Best options for a 4.x compatible Dell workstation

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Gaijin

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Sep 11, 2017, 5:45:52 AM9/11/17
to Qubes Users
My company forces me to only buy Dell hardware. They're OK with me
running Qubes on my next workstation, but I'm a bit unsure about what
hardware options to choose, and would appreciate any advice.

Being uncertain of the Qubes 4.x requirements more than a year ago I put
in a request for a Dell Precision T5810 workstation with:
CPU: Xeon E5-2630 v4 (10 cores)
RAM: 64GB 2400MHz DDR4 RDIMM ECC RAM
Graphics: AMD FirePro W7100

However, looking at the 4.x requirements page and some forum threads, it
doesn't sound like AMD graphics cards are very Qubes-friendly. My only
other option at this product level is an nVidia Quadro (or AMD Radeon).

I'd like to know if this looks like a good setup to proceed with, or if
I should consider something else (within the Dell lineup/options).

If I wanted to get a Xeon chip with the built-in Intel Graphics built in
I could look at the Precision 3000 series where they offer machines with
a Xeon E3-1275 with only 4 cores, and a maximum of 64GB RAM. Only
problem there is that I run a lot of simultaneous Qubes, including
Windows, so I was concerned that I couldn't expand the RAM on this
machine in the future if necessary. I'll be stuck with this machine
quite a while, so I wanted to make the most of this purchase.

Should I stick with my original configuration, or would you suggest
other options? I really want a machine that will be 4.x compatible, that
would have the least potential hardware issues.

I'm not doing video editing or gaming, but I run a lot of VMs at the
same time that might be memory hungry.

Tai...@gmx.com

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Sep 11, 2017, 6:17:41 AM9/11/17
to Gaijin, Qubes Users
On 09/11/2017 05:45 AM, Gaijin wrote:

> My company forces me to only buy Dell hardware. They're OK with me
> running Qubes on my next workstation, but I'm a bit unsure about what
> hardware options to choose, and would appreciate any advice.
That's pretty lame you can't build your own and get a real mans computer
- one that is owner controlled (ex: talos2, kcma-d8/kgpe-d16)
> Being uncertain of the Qubes 4.x requirements more than a year ago I put
> in a request for a Dell Precision T5810 workstation with:
> CPU: Xeon E5-2630 v4 (10 cores)
> RAM: 64GB 2400MHz DDR4 RDIMM ECC RAM
> Graphics: AMD FirePro W7100
>
> However, looking at the 4.x requirements page and some forum threads, it
> doesn't sound like AMD graphics cards are very Qubes-friendly. My only
> other option at this product level is an nVidia Quadro (or AMD Radeon).
Nonsense, as with any linux video driver issue it depends on how new the
hardware is.
The professional series card means you can contact AMD for skilled tech
support, I would also get Dell's ProSupport so that you can get an
american on the phone.

Nvidia is unfriendly to open source and virtualization (on their
consumer devices) even more than AMD these days so I wouldn't, I for one
dislike recompiling the kernel every time I update an nvidia computer
running linux.
> I'd like to know if this looks like a good setup to proceed with, or if
> I should consider something else (within the Dell lineup/options).
>
> If I wanted to get a Xeon chip with the built-in Intel Graphics built in
> I could look at the Precision 3000 series where they offer machines with
> a Xeon E3-1275 with only 4 cores, and a maximum of 64GB RAM. Only
> problem there is that I run a lot of simultaneous Qubes, including
> Windows, so I was concerned that I couldn't expand the RAM on this
> machine in the future if necessary. I'll be stuck with this machine
> quite a while, so I wanted to make the most of this purchase.
64gb is fine, if you want to save your (their?) money.

Gaijin

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Sep 11, 2017, 8:34:55 AM9/11/17
to Tai...@gmx.com, Qubes Users
Yeah, I suggested some other hardware, but they wouldn't budge on that
point, so I have to make do with Dell. I'll have to save the good stuff
for the home build...

So you think I could get away with the AMD graphics card and the E5 Xeon
setup? Or will I be saving myself a lot of hassle by going with the
integrated Intel graphics on the slightly lower end processor?

Part of my motivation here is to hopefully have Qubes up and running on
this machine without too much hassle...like recompiling kernels or
spending tons of time with support.


pr0xy

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Sep 11, 2017, 10:34:02 PM9/11/17
to Qubes Users
Was wondering about this myself. Are the AMD graphics cards better than
nVidia?

pixel fairy

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Sep 12, 2017, 1:31:56 AM9/12/17
to qubes-users
given that appvms cant use 3d acceleration anyway, your best bet is intel graphics. if your going to give a gpu to a vm, then it depends on the os of that vm.

last i checked, nvidia is fine with virtualization of quadro cards.

make sure the workstation doesnt have AMT (vpro etc) as bussiness lines tend to. you may be safer with what dell would otherwise sell as a consumer desktop or gaming rig, minus the fancy graphics card unless your going to use it. but, if thats a big part of your work, you may be better off with linux + kvm or something else instead of qubes.

pixel fairy

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Sep 12, 2017, 1:32:44 AM9/12/17
to qubes-users

damn nonlinear editing. that last sentence was supposed to go at the end of the first paragraph.

Gaijin

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Sep 12, 2017, 4:11:47 AM9/12/17
to pixel fairy, qubes-users
Well, the good news is that enabling vPro on a Dell is an extra option
that you can select (costs $19), so I made sure that selection was off.
Thanks for the heads up.

The newer Xeon chips in the E5 Series no longer include on-board
processor graphics, so Intel graphics isn't an option if I go this
route. They can handle a lot more RAM (1.2TB vs. 64GB) and have more
cores (10 vs. 4). There's generally a lot more I could do simultaneously
with this chip it seems looking at the specs.

Researching through these forums and even the Qubes Docs there seems to
be a "stay away from nVidia" theme; That's why I was focusing on the AMD
graphics card option. Is nVidia Quadro a viable option?

Using the Dell configurator, and plugging in RedHat Linux 7.2 as the OS
I find that the very newest AMD FirePro graphics card I selected isn't
compatible. (I'm assuming RHEL 7.2 is a roughly equivalent to the Fedora
23 in dom0) So I dropped down to the older W5100 card and that seemed to
work for them.

The graphics aren't really a big part of my work. I just want a box that
will be ready to run Qubes v4.

filtration

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Sep 12, 2017, 8:47:33 AM9/12/17
to qubes...@googlegroups.com, qubes-users
Gaijin:
Gaijin: Intel GPU is recommended, AMD are second best.

IIRC, Dom0 will be based on Fedora 25 in Qubes 4.0. Try checking AMD's
site (https://support.amd.com/en-us/download) for compatibility reports,
too.

filtration

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Sep 12, 2017, 8:50:31 AM9/12/17
to qubes...@googlegroups.com
Gaijin:

Tai...@gmx.com

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Sep 12, 2017, 9:29:21 AM9/12/17
to filtration, qubes...@googlegroups.com
On 09/12/2017 08:46 AM, filtration wrote:

> Gaijin: Intel GPU is recommended, AMD are second best.
Why do you state that?

Tai...@gmx.com

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Sep 12, 2017, 9:32:50 AM9/12/17
to pixel fairy, qubes-users
On 09/12/2017 01:31 AM, pixel fairy wrote:

> last i checked, nvidia is fine with virtualization of quadro cards.
You shouldn't support a company that artificially hobbles their
"consumer" drivers, not only refuses to develop open source drivers but
puts in the extra effort to slow down the nouveau project and adds
hardware enforced code signing to prevent firmware modifications.
> make sure the workstation doesnt have AMT (vpro etc) as bussiness lines tend to. you may be safer with what dell would otherwise sell as a consumer desktop or gaming rig, minus the fancy graphics card unless your going to use it. but, if thats a big part of your work, you may be better off with linux + kvm or something else instead of qubes.
>
AMT/vPro is simply an addon to ME - setting it to disabled or not
configuring it is the same as not having it at all - either way you have
ME and all it's wonderful security problems.

A certain company has brainwashed people in to believing a system
without a vPro license is secure from ME attacks, it isn't - there
literally isn't any difference at all.

filtratio...@posteo.de

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Sep 12, 2017, 11:52:39 AM9/12/17
to Tai...@gmx.com, qubes...@googlegroups.com
Tai...@gmx.com:
> On 09/12/2017 08:46 AM, filtration wrote:
>
>> Gaijin: Intel GPU is recommended, AMD are second best.
> Why do you state that?

Intel is the best supported. This is documented all over Qubes' docs.
AMD does a pretty good job offering drivers. Nvidia has a bad reputation
among Linux users.

Gaijin

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Sep 12, 2017, 6:50:19 PM9/12/17
to filtration, Qubes Users
Looking at the latest AMD FirePro drivers, they have versions that
support RHEL and CentOS, so in turn can I assume one of those might
support Fedora as well? They also seem to have a generic Linux driver
for older OS versions.

I do see a few AMD FirePro cards in the HCL that seem to be working, but
not the specific one I'm looking at, so that's somewhat encouraging...

Tai...@gmx.com

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Sep 12, 2017, 6:57:25 PM9/12/17
to Gaijin, filtration, Qubes Users
Yes.
> They also seem to have a generic Linux driver
> for older OS versions.
>
> I do see a few AMD FirePro cards in the HCL that seem to be working, but
> not the specific one I'm looking at, so that's somewhat encouraging...
>
Adding your own driver to dom0 wouldn't be difficult if by chance you
need to, I mod my kernels all the time.

Gaijin

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Sep 13, 2017, 12:45:38 AM9/13/17
to Tai...@gmx.com, filtration, Qubes Users
Cheers for the advice!

The hope is that generic video drivers in dom0 will suffice, but good to
know that I could add a driver there, and that one would be available.
I'm feeling a lot better about this AMD card now.
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