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Date:      Thu, 9 Jun 2016 14:49:02 -0700
From:      David Christensen <dpchrist@holgerdanske.com>
To:        freebsd-questions@freebsd.org
Subject:   Re: advice for buying a laptop
Message-ID:  <5759E44E.1020402@holgerdanske.com>
In-Reply-To: <njbt5o$pk6$4@ger.gmane.org>
References:  <nj9kmu$7r8$1@ger.gmane.org> <57586E36.40509@holgerdanske.com> <njbt5o$pk6$4@ger.gmane.org>

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On 06/09/2016 07:06 AM, Christian Baer wrote:
> On 06/08/16 21:12, David Christensen wrote:
>> Dual+ boot is a PITA -- been there, done that, got the scars.  I
>> prefer one small, fast SSD for each OS instance.  I'd get a laptop
>> with an easy to swap HDD/SSD or a laptop that can hold 2+ drives.
>
> So people keep saying. I don't quite get why though. I've been playing
> around with dual boot systems since I ran OS/2 2.1 - which is a few
> years back BTW. :-) I stuck with OS/2 until Warp4 but even when that was
> released, IBM had already dug OS/2's grave. During that time I already
> started to play with Linux and due to frustration with the concept of
> Linux I went to FreeBSD at v3.3. After seeing the OS/2 boot loader, I
> always wondered why the other boot loaders out there (esp. the FreeBSD
> one) weren't more like that one.
>
> Today I have a dual boot system at home with FreeBSD for most of my
> stuff and Windows 7 for gaming and certain apps I cannot get to run with
> Wine.
>
> Have I been missing out on all the fun here? :-P

My comment is based on my experiences with desktops and servers.  I 
discovered HDD mobile racks years ago, and have not dual booted since. 
My laptop has an easily-accessible HDD bay (2 screws), so I use the same 
strategy.  (Note that laptop HDD bays and connectors are not designed 
for frequent drive swapping.  Second HDD caddies that fit into the 
optical drive bay are usually recommended for this use case.)


If you're happy with dual-boot, then go for it.


>> I've had the best luck with Intel parts -- processors, chip sets,
>> graphics, sound, networking, etc..  Other brands just cause
>> problems and/or don't last -- especially NVIDIA.
>
> Is this a general rule or are you only referring to mobile adapter from
> nVidia?

General rule (see below for more details).


>> I was looking for a used laptop that is known-good with FreeBSD a
>> few months back:
>> http://lists.freebsd.org/pipermail/freebsd-questions/2016-March/270997
> .html
>
> Interesting
>>
>>
> thread. Thanks for the link!
>
>> I never bought one, but my searches led me to Dell Inspiron with
>> second-generation Core i processors.  Latitude and/or Precision are
>>   appealing, but it's hard to find examples without NVIDIA or ATI
>> graphics (other than brand new, which are very expensive).
>
> May I ask why you went to all the trouble researching the hardware an
> then never bought that laptop your wanted?

I have a Dell Inspiron E1505 that I bought in 2007.  Mine came with a 
32-bit processor, and, as best I could tell, they all did.  I wanted 
64-bit.  So, I started looking for a replacement laptop.  STFW I found 
out that certain later model 64-bit Core Duo processors were known to 
work in that laptop.  I bought a Intel Core Duo T7400, installed it, and 
it works.


> Since I have kept away from mobile hardware for quite a while now, I
> don't know much about the mobile graphics cards (chips). In both my
> computer at home and in my workstation in the office, I have an nVidia
> card installed. Both work very will with the drivers from nVidia. I have
> real a lot about the open source drivers having "issues". Normally this
> should decrease for AMD graphics because of the open source nature, but
> it seems they are mainly targeting the Linux kernel, which doesn't help
> FreeBSD all that much.
>
> What's the deal with nVidia's mobile chips?

I can only infer that the leaders of most for-profit corporations 
believe that the best way to monetize their intellectual property 
investments is by treating them as trade secrets.  "You want to use our 
hardware?  Sign the NDA, License, and Support agreements, and write a 
check."


Even if a company (such as NVIDIA) releases a binary driver that "works" 
for their engineers on a given computer (proprietary software and/or 
FOSS), getting and keeping the hardware working in the general case 
without unencumbered vendor assistance is difficult at best.


Intel makes it less difficult by releasing reference source code for 
some of their hardware.  So, more software works on that Intel hardware.


One alternative to the trade secret approach is open-source hardware:

 
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_open-source_hardware_projects#Computer_systems


(I'm in the market for an open-source hardware SOHO router that runs 
pfSense, if anyone knows of such.)


David




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