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Thinking about ditching Windows on my laptop....

mint ubuntu laptop

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#1 briangw

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 19:53

But having reservations 

 

So, I work as a Windows Systems Administrator. I have a Linux guy here at work who's been instrumental in "showing me the light," and so far I am liking what I am seeing, everything from the ease of VPN and SSH to things like Sickbeard for TV shows on a home Ubuntu server (he set that up too). But I am considering doing something I have never done before....taking Windows off of my gaming laptop and just putting Linux on. However, there are some reservations I am having and I have a few questions:

 

I am currently dual booting Windows 8.1 and Ubuntu 12.04 on this laptop. The problem is, if I truly want to learn Linux, I really want to put a single OS on and not have to "run back" to Windows when I can't do something.

 

  1. This is a MSI laptop with hybrid graphics (Intel and Nvidia). Now, my Linux guy set the dual boot portion of Ubuntu up and got this to work but I want to do this on my own. Where can I start to research this?
  2. Can I get Steam to work on Linux Mint? I've been playing around with Mint with Cinnamon and absolutely love the desktop. But, I also want to game as I do have some Linux Steam games. Can Steam work on Mint?
  3. How reliable is Wine for Windows apps or is there another product? Not saying I would need Wine, but would like to know if Wine has gotten better over the years and is more compatible with other apps
  4. Finally, does anyone have any good guides or websites for people like me who are Windows fanatics but would like to read up on other people's experiences and suggestions when trying to adapt to Linux?

I know enough to be dangerous, but I feel this might be the best way for me to pick up Linux more so than a VM or a dual boot. I generally game on my desktop, but there are times that I would be mobile and I think I can benefit from learning more about Linux if I just had it ONLY on my laptop.

 

Thanks,

Brian




#2 srbeen

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 20:15

1. That is heavily dependent on who wrote your drivers. I know speaking with ubuntu, you can install vendor graphics which are not open-source. You may need to set the video card in the bios instead of leaving both up should you not have an option in the driver software to enable/disable them

 

2. Pretty sure steam can, mint is based off ubuntu which is based off debian. If steam works on one it should work on all. You may need a trick or two, but steam forums would likley have more detail regarding the specific flavor of OS.

 

3. Wine Is Not an Emulator. It works for ImageBurn, WinRar, QuickSFV, and quite a few more simple apps. Moving up from that its hit or miss. Check official documentation on wine to see what works and what don't. A lot of the time the issue with WINE is installing the correct drivers/framework/support packages that WINE don't have which normally come with windows. Thats about all the help I can provide on that regard.

 

4. You should read a PDF. It don't explain GUI, but how linux works under it all. Its a free PDF download and very informative. http://linuxcommand.org/tlcl.php If you wanna run servers this will definitely help you understand the CLI and SSH better.

 

I would personally suggest that you make an image of your windows drive (using dd), then use VMware or similar in unix to run it. Now you are always in your unix distro and your windows is just an image file that you can run within. If you have an i7 its even better as it does direct hardware access, so you can easily interface devices to your VM. If you are tight on space you can likely use rsync to sync the windows install to a new VM in windows, then move the VM file to your unix install. You're a system admin so you hopefuly grasp what I mean here. There are situations windows is just needed, or you are gonna waste a lot of time finding 'the other way' to do it. If you learn off the bat how to backup your home directory and your files, then you can screw around with the OS to your hearts content and always restore to where you started if it goes awry, or backup again if what you done worked. If you got a ubuntu server you can run rsync on that and it'll do it regularly. Easy Peasy.



#3 Max Norris

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 20:20

Steam works on Mint, sure. Of course doesn't mean every game that you've bought will.. check the library to see if what you want is actually available for Linux. Don't rule out Wine for gaming though, a good number of games run very well.

Wine in general is hit or miss. Some programs run perfectly. Many are in the "more or less works" category, usually with a few workarounds/quirks/etc to deal with. Some will not work at all. Definitely will want to do your homework in the Wine app compatibility database first. There's a lot that runs, and a lot fails miserably. Dead Space 3 for example.. perfect. Need to do something in Visual Studio 2012 for work? Better have a VM handy. Also note that for gaming, last I checked anyway, Wine only supports DX9.

Wine's performance can potentially be hit or miss too as far as gaming goes, depends highly on the GPU drivers. With my particular hardware, I've had passable performance from the proprietary drivers, and terrible with the open source flavor. (Good for the desktop's UI, bad for gaming.) Mileage, variance and all that. Desktop compositors sometimes clobber performance too.. again depends on the driver and the software in question. Back when I used to use Compiz I had to create a script to temporarily turn it off when a game was launched or the framerate would literally be like 1/3 of what it was. KDE's KWin will do that automatically by default when it detects a full screen game running.

Just a suggestion to get it out of the way, if this is primarily a unit used for gaming (which it kind of sounds like it is by your post), you'll probably be better off with Windows if you want everything to "just work." Wine is pretty slick but it's not a magic bullet. Not trying to dissuade you from your choice, just prefer picking the right tool for what the system is doing.

#4 shozilla

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 20:21

It's up to you. Depends on what you use on it. Some drivers may not work on linux distros. Check it out and see if your favorite apps have supported drivers to make sure they work for you. As you see what srbeen has said.

 

I have an extra laptop that can be used for Ubuntu or other distro.  I started with RedHat in the past when they came out then later I moved around with other distros.

 

My 17" laptop runs Windows.

 

I am running Windows Server and network on laptops except Linux distros. That can share the media across the network.



#5 OP briangw

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 20:51

Thanks everyone for the suggestions. It looks like I have some homework to do.

 

@Max Norris, I did buy this laptop for gaming but in the past year I have owned it, I maybe have played 3-4 games on it in a 20 hour period. I mainly play games from my Windows desktop as it has a better GPU and more RAM. However, I do have about 50 games in Steam Linux that I can fall back on if needed and a lot of the Kickstarters I have pledged to are coming with a Linux version of the games I am interested in. So, it just makes sense to use this laptop since most of the time I am using it, it is for Boy Scout events, remoting into my work computer, watching movies, and surfing.



#6 Growled

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 21:09

LInux is great and I use it for everything these days, but I am not a gamer. If I was a gamer I would stick with Windows. Since I don't care for Windows 8 I would go with Windows 7. The main reason I wouldn't depend on Linux for gaming is this is still early days for Steam (and other gaming companies) in porting games to Linux. Steam for Linux has only a small faction of the games that Windows has. Also in some cases the video drivers aren't nearly as good as the Windows versions, which affects frame rates.

 

Personally, I find wine terrible. I might consider Crossover Games myself, but that is a pay for product unless you catch a promotion.



#7 Max Norris

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 21:13

@Max Norris, I did buy this laptop for gaming but in the past year I have owned it, I maybe have played 3-4 games on it in a 20 hour period. I mainly play games from my Windows desktop as it has a better GPU and more RAM. However, I do have about 50 games in Steam Linux that I can fall back on if needed and a lot of the Kickstarters I have pledged to are coming with a Linux version of the games I am interested in. So, it just makes sense to use this laptop since most of the time I am using it, it is for Boy Scout events, remoting into my work computer, watching movies, and surfing.

Yea then by all means go for it, was just making sure it wasn't a "hardcore gamer" type of thing.. seen plenty of "failed conversions" because of "serious" gaming or Windows specific software. For those uses you listed there yea should be just fine, biggest hurdle (once the thing is set up) is just getting used to doing things differently. A lot of times what's "click click done" in Windows involves a bit of console work in Linux. (And vice versa mind you..) Probably my biggest suggestion would be to get comfortable with the console, it's ridiculously powerful once you get the hang of it and in some cases actually faster than working with a GUI, which many times is just a front-end anyways. Think my biggest hurdle was finally settling on a distro and desktop environment... sometimes there's too much choice heh.

#8 +Karl L.

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 21:47

There is not too much I need to add. Max Norris basically nailed it.

 

You should have no problems with the graphics hardware in your laptop, especially if you use the latest Ubuntu or Linux Mint release. Intel graphics support is excellent in the mainline Linux kernel and the most recent NVIDIA proprietary driver releases (starting with 313, I think) have Optimus support for switching between the Intel and NVIDIA cards dynamically. Steam and all of the Linux games I have tried work very well with the open-source Intel graphics driver, open-source AMD graphics driver, proprietary AMD graphics driver, and proprietary NVIDIA graphics driver. Unfortunately the open-source NVIDIA graphics driver performs very poorly for gaming, although it is acceptable for general desktop use.

 

Like others have mentioned, wine works fairly well for most games, but there are certainly many where it still doesn't work well. If you don't mind paying for a commercial version of wine, CodeWeaver's CrossOver offers a version of wine with official support for a wide variety of Windows software (including many games), a nice GUI, semi-automatic dependency resolution (for common dependencies like the .NET Framework), and phone support. CodeWeavers also funds about 50% of wine's development by paying many of their developers to improve it, so they really understand how wine works on a technical level and generally do an excellent job of packaging and supporting it.

 

While there are many useful guides for different Linux distributions and common desktop environments, much of the power of Linux systems stems from the command line. Although you will probably not feel comfortable with it at first, I recommend that you learn how to use the common command line utilities that ship with standard UNIX systems. To that end I highly recommend that you read UNIX for the Beginning Mage.



#9 ViperAFK

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Posted 31 July 2013 - 23:16

If gaming isn't the *main* thing you do on the laptop and you don't heavily rely on windows only software linux is certainly a viable option for you. You should get good performance and some form of optimus support with the latest proprietary nvdia driver.

 

Wine is compatible with plenty of stuff, but it can certainly be hit or miss, for me wine or similar things would only be a "last resort" type of thing.

 

steam should work just fine on linux mint afaik, since it is based on ubuntu.



#10 Vince800

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Posted 02 August 2013 - 10:36

You should really run it as a VM first, if you can, it's a lot easier than dual booting. If there are tasks which you do which require Windows then it really is as simple as that and if you find that you have a dependence on WINE then you really should be running both. They're two completely different OS's and it's good to have the best of both worlds.