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#1 2021-02-19 16:02:14

twoion
ほやほや
Registered: 2015-08-10
Posts: 3,135

Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

Starting today, I'm a curious owner of a XMG Core 15 laptop (2020 model). They had it on sale a few weeks ago and I couldn't resist. I will be setting it up over the coming weeks, looking to replace my Thinkpad x240 in the long run as a "desktop replacement". The Thinkpad is, except for a keyboard assembly that needs replacement, perfectly fine and is going to last 5+ more years and will continue to serve as the "mobile" computer.

My "need" (part fabricated, part real) here is that I want faster graphics, faster CPU, and more RAM (x240 RAM is technically limited to 8G). Now I've got 16G in the XMG and it can take up to 64G, and a 10th gen Intel i7 CPU. Pretty future proof I think. If the chassis holds up, it'll last as long as the Thinkpad --- to be seen (TM). Buying a current Thinkpad with a RTX2060-level graphics was impossible to justify. The only decent option outside of Lenovo's Legion gaming laptop series would have been the X1 extreme edition with a RTX1650Ti at more than double the price, and as Lenovo has started soldering everything (RAM, GPU) I could have as well bought a macbook. With XMG, they use a generic chassis and add their components, so even though the laptop might not be as premium and long-lived as a classic Thinkpad, it's repairable, and they have pretty good support & warranty as well so I'm positive I made a good choice...

Biggest game changers in real life: Hardware decoding of x265 and 10bit x264 and vp9 --- My thinkpad can't play back 4k video and struggles with 1080p 10bit x264 ==> fixed; RTX2060 GPU is infinitely faster than the Intel GPU and will allow me to drive 2 external 24" 1920x1200 monitors at full speed (already have them) and in the future will have no problems doing the same with 2 external 4k monitors (next planned upgrade) -- impossbile with the Thinkpad. I'm sick and tired of waiting for Java applications to sluggishly load, and for bad websites including Gmail to slow down my browsing ---> hopefully vastly improved, kill them with brute force. I also like to game a bit; now I'll be able to play Xonotic with textures enabled and more than 30-60fps smile

I'll update here if there's something interesting with Linux going on. On the laptop itself there are plenty of reviews online already, so you can look it up smile

At the moment, I'm planning to have Windows 10 Enterprise as the host OS and Linux as a VM guest in order to enjoy reasonably safe screen locking, Excel and to try out WSL2. Because this laptop allows nvidia Optimus to be disabled, I'll also be experimenting with iGPU pass through to Linux VMs and such things (I'll keep running my Thinkpad OS in a VM --- maybe I'll make a post of how to best virtualize an existing UEFI Linux OS in a VM and move it to Windows).


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#2 2021-02-19 16:40:46

DeepDayze
Like sands through an hourglass...
From: In Linux Land
Registered: 2017-05-28
Posts: 1,198

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

Nice machine, and it will really come in handy for doing the BL dev work and why not have Windows as a guest instead and use Linux as the host? However if you have the BL dev environment already set up on your old thinkpad that be cool to move it to a VM so you can still work in that environment you painstakingly set up on that old machine and not having to fiddle with all that again on the new.

Looks like the start of a new journey!

Last edited by DeepDayze (2021-02-19 16:42:48)


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#3 2021-03-28 18:46:18

twoion
ほやほや
Registered: 2015-08-10
Posts: 3,135

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

Update: While I'm continueing to use my Linux machine for "core" work, I've been trying out Windows for the past month, and this weekend, haven't even turned on my Linux machine!

There's been a surprising degree of evoluation in the "Windows desktop for the power user" field. Microsoft provides now PowerShell, a object-oriented interactive shell with shims for many Unixy commands by default (some good, some bad) with which you can call into any aspect of Windows  the OS you can edit the registry, you can define background services, schedule tasks (aka cronjobs), and a lot more. Morever, you can use PowerShell to call into any .NET class method (possibly any DLL even) -- this means that PowerShell has a FFI to Windows built in, which is strongly typed even (remember bash-ctypes? https://guix.gnu.org/packages/bash-ctypes-1.2/?): this is very powerful tooling.

The object-based nature enables somewhat hard-to-get-used-to, but definitely-more-advanced command compositions than a traditional Unix shell's piping, which is based on text only. For example, you would

ls -c 

to sort entries in a directory by creation date.

In Powershell, you can type

ls

(which is an alias to the fugly Get-ChildItem) to get a list of files as well. But the output of this is a list of objects, not a string

$ ls | Select-Object -Property "*"
BaseName          : youtube-dl
Target            : {}
LinkType          :
Name              : youtube-dl.exe
Length            : 8152022
DirectoryName     : C:\Users\Jens John\Downloads
Directory         : C:\Users\Jens John\Downloads
IsReadOnly        : False
Exists            : True
FullName          : C:\Users\Jens John\Downloads\youtube-dl.exe
Extension         : .exe
CreationTime      : 19.03.2021 21:38:14
CreationTimeUtc   : 19.03.2021 20:38:14
LastAccessTime    : 28.03.2021 20:08:56
LastAccessTimeUtc : 28.03.2021 18:08:56
LastWriteTime     : 19.03.2021 21:38:18
LastWriteTimeUtc  : 19.03.2021 20:38:18
Attributes        : Archive

which means that the natural way to accomplish this same task in PS is

ls | sort CreationTime

which just means: take the list of output objects of ls, and sort all objects by their direct property CreationTime, then output a modified list. The final step in these pipelines is a command of the form Format-*, which is formatter that can modify the output format. For example...

ls | Format-Table -GroupBy Extension -Wrap

will take all files and output a wrapped table with files grouped by the value of the extension attribute. Very nice shell concept. PS is available on Linux as well,  so I strongly suggest giving it a try! Many classes of mistakes that are common to scripting UNIX shells are entirely, completely avoidable using just the most basic PS primitives. Using PS feels more similar to using a Python, C# or Java "shell"...good stuff if you already program a lot.

This also cleans up the "commands" as well - du, sort, ls for example have extra switches for "human-readable output", so you can sort text like 128M, 256M by numeric size instead of lexicographic sort -- all unnecessary. Just use the right attribute of the object type you're working with. PS has reflection -- show all object properties, show documentation on the meaning of this or that type -- as well so it's pretty easy to use.

Next.

Did you know that NeoVIM runs natively in Windows Terminal? So you get a real editor, too! A lot of software I use runs natively on Windows now, esp. Python. After  installing some packages with scoop, a declarative package manager and winget, the up-and-coming command line package manager from Microsoft that absolves us of required 3rd-party solutions, neovim works with my usual init.vim almost completely unchanged (the only part I had to conditionalize was: the routine that set the vim theme based on the base16-shell theme active in Bash...). Python completion using deoplete and jedi, C/C++ development, all working perfectly fine. I had not expected this (thought that WSL2 or so was definitely required), so that's pretty damn good.

-b80.png

For backups on Windows, I settled with restic and rclone, well known on Unix, and, because written in Go, run natively with no loss of functionality on Windows as well. GPG works too, so I have my encryption needs taken care of...

All in all I've been very impressed with Windows as a power user, single-user desktop OS so far. Stable, fast boots, few surprises.

During my day job, I'm using macOS -- compared to it Windows is definitely more cluttered and messy and more unpredictable, but it also has much better documentation on how the system works than macOS. Apple used to be famous for good documentation, but during the 2010s, they stopped doing that. No documentation is as good as open source code, and extensive man pages on everything, but what I found is that from a user perspective who needs to get work done, Windows 10 (in my case, Education = Enterprise edition, which lets you disable almost everything that could possibly annoy you) seems to be able to offer quite a bit of versatility and stability today. Definitely almost the opposite of what I expected -- after all the horror stories about Windows 10. But let's face it, Microsoft now does rolling release distros (Win10 is effectively rolling release) and they have fixed a lot of mistakes.

The most often used features work better integrated than on Linux for a desktop OS: For example, I have full disk encryption on all volumes active using BitLocker, and it unlocks very easily with just the user password, with multi-factor auth (yubikey, password file on USB, whatever) or recovery phrase -- I couldn't probably do this on Linux without locking myself out a few times, and it still seems impossible to have a streamlined method of unlocking multiple cryptdis+LUKS encrypted harddrives with just 1 password prompt during Linux boot at the moment, which, with the new laptop having 2 1TB drives which should be usable independently (so no LVM spanning both disks and then LUKS on top of that), at least nothing that is easy to implement.

End of blog post. Maybe I'll add some more details on the cons -- definitely, also a lot. Slow I/O when compared to by beloved XFS, and the Windows Shell (explorer.exe, and the whole rest of the Windows UI) is a can of worms (looks like clueless interns did the design of that). On the command line, as written, Windows is actually pretty comfy now (goodbye cmd.exe). In fact, so much of open source software and shims for open source software has been integrated and stuffed into Windows (WSL/WSL2 integration, OpenSSH incl. ssh-agent ships and works natively, curl is an alias, Windows Terminal can flawlessly render Linux server's tmux/screen sessions and display ncurses programs...) it becomes clear what MS want to do and the two become hard to separate unless you check out every alias/shim...


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#4 2021-03-28 20:16:29

sleekmason
zoom
From: Ozarks
Registered: 2018-05-22
Posts: 573
Website

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

Thank you for you post!  I personally haven't used/tried windows in a long time.  When I received my new laptop recently I didn't bother even looking. Looks like I should have.

From your post, things have changed quite a ways from my days of getting the "Start" button to say GO!  lol.  Yeah, little corny. Nice to hear there's more.

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#5 2021-03-29 12:20:00

brontosaurusrex
Middle Office
Registered: 2015-09-29
Posts: 2,258
Website

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

Very interesting read, thanks for insight. I do have vim icon in total commander that actually runs vim in wsl1 with the file selected (windows path) in total commander pane. I can't figure out how to use powershell window, parameter passed fails for some reason (for files with spaces in them). Same seems to be true for nvim.exe. This button is working thought:

Command: cmd /c %COMMANDER_PATH%\..\util\neovim\bin\nvim.exe
Parameters: %S

8U9iISk.pngNEmwHbV.png

P.s. Kate is also for windows for some time now and looks good imho.

Last edited by brontosaurusrex (2021-03-29 12:57:34)

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#6 2021-03-29 15:26:41

twoion
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Registered: 2015-08-10
Posts: 3,135

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

brontosaurusrex wrote:

P.s. Kate is also for windows for some time now and looks good imho.

Okular as well! I'm using it as the default PDF reader. Especially the presence of Filelight is also delightful. It's awesome that Qt applications run on Windows without zero issues -- much different from GTK applications, mostly a total catastrophe. Though GIMP 2.10 actually works OK, the GTK backend for Windows used to be completely broken, based on my 2007/2008 experiences then.

https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/search/ … ?q=KDE+e.V.

I'm currently preparing to start developing work / integration of kbibtex to Windows (my preferred BibLaTeX file editor) and am also planning to get started programming in C#, in order to add features from ncmpcpp to https://github.com/Difegue/Stylophone, the so far singular half way decent mpd client I've found on Windows. Alternatively, I'll look into getting ncmpcpp to compile; it's C++ and using mostly the stdlib so most I/O or other OS-dependent stuff should be pretty much fine, the problem will be the use of ncurses and non-ANSI terminals.

What's interesting me about my "Microsoft" project is: C#, understanding Win NT the kernel better and esp. its security and system programming model (also I got baited by people finding security issues in Windows desktops for fun and profit). I've only ever really programmed against POSIX or Linux; and I'm curious about the differences. It is well known that there are certain edge contains in e.g. Linux process scheduling and memory management that are really bad.


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#7 2021-03-29 16:25:19

DeepDayze
Like sands through an hourglass...
From: In Linux Land
Registered: 2017-05-28
Posts: 1,198

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

Pretty cool seeing opensource programs on Windows. LibreOffice works quite well enough on Windows to all but replace MS Office for most use cases.

WSL most likely evolve to the point it's mature and stable to easily run Linux apps natively on the Windows desktop. Maybe even be able to create shortcuts on desktop and menu for running Linux apps direct.

Last edited by DeepDayze (2021-03-29 16:26:55)


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#8 2021-03-29 21:51:28

twoion
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Registered: 2015-08-10
Posts: 3,135

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

DeepDayze wrote:

WSL most likely evolve to the point it's mature and stable to easily run Linux apps natively on the Windows desktop. Maybe even be able to create shortcuts on desktop and menu for running Linux apps direct.

What's stopping this for me is the lack of full hardware graphics acceleration. You can have X windows on Windows pretty easily (well, more or less) but the performance isn't just there yet; which is no fun if your terminal is a opengl accelerated piece of work and browsers are, too -- as is mine. However, Microsoft are working on it. In WSL2, both Win10 and Linux(es) are Hyper-V VMs on a shared host after all, so they "just" need to figure out a way to do composite graphics on a single desktop that works for Linux next to Windows. The problem likely is to do it securely --- X11 has always been free for all, any X11 desktop is beasically insecure by default, they surely don't wanna risk opening doors that are now closed on Windows. Some expensive graphics cards support a mode where you can slice up the card using IOMMU and assign different slices to different VMs (mostly used for computing, not display tho) but this has to work with any gfx driver and card...at the moment, the Windows VM likely owns all the hardware....

Still, I'm pretty sure we'Ll be able to seamlessly mix Linux and Windows desktops pretty near in the future. On macOS, VMWare Fusion has offered the capability to mixnmatch macOS and Windows windows for a long time, works pretty well.


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#9 2021-03-29 22:39:22

hhh
Meep!
Registered: 2015-09-17
Posts: 11,467
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Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

USD &1400, nice kit! I read about the Microsoft Powershell thing in recent Linuc news, you're the first person I know who might actually implement it. wink

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#10 2021-04-06 19:06:21

twoion
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Registered: 2015-08-10
Posts: 3,135

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

I've now tested WSL2 vs a real VM and I have to say that WSL2 absolutely is the way to go. You remember how impressed I was just a few posts earlier in this thread by powershell etc? Well, I have relapsed. WSL2 is, apart from a few defects fixes for which are being worked on the way to use Windows. It's pretty much like on Linux: For your terminal needs you use the (Linux) terminal, and for the graphical stuff you use whatever desktop environment you have running. At this point, using Windows for the graphical parts like the browser (which is Firefox, like on Linux), PDF viewer (which is Okular, like on Linux), video player (which is mpv, like on Linux), music playing (mpd(.exe), like on Linux), comic book reading (which is yacreader, like on Linux), portfolio planning (which is portfolio performance, like on Linux), article writing (which is using latex, like on Linux) --- you see the pattern? it's literally the same software like on Linux everywhere --- is just like running Wayland instead of X11, some things are wrongdifferent when compared to X11 but does it really matter? It doesn't, almost. Some shortcuts are different. Bummer.

The few defects of WSL2 so far are: no native systemd/PID1 (but there are workarounds using genie, for example), limited distribution choice (you CAN have ArchLinux in WSL2, but you have to hack it (I'm probably gonna)), and not being able to own hardware (with WSL2, both Win10 and Linux are actually Hyper-V VMs, but obviously, the Windows VM still owns all the hardware), and no accelerated graphics out of WSL2 (but in true X11 fashion -- you can run the X server on Windows and let it display the windows from your Linux VM...) and no sound (you can route it over the network though).

Apparently Microsoft are also using the plan9 protocol (9p) to expose the Windows file systems to the Linux guest (and vice versa!) ... technically very interesting stuff I have to look into more. WSL does some magic to pull its integrations off --- for example, from within WSL, you can just pipe stuff into clip.exe to copy it to the Windows host's clipboard (essentiall xclip...) --- and for any Linux system enthusiast this is very interesting.

So, real VMs like with VMWare still have a reason for existence on Windows right now, that is, whenever you need to do stuff beyond just the terminal these days or stuff with hardware  --- which can be important, for example, if you have a piece of hardware so broken or old you need a specific OS that can run the drivers to access it --- then you use a VM.

WSL2 will absolutely not work on a family computer, but is meant for single-user developer machines only. You can access so much from within WSL (and vice versa), user separation is effectively meaningless.

The best way to do work on the NT kernel is Linux...no difference to using a remote shell session on a  Linux server. Just wish they would implement true RGB terminal color support wink

-cwT.png

^ WSL2 running in full-screen Windows Terminal on a separate virtual desktop, displaying a tmux based terminal environment with neovim, newsboat, and if I had something else significant set up already I'd show that, too.


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#11 Yesterday 11:26:32

twoion
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Registered: 2015-08-10
Posts: 3,135

Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

Audio

I am not really satisfied with the on-board analog audio codec of this laptop, a Realtek AC whatever analog audio codec. It drives my Beyerdynamic Custom Studio (80ohms) noticably worse in the low frequencies; I just noticed this listening in to a piece with melodic bass, which I'd otherwise been able to hear clearly on the Thinkpad but could barely make out on the XMG Core 15. Is it really that difficult to just put analog audio codecs on the level of a MacBook Pro in your custom made laptop boards? I have a MacBook Pro here too and its DAC is SO MUCH BETTER. Shame that my 7-year old ThinkPad has a better codec as well -- negative progress on almost latest-gen hardware.

(OT: My next laptop will likely be a M1 or M2 macbook anyway).

So, I bought something I was longing for quite some time anyway, an external entry-level DAC + headphone amplifier. Got a Fiio E10k Olympus2 for cheap; it's not the latest model from them and audiophiles seem to agree there's better, but who can complain about €50 audio equipment big_smile

https://fiio.com/e10k

Mine

19fpzk.jpg

It fixes the lacking bass in the Custom Studios, but I'm not sure it performs better than the Mac DAC  hmm So, to get decent sound on this XMG laptop you have to pay €50 extra for an addon, and you kinda lose the comfort of software-only volume control (SPDIF interface should be driven always at 100% volume, and the hardware volume regulator be used, I gather?) ... however, this opens also the door to buying 250ohm Beyerdynamics DT880 in the near future -- at least I can now pretend I have the hardware to justify their purchase wink

e10k2 works without any issues on Linux too btw.


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#12 Yesterday 23:22:48

hhh
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Registered: 2015-09-17
Posts: 11,467
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Re: Got a new laptop: XMG Core 15

Well, aside from everything else, I love your cable porn. Looks good! And let's post a link to those gorgeous, German headphones you're thinking of buying...

https://north-america.beyerdynamic.com/ … ition.html

Are those open or closed? What the hell is "semi-open"? I guess it means open-back and it's a marketing gimmick.

Before you make a purchase consider some Sennheiser (also German) headphones...

https://www.rtings.com/headphones/tools … shold=0.10

https://homestudiobasics.com/beyerdynam … to-finish/

https://audio46.com/blogs/headphones/se … comparison

What I'm gathering from those reviews are that the Beyers are deadly accurate at that price. Maybe too accurate to the point of sounding harsh, but I personally want a reference set of headphones. It will sound mellower on speakers every time, but at least you have an accurate starting point of the soundscape. I prefer my $100 Sennheiser HD 280 Pros for those reasons.

Here's a comprehensive review of the Beyers...

https://www.kenrockwell.com/audio/beyer/dt-880.htm

For $200 USD open-back headphones, you might also consider the American made Grado sr225e...

https://gradolabs.com/headphones/presti … m/4-sr225e

However, I owned a pair of Grados and while the soundstaging, treble and midrange were amazing, the bass was tight and accurate but didn't have great extension into the lower range, and the headphones are uncomfortable to wear for extended listening. I ended up switching the Grado earpads on my sr80s (actually a step up from that, the 100s, which were replaced quickly by Grado for the 120s for some technical reasons) for foam Sennheiser ones, they were more comfortable and gave better bass response...

https://en-us.sennheiser.com/accessorie … ar-cushion

Also, the headband and chord noise on that set of cans is excessively creaky and noisy. You really have to keep still.

Final verdict, I concur. Buy the Beyers, but have a pair of British Bowers & Wilkins speakers for comfortable listening available...

https://www.bowerswilkins.com/

Hell, buy their British headphones, why mess around?

https://www.bowerswilkins.com/headphones/px7

https://www.bowerswilkins.com/headphones

At least get a return policy on the Beyers so you can return them if they don't beat the sound and comfort of these at the same price (make sure Sennheiser has a return policy too)...

https://en-us.sennheiser.com/hd-560-s-a … YxEALw_wcB

^ First time reading about them, I want a pair.

Last edited by hhh (Today 00:26:41)

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