[Linux-aus] Laptop advise

Russell Stuart russell-linuxaus at stuart.id.au
Sat Nov 21 00:12:27 AEDT 2015

On Fri, 2015-11-20 at 12:05 +1100, Ben Dechrai wrote:
> I'm currently running Debian Jessie on a 2010 MacBook Pro, and it runs
> like a dream. I don't run any proprietary software[0] and don't have
> issues with any hardware any more[1].

Something funny happened with the planets a few years ago, and for a
time Apple sold their usual no expenses spared hardware cheaper than the
Windows box shifters.  In fact it was worse than that.  They included a
proprietary device they called a gmux which switched between the onchip
Intel GPU and the Nvidia chip seamlessly, thus increasing battery life
to double what anyone else could achieve.

It was a hugely frustrating time because it was near impossible to run
Linux on that hardware.  Yes as you demonstrate, open source hackers
have after countless hours of reverse engineering have got Linux to run
on it - countless hours because Apple offered no help whatsoever.

We had one of those laptop's brought into Humbug one day.  The owner
wanted it to get the same battery life under Linux as it did under OSX.
We rapidly figured out we had to program the gmux and found I/O ports on
the 'net and sequences to write to them.  The emphasis being on the
trailing s in sequences.  Apparently Apple had changed their hardware
several times. So despite humbug meetings lasting for 9 hours, over a
century of Linux experience and 2 people who had worked on the kernel in
the room, we got everything working but the display working when the
Intel GPU was being used.  We claimed victory, of course, as we
delivered what he asked for - battery life as good as iOS.  And to fair
he hadn't mentioned being able to read the screen, and we demonstrated
it was functioning as it should even though he could not see it.  Sadly
he didn't come back, so the story ends there.

Time has moved on and now man + dog sells laptops that matches Apple
offerings in capabilities (battery life included) at similar prices.
One notable difference is where Apple is at best agnostic to LA's reason
for being, these other vendors not only support Linux, they sponsor LA's

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