Let's burn the planet ... because we can!

There is a term, that in recent years my brain is using a lot when trying to explain to me what my eyes observe. Late-Roman Decadence. I am not a historian, so I might be inaccurate with its actual meaning. For me it just means "wasting because we can". If you want to see this in action, delete your YouTube cookies to get out of your tech bubble and open its start page. Probably depending on your location, it's all about eating the biggest meals for 9000€, driving the fastest cars for 777k€, destroying expensive things in the most hilarious ways for 2M€ as well as giving homeless people 100€ and filming them at whatever they do with it before they fall back into their own life of being spat out and ignored by society. For me: disgusting and worth another strategically well sized and well placed comet.

But that's just the depression speaking. So let's not look at the world, let's look at and try to tackle my own little problems.

I like to have my laptop efficient and quiet. No fan, no moving parts that "klack" or whatever. Just silence. Bonus points if the AC adapter does not emit high-pitched buzzing. My ears are broken and very sensitive to noise. But I also like to have a machine that is as low-spec as it can be. Using less resources should be a good thing, right? So currently I am using an Acer Swift 1, which comes with an N6000 1.1GHz CPU and 8GB of RAM. This is fine for me performance-wise and I can have my usual 5 to 10 applications running with no problems at all. It even plays many of the coop games, my girlfriend comes around the corner with once in a while. For KDE work, the translation summit workflow is one of the things I tend to wait for. It would of course be faster on a higher spec'ed system but it takes around 20 minutes with Fedora and around 4 minutes with Debian on the same machine, so other factors than hardware seem to play a big role in this story as well. Also, I can still have that laptop at the... well... top of my... well... lap without burning my legs or making my blanket smell funny.

On a side note, this laptop sucks in other ways. It cannot do suspend properly. If it wants to go to sleep it immediately wakes up again with full display brightness and it repeats that every few minutes. Acer support says: no Windows, go fuck yourself. (Disclaimer: They did not actually say "go fuck yourself", they just stopped responding once I mentioned Linux.) Also the touch pad is only recognised as PS/2 device and lacks all gestures like scrolling and such. (Yes, I learned to use scrollbars again and hate scroll indicators that are thin or hidden.) Again, without Windows, you do not have the right of owning properly working hardware. I spent weeks looking into these two issues but none of the proposed solutions I found worked for me, either because they only work on Swift 3 and upwards with more settings available in EFI or they just did not do for me what they did for some other people. But broken hardware being sold and then fixed with Windows drivers is a completely different topic I do not want to delve into. Back to what I want to talk about. Buying another passively cooled laptop in the future. So what is the market up to?

Due to the bad Linux experience with the current Acer laptop, I decided to specifically look for Linux devices. Tuxedo to the rescue! Let's look at their current lineup. The InfinityBook 14 v2 was passively cooled but it is not in stock anymore and according to their support, there are currently no plans for new passively-cooled laptops. OK, so ... what are they up, then? In their latest news, they show a Stellaris 17 - Gen5 ... with absolute high-end hardware which needs an external water cooling system to operate properly. One of the key selling points is that the graphics card alone is allowed to draw 175 watts. Let's burn the planet ... because we can!

I do not want to pick at Tuxedo here in particular. The processor vendors are playing the same game for years. If they can gain 5% performance by increasing power consumption by 30%, they will do it. Complete nonsense, but it sells. Bigger, faster, louder. Let's make sure nobody realises that a 1GHz CPU and 8GB of RAM might be enough for 90% of the people. Instead, make the people think they are missing out so they consume without thinking about their actual needs. The same success story the car manufacturers are wallowing in with their SUVs. Let's burn the planet ... because we can!

So, what now? "Everything's fucked" is not a healthy attitude. But trying to change things seems impossible because of all the "not listening" you get when trying to talk to vendors about it. ... Yes, even from small vendors.

I will continue watching the Tuxedo space because I would like to support what they are doing (Linux-wise, not Hardware-wise). I will also keep an eye on AMDs Ryzen Embedded R1305G CPU and its close friends. Maybe some laptop manufacturer will be stupid enough to put it in one of their models. They could at least sell one of them. My backup plan is to buy a laptop with e.g. a low-spec Ryzen U series CPU and hope the fan can be made shut up with energy profiles and disabled boost and such. But that feels like wasted resources again. I will also continue to write to laptop manufacturers even if they do not even bother answering because my desires are too non-mainstream and as such too expensive to deal with. ... But I also ask myself, why bother at all. If the majority of our society (I am talking "western" here but the rest of the world is catching up quickly) is happily burning the planet for no reason but the fun of it, why am I trying to disagree and having a hard time? Why not just party along and wait for the cleansing comet? ... I guess it is one of life's challenges to find an answer to that question.


It's a purely Western phenomenon.
We blew up Northstream, which was the largest release of greenhouse gases in a single man-made event. We should lock-in the responsible people, but we don't. Because it was an act of war of our friends and war and killing people is more important than nature to us. The German army murdered civilians in Afghanistan for 20 years, and the German population largely just forgot about it and continued their lifes.
The big burning ship of electric cars on the shores of the EU is another sign.
Thankfully, the Western world is going down. Germany and the whole EU are in recession. They will fall, and it will be good.
Good for humanity and good for nature.

By hf at Sun, 08/06/2023 - 12:33

I wish it was true, but caring about the environment is, if anything, a western thing. Or perhaps something you can afford when rich. Either way, visit India or Indonesia or Brasil and see how shockingly bad the environment is treated there. Things are even worse in the kleptocratic dictatorships like Russia, China or North Korea.

If you hope a 1-2% decrease in economy for 1 year will result in the falling apart of the western economies - then, well, let's see how the rest of the world deals as they usually get hit far worse when the US or EU does badly. It's an interconnected world, my friend, see how Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Libanon or the nations in Central Africa are doing... They are all hoping the economy in the EU and US will pick up soon so they can drag their economies out of the slowdown.

By jospoortvliet at Mon, 08/07/2023 - 17:34

I think both of you have a point, but neither is completely right.

Pollution is indeed awful in third-world countries, and indeed their governments often do not care at all about the environment (or even the climate). However, a lot of this is also caused by the production of goods or extraction of raw materials destined to first-world countries. The production/extraction is offloaded to countries with much laxer environmental standards, and then the finger is pointed to those countries, and never to the top of the supply chain.

And when you look at who emits the most greenhouse gases, it turns out that the global North emits the vast majority of greenhouse gases whereas the global South is most severely hit by the consequences of the climate crisis. Which is why climate activists worldwide are demanding "climate justice".

By Kevin Kofler at Tue, 08/08/2023 - 00:39

While I also expect the demise of the "western" culture in the semi-near future, I do not think that damaging our environment is a western-only thing. We exported enough of those "values" to the rest of the world to make them follow us quickly. Furthermore, some of those countries lack the "green" movement, we had in the 70s and 80s. So they are overtaking us. Burning lakes and rivers in India is one aspect of that.

But I did not want to dig that deep into this doomsday topic. I only find it sad that this kind of irresponsibility has found its way into technology ... a field where I for some reason would have located a balances common sense.

By schwarzer at Mon, 08/07/2023 - 17:48

I have had good experiences with Lenovo laptops so far. I currently use a used Chromebook with Intel N4020 CPU (1.10GHz) and 8GB ram. Lenovo has many laptops with passive cooling and low-specs.

But unfortunately, many laptop manufacturers follow Apple's "amazing" business model: proprietary hardware solutions and no upgrade options.

If 8GB RAM and 64GB EMMC aren't enough, you'll have to buy a new laptop because Manufacturers would rather shell out hundreds of dollars extra for more RAM instead of adding a ram slot.

By ManuelBoe at Sun, 08/06/2023 - 14:16

I hate to say it, but a Macbook Air might also be an option. Fully passive, very low power, incredibly durable... and Linux becomes quite usable on them.

By jospoortvliet at Mon, 08/07/2023 - 17:35

I thought about Apple as well. Not a friend of theirs at all ... But their Laptops seem to have something nice about them. ... A friend of mine just bought one. I will ask him about it in a few month. :)

By schwarzer at Mon, 08/07/2023 - 18:09

Keep in mind that those are also aarch64 machines nowadays. Of course, the price range and GNU/Linux-friendliness is not quite the same as for the Pine64 devices. But I can see how the Apple Silicon computers can be a competitive option for high-end aarch64 machines. (E.g., I have seen at least one host offer Apple Silicon Mac Minis with GNU/Linux preinstalled located in their data center as cheap remote dedicated servers for rent. Cheap at least compared to the kind of server-grade equipment they use to host their aarch64 VPSes.)

Just be warned that Asahi is currently in the process of switching their main featured distribution from Arch to Fedora (see, so there may be some rough edges, and that they do not have all hardware components working yet (see

While ARM is the standard for small mobile devices such as smartphones and small tablets nowadays, general-purpose ARM (aarch64) computers are still a niche thing. Apple is the only mainstream vendor completely focusing on ARM. Other aarch64 computers are either niche product lines of large vendors or the products of niche vendors such as Pine64.

By Kevin Kofler at Tue, 08/08/2023 - 01:09

Unfortunately Lenovo is burned for life for me after a T430 broke too often and then the repair shop war incredibly incompetent, lying to my face and then sending the laptop back to the wrong address where I had to fetch it for myself driving 500km because Lenovo wasn't able to fetch it and deliver it to the correct address. Also, they did not repair it so I had to do it myself. So ... No Lenovo for me. ... But I agree, that they have some nice Laptops in their lineup.

By schwarzer at Mon, 08/07/2023 - 18:07

Does it have to be an x86_64 device or could an aarch64 device be something for you? I am asking especially because you seem to be asking for energy saving and silence over performance. In particular, the Pine64 Pinebook Pro might be something for you.

That said, I have not tried it. The only Pine64 device I own is a PinePhone (well, actually two of them, but the older one has a broken USB circuit that makes the cellular modem not work at all, so I had to replace it).

By Kevin Kofler at Mon, 08/07/2023 - 04:24