I've been trying to follow this because I'm looking for a new laptop (desktop replacement). Currently have 17" hp dv9000. I've used nvidia for years (blobs).
What should I look for in a laptop with Intel graphics that has:
good linux support
performance sufficient for desktop effects, perhaps the occasional game (I'm not a gamer).
I'm not a gamer, but want something future-proof for 4-5 years.
I have no problems using nVidia cards in Linux. Others have trouble with nVidia video cards in Linux. All I see on problems with nVidia cards in Linux is some distributions still use half-ass approach of handling the OpenGL libraries for close-source drivers. Also you have to hack the kernel options line to blacklist nouveu (open source community's lovely favorite ) when dealing with pre-compile distributions like Ubuntu and Linux Mint just to name a few. My recommendation after several years of using Linux is to use Gentoo or Arch Linux to ease usage and installing of the "blob" drivers. Calculate Linux gives you Gentoo in the same amount of time of installing a pre-compile distribution.
nVidia cards in Linux are future proof, but from what I read is notebook computers with nVidia cards includes Optimus. This creates a problem until you use BumbleBee. I have not tried it.
People here always bitching about something they do not understand. nVidia does support Linux. I have been and still using my GeForce8 8400M GS since 2007. It has been five years. For five years, I have dual monitor setup with this card. nVidia is easy to setup with multiple monitors compared to AMD graphics and Intel.
One problem with Linux is it is still is horrible with power management. I recommend just use Windows on your notebook or get a Macbook Air or Macbook Pro. Linux is still best used on a desktop or workstation.
From experience of using computers for most of my life, any special effects like desktop effects does slow down your computer and cause problems. Does not matter what graphics brand that you get. I use Xfce as my desktop management of choice with out any composite manager. I do not have any problems with nVidia graphics like crashing or freezing.
The way I see the graphs is Intel graphics are sold more than any stand-alone graphics card. Also there are not that many applications in Linux that require a high-end video card. Mainly, any Linux user can get by using a low-end video card. The CPU these days are very fast and multimedia programs are written with multi-threading in mind, so any hardware video decode acceleration that a video card has are useless. When movies comes in with 4000K resolutions, hardware video decode acceleration from graphics cards will be viable. Then eventually the CPU will catch up to be powerful enough to handle 4000K resolutions by it self. Though it seems most people in this forum are notebook users or nVidia users (like me) just do not care running or be part of the test. Really I do not want to be part of the test.