Brand new laptop, Linux needs time.

New laptop comes with yet unsupported WiFi on Linux, not a surprise but I feel the need to rant.. about Windows.. lol

Brand new laptop, Linux needs  time.

I recently bought a Lenovo laptop that has an NVIDIA GTX 1650 alongside an AMD Ryzen chip and a Realtek 8852AE Wi-Fi 6 (ax) card. Why would I start this article with these specific specs you might ask? Well, turns out that the Wi-Fi chip is brand new and as usual not yet recognized by the Linux Kernel. On top of that the dual graphics card system is something that Linux still struggles with.

Unfortunately, in my country, Lenovo laptops don't come pre-installed with Ubuntu or any other flavor for that matter. In fact the salesman will give you an awkward look if you ask. You also have to pay for Windows because the thought of not using them on any customer level machine is unheard of on this part of the planet.

First thing I did after switching the machine on was to give Windows a little spin just to test that the hardware worked before nuking them out. Upon first boot I realized that 4.7Gb of memory was being used without any user applications running and of course I had a laugh.

Next up was the Ubuntu live USB test just to check for any unsupported hardware and sure enough the Wi-Fi wasn't working. Nothing new here, Wi-Fi hurdles on a server-first operating system is expected after all but everything else seemed ok and worked fine.

I have an old USB to Gigabit Ethernet card that would solve the connectivity issue, so I tried it on the machine where it was correctly recognized but a few seconds after connecting the Ethernet cable it would stop working. I tested it on Windows as well and fact of the matter is that it was malfunctioning hardware. I bought a cheap new one the next day that solved that problem and decided it was time to install Arch with XFCE as usual.

That's where the dream fell apart. Xorg would simply refuse to start and a few searches on the Arch wiki and elsewhere revealed all kinds of hoops you have to jump through in order to get the dual graphics card setup to work. I tried, 6 different installation paths and numerous other solutions I found online to get the thing to boot into the graphical interface but to no avail.

So I did the next logical thing and temporarily installed Ubuntu 20.04 since most of the hardware was already working on it and the damn thing booted like normal. Thankfully Ubuntu gives you the choice of a minimal installation with a browser only and none of the extra bloat, so that eased the pain a little. Nonetheless, I'll be expecting the Wi-Fi driver to make it into the kernel soon enough, so I can have another go at installing my beloved Arch with the minimalist setup I so enjoy.

A quick search online revealed that there are indeed available drivers for the Realtek 8852AE that you sudo make install. They work just fine on Ubuntu. I also disabled the NVIDIA card since I don't plan to use it anytime soon and that might save the battery a bit as well. All in all I'm quite happy with the performance, the excellent display and the fact that things simply work on Ubuntu.

There is no need for an operating system, namely Windows, to be taking up such a huge chunk of resources just in case you might one day need to use a single function out of all the bloat. A lean machine gives more legroom for containers and VMs to play nicely and install all sorts of one-time use applications or spyware you might need and then toss out.

There is a whole new way of computing where nothing has to be permanent or mess with your main operating system and machine. Windows is clearly not focused on that direction hence geeks like me have wandered off that route for quite some time now and are clearly not coming back anytime soon.