Provisional Name 12

Switching over to Linux (Ubuntu)?

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Hey, I was looking at moving to a camp type job and I mostly play this game one my PC. I wanted to look at getting a 2nd hand laptop while I am there and slimming it to a ubuntu OS so that I can use it for school work and to potentially play KSP on as well. I had a few questions about this.

I am running a current install with a lot of mods on it and I am not sure how to try to port it over. I can always try CKAN or something, but I was wondering if anyone knew if there are any quick ways or limitations I should know about on ubuntu. I think I have about 70 installed but I also don't think all of them work and I could probably go through the process of weeding a lot of broken/unnecessary ones out.

Will this lead to significantly better performance than running it on windows? From what I understand w10 is terrible for using a lot of RAM while ubuntu is not, so I should get proportionally better performance on that.

Also, what should I spec my laptop to? I usually only use laptops for school and work type stuff so other than potentially only this 6 week stint, I might not use it very much for this or anything similar soon. Does anyone have a recommended lower end but good performance for specs that I might need?

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I'm pretty sure that OS dosent affect mods. If you're planning to play with that many mods and want to load in the next decade, try to get a lot of ram. 8-16 should be good but expensive.

I haven't switched to Linux yet (been planning on it) because of procastination, so tell me how it turns out!

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There are very few mods that actually have different versions based on OS.  I can only think of one, I don't remember what it is, but I do know there's at least one.  After you install the same KSP version on your laptop, just copy your entire GameData folder over, except the GameData/Squad folder. (It might be fine - I just don't know if there's OS differences in there.)

Specing the laptop, you want to focus on single thread performance of the CPU.  I would still go with no less than 8 GB of RAM, but you would probably be ok with 6 depending on how modded you are.

Discreet GPU is nice, but harder to find in cheaper laptops.  Get a cooling pad.  This game will run it hot no matter how good the CPU is, and you might hit thermal throttling without external cooling.

I would recommend a Linux Mint (because it's what I know, and I hate Ubuntu's unity DE) install with a lightweight DE, like Xfce.  I personally run MATE, but not for hardware reasons.  I just like MATE.

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"better performance" largely depends on the CPU in KSP, but often the GPU drivers are so bad in Linux that the GPU performance can suffer (or at least that was the case with my nvidia 560ti card).  For a long time, KSP was 32 bit, so I'd expect it to fit in close to 2GB of space (you might even be able to download a 32 bit copy in steam), which makes memory less of an issue.  When memory is an issue, it should be obvious and jarring as data goes to and from your SSD (hopefully not HDD).

One thing that is surprising about Linux is just how little room it needs (until you put steam in and possible KSP: games designed for windows are just as big as on windows), so you can probably leave windows on your machine if it is there (unless it is one of those netbook-type machines).

The biggest problem for notebooks and Linux is getting the wifi working.  I'd look for reviews in seeing it work, and if it is possible to "try before you buy" consider some sort of knoppix boot device (assuming you can convince the thing to boot off of USB stick): traditionally "if it works on Linux it works on Knoppix", so if Knoppix can't autoconfigure the wifi I doubt you will get it to work (then again, camp probably doesn't have wifi).

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Just about everything everyone has said...

Speaking from my experience, when there was no KSP 64bit other than 'The Hack'... I have a 6yr old laptop, i52450, IntelHD3000, NvidiaGT630M, 6GB RAM.

I was running Lubuntu. My Win7 install idles at ~1.3GB RAM... Lubuntu I had around ~300MB... So about a GB moar of RAM for KSP to use.
I actually didnt have too many problems with the Nvidia drivers, if at all, at the time...

I dont think I saw a huge difference in actual game performance or FPS, but the extra RAM, and lack of tons of useless Windows background tasks running did allow me to run many moar mods than in Win7, the game was moar stable (less crashes/hiccups), and ran cooler...

I *DO NOT* use Steam... I get my installers from the KSP Store... so the following may/may not work with a Steam install:
I was actually able to ust copy & paste my modded /GameData folder back and forth from my Win install (/KSP_Win), directly to my Linux install (/KSP_linux), and vice-versa... I did it many times, as I added or changed mods... Its *THAT* easy... as stated above, there are a few mods that are OS dependent, but they usually require interfacing with or using external apps. They usually state pretty clearly in the release thread if they are OS specific.

I ran a pretty heavily modded install... aboot 100 small plugin-type mods, and maybe a dozen small parts mods, and maybe one or two larger part mods.
COmputer runs very hot with KSP... Make sure anything you buy, the fan is running, running quietly, and is pretty clean... you can peek thru the vents with a flashlight.
I take apart my laptop every couple years, and clean the internals, especially the fan, of course. I can tell when it needs it, because the fan runs louder and more often...
Definately get a cooler pad... I got a Thermaltake 23GT, or something... was the biggest they had at the time... I have 17.3" laptop, so I needed a LARGE cooler...
It makes all the diff in the world...
I've had the computer shutdown due to tripping the thermal sensor many times... sometimes even with the cooler going...

You dont need to worry about 32bit KSP... get 64bit for Linux... so DEFINATELY, get at LEAST 6GB of RAM... dont settle for less.
KSP 1.5 doesnt even support 32bit now.

I had this all on a triple-boot setup: Win7, Win8.1, Lubuntu, and a seperate partition for KSP install and everything else that wasnt system related. Also, this was all on a single 500GB HDD (465GB usable).
You can always run Linux right off a USB stick, if you dont want to bother with actually installing it on the comp. This is a good option if you will only be using Linu for a short time...

Its debatable whether an SSD makes a performance difference over an HDD. I'm of the camp, that the only difference is in shorter game loading times with an SSD...
With the circumstances that you've described for what you want in this computer, I wouldnt bother with spending extra $$ on an SSD. If you get a laptop that meets all the other criteria FIRST, and has an SSD for a good price, go for it... but dont make having an SSD a requirement or deal-breaker.

As to wifi, you dont specifically NEED wifi to run KSP itself... IIRC, I didnt have too much trouble with wifi drivers in Lubuntu... I have an Atheros wifi booard... As long as you have popular wifi chips in the computer (Atheros/Broadcom), you should be able to get decent drivers and support for Linux.. vOv

Edited by Stone Blue

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Yea, I have the KSP store release as well, so WIFI shouldn't be needed for KSP, but I will need it anyway for my school/work stuff. I haven't had this problem with it in the past, but I suspect it would be easy to test by making a bootable USB to check it with before I buy.

I think you guys bring up some interesting points with other linux based OSes, Ubuntu is probably more bulky than others and I have heard from friends that Lubuntu is really geared toward maxing performance from older systems and has some of the lowest ram requirements. All I really need out of it otherwise is word processor, adobe reader and other internet/office applications so I should try that. It might even be worth just putting the OS and KSP install on the stick so that I can just boot into it on any machine, but I wonder if that would slow loading. Does anyone know about that?

I am still on 1.3.1 on my PC, but I haven't looked at updating in a while, last time I looked at it was on 1.4 and a lot of mods were not updated yet. It is good to know that I should be able to just move the game data folder. I could swear though that some of the mods that I installed might have added files in other directories than the game data folder. I am not sure though... either way, sounds no more serious than trying to do a fresh install. Thanks for the advice.

Edited by Provisional Name 12

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22 minutes ago, Provisional Name 12 said:

<snip> I think Ubuntu is probably more bulky than others and I have heard from friends that Lubuntu is really geared toward maxing performance from older systems and has some of the lowest ram requirements.

 I could swear though that some of the mods that I installed might have added files in other directories than the game data folder. I am not sure though... either way, sounds no more serious than trying to do a fresh install. <snip>

Thats the conclusion I came to also, when I was choosing a distro, specifically to only run KSP... I thought Ubuntu was too bulky for what I needed... I tried Kubuntu first, but had real issues getting it to work properly... Lubuntu and Mint were my next choices... IIRC, I liked the simpler UI/DE for Lubuntu... never had issues with Lub, so never looked back...
I had no issues running LibreOffice suite for all my document needs, and as far as .pdfs, Firefox, and prolly other browers, can natively open pdfs.

Any decent mod doesnt install anything, *other*, than maybe Ships, or save related files, outside the GameData folder... I forgot to mention, cuz I dont play career mode, that when I copy over my KSP install between Win/Linux, sometimes, if there are craft or saves I want to move over too, I usually grab the /Ships and /saves folders to copy over too... but thats all...

Edited by Stone Blue

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On 10/15/2018 at 1:41 PM, Geonovast said:

I would recommend a Linux Mint (because it's what I know, and I hate Ubuntu's unity DE) install with a lightweight DE, like Xfce.  I personally run MATE, but not for hardware reasons.  I just like MATE.

Ubuntu 18.04 switched back to GNOME 

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For KSP,  cpu speed is the biggest factor in performance. The amount or speed of ram will make little difference. If there isn't enough ram, KSP will crash. It isn't going to speed up just because you add more ram or more expensive ram. Also, performance on Linux isn't going to be noticeably faster or slower than win 10 with all other things being equal. Of course, depending on your laptop's hardware, things aren't going to be equal because of things like graphics drivers. Linux generally does not distribute proprietary drivers for the gpu. Open source drivers generally are not going to be as good as proprietary drivers. But again, the gains you may see with better graphics drivers are going to pale in comparison to gains achieved with faster, newer cpu. Also, how well your particular laptop dissipates heat will also be a major factor.

So, in conclusion, if I were looking for a laptop to play ksp, the place where I would spend my money would be on the fastest cpu with the most modern cpu architecture I could find and afford. 2nd, I would want a dedicated gpu. Yes, this makes a significant difference, regardless of os. No, super mega gpu is not going to be a significant gain over a just good enough gpu, but a dedicated gpu is going to blow integrated graphics out of the water. Consider using a linux distribution over win 10 if and only if you are ready to deal with a few headaches with driver installation, and also just because linux is the future and it's probably better to start using and learning it now. There are many other reasons to use linux over win 10, but those reasons aren't related to KSP.

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Thanks for the advice everyone. In case anyone is wondering I ended up taking a better job that I was offered, so I can continue to use my desktop.

I hadn't even thought of the issues with using open source drivers vs using proprietary ones.

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