HP Laptops With CentOS 7?

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Hello all,

I’m looking into getting HP laptops for our department running CentOS 7.

Last time I checked this was some five or so years ago, and when I look at https://wiki.CentOS.org/HowTos/Laptops, nothing much seems to have happened since.

At that time, I had to give up CentOS on laptops, as both Wi-Fi and graphics wasn’t too well supported with CentOS 5 and 6. Is the situation better now with CentOS 7?

We’re only allowed to buy the HP, Dell and Apple brands here at this university, so what I’m looking at is basically HP. Apple is not of interest because of their pricing. All our desktops and laptops are HP’s running Windows 7 and 10, and they work fine. We do have some Dells, but only in the server area. Currently all our CentOS 6 and 7 workstations are custom built OEMs used for molecular modelling, but are now getting rather long in the tooth. I have a laptop at the office as a backup, running Ubuntu 16 LTS, as that was the only thing that found all the hardware properly at the time. However, I’d rather not go down that particular road for various reasons.

The thing that interests me first and foremost is whether the latest CentOS
7 iteration will install right out of the box with all hardware properly detected, no manual compiling of drivers or jumping through hoops to _maybe_
getting stuff to work with eg a HP Elitebook 850 G4.

Anybody care to chime in with a comment or hint on the laptop situation and-or their experiences?

38 thoughts on - HP Laptops With CentOS 7?

  • Thanks. Would you know what chipset that particular wifi-dongle is running?

    A wifi-dongle may work, but I’m thinking it’s not really desirable to go that way. I’m figuring the users will loose that dongle sooner than later! :-)

  • The laptop is in the car so I can’t check at the moment, but this is the item.

    I understand your concern regarding the users, but thet can’t be any worse than mine, and they’re capable of not losing their mouse dongle.

    It would be nicer to get it working with the internal one at some point.

  • At daily work, we have elitebook 840g2 and 840g3, works out of the box with C7.
    (on the g3, the FN/light shortcuts are not working). ymmv.

    Cheers

    Tru

  • I usually recommend against HP laptops. I had Compaq quite some time ago
    (the last was bought out by HP shortly after I got my laptop), and I have seen a bunch of HP laptops people in our Department got themselves. That
    (dealing with these, looking inside hardware etc) developed strong allergy towards HP laptops in me. My Compaq, BTW, has a list of “approved hardware” in BIOS, which is evil: I had to edit BIOS with hex editor to replace piece of crap broadcom wireless adapter with Intel one.

    To be fair I must mention here that I love HP printers, and the whole attitude of HP towards printers they make. Decent HP laser printers are manageable, last forever, and HP keeps making supplies for them. I just retired still working B/W LaserJet 4050, that worked for over 16 years, was heavily used, still works, print quality is the same as it always had, and HP still makes supplies for it.

    I usually recommend Dell: business lines of laptops, see which are offered with 3 to 5 years warranty, I do get cheapest 3 year warranty, but Dell committing to maintain it for 5 years tell you that that is solidly built, and is not expected to be obsoleted soon.

    I recommended IBM before they sold laptop line to Lenovo. After watching Lenovo for about 3 years, I started recommending them (they were same well engineered as IBMs were), but shortly after that they had a scandal: sold a bunch of laptops with malware preinstalled, that did it: I gave up on Lenovo for good.

    From smaller players, I would just see which makes business oriented laptops for some time (offering purchase of long warranties is a good sign). And if you can handle one before purchasing – say, you can go to computer store and handle on on display, – I would recommend “propeller test”. Grab sides of laptop and try to twist it into propeller shape. If it is flexible, it is junk that will fail soon. If it is solid, it has great chance to last long. Flexing system board – motherboard is common jargon for over 30 years – leads to developing microcracks in it: copper when going through plastic deformation hardens, then cracks.

    Good luck.

    Valeri

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Valeri Galtsev Sr System Administrator Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics University of Chicago Phone: 773-702-4247
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • Sorin Srbu wrote:

    I’d prefer Dell, as I said in the post on low-end server, because Dell’s support is decent or better. Also, Dell does know Linux on the server side
    – they offer RHEL… and their OMSA DVD boots… into CentOS.

    And about CentOS on laptops… I’ve got this circa 2009 HP Netbook. The ancient Ubuntu netbook-remix was way obsolete, so I needed to update it (I
    only use it while traveling, for email and browsing). I just dd’d a CentOS
    6.9 i386 live iso to a flash drive (and I still HATE systemd)… and it booted. Perfectly. First time. Then I rebooted, and “install” is an option. Did that, and it worked perfectly.

    Happy camper, here.

    mark

  • Valeri Galtsev wrote:

    We buy compatible toner for our HP printers – it’s less than half the OEM
    price, and works just fine. The vendor I like dealing with is tonerprice.com. We got a pallet of toner a few years ago; six or so months later, I needed toner for my cute l’il Laserjet at home… and got the
    *same* service, in terms of price and response time.

    Seconded. Hell, I tell everyone, including my kids, DO NOT BUY
    consumer-grade laptops, only business-grade. Even buying one used online, they’ll last longer than any crap consumer grade.

    We have a lot of Dell Latitudes here at work.

    mark

  • I’m very happy with my Dell Precision 5520 “developer edition”. It shipped with Ubuntu and runs Fedora pretty much flawlessly. I haven’t tried CentOS, but Dell claims that RHEL support on their spec sheet, so I would expect it to work well.

    Dell also have the XPS 13 “developer edition” for those looking for a smaller footprint.

  • i forget the distro offhand, but someone has a latest-and-greatest kernel for CentOS 6 & 7 which greatly helps with modern hardware support.


    john r pierce, recycling bits in santa cruz

  • Ouch!
    The 5520’s seems pricey!
    The XPS’s slightly less so. HP does have an advantage wrt price.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • Funny you should mention the “propeller test”, as this is why I’ve stayed away from Dell laptops, and instead went for the HP Compaq’s with the magnesium chassis in the early 00’s! I’ve stayed with HP since then.

    HP has however had a habit of replacing the hardware anytime within a series while calling the models the same. This has bitten both me and the people at central IT sourcing the Microsoft SCCM infrastructure for us.

    I think I’ll keep an open mind for Dell laptops for now.

    Thanks for the feedback!

  • offered built,

    Why would anybody buy consumer-grade laptops for use in a business?

    Actually, I recommended a used HP Elitebook to a retired lecturer here at work when he asked for advice on a new laptop to start writing a new edition of medicinal chemistry book. Boy, was he pleased with the two-three year old laptop!

  • Hi

    yeah, it’s just a normal USB dongle, and it’s supported by the Linux Kernel, that’s why I tried it. I have tried other USB dongles with Linux before and failed.

    This one was plug and play.

    Gary

  • For the vast majority of laptops that are not based on the absolute latest chipsets, CentOS Linux 7 just works. There are sometimes issues with the latest Intel Graphics or the latest Intel CPU chipset. The latest kernel did get newer hardware drivers.

    We also have an experimental kernel here that can be tried if you have a specific issue as well:

    https://wiki.CentOS.org/SpecialInterestGroup/AltArch/i386

    (look at the .repo file for experimental kernel at the bottom of the page .. it works for i386 and x86_64 CentOS Linux 7 arches)

  • Johnny Hughes wrote:

    BTW, where are the kernel-headers for kernel-ml kernels which would be needed to install NVIDIA drivers from their web site?

    Since the problem with the missing fence.h apparently has been fixed, we should be able to take advantage of the enhancements that this change
    (hopefully) has brought about.

  • Galtsev ago have That allergy hardware” in BIOS, which is evil: I had to edit BIOS with hex editor to replace piece of crap broadcom wireless adapter with Intel one. To be fair I must mention here that I love HP printers, and the whole attitude of HP towards printers they make. Decent HP laser printers are manageable, last forever, and HP keeps making supplies for them. I just retired still working B/W LaserJet 4050, that worked for over 16 years, was heavily used, still works, print quality is the same as it always had, offered committing to maintain it for 5 years tell you that that is solidly built, watching well sold Lenovo for good. laptops for some time (offering purchase of long warranties is a good sign). And if you can handle one before purchasing – say, you can go to computer store and handle on on display, – I would recommend “propeller test”. Grab sides of laptop and try to twist it into propeller shape. If great chance to last long. Flexing system board – motherboard is common jargon for over 30 years – leads to developing microcracks in it:
    copper stayed magnesium chassis in the early 00’s! I’ve stayed with HP since then.

    Dell is huge, they make everything, and “consumer grade” Dell laptops are
    “flexible” junk. But for business the ones that you can buy even with 5
    year warranty are solid built.


    I hate Compaq (bought out by HP) and HP laptop line. I got Compaq once when it was the first and the only one on market that had new AMD 64 bit Turion CPU (we had Opterons in the server room, and Turion was its laptop counterpart…). However, when I installed Linux on it I discovered it has crappy broadcom BCM44 WiFi card. You may have heard of that: it sits on 64
    bit PCI express bus, but is 32 bit inside… Anyway, I got laptop with 64
    bit CPU to have 64 bit Linux on it, and I didn’t want to make ugly workarounds like NDIS wrapper for piece of crap WiFi chip. Luckily, there is great WiFi: Intel (Atheros would be the second choice), I pulled out broadcom card, put in Intel one, I boot the machine, and BIOS tells me:
    remove unapproved hardware, and reboot the machine. Darn Compaq hardcoded into BIOS PCI IDs of “approved” cards you can put into they trash creature. I was mad as hell, especially as it is the same Compaq that used
    “clean room” approach to re-create IBM PC bootcode (phoenix BIOS it was called later IIRC), and got 50 or more times more than invested in the revenues the very first year they started selling “IBM PC compatible”… Anyway, I decided to keep the beast, there was no 64 bit alternative laptop then, and get strong allergy to Compaq. Also, I decided to confirm my both degrees: in Computer Science and Electrical Engineering… I
    disassembled the laptop, unsoldered EEPROM chip, dumped BIOS from it, edited BIOS with hex editor, and instead of some unused PCI ID I put my Intel card PCI ID, and I edited another unused one to keep checksum the same. Dumped edited BIOS on new EEPROM chip. Soldered socked in place of EEPROM chip, and put into it the chip with edited BIOS. And happily used
    64 bit Linux laptop with nice Intel wireless till its retirement time, solidly developing allergy to Compaq.

    Whoever wants to listen to my advise, it will be: stay away from HP and Compaq laptops (but if you need printer: HP will be the best in my opinion choice).

    Valeri

    series people

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Valeri Galtsev Sr System Administrator Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics University of Chicago Phone: 773-702-4247
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • its really the CPU now that matters, rather than the ‘chipset’, as most all the base IO devices are in the CPU (ethernet, sata, video).

    I think Kaby Lake support is still a sketchy, thats Core gen 7. (i-7xxx).

    I’m not sure what the state of Skylake is (gen 6)

    Broadwell should be very solid at this point (5th gen), that was new in early 2015.

  • Our department is slowly leaving all those ad hoc printer solutions where every senior or group have their own printer and are instead opting for a
    “Eduprint” solution. Any printer problems will soon be somebody else’s problem.

    I’m quite happy to leave all printing problems behind me. Printers seem to be a never-ending source of problems…

  • kernel-ml is an elrepo thing .. they do have kernel-headers and kernel-devel packages. My experimental kernel also has kernel-headers and kernel-devel.

  • Hm, I regret to hear you are outsourcing your IT tasks too…

    Even though “printing is the darkest page of IT book”, if you set them up right, you will rarely have any problems. Namely:

    1. Configure all printer to not accept jobs (or talk to) any machines except for your UNIX print server

    2. On print server make sure to use protocols to talk to printers that do not time out and stop CUPS queue. E.g., jetdirect (port 9100) never will.

    3. On print server set some restrictions so to fend off those who shouldn’t print to your printers. Restricting in local firewall on print server machine access to print ports to local subnets of your Department is one of the measures.

    I am setting stuff like above for at least a decade and a half and do not have to resolve printing problems. Originally I have to configure printing on users machines (Linux workstations get that from kickstart file upon build), and sometimes I have to explain users that they can not print from home: if you can not pick up your print job, you shouldn’t be printing it.

    That said, I do have to mention: way back (almost two decades back) you couldn’t configure access on some of HP printers… but sysadmin can always find workaround: I gave in printer configuration as gateway the IP
    of print server (which was on the same subnet) instead of real gateway of network, and that did it: printer was talking only to print server. When there is a will, there is a way.

    Thanks. Valeri

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Valeri Galtsev Sr System Administrator Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics University of Chicago Phone: 773-702-4247
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • where a

    Nah, I have plenty of other stuff to do.

    When I first started at this job almost twenty years ago fresh out of IT-school, I had an idea to use a Windows print server as this was what I
    knew. I wasn’t trusted with the *nix farm yet then. Over the years I have tried at least once a year to get our Linux-computers to talk to our AD-connected Windows Servers, but haven’t quite made it yet. I’ve also tried to get the AD-connected Windows-clients to talk to a Linux print server to no avail. Granted it’s been awhile now since I tried. Maybe I’ll give it another go. Both the Windows and Linux OS:es have developed quite a bit the last ten years…

  • in a decade.  Either with the Linux box (usually Fedora, but Ubuntu as well) as part of the AD domain or not part of the domain.

    Generally all the printer issues with Windows print servers is the print spool getting jacked up and having to be restarted.  It’s better in Server 2016, but still crap IMHO.


    Mark Haney Network Engineer at NeoNova
    919-460-3330 option 1
    mark.haney@neonova.net http://www.neonova.net

  • We don’t run anything on Server 2016, only have a Server 2012 left. Last I tried was with Server 2012, a year or so ago.

  • And at the end of the day it turns out all this printer server problem discussion belongs to MS Windows admin list, not Linux or UNIX admin list. So, why didn’t you, guys use Linux server instead of Windows server for printing? You paid with your trouble for poor decision. Windows IMHO can not be allowed to serve anything. It is the only system I know of whose vendor tell you it is unsafe to run without third party software
    (antivirus).

    Valeri

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Valeri Galtsev Sr System Administrator Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics University of Chicago Phone: 773-702-4247
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • print

    This was years ago. Things were setup differently. This being a conservative workplace, even as universities go, you need to tread carefully with the users, who usually want things to stay the same. Also, discussions on this list sometimes tend to deviate from the original question.

    I’ve had some pointers and hints by now regarding the HP laptops etc, thanks all!

  • worked better than anything prior especially considering we had 60+ Macs connecting to it for AD authentication and print services.  (We were all Macs except two linux laptops, my Lenovo and a developer who ran Ubuntu on his Mac.) All in all, it didn’t totally suck once you got it setup for your normal print load.


    Mark Haney Network Engineer at NeoNova
    919-460-3330 option 1
    mark.haney@neonova.net http://www.neonova.net

  • I agree there. It was good for a while, especially when I could add printers to users based on group memberships using a GPO.

    Our linux user group is shrinking is size, with respect to the researchers using linux. I’m thinking this part of my job will eventually be quite minimal. OTOH I may be getting to work more with Apple’s line of computers. Reorg, reorg, reorg… Oh, well. :-)

  • I never use AD for Windows, but as far as printing is concerned this shouldn’t matter.

    To configure Windows (any of 2000 and higher, before 2000 you would need to add something to Windows which I will not mention as it is irrelevant now):

    1. In services under printing check two boxes (which are not enabled by default):

    LPD
    LPR

    This will teach Windows to talk UNIX printing language.

    2. to set up new printer after 1 is done: add printer, create new port, local port (choose LPD – or is it LPR? – in drop down menu), in print server give hostname (or IP) of UNIX print server, in queue field give name of the queue; the rest of setup is usual, just choose correct printer model

    For the above one needs to have CUPS listening to LPD (port 515), in Linux there is extra rpm for that. I found this the most robust setup, so I
    still do it this way, which is almost for two decades….

    The trick is to have Windows talk to UNIX print server its native language
    (LPD) which Windows knows ;-)

    Valeri

    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
    Valeri Galtsev Sr System Administrator Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics University of Chicago Phone: 773-702-4247
    ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

  • high-end Nvidia graphics card.  Installing CentOS7, everything worked out of box except the wifi.  The problem there was due to the drivers requiring a v.3.5 kernel which CentOS doesn’t yet have.  There were some very occasional glitches in the video, but subsequent upgrades to the nvidia drivers eventually fixed those.

    Audio worked initially, but after installing vlc I’ve had problems which I haven’t been able to track down, so the sound with some apps just doesn’t work.  Notably, anything audio through firefox doesn’t work except that which uses flashplayer.  Audacity and vlc work just fine.

    The body of the laptop is solid, made mostly out of carbon fiber… it seemed like it’s bullet-proof.  The pop-out DVD tray I got is really flimsy, so must be handled quite gingerly.  I’ve read that it’s been upgraded by HP to more solid version in more recent incarnations of the Envy.

    I’ve never used the bluetooth, so I can’t testify to how well that works, but I’ve never seen/read any complaints about it, so I’d assume it works.

    Of the six or more laptops I’ve owned in my life, the keyboard of this one has been absolutely the most difficult one to get used to.  It seems that if I don’t hit a key square in the middle of the key, that character doesn’t make it to the screen.  Same failure if I press the key too hard.  This craps on my typing speed immensely,  I used to type at over 100 words/minute, but I’m now down to less than half that… sucks big time.

    It’s nice that it has a big touchpad and I use it all the time. Only very seldom to I plug in a usb mouse (e.g., in Blender).  But it’s way too easy to accidently touch the touchpad, resulting in all kinds of random mayhem.  So I modified some code I found to disable/enable the touchpad and mapped that code to [Ctrl-`] so that it operates as a toggle.  Problem therewith nicely solved.

    Talking with folks on a suse list about the sound problem, I learned that they have have no sound problems with there and, further, my problem might be a messed up packman stack… whatever that is.  Suse also has a much higher kernel version than we do in CentOS, so switching over to suse is in the works.  That’s sad because I’ve been a happy RH/CentOS guy for a long time.

    Hope this review is helpful.

  • the problem is, a couple year old model is probably core gen 5… a new one will be core gen 7, Kaby Lake, and thats where there are more likely problems.

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