Just a quick post to tell you that my Fedora 18 with Xfce installation on the HP Pavilion g6-2210us is doing very well indeed.
Unlike Xubuntu 13.04, Fedora 18 WILL run under Secure Boot after installation.
I’m using full disk encryption and working on a separate hard drive (not the Windows 8 drive that shipped with the laptop).
Also unlike Xubuntu 13.04, I had no trouble with sound in Skype. Yep, I already installed Skype in Fedora. And it’s working perfectly.
Like Xubuntu 13.04, overall sound levels are fine once volume is upped via the Pulse Audio Volume Control.
In addition to Skype, things I also added to Fedora 18 without incident included the RPM Fusion repositories, the Adobe Flash browser plugin, gPodder and Xchat. I also found a new kernel and installed it (you’ll see why below).
All went smoothly.
So far Xfce in Fedora looks great. It runs great. It’s super-fast.
The only problem with this laptop and its new AMD APU (CPU plus graphics) is video. The 2D video in Xfce runs with no problem. GNOME 3 is a total mess. Unity is workable but has artifacts (though there was some improvement in the final release of Ubuntu 13.04 that I saw with live media).
And what all of these systems have in common — Ubuntu and Fedora included — is that suspend doesn’t work.
The laptop does go into suspend, but there’s no waking it (i.e. resume is broken). That’s bad because I’m a huge user of suspend/resume. The new kernel I tried from Fedora’s Koji service didn’t help. Eventually Linux, X, radeon and catalyst will catch up to this HD 7000-series video chip. It just hasn’t happened yet.
But I can say right now that Fedora 18 is good enough, configurable enough with proprietary bits, and stable enough for my daily use.
This is the first time I’ve used the Yum Extender for package management, and it’s a terrific, exceedingly quick tool.
What do I miss most not running Linux? Easy, usable FTP via the file manager and text editors (I can’t believe this is so f’d up in Windows8), and easy management of my old, old iPod, which I’m shocked is pretty much impossible to do in Windows without iTunes. I’ve tried a half-dozen music-manager/podcast manager apps, and none of them in Windows can do a damn thing half well.
Getting back to Linux’s gPodder (the Windows version doesn’t do iPod) and Rhythmbox will solve all of my Windows problems. For almost everything else I have mostly free open-source apps that just happen to run on Windows.
But a pure Linux environment would make my life better and easier. That and working suspend/resume and I’ll be a most happy camper. If I were confident that a dual-boot with Windows 8 wouldn’t fail, I’d do it today.
I swapped an old hard drive into the HP Pavilion g6-2210us and gave a few Linux distros a spin today.
Why a separate drive? I’m not at all confident about a successful Linux-Windows 8 dual boot. For those keeping score, this laptop features an AMD A4-4300M APU processor with AMD Radeon HD 7420G graphics. The wireless NIC is by Atheros, and the wired NIC is a Realtek. (I’ll report later on specific NIC chips for wired and wireless Ethernet.)
First up was Debian Wheezy. I had to turn off Secure Boot because Debian doesn’t support it. That was no problem. You can toggle Secure Boot on this HP Pavilion g6, and you can also toggle UEFI and “legacy” BIOS mode. So really I’m only limited by what “works” with the hardware itself. Given my angst lately over video (no GNOME 3 due to shaky 3D acceleration support for this newish AMD chip), that’s cold comfort.
Debian seemed to install perfectly. Except that, early in the install, it wanted me to supply nonfree firmware for the wired networking port (a Realtek NIC) on removable media. I actually got the nonfree .deb package (all Wheezy firmware is here, unpacked it and put the required files on a USB flash drive (formatted as FAT), plugged it in and continued with the install. That didn’t work. Debian didn’t “see” the firmware.
Give what happened later (the laptop stalled during boot), this was strange because the system continued installing from the netboot image — using that very NIC to download all of the required files.
I knew I would have trouble with the 3D acceleration in GNOME 3 (and I later confirmed that the proprietary 3D driver for ATI/AMD does not work on this video card), but I was doing a test install and could always bring in Xfce later.
That wouldn’t matter.
I did the entire installation. But as I hinted above, Debian Wheezy wouldn’t reboot into the new system. It hung during configuration of the wired Ethernet port. I guess I can try again with install media that includes the nonfree firmware.
Later: I did look at the installation guide for Wheezy, where I saw that you need to leave the firmware in .deb package form. I also found install images with the firmware included.
Next up was Xubuntu.
The install went fine with Secure Boot turned on. But on reboot, I had to turn off Secure Boot to get the system up and running. It could have had something to do with the fully encrypted LVM option that I chose during the install. I’ll have to do an install without encrypted LVM to see if it makes a difference in Xubuntu’s ability to run with Secure Boot enabled.
Everything looked good once I was in the system. I installed a boatload of updates. I brought in Skype with the service’s own .deb package. I managed to get audio working in Skype. But upon reboot it was not to be. The audio left Skype, as did the configuration options I had to choose from to make it work in the first place. it might come back on the next boot. Who knows?
Unfortunately I need Skype to work at the moment. I never had such trouble in Debian Wheezy on my now-dead Lenovo G555. Until it died, that is.
Otherwise I was happy with audio. That was a major concern of mine. However, I was able to boost audio levels with the Pulse Audio Volume Control, and audio was every bit as good as it is in Windows 8.
Alas, the day’s experimenting had to come to an end. I swapped back in the Windows 8 hard drive, re-enabled Secure Boot and had a working Win 8 system once again. Yep, it’s as exciting as you thought it was.
I did some tests today with different Linux releases on my new HP Pavilion g6-2210us, and while I’m pretty sure that 3D-accelerated video is something that will come along later — leaving me with some very nice 2D-video desktop environments like Xfce, what’s really worrying me is audio.
Audio was a definite problem in Fedora 18 with Xfce. It was slightly better in Xubuntu 13.04 beta 2 (which will be a final release in two days). I could deal with it in Xubuntu.
What worries me — even with Xubuntu is the basics: It’s not loud enough. Playback on YouTube videos is louder in Windows. Could it have something to do with using HTML 5 on the Linux side and Flash on the Windows side? That is certainly fodder for another test. As is playing audio that isn’t a YouTube video.
I’m too tired to find the links, but I distinctly remember audio being a problem when my now-dead Lenovo G555 laptop was new in 2010. Audio issues were eventually solved with new kernels and new ALSA drivers. Hopefully the same will be true for this now-new HP Pavilion g6.
The next day: I did a full install of Xubuntu, and I was satisfied with audio output as managed by the Pulse Audio volume control.
I tried the
fglrx proprietary AMD Radeon video driver, and X wouldn’t start. So much for the closed-source binary driver.
It looks like Linux and X will have to catch up to this video chip.
I’m not a particular fan of Dietrich Schmitz. I think his justification for abandoning all Debian-based distributions due to what he calls a lack of innovation is short-sighted.
But his article on improving the Xfce desktop is the kind of thing I’d like to see more of.