Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice please.

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Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice please.

Postby akrueger » 2020-11-22 16:13

Notebook hints please.

Considering to buy a BlackFriday offer with approx(!) these specs: comparison of five 2020 machines

As for 90% of the time I am using Debian Linux (i.e. only sometimes ... Windows 8.1), and I would like to avoid several weeks of configuration hell procedures (which might happen just because the hardware is still so new) ... I am now wondering:

(a) whether it's a good idea at all, to buy a 2020 machine ?

(b) if it might be necessary to then change the OS (from Debian to e.g. Ubuntu or Manjaro, or anything else), and then it might cause rather negligible problems actually?

(c) which of those machines / CPUs / GPUs / Wifichips / ... might (not) cause major hickups? Or: Which other machine have you got working fine, with similiar specs?

and

(d) which other, i.e. perhaps older, hardware you would recommend, if (a) and (b) and (c) speak against such 2020 hardware. CPU GPU etc.


Oh, and I should mention this: I would like to buy as seldom as possible, for ecological reasons. I do not mind the price so much, but the hardware should be as new as possible (even though as old as necessary) to run Linux without bigger problems for many many years to come. I am quite experienced, so if there are clear instructions, I am willing to jump through hoops, to still get "too new" hardware running; so it doesn't need all to work out of the box.


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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby sgosnell » 2020-11-22 18:19

Vanilla Buster won't run on those machines because the kernel is so old. You can, however, get a working installation by enabling buster-backports and installing the kernel and firmware from there. You can either pre-download them and have them on an external drive and use apt to install the local .deb files, or you can go into the recovery terminal, edit your sources.list file to include buster-backports, then do an update and upgrade. The computer will boot with standard Buster, but the graphics won't work. You need both the kernel and firmware updated. Once that is done, those computers should work well. It should not take months to do this, it took me a few minutes. I bought the newest hardware I could find, knowing that Debian Stable would not run on it, because I expect it to be the last computer I buy. It does not require a rocket scientist to enable the backports repository and install the kernel and firmware, and I'm living proof.
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby akrueger » 2020-11-23 08:37

Thanks a lot for your quick answer.

It does not require a rocket scientist to enable the backports repository and install the kernel and firmware, and I'm living proof.

:D

enabling buster-backports and installing the kernel and firmware from there

That does sound doable, you're right. Thanks a lot!

Skimming through https://wiki.debian.org/Firmware that are drivers for all kinds of periphery, soundcard, Wifi, etc. - is there something to look out for when choosing the hardware?
Incompatible/Less compatible stuff perhaps? Or conversely, is there a project/site/wikipage showing which current hardware "survived the Linux test" already ?

Vanilla Buster won't run on those machines because the kernel is so old.

Would it be another intermediate solution perhaps, to choose something else during the first year, i.e. run Ubuntu, or Manjaro, until the next Debian comes out?

I bought the newest hardware I could find

That's a relief to read actually. I had already assumed I have to go back to 9th (or 8th) generation CPU, and older graphics cards perhaps? But you say that's probably not necessary?

Do you have an NVIDIA/AMD GPU too? Any hints for that?
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby stevepusser » 2020-11-23 11:45

Sorry, but just a newer kernel and firmware is almost always not enough for the newer graphics. The Ryzen 7 and Intel 10th gen GPUS need a newer Mesa, which is not in backports at all. We have reports of ninth gen working on Buster, though. There is another can of worms with the hybrid graphics on those gaming laptops, too, but that's another whole mess I don't have time for right now.

You can try and prove me wrong--let me start heating up the popcorn. Try the non-free Debian testing or the MX Linux AHS or KDE editions when you give up on Buster and backports. I've gotta go backport a newer Nvidia driver for MX AHS that supports CUDA on 5.9 kernels...
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby sgosnell » 2020-11-23 17:22

All I know is that I started out by installing Stable 10.5, then installing the kernel and firmware from backports, and got a working system. I didn't use it for more than a few days, though, before moving to Sid. But that worked for me on the hardware I have, an Intel NUC BXNUC10I7FNK1 with 10th gen CPU, all Intel and no NVIDIA. I make no claims about AMD and NVIDIA hardware, because I have none and have never had any.
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby Head_on_a_Stick » 2020-11-23 18:50

stevepusser wrote:Ryzen 7

That's just the type of processor. The generation is given by the "4800" bit (ie, 4th generation, which needs the newer Mesa version from MX's AHS repositories).
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby stevepusser » 2020-11-23 20:19

Head_on_a_Stick wrote:
stevepusser wrote:Ryzen 7

That's just the type of processor. The generation is given by the "4800" bit (ie, 4th generation, which needs the newer Mesa version from MX's AHS repositories).


Yes, that's true--I was just going by the models shown, though. If I was picking a machine, I'd go for one of those AMD 4800Hs, because reports are that it beats the Intel i7 tenth-generation chips handily in raw performance, as well as has good battery life and runs comparatively cool. The 4800u isn't quite as powerful. I don't know if any of those have any UEFI quirks that might give Linux trouble--Dells have had some of those in past on Optimus laptops that first required blacklisting the nouveau driver, then adding a kernel boot tweak to get it working once an Nvidia driver was installed.

So far, our Mesa backport hasn't 'sploded any MX machines (crosses fingers). I wonder why backports hasn't done it yet.
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby akrueger » 2020-11-25 01:58

The longer I read and learn, the less problems I actually expect, to install Linux on an uptodate machine. Worst case I need to simply move to Ubuntu or Manjaro temporarily, until the next Debian comes out?

Here is a VERY hot candidate, because DELL has a 20% off BlackFriday offer now - so that for 1280 EUR I can actually even get my hands on a Nvidia 2070 (Many others don't even offer a 2060 for that price). What do you think, would you expect huge Linux problems with this one?

Dell G5 15 (cng5010)

* Intel i7-10750H, 6 cores
* NVIDIA RTX 2070 8GB, Max-Q Design
* 16GB DDR4-2933MHz
* 1TB NVMe SSD
* 300 Hz display 15,6"-FHD
* Wi-Fi6 AX1650W, 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1

(Dell, German)

I think I have found it, no?

And I'd get an Intel CPU for the price of an AMD, right?
---

Thanks a lot for your many perspectives!

> and Intel 10th gen GPUS need a newer Mesa, which is not in backports at all.
Hmmm ... how to fix that? Big problem? Have you compiled it yourself then?

> or the MX Linux AHS or KDE editions
this one? mxlinux.org/blog/...

> I started out by installing Stable 10.5, then installing the kernel and firmware from backports, and got a working system
That sounds very doable. Thanks.

---

Good that I asked before buying hardware? But it seems to become less of a problem nowadays ... right?
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby akrueger » 2020-11-25 17:45

Found some more resources for this one machine:

Linux:
* ubuntu certification for Dell G5 5500 - it's only a i5-10300H CPU - but tenth generation! Also a smaller GPU but also NVIDIA
* Installing Arch Linux on Dell G5 15 Gaming 5590 - that is NOT the exact same 5500 and it's 9th generation - but very detailed instructions.
* archwiki Dell G5 5590-9340 not the same machine, but similar?
* "how I made Ubuntu 18.04 working on my ... Dell G5 5587" a 2018 text about a predecessor with an "NVidia GTX 1060 Max-Q" and he gives a simple "final solution" at the end

Videos:
* 3 min "Dell G5 15 5500 - disassembly and upgrade options"
* 5 min "Unboxing Dell Gaming Series Laptop | G5 15 5500, i7-10750, 2070 MaxQ" = almost exactly the same machine, just a different screen
* LINUX on G5 15 (but the Ryzen + AMD version) long video, mentions some of the (minor) quirks, from minute 1 to minute 4 - needs "kernel 5.8 for best out of the box experience". And shows how to optimize fan control, regulate down the CPU, etc. - summary at 23-24 minutes

Looks as if I can dare to buy that beauty, right?
Dell G5 15 (cng5010) (Dell, German)
* Intel i7-10750H, 6 cores
* NVIDIA RTX 2070 8GB, Max-Q Design
* 16GB DDR4-2933MHz
* 1TB NVMe SSD
* 300 Hz display 15,6"-FHD
* Wi-Fi6 AX1650W, 802.11ax, Bluetooth 5.1

I think I have found it, no?
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby stevepusser » 2020-11-25 21:51

> and Intel 10th gen GPUS need a newer Mesa, which is not in backports at all.
Hmmm ... how to fix that? Big problem? Have you compiled it yourself then?


Well, yes, for the MX Linux repos--I'm the lead packager, though recently another packager has taken over most of the AHS related video stuff, though the llvm toolchain backports, newer kernel backports, and Nvidia drivers are currently still handled by yrs. truly.

MX is based on stable Debian releases, albeit with quite a few backports, with even more in the AHS (Advanced Hardware Support) section of the repos. We were getting too many issues with having MX support newer hardware as a Debian release aged, and this is our solution.

Dells are quite popular among Linux users, so even if your machine needs some tweaks, usually they can be found on the Arch or other bleeding edge forums. For a hardware review, such as performance, screen, battery life, and so on, notebookcheck.com usually has some impartial reviews.
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Re: Newest generation 2020 notebook - bad idea? Advice pleas

Postby akrueger » 2020-11-27 13:09

Thank you so much, @sgosnell @stevepusser @Head_on_a_Stick for your perspective and explanations.

I have indeed decided to buy the Dell G5 15 5500 "cng5010", see above.

because of
(a) their Linux laptops (even though this is not one) and their "popularity among Linux users",
(b) the good quality of a previous Dell that I own,
(c) the "mainstream" aspect (which might lead to earlier drivers implementation, and more instructions online),
(d) the radical 20%-off with BLACK20 code this week,
(e) the attractive price of <1300 EUR for a (i7-10, 2070 max-q) machine = which would cost me much more at other vendors, and

in spite of
(f) the mediocre test results in several notebook test sites, which (only available for similar models) mainly criticise:
(g) the rather high temperature at full power (*)
(h) and some don't like the keyboard/touchpad and the built-in sound, which both I use seldom anyways
(h) nor do the testers appreciate the sparkling plastic, which I could not care less about (I think, now, before I have to live with it, lol)

and on top of what I was looking for, I will get:
(i) a long battery life (most tests mentioned that)
(j) a 300 Hz screen. Not sure why I need that, but ... impressive.
(k) an NVMe disk. That could be even faster than an SATA SSD, right?
(l) a "Max Q" GPU = which is supposed to be thinner and more energy-efficient.
(m) a glowing front LED, lol:

Image

(*)
Thinking about solutions for the HEAT PROBLEM, I might just:

(n) decrease the CPU and GPU speed a bit (see video 1min) - and with an i7 and a 2070 I will still have superb performance, right?
(o) for summer perhaps buy me a laptop cooling pad (here are ten "best" models in several different styles, all affordable)

The purchase has been made, so please do not make me doubt it again, lol, but I thought you deserve an update, because you were really helpful. Thanks!

Where do I start reading now, to prepare myself for December? WHEN MY NEW LAPTOP ARRIVES, HOORAY. :D :) :P
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