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Thread: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

  1. #1
    Join Date
    May 2009
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    Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    Does anyone have any experience with running Slackware on the recent System 76 Pangolin Performance Laptops?

    I am thinking of purchasing one because I need a more powerful system than my current system.

    Current System:
    - Dell Latitude D630
    - Core 2 Duo 2.2 GHz processor
    - 4 GB RAM

    Right now I'm using Slackware 13.1 on the above hardware and everything runs perfectly. Suspend works perfectly, I never shut down my system. Wicd and wireless network changes are seamless and automatic. The system I'd like to go to is listed below.

    System 76 Pangolin Performance:
    - Core i7-620M processor
    - 8GB of RAM


    I don't want to make the purchase if I'm going to run into a bunch of hardware configuration problems. I'm looking to solve my performance problems not create a whole host of new ones.

    I already contacted sales at System 76 and they pointed me to this forum. I have also found nothing recent on the Internet to indicate whether purchasing this for Slackware is a good idea.

    Any experience anyone has to share along these lines would be greatly appreciated.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2007
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    264

    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    I don't have any first hand experience on Slackware or the Pangolin for that matter, but I am running Debian (squeeze) on the Lemur right now. Basically, if the hardware works with one distro, it should work with any other. You might need to tweak around a little at first, but that should be all. For instance, I had to rebuild the webcam drivers from source in order to get it to work on Debian (Just a ./configure && make && make install thing). The same thing is done by the System76 driver, except that it is packaged neatly and deployed effortlessly in a single click! If you are good enough to be using Slackware, I'd assume that you certainly are good enough to handle things like this It takes a little time (maybe 10 odd minutes) to figure out what the System76 python scripts do, and then you're ready to do the same for your distro of choice!

  3. #3
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    Oct 2007
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    264

    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    Also, If you're interested in real "rock-solid" stability, you'd know that Ubuntu is not the surefire way to go. Debian (lenny for old hardware, squeeze for the more recent ones) is more like it.

  4. #4
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    May 2009
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    81

    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    msrinath80,

    Thanks for the reply. This is good information. It was enough to understand what I might need to do. If those scripts are written in Python, I'm sure I can figure out how to repackage those into something for Slackware. I am actually a maintainer for some official Slackbuids

    I would have to agree on the Ubuntu comment. I've tried using several other distributions over the years and I come back to Slackware because Ubuntu (and others for that matter) was a royal pain to customize and it runs like molasses in winter. Slackware is the only distribution I've ever used that doesn't cause blood to shoot out of my eyeballs.

    Any others with experience to share? Also, more specifically, anyone what uses xrandr to switch dual display on and off one the fly?

  5. #5
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    May 2009
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    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    Since no one seems to have any experience with dual display, I'm actually thinking about going to the Serval Professional. It has this graphics card:
    Nvidia GeForce GTX 460M Graphics with 1.5GB GDDR5 Video Memory

    Whereas the Pengolin Performance has this one:
    ATI Mobility Radeon HD 4570

    In the past, I've had problems with ATI graphics cards on Linux. Nvidia has always been good to me. Unless anyone has some other info, I'm going to take the "safe" route and get the Serval Professional. I'd rather spend the extra $300 to ensure I don't have headaches in the future, than be sorry when ATI screws me again.

  6. #6
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    May 2009
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    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    I went ahead and ordered the Serval Professional. I'm just not going to take another chance with ATI on a purchase this big. I need this system to work. It's vitally important.

    I'll probably post back my experience to others once I've received the unit and I've had a chance to take it for a test drive.

  7. #7
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    May 2009
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    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    Well... I received my Serval Professional and it has been less than fun. I checked that all the hardware was operational and then blew away Ubuntu. Then I put in Slackware 13.1. It didn't even see the wireless card. That was the main sticking point. Otherwise, most things appeared to work okay.

    Not having wireless is a no-go. So I reinstalled Ubuntu and did the system restore. Ubuntu started pissing me off right away. I just hate the way they do things. So I'm downloading Slackware Current. I'm going to see if a newer kernel, which Ubuntu has already, will see the wireless card.

    I'm not that thrilled with running "current" but in the past it has normally been pretty good. I think, at a minimum, I'm going to run dual boot. I guess I *need* Ubuntu right now, but I *want* Slackware.

    Man, this is such a pain. If this makes the wireless card work, I'll be happy. With Ubuntu I feel like I'm back putting the pieces together like the old days and working around stuff. Slackware requires some configuration, but it's pretty much ready to go with the things I do and the way I like doing them.

    So, my experience with Ubuntu is typical from my past experience. Things work, but it's such a kludge. It doesn't help that I'm a total Gnome hater. I put in Fluxbox but that doesn't really get me where I need to be.

    My list of gripes:
    - Work around the wireless, it sucks in Gnome too, but it works.
    - Search, search, search for stuff, like MySQL
    - Install Sun's Java (no one doing serious development uses OpenJDK)
    - Install all my IDEs (okay, I have to do this in Slackware too)
    - Install Latex (Anyone who doesn't use Latex for documents is really missing out)
    - Install Dolphin (I love that file manager)
    - Install and configure Fluxbox
    - Install Thunderbird (I hate Evolution)
    - Install Pidgin
    - The Gnome power management sucks
    - The Gnome desktop chooser sucks (Actually the whole UI experience is a pain, I'd use KDE, XFCE, or Fluxbox any day over Gnome)
    - I've spent a ton of time trying to figure out how to do trivial tasks
    - Install Konsole although Gnome terminal seems pretty good
    - Install Apache Httpd
    - I hate sudo
    - LVM with encryption, can Ubuntu even do this?? Encrypting home is not enough. I use other parts of the system. Those need to be secure too.
    - Suspend doesn't work, but I think that's Nvidia's fault. The display doesn't come back

    I'm not a Gnome guy, but you probably already figured that out. I'm not an Ubuntu guy either, but that's probably no mystery. I should talk about some good things.

    The Serval Professional is an awesome piece of hardware. The keyboard is really good. I like it. I'm pretty picky because I touch-type. The display is the best I've ever seen on a laptop, hands down. It's really crisp and clear. Very pleasing on the eyes. The laptop is fast, I mean *really* fast. Top even shows 8 CPUs because it's a quad-core with that hyperthreading. It's a real beast and I really like it overall. I also thought it would feel heavier, weight wise. It's not too bad.

    In all seriousness, if you like Ubuntu and you like Gnome, this laptop rocks! It is, without a doubt, the nicest machine I've ever bought.

  8. #8
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    Nov 2005
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    Albert Lea, Minnesota
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    Ubuntu 11.04 Natty Narwhal

    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    As you work through the issues with Slackware on your Serval, You may want to consider dual booting Debian Testing (a.k.a. Squeeze,) In my experience, Debian runs much faster than Ubuntu. I have it running quite well on both my first and second generation Darter laptops from S76. I did have to enable third party repositories for the proprietary drivers. Good luck in your quest to install Slackware on your Serval.

    Joe

  9. #9
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    May 2009
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    81

    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    I've now done several installs, Slackware and Ubuntu. Right now I have both distributions running in a dual boot configuration. I am using Slackware Current to have the latest kernel.

    I consider this a stop gap until I can get everything working in Slackware. I am using Lilo to boot Ubuntu with Grub installed on the root super block of the Ubuntu install.

    I have a terrible partitioning scheme going here:
    /dev/sda1 - Slackware /boot
    /dev/sda2 - Ubuntu /boot
    /dev/sda5 - LVM with Luks AES 256 encryption /dev/cryptvg/root, /dev/cryptvg/home, and /dev/cryptvg/swap
    /dev/sda6 - Ubuntu / (root)
    /dev/sda7 - Ubuntu swap
    /dev/sda8 - Ubuntu /home

    I hacked open the drivers from the System76 restore repositories and I was unable to get the wireless card to be recognized by Slackware. I compiled the modules, installed them and loaded them, but they still did not work on Slackware. I could not get the actual hardware to be seen. I located the driver for the wireless card from Realtek. I will try to compile that module into the kernel for Slackware this evening.

    The upshot is the Nvidia driver I installed for Slackware is better than the one from the Ubuntu repositories. I wish they would make the restore files available as regular source as well as that .deb file. Sometimes the Ubuntu repos leave a little to be desired. I know they are good in general, but I always end up doing custom stuff. They never seem to give me exactly what I want.

    I haven't looked at the built in camera or the card reader. They run in Ubuntu, but I haven't tried from Slackware.

    If I am able to get the wireless working in Slackware, there will be little to no reason to use Ubuntu. I need that install though to reference the configuration as I go through getting the hardware working in Slackware.

    Other notes.... Suspend does not work. The display does not come back. In Slackware it does, but the Ubuntu install does not. The power management in KDE is better than Gnome. Gnome will not tell you how much battery is left. KDE from Slackware will give you battery levels. Actually, with the exception of the wireless card, things work better with Slackware.

    This shouldn't be surprising to those who are steeped in Slackware goodness and have been jerked around by Ubuntu. As much of a pain as Slackware can be in these sorts of situations, it usually does not need to be messed with once the initial pain is endured.

    More to come on this as I find out more stuff.

  10. #10
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    May 2009
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    Re: Slackware on Pangolin Performance

    Quote Originally Posted by jml View Post
    As you work through the issues with Slackware on your Serval, You may want to consider dual booting Debian Testing (a.k.a. Squeeze,) In my experience, Debian runs much faster than Ubuntu. I have it running quite well on both my first and second generation Darter laptops from S76. I did have to enable third party repositories for the proprietary drivers. Good luck in your quest to install Slackware on your Serval.

    Joe
    Thanks for the suggestion. I will consider this if I have some insurmountable challenges with Slackware.

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