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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 12-13-2012, 02:55 PM   #1
slackwareuser5000
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What laptop to buy?


This has to be seemingly the most trivial question imaginable. Why not just "google it"? However I've tried that, and I can't find any reliable information.

The question is, what laptop should I buy to run GNU/Linux on it as well as possible? I will refrain from asking questions about specific hardware and specific requirements, I'm more interested in what manufacturer and what model(s) are known to work exceptionally well with Linux.

The problem is that although there exists drivers for certain hardware, sometimes the manufacturer doesn't implement the hardware properly, and even though the open source driver implements e.g. ACPI properly, maybe the hardware implementation doesn't implement ACPI as it should. In Windows this still works perfectly fine though, why? Because the proprietary Windows drivers mask the hardware issues with software fixes. Things like that seem to be a major issue for me, especially when buying cheap laptops.

Traditionally IBM Thinkpad has been known to work well. Is this still the case? What models are known to work well? Can I buy any Thinkpad and be safe, or are there certain Thinkpads that should be avoided?

I need something more than the typical chart that just says "works", "not tested", etc, this is not good enough. I get the impressions that the testing is anything but thorough and that all kinds of issues can emerge.

I have personally personally experienced problems in (especially Asus) laptops with things that should just work but don't. E.g. the keyboard, mousepad, USB, ACPI, wireless network, bluetooth, webcam, graphics card (especially with Nvidia Optimus), and pretty much anything imaginable. Almost nothing works 100%, I've had this problem for at least the past 10 years with Linux and forgive me that I'm tired of this. It doesn't matter how knowledgeable and skilled you are, even if you are a kernel hacker, which I am not, who has the time to even attempt to fix this many problems with their own laptop?
 
Old 12-13-2012, 03:40 PM   #2
Ztcoracat
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Hi:

The folks at Consumer Reports are pretty good at what is the best in the top 10-
Here is the link to the Consumer Reports in regard to the computer section.
http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/computers.htm

From coming here almost 2 years now I'd say that the Lenovo does pretty well with Linux.
The Dell Inspiron has good ratings as well.
Don't know that much about Toshiba laptops.
I have heard numerous complaints about Asus laptops. Not sure if it is a hardware issue or not-

I plan to installed Fedora on my Sony laptop in a few days. I'll let you know how responsive a Vaio is to Linux when the installation is complete. I suspect all will be well-

Sony's are expensive $800.00 and $2,000 and even more if you request a custom build.

I would do research on the Thinkpads to find out if it's a good idea to purchase one.
I have a friend that has one and he mentioned that it overheat's easily; not good-
http://forums.cnet.com/7723-21579_10...d-turning-off/

Before you make a purchase google the graphics card to a computer that you have intrest in and see if that particular card has issue's.
This link is about choosing a graphics card and may help you to decide-
http://www.pcworld.com/article/26069...2_edition.html

How to choose a graphics card for Unix/Linux:
http://unix.stackexchange.com/questi...card-for-linux

Quote:
I need something more than the typical chart that just says "works", "not tested", etc, this is not good enough. I get the impressions that the testing is anything but thorough and that all kinds of issues can emerge.
I know what you mean but it seems like the manufactures of the newer laptop's don't seem to provide enough information and either tell a certain amount of information to give to the customer and intentionally leave out the important details that could cause conflict after the purchase.

If at all possible purchase a computer w/o an OS on it and install what you want is a suggestion but even that is starting to become extinct-If intrested in this Tiger Direct may still give you the consumer that option-

I won't talk to much about the Win's 8 & UEFI development but it most certainly has a lot of folks unhappy as it seems like a real annoying process to get under control to run Linux on a laptop.

I wish you the best in your decision and hope you have a good laptop that you are pleased with-
 
Old 12-13-2012, 03:59 PM   #3
memilanuk
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I recently went through the same internal debate.

I ended up going with a Lenovo ThinkPad T530. Lenovo took over the ThinkPad line a few years back, and despite some grumbling from the old-school ThinkPad fans about the addition of a track pad (along with the traditional ThinkPad pointer gizmo that looks like a pencil eraser in the middle of the keyboard), it seems like the 'business' class machines are still going strong. They have a lot of *other* models out there too... but in the process of doing a *lot* of web surfing over a couple days, I found that there were several Linux laptop providers that were selling what amounted to ThinkPad T430 or T530 models with your flavor of Linux on them. The prices for 'upgrading' the RAM from 4GB to 16GB varied wildly - from $120 to over $1000, for about $80 worth of product.

I opted to buy via Tiger Direct, because they were slightly cheaper for the same model, already had Windows 7 Pro on it, and listed as shipping in 48hrs. As it turns out, they pass the order on to a drop ship company. I looked at their shipping options - 5-10 day, free, 3 day, $20, next day, $27. I figured what the heck, I need it *now*, as my laptop was down and I was having trouble restoring backups to my desktop. As it turned out... I literally had the machine in hand a day and a half later, which is some kind of record for me

The things I like about the T530... its a very solid machine. Heavy duty hinges, carbon-fiber reinforced body, magnesium alloy 'roll cage' inside the body, and it still has a removable drive bay for the DVD-RW drive - which will likely get augmented by an additional drive caddy holding the (relatively new) 500GB 5400RPM drive from my old laptop for additional storage.

Dual boot with openSuSE 12.2, Scientific Linux, or Mint 14 Cinnamon (all 64-bit versions) works fine. Most of the special features of the function keys (i.e. Fn+F3 = Lock, Fn+F4 = Sleep, Fn+F8/9=brighter/dimmer) work in Linux. A few do not (Fn+F7 is supposed to switch between laptop display, external display/projector, or both) work in Linux; I imagine you could probably work at mapping them out if you want.

This particular model came with Win 7 Pro, as mentioned, not Win 8, and therefore I had *no* problems with the whole UEFI debacle. Unlike some HP models I read about, on the Lenove T530 they use 3 primary partitions, not 4. One labeled 'SYSTEM_DRV' (1.6GB), one labeled 'Lenovo Recovery' (15GB), and the remainder as 'Windows7_OS'. It was simple to resize the Windows partition (I need it around for various work-related things... plus GAMES! ) and then set up dual boot as per normal.

This particular configuration (2392-45U, if you want to look it up) comes with the 9-cell battery pack that extends out the back of the machine about an inch or so. Given that power consumption/battery life under Linux still sucks compared to on Windows 7... you'll want that. It also does *not* have the back-lit keyboard option. It *does* have the 15.6" 1600x900 screen (biggest diff between the T430 and the T530 is the former has a 14" screen), but these do not have the offset keyboard and 10-key pad that other wide-screen laptops now feature. Instead they use the extra space on the sides for the built-in speakers on either side of the keyboard. Probably the one thing I *don't* like 100% about this layout is that some of the keys that are normally found outboard of the left side of the Enter key, like Home, End, Insert, Delete are instead stuffed up at the end of the Function key row and PgUp/PgDn are stuffed down around the arrow keys, which takes some getting used to.

Here's a link to the thread where I mulled things over.

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...ge-4175439835/

HTH,

Monte
 
Old 01-04-2013, 01:48 PM   #4
beachboy2
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slackwareuser5000,

Just remember that Linux works perfectly well with older hardware.

If you must buy new, then the Lenovo T530 is an excellent Linux laptop.

Much better value can be had with a used Lenovo/IBM T60 preferably the wide screen model with 2GB of memory.
Find someone who is bored with their T60 and grab yourself a bargain.

I am using one with Xubuntu 12.04 LTS and everything works perfectly. Not only that but the build quality is far superior to my wife's more recent Lenovo G770.
 
Old 01-04-2013, 09:56 PM   #5
frankbell
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I've had good luck with my Dells, though they tend to have Broadcom wireless, which takes a couple of extra steps to get working. I've had two Dell laptops (one of which predated the built-in wireless days) and a netbook and they have all worked just fine. The 1545n is currently running Slackware--Current quite happily.

I have an older Asus Travelmate that worked perfectly with out-of-the-box Fedora and Slackware installs; one of my friends just got a Lenovo Thinkpad Twist that runs Linux flawlessly now he has disabled Secure Boot (but no longer runs Windows--he's trying to make it dual boot just to see if he can, but Windows is not cooperating).

There is also the option of buying a laptop with a native Linux install from a vendor such as Zareason or System76, though they are not cheap.
 
Old 01-05-2013, 10:36 AM   #6
DavidMcCann
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Here's a report on reliability over a 3-year period:
http://www.squaretrade.com/htm/pdf/S...ility_1109.pdf

I'd pick one from a reliable manufacturer that you like and then search the web to see if anyone's having trouble using it with Linux.
 
Old 01-08-2013, 03:53 PM   #7
comfree
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I got a perfekt working Thinkpad x230. I think the X,W or T series will be fine, too. Not that big difference between them.
It's a little tricky to get the mic button to work but right now I would not change it for everything else.
 
Old 01-08-2013, 06:20 PM   #8
Shadow_7
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Laptops are pretty much disposable items IMO. Get something cheap, and probably older than a year. But it depends on what you need it for. Gaming or Video endeavors? Or just text editing / light web browsing. My 6yo compaq is still chugging along even though everyone else seemed to have returned theirs the first week. But I've never really used it to run windows, so I probably avoided their reasons for hating it. I've certainly got my < $300 out of it (it's new off the shelf price, circa 2006).

It's never been an out of the box ready type machine, but the hardware has always had drivers that worked in linux. Except maybe the conexant dialup thing, but I've never used that, and there are (or were) technically drivers for it. Not that I was ever going to the do the equivalent of buying my hardware twice to use them.
 
Old 01-11-2013, 05:10 AM   #9
business_kid
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There was a discussion of this fairly recently, and some insightful comments. I don't know if anyone has mentioned Secure boot, but if the other OS is windows 8 you cannot do dual boot, because M$ make that next to impossible as a requirement for issuing windows 8. These might help

http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...at-4175436559/
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...0v-4175441330/
 
Old 01-15-2013, 01:58 PM   #10
jonbvgood
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Smile Great tip - T60

Quote:
Originally Posted by beachboy2 View Post
slackwareuser5000,

Just remember that Linux works perfectly well with older hardware.

If you must buy new, then the Lenovo T530 is an excellent Linux laptop.

Much better value can be had with a used Lenovo/IBM T60 preferably the wide screen model with 2GB of memory.
Find someone who is bored with their T60 and grab yourself a bargain.

I am using one with Xubuntu 12.04 LTS and everything works perfectly. Not only that but the build quality is far superior to my wife's more recent Lenovo G770.
When planning to replace my laptop (daughters old inspiron with screen hanging off) and looking for the ideal laptop to run linux, I was first drawn to looking for a new laptop. On seeing the post above, I found a used T60 on the web and took the advice. What an amazing laptop, solid build, cannot fault it even came with a half decent battery. It may be a few years old but that is not an issue with linux. My inspiron out performed many tasks from a very new work computer running MS and the T60 is set to do the same without having to prop up the screen.

A big thank you for some very good advice!!
 
Old 01-16-2013, 03:46 AM   #11
beachboy2
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Quote:
What an amazing laptop, solid build, cannot fault it even came with a half decent battery.
johnbvgood,

Thanks for posting the positive feedback on the T60.

Many people do not seem to realise that there are loads of second-hand bargains out there for Linux users.

I always advise Windows users to “keep taking the Tablets” because then they will think that their current machines are no longer fashionable (in their eyes) and wish to sell them.

Netbooks were all the rage a year or two back. Now they are so “yesterday”.
For a nominal price I picked up a brand new Samsung N220 with 2GB memory which was an unwanted Christmas present. I used Unetbootin to install Xubuntu 12.04 from a USB drive and it runs perfectly.

Last edited by beachboy2; 01-16-2013 at 03:49 AM.
 
  


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