Has anyone here tried Linux or OS X on their device?

Discussion in 'Microsoft Surface Pro 2' started by macmee, Mar 18, 2014.

  1. javispedro

    javispedro Member

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    I am running Gentoo on my SFPro2, natively, without any virtual machine. It works reasonably well as a laptop -- better than I expected (a bar which, admittedly, was not very high to begin with).
    As I mention on my website, battery life is around 4-5 hours. That's doing real work (development, LaTeX with continuous preview -- yes, on a touch cover :) , etc.), not an estimate; it's more or less the same battery life I get on the Acer "8h" TimelineX the SFPro2 replaced.

    After some tuning (basically, enabling autosuspend for most devices except the Wi-Fi card, which is still buggy), I've been able to get it to idle at 6W more or less (screen on). I've not yet performed a runtime test using these settings, but I hope the numbers will improve.

    I would be interested in getting battery life information when Windows 8 is running with HyperV configured. As I understand it, HyperV is a bare-metal hypervisor, which means that Windows 8 itself is "paying" the cost of being hosted in a VM even if you're not running any other VM.
    So there is a theoretical performance and energy overhead just by installing/enabling HyperV. We discussed this a bit over at tabletPCforums, but did not reach a conclusion because no one bothered to perform a battery life test :)

    Depending on the impact, it may be reasonable to use a "lighter" VM such as VMware or VirtualBox. Probably you will be losing some performance when actually running VMs, but at least they won't have any impact when not running VMs. (Also, they usually support 3D acceleration better than HyperV :) )
     
  2. jrapdx

    jrapdx Member

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    Even after a couple of months using Hyper-V, effect on battery life is hard to determine--there are so many variables to take into account. Furthermore, making a head-to-head comparison with/without HV, or the battery power consumed by the VM vs. OS booted from its own partition, gets caught up in the apple vs. orange thing.

    An important factor is the OS running in the VM and what programs are running under the OS. Concretely, the OS I've mainly run under HV is FreeBSD 10.0 without GUI or X, using it as a server and development platform. With resource intensive applications like compiling a major program, or server under heavy load, the CPU and RAM usage will be high and battery power drained more quickly. When the VM is quiet, RAM hovers around 20% and CPU near 0%.

    Overall, my SP2 reports estimated overall battery life has been 9 hours (exactly 8:55), and that includes time with Hyper-V in use and not, but Hyper-V has been "turned on" for most of that interval. I think the major hurdle to testing is devising a meaningful test. Any ideas about how to test Hyper-V's effect on battery life are definitely welcome.
     
  3. ssummer

    ssummer New Member

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    VMWare Player (free) works like a charm on my first-gen Core i3 w/ 8GB RAM. I run OSX, Ubuntu, WinXP and even Android .iso's without a problem. When I get some time I will install it on my SP2 but I don't see any reason why it shouldn't work on a technically higher-spec'ed system.
     
  4. marcux

    marcux Member

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    I have a dual boot OSX mavericks and windows 8.1 on my surface pro, everything works on osx facetime, imessage, sound.. and I just recently set it up a week ago. apple didn't change the way imessage and facetime work, so I don't know what people are talking about. you just need to have a valid mac serial number. only thing that doesn't work is wifi, but that's where a dongle comes in.
     
  5. javispedro

    javispedro Member

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    I suppose that's with everything idle? What happens if you uninstall HyperV, do you get a similar figure on the same idle desktop?

    Thought I didn't mean to force anyone to make the test :) I have a 256GB unit now so I should be able to measure battery life myself when I find a free time slot.

    Considering how obfuscate and complex it is to develop a Wi-Fi driver for OS X, I am going to say that the internal Wi-Fi will _never_ work on OS X.
     
  6. al2fast

    al2fast New Member

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    All I did was assign a static IP that was in the same subnet as my home network (192.168.1.x) that was available. I believe it just showed up as a wired network connection. Not sure how Virtual Box does the IP assignment/translation between the VM and the host. With Virtual Box I'm not even sure what IP I have, but it was just on dhcp and I never had to mess with it. I'll do an ifconfig on it when I get home and see what I'm getting.

    As for which Linux distro to recommend, man there are a lot. I know a lot of people that like Mint, I guess it just depends on what you want to do with it. I'd say just download a few distros and fire them up in your VM and play with one. THat's how I landed on Ubuntu. Mint was a close 2nd.
     
  7. undrwater

    undrwater New Member

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    Thanks! Gentoo is my distro of choice, and I was going to attempt this when time became available. There is a Surface Pro 2 topic at ubuntu forums, and they've been having problems with Wi-Fi and keyboard drivers iirc.

    When I start, I'll likely start another thread, or you could detailing some of the specific details needed to get the thing to "work".
     
  8. al2fast

    al2fast New Member

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    ifconfig reveals that my eth0 has IP 10.0.2.15, broadcast 10.0.2.255 and subnet 255.255.255.0
     
  9. jrapdx

    jrapdx Member

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    Pretty much what I understood. Virtual Box may work differently than Hyper-V--which seems a bit more complicated than VBox. Anyway, while it could be possible to assign static IP, the router would need to accept the virtual interface address. I couldn't get it to work with DHCP, but a "nailed down" IP on both ends might work. Still, the bigger problem was attaching two interfaces to the same adapter, hence my workaround with the second adapter. Maybe less elegant, but it works so I'm leaving it alone.

    Yeah, a lot of distros. One problem (Gentoo/Funtoo might be exceptions) is the near-insistence of many distros on using whatever huge "desktop" or touch interface they promote. I find almost all of these a giant PITA--makes it 10 times harder to administer, set up, maintain the system. Kind of like how limited, sometimes just useless like the Metro IF on Win8.1 when it comes to doing anything more than the stupid basic stuff, like it's designed for people maybe in 5th grade. I don't like things more complicated or more simplified that it really needs to be.

    Besides, all those unnecessary GUI layers gobble resources better used for solving the problems I acquired the computer to do. Sure, there are good GUI tools that make the job easier, but a lot of it is pretty trashy and just gets in the way. I'd avoid like bad diseases the run of KDE, GNOME, even XFCE and LXDE are often more annoying than productive.

    For my VM under Hyper-V, bare FreeBSD is my choice for server development. No GUI is necessary for the purpose, runs quick and simple to manage. Dual-booting is overkill for my limited objectives--I do look forward to using a separately booted partition one of these days if it's not too hard to avoid the bloat.
     
  10. javispedro

    javispedro Member

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    With VirtualBox you can use "NAT" networking, i.e. the virtual machine does never get raw access to the network interface, and never gets a "network visible" IP.

    Rather VirtualBox creates a virtual network visible only by VirtualBox itself. It is implemented entirely in usermode so it doesn't care whether your real interface is Wi-Fi, ethernet, ... as long as VirtualBox itself can get to the net. Unfortunately, it also means that other computers in the network will not be able to reach the VM, and also that other processes in the host computer itself will not be be able to reach the VM!

    The benefit of VirtualBox's approach is that is much simpler than configuring a bridge. Bridges can also cause problems on Wi-Fi (stupid 3-address 802.11 frames ;) )
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2014
  11. jrapdx

    jrapdx Member

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    The "isolation" of the VM would be a problem since I've been relying on the connection between the VM and host, as well as the VM and the internet, and of course the host and the internet too. So yes, that's a more complicated setup to organize.

    How well I know about the frustrations of virtual switches, bridges and limitations with WiFi! After beating my head against the virtual wall too long, I took the pragmatic way out. A 2nd WiFi interface (USB WiFi adapter) is bridged to the VM (luckily I'm getting away with only 1 VM needing internet access) and the Marvell connects the host to the internet as usual.

    This works, even if I feel like a 6-ball juggler handling the gigantic set of configuration details. Adding to it, the SP2 has a habit of dropping WiFi connections, so checking up on network status is a necessary pain. OTOH when everyone is playing nice with each other, it is pretty useful, and kind of amazing to see the whole three-ring circus in action.
     
    Last edited: Mar 22, 2014
  12. munakib

    munakib New Member

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    Formatted my whole partition to GUID and running only OSX Mavericks. It runs perfect as a daily driver - all mac apps work + chrome runs beautifully. Only downside is the external wifi adapter that you need to grab for approx 15-20$. Multitouch is working fantastic using Touchbase Drivers, It is amazing how Apple is slowly readying OSX for Multitouch and on the Surface Pro 2 it truly shines. If you are used to the Mac Environment and is getting annoyed by Win8.1. I would definitely recommend you to give this a shot. I am running all my design softwares as well as Dreamweaver without any hiccups.

    Here is a photo of my SP2
    [​IMG]
     
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