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Linux - Laptop and Netbook Having a problem installing or configuring Linux on your laptop? Need help running Linux on your netbook? This forum is for you. This forum is for any topics relating to Linux and either traditional laptops or netbooks (such as the Asus EEE PC, Everex CloudBook or MSI Wind).

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Old 06-03-2013, 10:45 AM   #1
displace
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Buying a new laptop exclusively for linux


I'm giving away my old laptop and buying a new one that will run linux exclusively. I'm looking for a mid-range laptop, but I need some advice.

What are the potential pitfalls when buying a new laptop for linux? Which brand name is generally recommended today (2013) for linux? I've heard Acer, Dell, and Toshiba have good support. Which CPU is recommended (Intel vs AMD), why? Which GFX card (radeon vs geforce)? Looks like I have to avoid Optimus. I've heard Atheros (ath9k) has good WiFi support, and that Realtek (rtl8192cu) sucks.

Comments, ideas, suggestions?


Thanks in advance.
Bye!
 
Old 06-03-2013, 01:34 PM   #2
archShade
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I's always difficult to give advice witout knwing more about your situation. If you answer some question we may be able to help.
  • Do you want to play modern 3D games at medium to high qualty?
  • Do you want to run memory intesive task (e.g. Video editing or v.hi-res photos)?
  • How much storage space do you need?
  • Do you want sothing to just browse the web on?
  • Do you want to code - is what kind of stuff?
  • Do you compile lots of your own software?
  • Will this be your only computer?
  • Is small a feature, or is this DTR laptop.
  • Is Free(libre) software important? If so nVidia GPUs are out. My experiance is that the OSS drivers suck.


If you don't need a lot of graphical oomph, I would look at an Intel machine with intergrated GPU. They genrally run on less power (better battery life), and the Intel drivers are just about the best on Linux, (Intel are just about the best for OSS drivers).

The diffrence between AMD and Intel CPUs seems small, although bang/Watt seems better on Intel thanks to them being a process node ahead. your likely to get more clks/$ and clks/W on intel, while you get more cores/$ on AMD. AMD also have more powerful built in GPUs. If you going to have a lot of single threaded tasks then Intel is the way to go, this is even more true due to Intels Turbo boost. If it's more multi-threaded stuff thats a more difficult call, certainley in the Workstation space AMD is amazing in bang/$ for massively multithreaded stuff.

If you are going Intel go for an i*M series (not Celeron or Atom), it's worth the extra bit of money.

Your right to avoid multi GPU stuff like Optimus although if you really like the idea there is Bumblebee.

For HW compatibillity I would identify 3 or 5 Laptops that meet your needs and then see if other people have got them to work (also check out how it plays with your fav distro). Also try to make sure you know which model your getting some weird things can change with slight diffrences.

exemplem:
A little under a year ago I bought an HP Probook 4540s. I had made sure that other people had got it all to work and it seemed good. I got a model with a combined BT and WiFi and Debian and Mint both refused to even see the WiFi card, only BT. In the end I live booted OpenSuSe 11.2 and everything just worked (at the time HP sold Linux laptop with SuSe so I'm guessing they contribute some support). Look at manufacturers that have a Linux model. Somtimes having Linux pre-installed is more expensive than Windows (ad-ware more than makes up for the cost of a Windows license and you pay a Linux support premium - there is a very small number of Linux pre-installs).
 
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Old 06-03-2013, 03:12 PM   #3
displace
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Hey, thanks for the detailed posting!

Quote:
Originally Posted by archShade View Post
  • Do you want to play modern 3D games at medium to high qualty?
  • Do you want to run memory intesive task (e.g. Video editing or v.hi-res photos)?
  • How much storage space do you need?
  • Do you want sothing to just browse the web on?
  • Do you want to code - is what kind of stuff?
  • Do you compile lots of your own software?
  • Will this be your only computer?
  • Is small a feature, or is this DTR laptop.
  • Is Free(libre) software important? If so nVidia GPUs are out. My experiance is that the OSS drivers suck.
  1. I have currently no plans, but I may do it in the future, so I'll answer yes here. Either way I was hoping for a non-integrated GFX card i.e. RadeonHD or GF.
  2. Yes, I do plan to run memory-intensive tasks i.e. video editing, image editing/drawing, compiling, etc.
  3. About 500 Gb should do, I use external HDD's for extra storage.
  4. I'll be browsing the web alright, but it's not the only task I have planned. There's also LibreOffice, Gimp, VoIP, Chat, Wireshark, Torrents, etc.
  5. Yes, C++, gdb, Python, HTML/CSS/PHP, shell scripts, etc.
  6. I compile my own programs on occasions (including OpenGL stuff). Though I prefer to use the package manager for standard programs.
  7. It will be my primary portable computer. I have two other (much older) laptops that I use for specific purposes, and a powerful desktop PC running Windows 7.
  8. It doesn't have to be small, but it's not a complete DTR. It's a portable linux box for things I can't do on my desktop when I'm away from home.
  9. I wouldn't mind using proprietary drivers, so long as they work and don't cause trouble.

Any other things I should know? How's UEFI support?
What's the deal with Intel Insider and Intel vPro - some ppl call these spyware/backdoors?
 
Old 06-03-2013, 03:30 PM   #4
nonamedotc
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I have been using Lenovo Thinkpad (config after my own upgrades in my signature) for a while now (since ~2009) and every single distribution I have tried has worked so far. I have tried most of the common distributions on both these laptops. I run only linux. T520 runs Fedora while T500 runs Fedora and Debian 7 (dual boot).

I run Fedora with nvidia drivers from rpmfusion (but not bumblebee) on one of the laptops - no problems so far. The only issue I have run into is the intel wireless with Debian. That is a non-issue though. I enable nonfree and contrib, install iwlwifi and done!

I have some friends who also use Thinkpads with Ubuntu and Linux Mint. They seem to have a very nice time too. So, my experience has been overwhelmingly positive ...
 
Old 06-03-2013, 06:53 PM   #5
Timothy Miller
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I'm very happy with my new Dell Latitude E5430. Other than the fact that I bought a prebuilt so got a Broadcom wireless chip (which was a $20 fix on ebay), everything about it works flawlessly on Debian Testing, and it's plenty fast.

Core i5 3360, 8 GB DDR3, 500 GB 7200 rpm, 1600x900 14" widescreen.
 
Old 06-03-2013, 08:53 PM   #6
shane25119
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I have an ASUS and I'm quite happy with it. Before that I had a ThinkPad, I was happy with that as well.

I've installed Linux on a number of laptops over the years and the support has been pretty good on all of them- almost everything worked right out of the box.

Check out this laptop to cross-check any laptop you are thinking of

http://www.linux-laptop.net/
 
Old 06-03-2013, 08:58 PM   #7
frankbell
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I've been happy with my Dell and my Asus, but I haven't been in the market for a new one in some time.

I hope that, the next time I need a new box, I can get one from Zareason or System 76.
 
Old 06-10-2013, 09:08 PM   #8
ReaperX7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by displace View Post
I'm giving away my old laptop and buying a new one that will run linux exclusively. I'm looking for a mid-range laptop, but I need some advice.

What are the potential pitfalls when buying a new laptop for linux? Which brand name is generally recommended today (2013) for linux? I've heard Acer, Dell, and Toshiba have good support. Which CPU is recommended (Intel vs AMD), why? Which GFX card (radeon vs geforce)? Looks like I have to avoid Optimus. I've heard Atheros (ath9k) has good WiFi support, and that Realtek (rtl8192cu) sucks.

Comments, ideas, suggestions?


Thanks in advance.
Bye!
If you want a good inexpensive laptop that's moderately Linux friendly look into HP. Acer and Toshiba are fairly good also. Avoid Dell at all costs.

If you can get away with it, and your laptop supports using a non-Optimus solution where the video card is selectable either by a hardware switch or in the BIOS then go with Nvidia, and if not just go with AMD. The CPU choice will be affected by the graphics. Usually only Intel CPUs come with Nvidia, and AMD CPUs come with Radeons.

As far as wi-fi, Wi-Fi is a fickle beast. If at all possible, if you can get proper driver support from the OEM or through the kernel and maybe with a firmware add-on, you'll be okay. Atheros, Realtek, and Broadcom are fairly decent, but make sure before hand you do have driver support.

Just a suggestion, but get the fastest Quad-Core CPU you can for your system, even if it has to be custom ordered. Laptops are not well known for their speed rather than their battery life. Depending on what you'll be needing it for, a modest 1.7 GHz Quad-Core should work fine for any purpose.

And if you want to expand your laptop's capabilities, I also recommend you keep the Windows partition intact, just re-size off only what you need for Linux and Dual-Boot.
 
Old 06-10-2013, 11:03 PM   #9
Timothy Miller
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Why do you say avoid Dell? I've had 8-12 Dell systems (off the top of my head, XPS M1330, Latitude C640, Latitude D620, Latitude D630, Latitude E6400, Latitude E5500, Latitude E6520, Latitude E5430), and not a one of them had even the slightest HINT of a hiccup with linux support. In fact, they have all worked SIGNIFICANTLY better than my HP (Elitebook 8460p, which has no 3-d to speak of due to being forced to use open source AMD drivers since AMD's proprietary drivers are such steaming pile of fecal matter if you run a kernel that's even SLIGHTLY modern).

Last edited by Timothy Miller; 06-10-2013 at 11:06 PM.
 
Old 06-12-2013, 12:46 PM   #10
iripu
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I have installed Linux on different brands of laptops and it always worked fine. But for reliability, please check the PDF on this page: http://www.squaretrade.com/laptop-reliability-1109/
 
Old 06-13-2013, 12:03 PM   #11
displace
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It's fine, I managed to purchase a Dell Inspiron with Ubuntu preinstalled
Though I'll be doing a format and install an updated version of XUbuntu on it.
Now I just have to figure out the UEFI/Secure Boot thing.
 
Old 06-13-2013, 12:44 PM   #12
Timothy Miller
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Turn off secure boot if it's on. That's all you need to do, UEFI in and of itself linux works great with, it's just booting with Secure Boot turned on that can be problematic.
 
Old 06-25-2013, 02:08 AM   #13
nick_th_fury
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Timothy Miller View Post
Why do you say avoid Dell? I've had 8-12 Dell systems (off the top of my head, XPS M1330, Latitude C640, Latitude D620, Latitude D630, Latitude E6400, Latitude E5500, Latitude E6520, Latitude E5430), and not a one of them had even the slightest HINT of a hiccup with linux support. In fact, they have all worked SIGNIFICANTLY better than my HP (Elitebook 8460p, which has no 3-d to speak of due to being forced to use open source AMD drivers since AMD's proprietary drivers are such steaming pile of fecal matter if you run a kernel that's even SLIGHTLY modern).

Posting from a Dell Latitude E6400 and k3.2.45 runs fine on it. I think the hardest thing about both HP & Dell is they ship so many units you can have 3+ different wifi chips under the same model. They are notoriously confusing for newer users because of that. One person reports the kernel supports it, another doesn't. In fact the broadcom wifi on this one was just such a case. Luckily theres a really great open source project for that so I didn't have to bother with a wrapper. Compile & go.

IMO, if I was buying new I wouldn't buy anything that didn't ship with Linux as an option. Even if I planned on running windows only. Companies that put enough effort into unix drivers seem to have better windows support as well. So it sounds like the OP made the perfect choice. That said, I tend to pickup notebooks used it seems. So just making whatever I get work is a great learning experience.
 
Old 06-25-2013, 02:41 AM   #14
k3lt01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by displace View Post
It's fine, I managed to purchase a Dell Inspiron with Ubuntu preinstalled
Though I'll be doing a format and install an updated version of XUbuntu on it.
I don't know about now but Dell used to have its own version of Ubuntu for their machines. I'd be looking into that before I went and installed a vanilla version of Xubuntu becaues Dell may have second thoughts honouring a warranty if you change from their pre-installed system to a regular Xubuntu.
 
Old 06-25-2013, 06:01 AM   #15
displace
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k3lt01: That's okay, I made a full dd/gzip image of the original OS on the hard disk before formatting.
 
  


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