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dgoddard 02-18-2013 11:17 PM

Need new laptop
After about 5 years of faithful service my Dell Studio 1535 is dying. What are the best current available laptops to replace it. Looking for good quality strong on durability and while I can afford a good bit more than something cheap, I do not care to throw money away for minimal improvement in quality and durability.

I strongly wish to avoid anything that requires excessive fiddling with in order to get Linux to run well on it.

Your recommendations please.
Multiple responses desired so I can gather a concensus of what is a good choice. and please do tell me what ones to avoid.

My presently preferred Distro is Ubuntu but I really need the GNU interface for reasons other than just whim or preference

If there are preferred sources or pre-loaded laptops that would be good to know.

pintooo15 02-19-2013 03:18 AM

I am in the same situation with a dell laptop, though it's almost a year older than yours. I'm just worried and probably poorly informed about how UEFI might limit my choice of OS/distro. Any recommendations would be helpful.

Thank you

gradinaruvasile 02-19-2013 03:56 AM

I am pretty sure you will not have UEFI related isssues if you turn the safe boot option off. By design all Win8 compatible hardware should have this option, its in the spec AFAIK.
The problems might come if you want secure boot+Linux - this isnt working well now and can brick certain laptops (a few Samsung models at least). If you want to dual boot, you will have to have safe boot on because Win8 will not boot without it.

Other than that pay attention to:

-Nvidia Optimus logo - DO NOT buy it, it is NOT supported by Nvidia on Linux. Problem is that most(if not all) nvidia cards are in this configuration on current laptops. I am aware that there are workarounds such as Bumblebee and stuff which may or may not work, but if you want a safe ride, dont buy it.
But if you can get a nvidia laptop that has the option to turn off the Intel card, thats a winner because Nvidia drivers work really well on Linux.
-Intel integrated graphics chips (HD 2/3/4000) - you WILL need a current kernel for them (3.8 and newer) if you want anything 3d related+power management from the built in card. To this date, these chips arent remotely as supported on Linux as on Windows. I heard that they are herding Linux developers to work on the drivers, but the results wont be in mainline kernels soon.
Problem is that unlike Nvidia or AMD where you install or upgrade the proprietary driver and thats it, to upgrade Intel (or any FOSS drivers) you will have to have the right versions of Mesa libs and also new kernels that support the latest changes in drivers.
-AMD dedicated cards - The good news is that most AMD dedicated cards that come with intel cpus have a BIOS/UEFI switch that allows them to be used as the only video card. But do research about this to be on the safe side because some of them dont have it.
-AMD integrated graphics - I suppose this is the best choice for a laptop - no additional heat, good performance and decent drivers.
This is based on my personal experience with desktop APUs used with Debian/Xfce (where AMD Radeon HD 7560D works perfectly). Depending on particular WMs, namely those that use hardware acceleration, your mileage might vary.
-Integrated sound chips - do some research on this too because some might not work well with current mainline kernels (3.2 for example).

pintooo15 02-19-2013 11:48 PM

Thanks gradinaruvasile so so much for such a lot of useful info. You did cover a lot of stuff I wouldn't have been aware of or known enough to check on first. :D
My old system was a AMD processor + ATI radeon graphics combo. I do want to give intel a try, but not if integrated graphics controller is a problem to work with.
More than the graphics, I don't want to end up with anti-linux network hardware like that of broadcom, suffered a lot of taunts from windows users (aka my folks) for not getting wifi working for years since i got the laptop. :( No ndiswrapper wraparound please.

Thanks once again

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