I am purchasing a laptop for fMRI scanning. One of the tasks in the fMRI protocol uses PTB, the other uses a Windows-based proprietary software called Inquisit. Due to recent changes with UEFI and TPM, and BitLocker requirements for Windows we will, unfortunately, not be able to dual boot with Ubuntu. Therefore, we must implement PTB on a Windows-based machine.
We have 2 options and I’m not sure how to weigh the relative likelihood of their success. Prior forum posts suggest AMD Radeon graphics are the least likely to give trouble in Windows. However, the only AMD Radeon option we can purchase is an HP G10 series that only comes with Windows 11 and can not be downgraded to Win 10. The alternate option is a Dell Latitude 5540 with Intel Integrated Graphics, which I know (from experience and reading forum posts) are hit or miss with regards to PTB timing issues.
I was wondering if a) anyone had experience with PTB in either the HP G10 series with AMD and Windows 11, b) anyone had experience with PTB using Dell Latitude 5540 with Intel Integrated Graphics and Win 10, c) if anyone had a sense of which option (or neither!) would be preferred.
Thank you for your time.
Andrew E. Papale, PhD.
University of Pittsburgh
Why would that prevent dual-boot use of Linux? My MS Surface Pro 6 tablet PC uses dual-boot between Windows 11 Home with Bitlocker (ie. the somewhat limited version that they give you if you don’t spend money on a Windows Enterprise (or Pro?) edition), and Ubuntu 20.04.6-LTS. Works fine, except for the annoyance that sometimes after some Linux bootloader security update, Bitlocker kicks in when trying to boot Windows, and then I have to manually enter the long Bitlocker recovery key to unlock the Windows drive again. Deeply annoying, and usually always at the most inconvenient time, but manageable.
You can also disable Bitlocker - or not enable it in the first place.
Intel graphics is fine on Linux, but (almost?) always a total failure wrt. trustworthy/accurate presentation timing/timestamping on Windows, so if you really think you must use Windows, I’d certainly avoid the Intel option. AMD or NVidia is both less worse than Intel for Windows, but AMD is strongly preferable for Linux. But there are different Laptops with AMD graphics, not just the one you mentioned.
Wrt. Windows 11 vs. Windows 10, PTB is expected to work fine on Windows 11, it is just not officially supported in case of any Windows 11 specific trouble, and only very lightly tested for the most basic stuff under Octave with it. This because my only Win 11 tablet PC is very low on disc space, so I can not even install Matlab or much other software, and it is has Intel integrated graphics, which prevents any meaningful testing due to all the Intel problems on Windows 10/11. Due to the lack of financial support by our users, I don’t have the money to waste on new or more capable Windows test systems, so this another one of the many problems that our users inflict onto themselves by refusing to support us financially.
Mario, thank you for your input. Department and University security policies require purchase of Enterprise/Pro Windows computers and not disabling Bitlocker. The workaround you suggest will be prohibitively frustrating to maintain for a dual boot system.
We have concluded it is in our best interests not to purchase a new laptop and to move away from use of PTB for this study, though I was willing to give the G10 AMD a shot. We have worked extensively with University Purchasing to identify compatible devices and the Dell and HP were the only viable options in that regard.
Well, looking up and typing in a string of 48 numbers every couple of months is not exactly rocket science or a gigantic burden if you have the piece of paper or doc with the recovery key at hand. And of course you could disable or delay all security and software updates on the Linux side to specific scheduled maintenance periods – the opposite of what your departments security policy probably wanted to achieve, but hey! There’s also free and well regarded full-disk encryption software other than Bitlocker, e.g., Veracrypt, if that’s allowed on your side.
But then I don’t understand what prevents use of PTB on Windows if the G10 AMD was an option?
Ofc., it always depends what you need in terms of quality and reliability for your paradigm. If you don’t need visual timing precision better than 50 msecs, even running on Windows with broken Intel graphics and disabling all of PTB’s timing tests is an option. If you need to be better than that, there are probably not many options that could do better than PTB, if any. It is definitely superior to all other free software alternatives and the majority of common proprietary/commercial packages, although I don’t have any experience with that Intuit thing. But knowing they all have to use the same infrastructure to get pictures on the screen, and knowing that infrastructure pretty well, I could make an educated guess on how that would work out. So this is a convenience vs. quality tradeoff you’ll have to make.
Because those are the only vendors you are allowed to buy from?
Anyhow, so far I mostly heard the occasional story of administration and IT services of some UK universities working hard to prevent proper research being done in research institutions. I guess the trend has reached the US as well… I don’t envy you having to work under such work conditions.