PSA : Linux support for Kaby Lake laptops - JANUARY 2017

This isn't as much a post, as it is an update on the state of Kernel and Distro support for Kaby Lake laptops, as of early January 2017.

Kaby Lake support was introduced in Linux 4.5, and only came of age closer to 4.8, although not with its fair share of quirks. GPU support for corresponding Intel integrated graphics is very much a work in progress, but as of 4.9 seems to be in usable condition.

Test Environment:
CPU : Intel Core i5 7200U 2.5GHz
GPU : Intel Integrated Graphics 620
RAM : 8GB DDR4 2400MHz
HDD : Sandisk Ultra II 480GB SATA3 SSD

All installs, unless otherwise specified, used an encrypted LVM disk with default setup.

Good : openSUSE Tumbleweed, Fedora 25
OK : Ubuntu 16.10
Bad : openSUSE Leap 42.2, *buntu 16.04 LTS
Unknown : antergos, Linux Mint 18.1

In some greater detail...
openSUSE Leap 42.2 is on Kernel 4.4, as is Ubuntu 16.04.5 LTS and its myriad derivates(tested on Ubuntu, Kubuntu, Lubuntu and Xubuntu.).

Fedora Workstation 25 comes with an outdated kernel, but a dnf update on a fresh install takes the kernel to 4.8. It had no visible issues, except this was the only distro where sound did not work out of the box. Running  service alsa force-restart as root solved the problem however. 

openSUSE Leap 42.2 consequently has some bug which results in "X Window System" having CPU utilisation skyrocket to the point of unusability. A purely CLI session which startx disabled seemed to work fine for the limited time I tested it.

*buntu 16.04, on the other hand, seems to start up fine, but freezes at random intervals, usually triggered by browser start-up. The only way to restore control is a force reboot, as keyboard shortcuts, force logouts and switching off X, all seem to have no effect whatsoever.

Ubuntu 16.10 (also tested on Kubuntu) comes with Linux 4.8, which thankfully has much better support.However, hardware acceleration seems iffy, and running a 4K video on vlc, or YouTube has framerate issues that weren't present in Fedora's similar kernel.

openSUSE Tumbleweed (release 20170104), openSUSE's rolling release runs on a 4.9 kernel, and has stellar support on KDE, but tracker takes up way too much RAM on GNOME. Not sure if it is a GNOME issue or Kaby Lake issue, though.

For antergos, the ISO Refresh 2016.11.20 failed to boot up from an USB key. There is now a new ISO download available (as of Jan 6, 2017) which I have not tested.

Linux Mint 18.1 MATE seemed to have it's mirrors down last I checked. I will try to update it's testing once I have a chance to give it a spin.

1 comment:

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