Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

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SandJ
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Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by SandJ » Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:30 pm

I am in the position of being able to replace my main desktop PC with a new machine; it will be a Ubuntu machine. I also want to maximise my Oolite experience with graphics-heavy OXPs and extra ships.

Please recommend a suitable graphics card(s) you know will work well with Oolite under Ubuntu. nVidia GTX 550 Ti

Also, how much RAM should I specify for an OXP-heavy Oolite ? (Ubuntu recommends 1 Gb) 4 GB minimum

Also, what brand/kind of processor would you recommend I go for / avoid? (Ubuntu recommends a mere 1 GHz CPU) AMD FX-4100 Quad Core

32-bit or 64-bit? 64-bit

Are my Linux expectations over-optimistic - should I make it dual-boot and run Oolite under Windows? Oolite can run like silk in Ubuntu.

Anything else I need to be aware of?

Thank you in advance.

For reference so far:
- at the time of writing, March 2011, Oolite is at Oolite v1.76, the stable Ubuntu is Ubuntu 11.10 and Windows 8 is in pre-release.
- 29/4/11 getafix recommends Ubuntu 10.04 (LTS), 3Gb RAM minimum, nVidia, Intel 64-bit.
- 19/5/11 Solar Patriot uses: AMD Athlon (tm) 64 Processor 3500+, Mesa DRI R300 (RV380 5B60) 20090101 x86/MMX+/3DNow!+/SSE2 TCL DRI2, ATI Technologies Inc RV370 5B60 [Radeon X300 (PCIE)] (prog-if 00 [VGA controller]).
- 5/1/12 DaddyHoggy praises nVidia Linux drivers.
Last edited by SandJ on Sun Jul 08, 2012 11:15 am, edited 7 times in total.
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fronclynne
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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by fronclynne » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:23 pm

I can't give much advice on graphics cards, except to stay the hell away from intel.

I get good processor-side speed out of this old 1.6gHz Atom, but the integrated GPU is lame. If you have a good GPU (with good 3D support), a 1gHz CPU will be far more than enough to run Oolite. This probably means running something from Nvidia.

Given what memory prices have done in the past two years, buy something that supports 8GB or more of DDR3, & cram as much memory as you can afford into it now.

As far as 32- vs 64-bit, keep in mind that you may want to use this computer for more than a year or two. In a couple of years 4GB of RAM is going to seem quaintly humourous in the same way that that blazingly fast 80386-25 with 32MB would seem now. Go with 64-bit.

Ubuntu is a bit heavy on the notion of "user experience", so keep in mind that 20-50% of one processor is going to be doing nothing but running notification daemons and updating dancing pictures of wireless network signal bars. Xubuntu might be better, or even just debian with openbox.

FWIW, I'm currently running Gentoo with a minimal window-manager. My desktop integration suite (including a file manager, menuless application launcher, & desktop configuration manager) is st + tmux + mksh. 8)

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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Ironfist » Mon Mar 19, 2012 3:52 pm

Remember that it is always - you pays your money and takes your chance. Largely the most important decision is - is this going to be home build or off the self.
If home build then - I would have a good look at Tom's hardware http://www.tomshardware.co.uk/, they don't sell but do really good comparisons. The important thing will always be the total amount that you have to spend.
I think you should plan on 64bit even if you only install a 32bit operating system. Currently memory prices are really cheap so I would say atleast 4Gbyte and probably 8Gbyte is sensible. As to processor the current recommendation is Intel i5 but nothing more than 2500K, which can be overclocked even if only air cooled.

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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Gimbal Locke » Mon Mar 19, 2012 8:16 pm

I'm running Oolite on a laptop (Lenovo Thinkpad Edge E520), I understand you are building a desktop.

My laptop has a 64-bit Intel Core i3-2350M Processor (3M Cache, 2.30 GHz), 4 gigs of RAM and Intel HD Graphics 3000.

I am running the 32-bit version of Xubuntu 11.10. I would advise to use a 32-bit version of Ubuntu, it will be less of a struggle. Xubuntu comes with the XFCE desktop, which I prefer over Unity, Gnome or KDE: it's simple, fast & I like how it can be customised.

In general Oolite runs very smooth, I never had crashes - and I'm using plenty of OXPs. Sometimes there are some shader errors (the Intel HD Graphics 3000 in some ways behaves like an "old" graphics card, cf. this post), but nothing major.

Image
(The above screenshot has been scaled down to be 1000 pixels wide.)
SandJ wrote:Are my Linux expectations over-optimistic - should I make it dual-boot and run Oolite under Windows?
No, you don't need Windows for playing Oolite. But you may need it depending on what other things you want to use your computer for. I boot into Windows about once every two months (usually to help out students or friends who suffer from Windows problems :mrgreen:).

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Mauiby de Fug
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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Mauiby de Fug » Mon Mar 19, 2012 9:31 pm

While I can't give any useful info on shaders and hardware and such, I can comment on dual-booting. I've been using L/Ubuntu for the last three years, and most of the time for general usage, I haven't had to dual boot at all. Except when I have to do some word processing. Unfortunately, LibreOffice really isn't that great - I've found it buggy and slow, as have many of my friends. While I don't like Microsoft/Windows, I have to say that if you actually want to do some proper word processing or spreadsheets or some such, you'll find Office hard to beat, and if you need to do that sort of work often, it may unfortunately be worth considering a dual boot just for that...

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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Lone_Wolf » Mon Mar 19, 2012 10:21 pm

processor : go for 64-bit
oolite runs fine on it, and 98% of all linux apps is availabe for x86_64.

Ram : 4 GB minimum, more is better

Graphics card :
driver is more important then card, but intel graphics are the worst.
main question here is if you prefer open source drivers or proprietary.
if you don't mind proprietary, go with nvidia.
incase you prefer Open Source Software, an AMD/ATI card from the HD4xxx range would be best.
(the OSS drivers for that range are way more mature then for the newer cards, personally i use an AMD HD 4890 with the OSS driver).
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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Greyth » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:21 am

A few thoughts...

I like the NVidia driver arrangement in Ubuntu which seems far less fraught with potential errors - largely automatic. Also they issue a utility so you can try the lates driver if you want. However on my old rig (AN7+NVidia 6200) framerates are significantly lower and the gameplay more choppy than under XP. Having said that there seems less stutter (under XP the hard drive activity periodically overwhelms the gameplay).

If you are considering a 2011 socket then probably best to stick clear of Gigabyte as there have been numerous 'thermal incidents' leading to a general recall. The slightly older socket seems to have the best bang per buck atm.

If you go for a 64 bit machine then that doubles your memory requirements! If you fit 8 gig then that's only worth 4 gig.

Memory - generic memory gives a so-so performance. Samsung have a good reputation for high end RAM and these seem to be the chips used in Ripjaw and Corsair gaming memory.
Oolite 1.76
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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Lone_Wolf » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:35 am

Greyth wrote: If you go for a 64 bit machine then that doubles your memory requirements! If you fit 8 gig then that's only worth 4 gig.
While 64 bit programs tend to need more memory then the 32-bit versions, this only affects pointers and such.
a typical figure is that native 64-bit apps need 25% more memory, but performance can be 15% better then the 32-bit versions.

ex :
firefox needs 200 Mb on a 32-bit system with 10 tabs open and 5 addons
on a 64-bit system it will use 250 Mb, but run faster.
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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Greyth » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:52 am

I hear what you say Lone_Wolf but it's always safer to double up especially with memory. Needs+1. Thinking back to the move from 16 to 32 bit memory requirements doubled at the very least.
Oolite 1.76
Debian 6 : Ubuntu 12.04
NVidia 6200 : Radeon/AMD thang
Abit AN7 : Packard Bell TJ74

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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Greyth » Tue Mar 20, 2012 2:17 am

Hmm, I turned off the 3D desktop and reverted to 2D - now Oolite is running like silk under Ubuntu 11.10 with the proprietary driver.
Oolite 1.76
Debian 6 : Ubuntu 12.04
NVidia 6200 : Radeon/AMD thang
Abit AN7 : Packard Bell TJ74

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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by maik » Tue Mar 20, 2012 9:16 am

Mauiby de Fug wrote:if you actually want to do some proper word processing or spreadsheets or some such, you'll find Office hard to beat, and if you need to do that sort of work often, it may unfortunately be worth considering a dual boot just for that...
Off topic, but I have very good experience with CrossOver for running the Windows version of MS Office on Linux. If MS Office is the only reason for dual boot this might save you the hassle.

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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Micha » Tue Mar 20, 2012 10:23 am

Greyth wrote:I hear what you say Lone_Wolf but it's always safer to double up especially with memory. Needs+1. Thinking back to the move from 16 to 32 bit memory requirements doubled at the very least.
The move from 32-64bit can't be readily compared with the move from 16-32bit. As Lone_Wolf mentioned, the former move primarily changes the size of pointers whereas the latter also increased the data sizes of all the numbers.

To use more than about 3GB of RAM on a 32-bit OS requires some 'tricks' - under Linux this means installing a kernel which has PAE support (Physical Address Extensions).

I've been running 64-bit Ubuntu Maverick for years now (with "only" 2GB of RAM) as my only desktop machine and there's no major issues compared with running 32-bit. Unlike Windows, almost all software available for Ubuntu is 64-bit clean. Skype, nVidia, and Flash all work well, as 3 examples of proprietary closed-source binaries.
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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Greyth » Tue Mar 20, 2012 12:22 pm

Hi Micha, thanks to you and Lone_Wolf for taking the time to explain that more fully - so 64 bit doesn't halve the size of RAM but does put a huge dent in it. I would probably still double though!
Oolite 1.76
Debian 6 : Ubuntu 12.04
NVidia 6200 : Radeon/AMD thang
Abit AN7 : Packard Bell TJ74

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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by Gimbal Locke » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:53 pm

This may be relevant for this discussion:

"AMD has publicly released the open-source code to the Radeon HD 7000 series 'Southern Islands' graphics cards for Linux users. This allows users of AMD's latest-generation of Radeon graphics cards to use the open-source Linux driver rather than Catalyst, plus there's also early support for AMD's next-generation Fusion APUs."

http://linux.slashdot.org/story/12/03/2 ... 000-driver

Also, Intel is releasing the open-source Linux graphics driver code for Intel's 2013 platform, Haswell:

http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=n ... px=MTA3MzQ

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Re: Hardware recommendations, Linux, 2012 March

Post by fronclynne » Thu Mar 22, 2012 12:28 am

Micha wrote:To use more than about 3GB of RAM on a 32-bit OS requires some 'tricks' - under Linux this means installing a kernel which has PAE support (Physical Address Extensions).

I've been running 64-bit Ubuntu Maverick for years now (with "only" 2GB of RAM) as my only desktop machine and there's no major issues compared with running 32-bit. Unlike Windows, almost all software available for Ubuntu is 64-bit clean. Skype, nVidia, and Flash all work well, as 3 examples of proprietary closed-source binaries.
It's right around 3.5G, but yes, PAE is a terrible hack. & once 32-bit is relegated to phones & embedded machines, PAE will thankfully die.

Definitely go for the 64-bit chip, even if you plan on running a 32-bit version of your operating system. It'll pay off later.

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