to figure out the accelerometer and touchscreen :p Happy days!
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
  8. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    Bah, turned out to be easy...

    Kernel config - borrowed one from a working Gentoo installation (to be sure I had a rough set of defaults right) then customised it for the hardware that I knew about. Rinse/repeat for a couple of iterations. Notes to self:

    EFI settings:
    TPM Module: hidden
    Legacy Boot Support:
    i) for booting from USB setup disk, this must be ENABLED
    ii) for booting from the final Gentoo install, this must be DISABLED, or udev dies. I don't know why, I'm not a developer.
    Secure boot: disabled

    GRUB: grub-install --target=x86_64-efi --efi-directory=/boot --removable
    Erasing the stock HD image also erases HP's own boot manager application. The built-in part of the EFI can't find the boot image unless grub is installed with the --removable flag.

    Wifi/bluetooth is RTL8828be, in the staging drivers of kernel 4.15

    Still trying to find out how to make the touchscreen do something. In the meantime, building apps for normal use. Once I'm happy with it in 64bit, I'll also build the matching 32bit libraries and install steam. Screenshots as soon as ksnapshot has built....
  9. ThunderRd

    ThunderRd Irreverent Query Chairman Staff Member

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    I forget - does the standard installation routine in the Gentoo Wiki include linux-firmware, or did I add that package after the basic setup?

    All these years, and I've never had to re-install Gentoo; I've just maintained it. I do remember needing Wi-fi stuff from the firmware package, though.
  10. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    It's one of those blink-and-you'll-miss-it steps in the handbook, accompanied by a fairly dry note along the lines of "if you think you'll need it, install this."

    It's needed.

    I'm starting to think my "crash on boot" issue is graphics related more than anything else. There's an exception thrown by the amdgpu driver with every *successful* boot, which is, to be fair, most of them. The lock up, if I get one, is always at the point of modesetting. So... I guess it'll be tidied up. I'll just not reboot in the meantime ;)
  11. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    I should probably have titled this thread something else, as it's not at all about nVidia vs AMD, which was decided on the basis of "ooh shiny" and "how much?" both intersecting, so much as about my very public display of limited competence when it comes to getting Gentoo installed and working.

    Normally with Gentoo I stay as far as possible on the stable branch and only add keywords when absolutely necessary. I also set only the bare minimum of global USE flags and add dependencies only where not having them means the system doesn't do something I want it to do. I've found this tends to be a little less fragile than earlier efforts. Still, the result is a far better-integrated KDE/Plasma desktop than the Mint team have managed - at least, for what I use it to do.

    Such conservatism has no place when one owns a new Ryzen-based laptop. Had I read Phoronix properly, I'd have known that Mesa 17.2 wouldn't cut it, nor would LLVM5. I *did* know that I needed kernel 4.15, but that was it. So last night, I found myself unmasking the testing (git-based) ebuilds for llvm, clang and mesa, as well as unstable branch of libdrm... and here we are.

    Currently rebuilding the kernel with more touchscreen drivers, to see if I can find what drives this one...

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  12. Gizmo

    Gizmo Chief Site Administrator Staff Member

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    I was using KDE for quite a while, but found KDE 5 to be incredibly unstable and ended up moving to Cinnamon. I'm guessing KDE has been stable for you?
  13. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    It has been - but then I haven't exactly been an early adopter. My other laptop still uses KDE4.

    While KDE3 was useable and good from day one, KDE was born prematurely, and I think they did much the same with 5, so it needed a couple of years to be "everyday use" ready.
  14. Gizmo

    Gizmo Chief Site Administrator Staff Member

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    How have you found life with Gentoo as desktop to be? I had been using Fedora, but am debating going to Mint when I get my Webex issues sorted out so that I can go back to a Linux desktop.

    (Have I mentioned recently how much I really, Really, REALLY hate Win 10?)
  15. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    Pretty good all told. It's been my most-used distro since around 2003, though I swapped over to Mint for a while when we were about to move to China and I couldn't be sure of internet connectivity or access to the mirrors.

    It takes ages to set up. I do mean ages. You can have a functioning system in oh, around 12 hours if you don't go mad with dependencies, but to get everything in and installed takes a few days. To get everything "just so" maybe takes a week. But "just so" in Gentoo is a level of integration and smoothness far and away beyond what I've experienced with Mint, openSuSE et al. Somehow the binary distros never get KDE quite right.

    Plus... friends don't let friends use systemd :p

    I like Mint, they make a tidy distro and do really well at curbing Ubuntu's excesses and making something a little more grown-up.

    I haven't played with Mint 18.x at all - unfortunately, I discovered on my raspberry pi that systemd simply refuses to respect service dependencies and will routinely start services out of order, or drop them completely if they don't respond the nanosecond they're called. This is a problem when you absolutely must have one service start ahead of another, as they bind to the same network port, which one service is designed to accept and the other not.

    Number of times I've been left without either openvpn or stunnel thanks to systemd is not funny...

    But anyway, if there's one distro that'll make something usable out of that furball, it's Mint.
  16. Gizmo

    Gizmo Chief Site Administrator Staff Member

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    I've been really happy with Gentoo on my servers. (That's YOUR fault, BTW, since you got me started on Gentoo back in '04 or '05, whenever that was). I've got about a dozen servers in production running Gentoo, for various people, and the ability to configure them to be specifically what I want, relatively easily, makes it very convenient for controlling my attack surface.

    This is the reason I've held off on going Gentoo on my desktop. I know the level of detail you have to get in to with Gentoo, and wasn't sure I wanted to dive that far down. Plus, my day job is all on Redhat stuff, so running a Fedora desktop keeps me current with stuff in Redhat-land.

    That being said, I spend enough time in the Redhat servers every day that dropping Fedora as my desktop isn't deadly. Since I was forced to move to Win 10 for Webex, I haven't noticed any decrease in my ability to get things done in RH. What I HAVE noticed is that doing pretty much ANYTHING in Win 10 seems like it requires a quart of lithium grease, a 12 lb sledge, and a left-handed spanner.

    NOT a big fan of systemd. But that's a conversation for a different thread.
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  17. ThunderRd

    ThunderRd Irreverent Query Chairman Staff Member

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    I've been primarily running Linux for 10 years now, and my main machine has been Gentoo for more than 7 years. [Both of you were instrumental in that move]. I am very happy with Gentoo on the desktop, but a lot of my happiness with it might be because I don't use a DE at all - so how KDE v Gnome, etc performs isn't an interest of mine.

    Chris, since you're thinking of Gentoo as a desktop possibility, and most of what you do is done in consoles, why not consider Gentoo with a tiling WM instead of a DE? Then, you won't have the DE headaches and performance hits, and you'll find it is blindingly fast.

    I posted about this on AOA some years ago. Here's a link to that post: http://www.aoaforums.com/forum/523036-post36.html

    The screenshots there are a bit old, the configuration has evolved since then - the main improvement is the discovery of a compositing software called 'compton' [x11-misc/compton] which does exactly what I want at a very small overhead price. I can have transparency, fading, and all the other subtle effects that make this setup both slick AND geeky.

    Personally, I don't mind the extended time for writing the config files I need if the result is worth it, performance-wise. In my case, no one uses it except me. In your use cases, if your families are users, then the DE might be a necessity. I have to say, though, for my personal use, I would never go back to a DE. I'm so much more productive with this setup.


    AND...no systemd, lolz
  18. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    If keeping a light footprint were an issue, I'd probably give the Enlightenment desktop a try. It actually looks rather pretty! I have tried various other lightweight desktops - xfcm, lxde, fluxbox, blackbox and so forth. Ultimately, however light the DM was, I still found myself keeping a full set of GTK and Qt dependencies and related services up to date as almost all applications are written with these in mind.

    I just figured that if I'm going to all the bother of compiling Qt, why not enjoy the benefits?

    Past sins coming back to haunt me, I see.

    Laptop progress: crash on startup on Raven? It's a bug in 4.15. As is the occasional X lockup. Others have filed crash dumps and bug reports, so hopefully the patches will filter down soon. 32 bit libraries almost built, so I'll have a crack at steam again soon.
  19. ThunderRd

    ThunderRd Irreverent Query Chairman Staff Member

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    Here are some current screenshots of that Xmonad box:
    screenshot-20180201@221459.jpg screenshot-20180201@221626.jpg

    You can see that all the terminal windows are transparent to the wallpaper; what you can't see is the very slight fadein/fadeout effect when switching workspaces I was able to produce with compton and feh, as well as a dimming effect when switching focus. It's really quite slick in action. Exclusions can be made for certain windows that aren't wanted to dim or fade, like the system display on the right, which is always on top and fully opaque, even when another window is focused.

    Any of those windows can be floated manually, or it can be floated automatically when spawned, and they are assigned to a particular workspace upon booting.

    You can see the workspaces assigned at the top left. Switching to any one of them is instantaneous with a programmable keystroke. I could probably check what is happening in every one of the 9 workspaces in about 10 seconds or less, with no mouse.
  20. Kaitain

    Kaitain Active Member

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    So games then. Metro 2033 anyone?

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