Problems in my brand new System76 Oryx Pro laptop

Important Note

I'm enjoying using a Linux laptop after years of development on the Macbook, and this post is more a list of issues I personally faced on moving to Linux after 7 years of development on the Macbook. I'd written a similar thing when I'd moved to the Macbook for the first time. Hopefully, this will help someone else moving to this particular laptop. This is not a "look, linux sux" post. The Oryx Pro is a great machine, and is a far better experience than the overall Linux experience I remember from 2012.

Emacs is unusable due to constant movement of the cursor.

  • The cursor constantly moves to the end of the first line on screen for no apparent reason.
    • I'm convinced the reason that the cursor moves to the end of the first line on screen has to do with the position of the mouse-pointer. I confirmed this by changing ‘mouse-avoidance-mode' to ‘animate' (from ‘banish'). This stops the pointer from being moved to the top right corner on key press in Emacs. Now, the cursor does not move to the end of the first line like it used to, but to some other random place (wherever the mouse pointer happened to be last)
  • Repeatedly performing certain key-bindings (like C-n) causes a buffer menu to pop up. I have no idea why this happens and how to reproduce it / stop it.
    • Once the menu shows up, repeatedly pressing the same key-binding causes it to go away after some time. (This may be true only of C-n, which is what triggers this for me the most.)
  • Update : Both problems above are due to the awkward placing of the touchpad on the System 76 laptops. This touchpad is sensitive and registers "ghost clicks" during typing. I confirmed this by disabling my touchpad. The problem went away. This is an acceptable workaround for me as I don't need the mouse when I'm in Emacs (and disabling/enabling the touchpad is straightforward using xinput)
    • xinput list will list all the available input devices. Look for your touchpad and note the id of the device.
    • xinput disable <id> will disable the device.
    • xinput enable <id> will enable the device.

The space key is weird.

  • More than any other key on the laptop, the space key needs a solid thump for it to register. This is especially irritating when typing out passphrases, since there is no visible feedback.
  • Update : Over time, I've gotten used to this and no longer need to worry about whether my keypress has registered or not.

Power management and suspend.

No "just works" for Suspend.

  • Years of using the Mac have trained me to just shut the laptop lid when I'm done working. However, with Oryx, there is no predictable way to tell whether the battery will continue to be drained or not once the lid is down. I've left a fully charged laptop, come back to it 4 hours later to find that it was completely drained (to the point that it does not start unless you plug it into a power source). I have no clue why this happens.
    • Update : Apparently this is famous in the world of System76 as the 'suspend black screen of death' bug. :( These are the kind of things due to which 'year of the Linux desktop' is a broken promise.
  • Update 2 : Suspend works okayish, it just drains the battery faster than I would have expected. I guess I'll have to learn to live with this (but it seriously hampers the use of this laptop as a carry-around device, which is something I'm grumpy about).
  • Update 3 : Prolonged use of this laptop really makes me appreciate the incredible power management of the Macbook. I love Oryx as a development environment, but the Macbook's power management is in a whole different class.

The Power button is weird.

I've gotten into the habit of shutting down my laptop when I'm unsure about battery and want to definitely conserve it (example when I'm traveling). There is no immediate feedback on pressing the power button. Due to this, it's hard to know if the keypress has registered or not. This is a small gripe in the big picture, but it gets annoying fast.

Published On: Fri, 31 May 2019.