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Having trouble installing a piece of hardware? Want to know if that peripheral is compatible with Linux?

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Old 05-03-2012, 01:20 PM   #1
yzfr1
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Laptop brand/hardware to avoid


Hey,

I've been thinking of buying a new laptop on which I will install some linux dists, and I was thinking that it might be a good idea to ask for some advice. Is there any particular brand of CPU, graphics card, HDD, memory etc. that you've had problems with in a particular dist? Perhaps drivers are easier to find for some rather than others? Lots of people are warning about HP laptops in general, is there any truth in that?

Just looking for some general advice on what to consider before buying. The main OS will be debian based (probably Crunchbang) and I'll also install Backtrack on a separate partition.

Cheers!
 
Old 05-03-2012, 02:20 PM   #2
dugan
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NVidia Optimus GPUs aren't well supported.

If you can, try not to get one with a Broadcom wifi chipset.

Last edited by dugan; 05-03-2012 at 02:21 PM.
 
Old 05-03-2012, 02:27 PM   #3
sycamorex
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You might also have a look at LQ's Hardware Compatibility List.
 
Old 05-03-2012, 02:57 PM   #4
TobiSGD
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I would strongly recommend not to get a laptop with older AMD graphics (Mobile Radeon HD4xxx and below), they will be unsupported in a few months from the proprietary graphics driver and can have serious power-saving issues, rendering them basically useless for mobile use.
Regarding HP, I have a HP Compaq 615 (yes, with those future unsupported graphics and Broadcom wireless) and have not a single problem with it (besides the mentioned AMD driver problem, but that is not HP's fault).
 
Old 05-04-2012, 04:43 AM   #5
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yzfr1 View Post
I've been thinking of buying a new laptop ...
If I was going for a new laptop (and I do mean new, not just 'not second user' - so, a new model, rather than a run-out special offer on something that was introduced quite a while ago), and I wasn't intending to do gaming on the laptop (which I wouldn't be), I'd look in the first instance at chips with graphics integrated into the CPU.

Quote:
Originally Posted by yzfr1 View Post
Is there any particular brand of CPU, graphics card, HDD, memory etc. that you've had problems with in a particular dist? Perhaps drivers are easier to find for some rather than others? Lots of people are warning about HP laptops in general, is there any truth in that?
You won't have a Linux support problem with the HDD, memory, etc. That is, all memory meeting a certain specification looks alike to the OS. That is not to say that some may be better made or more conservatively specified than others, but that's a slightly different question.

As far as brand of CPU is concerned, there are two real choices: AMD and Intel. While this is something of a religious issue, recent Intel CPUs have been strong on per core performance, with weaker inbuilt graphics (although Ivy Bridge takes them some way towards respectable graphics performance). OTOH, AMD's per core performance has been weaker, but sometimes you get more cores for your money with AMD, and the AMD integrated graphics performance has been better (although drivers for AMD's graphics has been a bit of a rollercoaster ride).

So, 'You pays your money and you takes your choice'! I'd say Intel was the more more likely to be an 'It just works' solution, but that isn't to say that AMD might not be a better graphics solution, if you are prepared to fiddle around with low level stuff in order to get it working.

Some people won't touch Intel with the proverbial barge pole, alleging (...we could probably say more than that...) commercial 'sharp practice' on Intel's part. Other people won't touch AMD, claiming that their Linux support blows hot and cold, and that it is therefore difficult to predict what support will look like over the lifetime of the device. You pays your money...
 
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Old 05-05-2012, 11:35 AM   #6
dugan
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Salasi, aren't you also more likely to get a well supported wifi chipset if you by an Intel CPU? Intel CPUs tend to be Centrinos, which have integrated Intel wifi chipsets, which are supported by the kernel. AMDs don't integrate wifi, so the laptop manufacturer needs to add a wifi chipset. That chipset might be one that you need ndiswrapper for.

Last edited by dugan; 05-05-2012 at 11:37 AM.
 
Old 05-06-2012, 03:14 AM   #7
salasi
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dugan View Post
Salasi, aren't you also more likely to get a well supported wifi chipset if you by an Intel CPU?
That part is absolutely true, and is part of the 'it just works' aspect. The Intel wireless part is well supported (and, even if it wasn't, the Intel chip plus Intel chipset is so common, there would be many tutorials around the 'net on how to deal with it). On the AMD side, the combinations do tend to multiply up somewhat, and that is more difficult. That said, wireless isn't as big a problem as it was, say, five years back, so while it might be a 'doesn't work out of the box' problem, it should be curable, with a bit of effort.

There is similar sort of story with graphics - the Intel solution is well supported, and should just work. It may not be the highest performance solution (all right, it really isn't the highest performing solution - the latest Ivy Bridge parts have a quite good graphics solution, older chips are less good on performance, but still workable, if you don't have the highest requirements), but it should just work.
 
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Old 05-06-2012, 05:12 AM   #8
TobiSGD
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Quote:
Originally Posted by salasi View Post
That part is absolutely true, and is part of the 'it just works' aspect.
This can't be said in general. There are members here that had serious issues with the some Intel wireless devices with kernels 3.0-3.2 that are fixed now in kernel 3.3. Everey brand of hardware has from time to time issues.

Quote:
There is similar sort of story with graphics - the Intel solution is well supported, and should just work.
Same here, often you need the latest Xorg/Mesa/kernel to get them really working and even then you sometimes have issues. This can lead to problems especially on the more stable distributions with longer release cycle. There are plenty of threads here about this topic.
 
Old 05-06-2012, 06:31 PM   #9
RockDoctor
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Best bet if you're going to be buying at a bricks and mortar store: take a few different live CDs with you and try them out on any laptops that interest you. If you get sound, a wifi connection that actually works, and the proper screen resolution, you're not likely to run into any other difficulties.
 
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Old 05-07-2012, 02:00 PM   #10
business_kid
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Quick tips

Research carefully the video cards. It's at the stage when this nvidia or amd card is good, and that one is bad, and you have to know the numbers. Intel still seems behind even amd on graphics.

Avoid Acer - too much unreplaceable stuff and fantabulous volume controls which only have windows drivers, and basics like power supply plugs can be crap. Avoid names you never heard of. You don't need a power hungry cpu, unless you know better. You do need a big battery.
 
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Old 05-07-2012, 04:45 PM   #11
yzfr1
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Wow, thanks everyone for the interest and advice, really appreciate it!

Quote:
Originally Posted by RockDoctor View Post
Best bet if you're going to be buying at a bricks and mortar store: take a few different live CDs with you and try them out on any laptops that interest you. If you get sound, a wifi connection that actually works, and the proper screen resolution, you're not likely to run into any other difficulties.
Good idea, hadn't thought of that! Will definitely give that a try.

About the processor I have indeed been leaning towards Intel (possibly Core i3) but mostly for no other reason than that I'm used to it, most of my previous machines have had Intel processors.

Anyway, I'm planning to buy it in around two months or so, so I have time to do a bit of research. Just now I saw an ASUS that kinda caught my eye (ASUS U31SD) that at first clance looked quite nice. But then again I still haven't even decided on the screen size, ~11" or ~13", so I'll see.

Anyway, thanks alot for all the advice, I'll put it to good use!

Cheers!

Last edited by yzfr1; 05-07-2012 at 09:15 PM.
 
  


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