I am going to buy a laptop. The last one had intel intergrated graphics. It did not have any drivers that allowed it to change for example the brightness, as opposed to the nVidia drivers on the desktop. Would you recommend buying a laptop with dediacted graphics such as the nVidia that allows changing brightness/gamma/contrast etc.
Depends. I’ve got some intel based laptops, brightness is adjustable through the desktop configuration. On the fly.
Both nvidia and amd/ati have their pros and cons. Like said, depends on what you’re going to use the laptop for.
Generally speaking, life is easier on Linux with an all-Intel PC: Intel video drivers are open source, always tested with every major distro, already part of the standard kernel and Intel themselves are actively maintaining those drivers.
Since you are going to buy a laptop, please be aware that most of them are now hybrid machines (called “Optimus” by Nvidia) with both an integrated GPU and a discrete one; these hybrid architectures are still rather tricky to manage on Linux, with such packages as “bumblebee” or “suse-prime”.
You might find something useful in this thread or in this one as a starting point.
So, unless you need the discrete performance, I would rather stick to integrated graphics and maybe spend the extra money on a SSD.
As to brightness control, I never had problems with Intel chips: maybe you need to add an option to the kernel command line, somebody on the Forums might be able to help if you describe your problem in detail.
If you need special colour calibration for photo or printing work, maybe the GPU is not the only thing to consider.
My last two PCs (a Toshiba Satellite Z930 ultrabook and a PC based on a Gyigabyte Z87X-D3H motherboard) being “all-intel” and I’ve had a much easier time on those PCs with GNU/Linux than with my previous Nvidia and AMD based PCs. (Although having said that I do note a very old 32-bit Fujitsu Siemens laptop struggled when support for Intel graphics was mostly dropped by the kernel - and having typed that I think that intel driver support dropping (which affected may laptop suppliers) an exception).
To the OP,
You’re actually asking about different things…
The graphics driver isn’t likely the actual issue you’re asking about,
My guess is that you’re actually asking about the hardware buttons across the top row.
Those buttons may or may not work, and typically depend on the laptop manufacturer volunteering and submitting code that is specific to their model(s) to the mainline kernel. If the manufacturer just doesn’t care about Linux users, we’re SOL.
Regardless of hardware button support, You should still be able to modify things like brightness through standard software settings, and sometimes through proprietary software software provided by the graphics manufacturer (like nVidia’s excellent tools).
IMO best approach is to survey laptops you’re interested in, then search for Linux-specific articles and blogs about those models.
And, make sure you have a money-back return policy in case you find any surprises.