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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 01-24-2009, 09:09 PM   #1
boughtonp
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Smile Which mini-notebook do you have/recommended?


I plan to get a mini-notebook, and would like to know which ones play well with Linux.

I'm specifically thinking of things like:
- good hardware/driver support.
- keyboards suitable for terminals (i.e. symbols like / | > all easy to use).
- comes with Linux (i.e. no paying for MS Windows, especially since it'll be removed).

And anything else that might be an advantage/disadvantage in a model.

(Plus, of course, general benefits like respectable battery life - doesn't matter how well it runs if it needs charging every ten minutes.)


So yeah, what device do you currently have? Does it work well, or always have problems?


Thanks.

Last edited by boughtonp; 01-24-2009 at 09:20 PM.
 
Old 01-24-2009, 11:53 PM   #2
tommcd
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I don't own a netbook, but I have done a lot of reading about them. Here is a good recent discussion on netbooks:
http://www.linuxquestions.org/questi...light=netbooks
Since you want it to have linux preinstalled, the Asus eee comes with a customized Xandros, and the Acer Aspire One comes with Linpus lite. You can get the Dell Mini 9 with Ubuntu preinstalled:
http://www.dell.com/content/products...dhs&ref=homepg
The eee and the Aspire One have support forums with tutorial for installing different distros:
http://forum.eeeuser.com/
http://www.aspireoneuser.com/forum/
Ubuntu on netbooks:
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/EeePC
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/AspireOne
https://help.ubuntu.com/community/NC10
 
Old 01-25-2009, 03:34 AM   #3
Nylex
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I've got an Acer Aspire One, which I'm quite pleased with it. The version of Linux it came with was rubbish, IMO, so I got rid of it and installed Slackware. No problems really; Slackware 12.2 generally just worked (apart from the wireless, but that was easy to fix). I hear the battery life is not so good (3 hours), but that hasn't been an issue for me yet, because I've only really used the netbook when plugged into the mains.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 08:15 AM   #4
Hangdog42
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I've got a Dell Mini9 and haven't regretted buying it one bit. The version of Ubuntu that came installed was just too crippled, so I put Ubuntu 8.10 on it and it installed without a hitch. I normally use Slackware, but 12.1 wouldn't run on the Mini, at least without more tweaking than I had time for. I plan to give 12.2 a go fairly soon however. The only downside is that there are a couple of keys that are a bit of a pain. the " and ' key is in entirely the wrong place and the right shift key is way too small. However, I've found that it isn't that hard to get used to. Battery life has been about four hours, or slightly longer if I turn down the screen brightness. The best part is that it is very easy to get a 2GB RAM stick and upgrade to get around the Microsoft 1GB limit.

I REALLY like the form factor. In my opinion anything larger than a 9 or 10 inch screen is probably going to make it too large. Traveling with this is a complete breeze.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 08:18 AM   #5
Nylex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hangdog42 View Post
The best part is that it is very easy to get a 2GB RAM stick and upgrade to get around the Microsoft 1GB limit.
Microsoft have a limit on the RAM?! What's that about?
 
Old 01-25-2009, 08:32 AM   #6
Hangdog42
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This is all part of Microsoft's netbook panic. In order for a manufacturer to sell a netbook line with XP, Microsoft has decreed that it shall not, under any circumstances, have more than 1GB of RAM. Regardless of what OS is installed. They don't want XP netbooks cutting into their Vista business, and since Vista won't run on 1GB of RAM, this is how they enforce it. In some extreme cases (I believe the Dell Mini 12 is one) you physically can't remove the existing RAM stick. It is soldered into place.

If you ask me, this is anti-competitive behavior as bad as anything that they did with IE.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 09:12 AM   #7
boughtonp
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Thanks all, plenty of useful information so far.


Is there a way to filter the HCL other than Laptop/Manufacturer?
Would be useful (for example) to say "all makes, but less than 25cm wide"


I've tried an Acer briefly and one thing was the buttons to the side of the trackpad... unsure if I'd get used to that or it would annoy me.

I've know a couple of other people who favour the Dell Mini 9, so that might be ok - depending on...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hangdog42
the " and ' key is in entirely the wrong place and the right shift key is way too small.
I can't seem to find a good photo of the keyboard - seems everything is either small, blurred and/or badly lit.

Don't suppose you're able to take a clean shot of yours?

Oh, and I guess it could depend on if there are distinct UK/US keyboard layouts for them.
Wikipedia claims it varies by country, and here's a picture of the (US?) keyboard:
http://images.anandtech.com/reviews/.../keyboard3.jpg

FFS - now I see where the " ' key is, what idiot designed that thing?

Found a page showing a new layout which might be a bit better:
http://portablemonkey.com/article/be...yboard-layout/


Currently I think I'm leaning towards the better keyboard of the Aspire One.
Although apparently upgrading the RAM is not too easy with that, which brings us onto...


Quote:
In order for a manufacturer to sell a netbook line with XP, Microsoft has decreed that it shall not, under any circumstances, have more than 1GB of RAM. Regardless of what OS is installed.
How are they getting away with that - is it because all the manufacturers are unwilling to complain?
Or possibly, the manufacturers also don't want to eat into their laptop sales too much either.

Eitherway, I definitely want something that lets me maximize the RAM, without resorting to re-soldering and stuff.

Last edited by boughtonp; 01-25-2009 at 09:27 AM.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 09:37 AM   #8
Hangdog42
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Quote:
and here's a picture of the (US?) keyboard:
Yeah, that is the US keyboard (I'm unlikely to get a better picture than that but I'll try) however there is a picture of the UK keyboard here. It looks like there are substantial differences from the US keyboard.

Quote:
How are they getting away with that - is it because all the manufacturers are unwilling to complain?
Or possibly, the manufacturers also don't want to eat into their laptop sales too much either.
I think it is the latter more than anything. They want to be able to offer XP on netbooks, so they kowtow to the mandarins in Redmond. If hardware upgrades are a key issue for you, definitely do your homework before buying. The Mini9 can be almost completely disassembled (in fact this is a pretty entertaining thread) and I've even seen a thread about adding a GPS module to the thing. I've also seen some rumors that the Atom processor can't deal with more than 2GB, but I have no solid confirmation of that.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 09:48 AM   #9
boughtonp
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hangdog42 View Post
Yeah, that is the US keyboard (I'm unlikely to get a better picture than that but I'll try)
It's ok thanks - I found that one after asking initially and forgot to edit the other part out of my post.

Plus of course I presume I'll be getting a UK keyboard with whatever I get.

The small and badly placed right-hand shift key still bugs me, even though the rest of the UK one is relatively normal... I think I tend to use right shift more than left when typing and coding, so that's a fairly big issue for me.


Quote:
If hardware upgrades are a key issue for you, definitely do your homework before buying.
Nah, not a big issue, other than having a decent amount of RAM - since I'll want to put a JEE App server (Resin/JBoss) on it, which can eat up fair amounts of memory, so I'd want more than 1GB.

Last edited by boughtonp; 01-25-2009 at 09:50 AM.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 09:58 AM   #10
cmk77
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Quote:
I've got an Acer Aspire One, which I'm quite pleased with it. The version of Linux it came with was rubbish, IMO, so I got rid of it and installed Slackware.
The original linux is basically a lightweight fedora, which is fine. To get a fully functional XFCE desktop, I followed http://jorge.ulver.no/2008/08/06/ace...ps-and-tricks/ Just a few minutes work. Not that I don't like slackware (I use it on my production box), but it may be a bit difficult to do the tweaking for ssd drives, if that's the one you're getting.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 10:29 AM   #11
Nylex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cmk77 View Post
The original linux is basically a lightweight fedora, which is fine. To get a fully functional XFCE desktop, I followed http://jorge.ulver.no/2008/08/06/ace...ps-and-tricks/ Just a few minutes work. Not that I don't like slackware (I use it on my production box), but it may be a bit difficult to do the tweaking for ssd drives, if that's the one you're getting.
I already have an AAO, with the proper mechanical hard drive. Slackware works fine, as I've said.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 10:32 AM   #12
Nylex
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Quote:
Originally Posted by boughtonp View Post
Is there a way to filter the HCL other than Laptop/Manufacturer?
Would be useful (for example) to say "all makes, but less than 25cm wide"
I don't think it is at present. You may like to suggest improvements to Jeremy.

Quote:
I've tried an Acer briefly and one thing was the buttons to the side of the trackpad... unsure if I'd get used to that or it would annoy me.
Actually, I'd forgotten about that (said as I'm sitting at my AAO!). Those buttons annoy me too, so I'm using a USB mouse (also for the reason that I find touchpads a bit difficult to use).

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hangdog42 View Post
This is all part of Microsoft's netbook panic. In order for a manufacturer to sell a netbook line with XP, Microsoft has decreed that it shall not, under any circumstances, have more than 1GB of RAM. Regardless of what OS is installed. They don't want XP netbooks cutting into their Vista business, and since Vista won't run on 1GB of RAM, this is how they enforce it. In some extreme cases (I believe the Dell Mini 12 is one) you physically can't remove the existing RAM stick. It is soldered into place.

If you ask me, this is anti-competitive behavior as bad as anything that they did with IE.
I agree with you, that's just ridiculous!

Last edited by Nylex; 01-25-2009 at 10:33 AM.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 10:58 AM   #13
boughtonp
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re: mechanical vs solid state

The other thread discussed this a bit, and linked to a page which summarises as follows:
Quote:
Originally Posted by http://wiki.eeeuser.com/ssd_write_limit
With the Eee PC SSD, a typical user (6 hours/day, 10% write rate) will write for 36 minutes per day resulting in a useful lifespan of ~25 years in my worst case below (last line in the table). In other words, I'm not going to worry about it.
I don't know how accurate/correct those calculations might be, and if they are applying specifically to Linux (with /var/log being commonly written to?), but I've also seen before discussions where the end result seems to be that the whole limited write thing is a non-issue.

Personally the lack of moving parts and much quieter operation are enticing me towards a solid state.
The onlydefinite drawback of solid state is they offer less storage space, but I have a 300GB USB drive for that so it doesn't affect me.


It would be good if there was a conclusive "you can run a full Linux on SSD and not worry" or "if you use SSD, you should mount /xyz on RAM" (or whatever) that could settle this. I have to go out now, but I might search around and see what I can find on that this evening.
 
Old 01-25-2009, 03:49 PM   #14
Hangdog42
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Quote:
It would be good if there was a conclusive "you can run a full Linux on SSD and not worry" or "if you use SSD, you should mount /xyz on RAM" (or whatever) that could settle this.
I use the ext2 file system on my Mini to eliminate the read/write due to journaling, but that is pretty much the extent of my worrying about SSD life. You also might look for a netbook that can take an SDHC card and do store most of your files on that.
 
Old 01-26-2009, 06:28 AM   #15
mrgreedy
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I bought a second hand Dell Latitude X1, and installed the full Slackware 12.1 from a USB key. Works like a dream. Wireless works very well, touchpad is really nice. No noisy fans at all, so it's silent. Just over 1kg so you can carry it around with ease. Boots in about 40 seconds (after kernel optimization). The only downside I can think of is that the LCD isn't amazing and doesn't have the crystal clarity you'd expect these days. Apart from that, it's great.

I've got an extended battery for it which gives 4 hours use, and takes less than 2 hours to charge. Plus I got a memory upgrade to 1.2Gb for less than a tenner.
 
  


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