[Wolves] What's Your Linux Machine?

Richard Sheppard richard at siliconmeadow.net
Sat Mar 7 15:21:39 UTC 2020

I've not had a desktop since I sold my quad-core G5 cheese grater Mac
on eBay years ago.

The Laptop I'm typing this on I got from PC Specialist nearly two
years ago - it's a Clevo Optimus base. screenfetch says:

rsheppard at monsieur-poupik
OS: Manjaro 19.0.2 Kyria
Kernel: x86_64 Linux 5.5.7-1-MANJARO
Uptime: 5h 3m
Packages: 1855
Shell: zsh 5.8
Resolution: 1920x1080
DE: GNOME 3.34.4
WM: Mutter
WM Theme: Pop
GTK Theme: Adwaita-dark [GTK2/3]
Icon Theme: Adwaita
Font: Noto Sans 11
Disk: 320G / 735G (45%)
CPU: Intel Core i7-8750H @ 12x 4.1GHz [74.0°C]
GPU: Intel Corporation UHD Graphics 630 (Mobile)
NVIDIA Corporation GP106M [GeForce GTX 1060 Mobile] (rev a1)
RAM: 6489MiB / 31966MiB

Subjective pros/cons:

RAM and Processor specs should give it enough life for a good few
years (plus, it seems Moore's law is flattening out)
Display is adequate

I really don't need this silly video card malarky
A bit plastic-y / rattle-y (I covet other people's XPS laptops. Or
maybe a Carbon X)
No caps-lock light

I'd like to have a way to use Manjaro with my external display but I
ran out of steam two years ago (not long after I got it) while trying
a number of convoluted recipes to use the nVidia video (Intel mode
will not provide a signal through the HDMI port). I've got an AOC 27"
4K display that gets zero use with this laptop.

I was able to make it work with PopOS, and I quite like Pop, but when
there was one of the half-yearly Ubuntu updates, it came with the
usual broken packages that I rely on, so I went back to Arch. Well,
Manjaro anyway.

I spend most of my time bouncing between PhpStorm, Chrome, Chromium,
Firefox, VS Code and the terminal. Preferred terminal tweaks:

* Guake terminal all day long
* Zsh
* Oh-my-zsh (solarized dark, powerlevel9k theme with Inconsolata, plugins:
        git git-extras virtualenv docker docker-compose vagrant
composer zsh-autosuggestions
        zsh-syntax-highlighting colored-man-pages z colorize)
* ddev: https://github.com/drud/ddev
* nano (hahaha)

At my new job, I've got a shiny new Macbook, so I'll probably use this
machine less and less, but I always have a soft spot for Linux on the
desktop and find it every bit as productive as a Mac. I could have
specified an XPS on the new job, but I'd have been the only person in
the company on Linux - everyone's got a Mac. For me, it's much easier
to go with the flow with my colleagues.

Unless they're using Windows.

That AOC 4K display is finally getting daily use, as my new job is
primarily home working and the Macbook can easily drive a second

I have an Acer nettop box as well, which I haven't been running for
about 2-3 years - only as a minecraft server with no WM. I'm looking
forward to ressurecting it so I can play Minecraft with my grandkids
this year or next.

On Fri, 6 Mar 2020 at 12:07, Adam Sweet via Wolves
<wolves at mailman.lug.org.uk> wrote:
> John Alexander suggested this as a conversation starter on list a few
> weeks back, then asked at the meeting on Weds. I think I answered then
> the conversation moved on rather than going around the group, so here it
> is on list.
> So, what is your Linux machine? I'll start (wall of text alert, I got
> carried away). All the machines I use were bought by my company rather
> than me, while they're not that new now they'd probably be a bit more
> humble if I were paying:
> My desktop is a 2015 Dell Optiplex 9020:
> Intel i7 4790 3.60GHz (4 cores +HT)
> Bought with 8GB RAM, now using 16GB
> Intel graphics
> 2 x 24" Iiyama Black Hawk monitors
> Came with a terrible 500GB hybrid SSHD - a traditional spinning disk
> (5400 RPM!) with 8GB SSD storage at the beginning to cache frequently
> used files. I replaced that with two Crucial MX200 SSDs, one for Linux
> and one for Windows which I do occasionally need for customer support.
> I'm running Ubuntu 19.10. The machine came with Windows 7 which I
> recently updated to Windows 10 just before support was ended for 7.
> Despite turning 5 years old this summer, this machine doesn't feel slow
> or sluggish at all, probably thanks to the two SSDs and 16GB RAM. Most
> of my workload is web browser, mail client and terminal (SSH to customer
> systems).
> My laptop is a 2017 Dell Inspiron 15 Gaming 7567 with slightly
> embarrassing, decidedly non-business appropriate red trim. I wanted
> something I could use for occasional games (adding a discrete graphics
> card to my desktop would mean trying to replace the non-standard form
> factor PSU). I'd waited for the Dell XPS with the same spec as this one
> (sans the cringey red trim) to be released for about 9 months, saw a dip
> in the price of this one, conceded I could wait forever as my existing
> laptop was starting to show its age and took the plunge. The XPS model
> with the same hardware I'd waited for came out about 3 month later and
> Iain bought it :(
> Intel i7 7700HQ CPU 2.80GHz (4 cores +HT)
> 16 GB RAM
> 512GB NVMe drive (Windows 10)
> I added a 512GB Samsung Evo 850 SSD for Ubuntu
> Hybrid Intel HD 630 and Nvidia Geforce GTX 1050 Ti Mobile graphics
> 15" 4K IPS display
> It came with Windows 10 on the NVMe drive and had an empty SATA bay so I
> added the Samsung Evo with the intention of swapping Windows to the SSD
> and putting Ubuntu on the faster NVMe drive but I never got around to it.
> I had to go through various hoops to get Ubuntu running on it. For some
> reason it ships with a single drive but with the disk controller set in
> RAID mode (presumably Windows fakeraid) which means Ubuntu can't see it.
> Setting it in AHCI mode means it uses a generic Windows driver which
> performs poorly. It turns out you can use a driver from an almost
> identical OCZ drive from the same OEM which solves the performance
> issue. All that done means Linux can see and access the NVMe drive,
> though I later decided to leave Ubuntu on the separate SSD.
> The other issue was the hybrid graphics, Intel for power efficiency,
> Nvidia for gaming. Windows runs using the Intel graphics by default and
> runs individual games and graphically demanding apps from a whitelist on
> the Nvidia GPU.
> At the time of purchase Linux was only able to use one or the other at a
> time for the whole desktop session though it was possible to run a
> command to switch between them then log out/in again to use the other.
> This bit me on the ass when I did an Ubuntu release upgrade a couple of
> weeks before running a training course which messed up the X server but
> I managed to get it running again, then running some OS updates the
> night which broke it entirely. I wasn't able to fix in time and I had to
> give the course using Windows (which I find like bathing in bleach,
> itchy and irritating). I had to do a complete reinstall to get it
> working again.
> Only recently has support been added to the Nvidia binary Linux driver
> to allow the same kind of hybrid behaviour as on Windows. I don't appear
> to have it in 19.10 yet but I believe we have Martin Wimpress of Ubuntu
> MATE and recently announced Ubuntu Desktop Team lead to thank for a 'GPU
> switcheroo' GUI applet which allows you to choose between an Intel or
> Nvidia desktop session, or hybrid mode where you can choose to start
> individual applications on a particular GPU. I thanked him personally
> for that at OggCamp in October last year.
> I also have an old first gen Dell Ubuntu developer laptop (essentially a
> Dell XPS 13) which feels a bit laggy these days. It had a second gen
> Core i7 with 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and a 13" display. I typically use it as
> a 'throw in a bag and go' laptop. My Inspiron Gaming laptop is too heavy
> to carry around comfortably.
> I realise I've gone into way more detail than necessary here, there's no
> need to do the same unless you want to. What's your Linux machine?
> Ad
> --
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Richard Sheppard
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/RichardSheppard

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