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Distro for dual GPU laptop

468 Views 8 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Prophet4NO1
Looking to get windows off my Legion laptop. It has an AMD 5800U with a radeon GPU as well as a 3060 GPU. I want to retain the GPU swapping that works in Windows, but never played with that in Linux. Seems, from what I can find, hybrid works in Linux, but I get pretty scattered details depending on base distro.

My last laptop I went through a bunch of distros eventually settling on Arch. I am not looking to do Arch for this machine. Want something a little more install and go. Especially since it may sit unused for a month at times. That has not served me well with Arch in the past.

As of right now I am floating between vanilla Debian or Fedora. Maybe leaning a little to Fedora since packages tend to be newer than Debian.

Would one play nicer out of the box with dynamic/hybrid GPU switching? This is my main concern for picking one at the moment. Does X or wayland matter with this?
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Linux Mint (Cinnamon) is my go-to distro for slightly older hardware (read: any hardware not so new I need Arch just for kernel/firmware support). MATE for anything which doesn't need as pretty a desktop or I might need to connect to with VNC.

GPU switching in Linux is not as smooth as Windows yet (last time I checked switching required a logout/login to give Xorg a kick) but there does appear to be some movement on that front recently from nVidia... how long it will be before it reaches deployment and/or maturity remains to be seen.

I'm not a fan of RedHat based distros, and Debian doesn't always play nicely with nVidia drivers in my experience, while Ubuntu-based distros have made significant strides in making the 3rd party driver installs a lot easier. Also, if you care, Mint can be used with Secure Boot because it piggybacks off the Ubuntu signing shim.
 

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Perhaps have a look at Pop!OS, which is ubuntu but done by the guys of System76. Great gpu support, and you can run fairly bleeding edge if you want, also runs great with either zen or xanmod kernels.

It's a very clean and polished experience, your gpu will just work out of the box. And you want to get down and dirty, everything you need is there.

Think they have an LTS as well if you want something more long term.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Ubuntu is built off Debian, and I did see the system76 software for GPU switching can be plugged into pretty much any Ubuntu disto. I would think it can be put into Debian as well. I figure what ever distro I use, I will likely have to do some fiddling. Just not looking for the whole do it from scratch approach of Arch. My last laptop I I mainly used Manjaro to have all the Archiness but be able to get it running quickly. That laptop sat for a year and I recently pulled it out, can not do updates and I am too lazy to manually update things bit by bit to get it caught up.

As for desktop environment, I am pretty set on KDE. Been using it as my primary for years, regardless of distro. Not a big fan of Mate. Really dislike newer gnome environments.
 

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Well, if you already like KDE, fair play. Last time I used KDE seriously was the 3.x branch with RedHat 7 (RH7, not RHEL7!), and it's changed a lot since then. I don't like Gnome Shell, although some of the spinoff UIs are nice (Cinnamon, MATE).

As you say, Ubuntu is based originally off of Debian, however at this point trying to get something designed for one working on the other can be a trying experience as it has diverged quite a bit. It depends. Installing the nVidia drivers in Ubuntu is a few clicks in the GUI or a single console command; installing them in Debian is a bit more complicated.
 

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Discussion Starter · #6 ·
Well, Debian is a nonstarter. Got it up and running, no wifi. Kernel is apparently too old to support the wifi on board. Pretty sure it was 5.10. None of the drivers I could find supported my particular Realtek chipset. So now I have Fedora installed, that is on 6.0. And worked out of the box. Gonna try a few things to get hybrid working. Hoping nvidia optimus will do the trick. Wish me luck.
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
So, interesting discovery. I am currently using just the nvidia chip. Have not gotten dynamic/hybrid working just yet. The thing I have noticed is that if I load KDE in X the scaling is off. Everything is bigger than it should be. Like I am using a much lower resolution screen. But, if I load up in Wayland, scaling goes back down and it looks like it did on the Radeon GPU. No clue why this is. For now I am just sticking with Wayland and will see how things go.
 

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If you would like to experiment with xorg, possible help can be found easily in nvidia-settings. The nvidia proprietary driver supports user specific profiles so you can setup a test user if you'd like but also you can run nvidia-settings as root and it will write an xorg.conf or modify an existing one for you that won't effect running Wayland nor any other users who prefer not to or their own..
 
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