Nova and linux | PCSPECIALIST

Nova and linux

hogfish

Bronze Level Poster
I am intending to buy a high end NOVA laptop for linux, but there seems to be little available information.
I noticed
https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/forums/threads/nova-15-bios-and-booting-from-usb-key.72377/
which suggests that PCspecialist sends out systems polluted with Windoze, and that I will have to sort out
some wndows complications before I can even boot. Or maybe I should just remove the ssd and wipe it on
another system so that I can boot properly.

However, I am really after any experience people have with running linux on a Nova-15. I expect to install devuan to avoid systemd.
 

SpyderTracks

Recluse
Moderator
I am intending to buy a high end NOVA laptop for linux, but there seems to be little available information.
I noticed
https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/forums/threads/nova-15-bios-and-booting-from-usb-key.72377/
which suggests that PCspecialist sends out systems polluted with Windoze, and that I will have to sort out
some wndows complications before I can even boot. Or maybe I should just remove the ssd and wipe it on
another system so that I can boot properly.

However, I am really after any experience people have with running linux on a Nova-15. I expect to install devuan to avoid systemd.
PCS install a test windows so they can test the system and make sure the hardware is ok.

You won't need to touch windows, just install you linux install USB and wipe the partitions that are there.

That guy just didn't seem to know how to navigate the BIOS or create a bootable USB.
 

Stephen M

Spamtastic
Cannot say anything about the Nova but I have installed various 'nix distros on several PCS machines and mostly has been quite simple, on one of the older Optimus machines there was a bit of hassle, a log in loop but that was a GPU driver problem and easy to fix.

My former main distro was Ubuntu but Manjaro is my go to OS now as it is easy to install and seems to work better than the rest.

AMD have been very good with releasing patches and keeping up to date with 'nix needs, there is some very good info on this site: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=home
 

Stephen M

Spamtastic
Worth adding, although it is my guess you will do this anyway, avoid things like Unetbootin and download a proper iso from the distro home site and boot from that. I find there are too often errors with Unetbootin and the like.
 

themadhair

New member
Just configured a Nova 15 for use with Mint last week. Did have some issues but weren’t too hard to solve.

On post hit F7 to bring up the boot menu. This will allow you to boot from USB. I had to choose to the compatibility mode (more on this later).

I went for Mint Cinnamon and the install went fine until I tried to boot and got the error message “initramfs unpacking failed: Decoding failed”. Ubuntu upstream have a nasty bug in their shit which was introduced in version 20. The solution is to get booted by going through the grub menu - I found two sharp taps of the ESC during the post when the PCS logo is showing to do the trick in getting the grub menu open. If you hit escape too many times it will go to the grub prompt which isn’t what you want, and you’ll have to type “reboot” to try again.

When you get booted the workaround for the bug is to edit the file etc/initramfs-tools/initramfs.conf and change “COMPRESS=lz4” to “COMPRESS=gzip”. Then run “sudo update-initramfs -u” and you should be able to boot normally.

To keyboard lights to work add the commands “acpi_osi=! acpi_osi=Linux” to your GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX_DEFAULT options in grub. The GUI way is to open the Grub Customizer program and add the lines to the kernel parameters under general settings (usually the options “quiet splash” are already there). From what I can tell all the other hardware has been detected correctly out of the box.

For my setup I made a miscalculation. My plan was to install Mint Cinnamon and then install the KDE desktop on top. The Mint team dropped support for their KDE spin, and Feron OS (another’s KDE spin of Mint) is not to my liking. My tests in Virtualbox worked ok, but when it came to real hardware trying to install KDE over Cinnamon really didn’t work, so I have gone for the route of rebuilding the KDE features I want within Cinnamon. Install and configuring Konsole and Dolphin was straightforward, but I had use Xdotool to recreate my preferred window positioning. My old Conky didn’t work - the format has been completely changed - so I have to redo from scratch to the new format.

I might have to consider going for a tiling window manager next time, because even when I was on KDE I was tweaking everything anyway. But KDE offer a massive toolbox to make things a lot easier, and while Cinnamon has been much more tricky I do like its polish, its look and its feel. One tip for configuring Cinnamon is to use a tool like dconf Editor to find a particular setting of interest - when you found it you can use the path given to make it scriptable in the way you want. Simple example is when I run some Wine programs in fullscreen the taskbar shows. By using dconf Editor to find the path for where the auto-hide taskbar setting is located I could bind that setting to keyboard shortcut - so Wine programs in fullscreen are no longer a problem as I can use my newly created keyboard shortcut to toggle the taskbar off and on.

So far the only thing that I haven’t managed to get working that I wanted is Leela, but I’m not sure that has anything to do with the hardware. I have gotten the NVidia development kit installed, I have gotten CUDA working, etc, and when I run the make command for Leela it seems to build just fine. But so far I haven’t managed to get the outputted binary to work in any program (Scid vs. PC). I am hopeful that with a little more tinkering I’ll get it to work.

Other than the boot error I’d say any novice would have no other issues. So far Mint Cinnamon has been reliable and gives a solid desktop experience. It isn’t as configurable as KDE, but so far I seem to be succeeding bending it to my will. That boot error would be a pain for anyone new though. Not because the error is hard to fix, but because getting into grub for the first to get booted before you can fix the error can be frustrating.

One final tip, which I give because I see a lot of people making this mistake. If your machine has more than one drive then make sure your format them all. Running from an NTFS drive has lower performance than ext4, and there are some subtle bugs that can arise (running Steam games from an NTFS partition, for example, has led to a lot of headaches).
 

VPATEL

Member
I am intending to buy a high end NOVA laptop for linux, but there seems to be little available information.
I noticed
https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/forums/threads/nova-15-bios-and-booting-from-usb-key.72377/
which suggests that PCspecialist sends out systems polluted with Windoze, and that I will have to sort out
some wndows complications before I can even boot. Or maybe I should just remove the ssd and wipe it on
another system so that I can boot properly.

However, I am really after any experience people have with running linux on a Nova-15. I expect to install devuan to avoid systemd

I have installed Manjaro i3 on Nova and its been 3 weeks now. Nova is awesome and beast. Ok ok... :censored:. I will post the review of it in a new Thread.

As for your info. It was smooth
installation out of the box everything works.
 
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