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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 01-02-2005, 04:39 PM   #1
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Registered: Jan 2005
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how safe is it to assume a laptop will work?

I'm looking into buying a laptop to put linux on it. I've read some posts here and there. I've looked on linux-laptops and tuxmobil, and I haven't yet found answers to some elementary questions.

None of the laptops I've seen for sale currently, seem to be listed on linux-laptop or tuxmobil, or at least I've been looking for a while and found no match. Can I go by the components of the laptop instead of the model? For example, if I see someone has successfully installed vendor's drivers for their Nvidia Geforce blabbity blah, is it pretty safe to assume that the same will be true for a different laptop that uses the same graphics adapter?

I didn't find a place to download drivers from ATI for laptops, instead there is a page saying to get drivers from the laptop manufacturer. I doubt that laptop manufacturers are gonig to have linux drivers? Is that the case, or is there another way to get drivers for an ATI radeom mobiliity blabbity blah?

Will it void warranties if I install linux on a laptop?

I'm downloadking knoppix. I'll go check to see if people will let me boot a laptop with it and check.
Old 01-02-2005, 04:54 PM   #2
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Registered: Aug 2001
Location: Fargo, ND
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The support for NVidia drivers is much better than ATI. An ATI supplied driver may not give you 3D support for the high end card from what I read in another post.

Avoid a laptop that uses a Broadcom controller for wireless. They supply a binary driver for one kernel version. For a 32 bit laptop, you could use the windows driver and the ndiswrapper, however this won't work for AMD64, at least not currently. They wouldn't even supply the driver source code for there controller to Cisco, who manufactures the Linksys wireless cable/dsl router!
Old 01-02-2005, 04:59 PM   #3
Registered: Jan 2004
Distribution: Mac OS X 10.6.4 "Snow Leopard", Win 7, Ubuntu 10.04
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You could also purchase a laptop with Linux pre-installed. You can even get it set up to dual boot with windows XP for an extra bit of money (around $150 or so)

Then you would get a laptop that you know will work with linux, and is already set up with dual boot, etc, and take some of the guesswork out of figuring out if it will work or not.
Old 01-02-2005, 08:30 PM   #4
Registered: Dec 2003
Location: land of oz
Distribution: centos
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generally speaking, go for the big names. More work has been done on, say, IBM's and Dells, than titans and sagers. I can almost guarantee headaches with wireless cards, pc card readers, and other accessories on a no-name laptop. If you're trying to save money, find a retailer that sells refurb big name laptops. I regularly see nearly top of the line toshiba's for about $800 usd.

(looks at no name laptop and kicks self)
Old 01-03-2005, 10:09 AM   #5
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Rochester, NY
Distribution: Fedora Core III
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well if you decide to get a notebook and it happens to have the "Centrino" tag its ok. if you plan on using fedora well then they have a 3-rpm package to get your internal wireless up and running after a quick install & reboot.

I bought a Medion Notebook (cheap) it works fine duel booted with XP pro & Fedora Core III.
1.5 pentium M
512 Mb
15" tft display
$800 for the deal
Old 01-04-2005, 03:30 PM   #6
Registered: Apr 2004
Location: TN
Distribution: Only used RH but have heard good things about Mandrake. BSD might be interesting.
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I have an HP Pavilion w/AMD64. It came with XP on an 80 Gig drive. The issues I encountered were:

1 partitioning - Fedora does not provide a tool to partition the NTFS file system that was on it (I wanted to dual boot). Some other distros do. After a bit of searching , hit on Partition Magic ($20 online download) and it partitioned fine although I had to "fix" a number of file system problems w/PM first.
2. wireless card (broadcom 54g) - my experience says this will be a pain in the a--. I have two systems with Fedora on them w/wireless cards. Neither works: ndiswrappers haven't worked, the Linuxant approach hasn't worked. My suggestion here is if you want wireless, you better find a laptop with a card that is on the supported list. The failures I have involve a Linksys Wusb11 card and a Broadcom 54g card. On the other hand, if you have a hub to plug a wire into, they worked with no additional setup after install.
3. touchpad - my HP didn't/doesn't work. I have heard that there is a solution to this but frankly, I like a regular mouse better anyway and a Logitech USB mouse simply plugged and worked. I haven't decided to mess with this any further.
4. USB drives - mine didin't work under Fecora Core 2 and I just installed Core 3 and haven't checked it yet.
5. use with projector (like an inFocus for classroom projection) - I get garbage output and havent' tried to track this down. May not be a Linux specific problem.

This may seem like a lot of problems, but its not that bad (to me anyway). They think I really would like a solution to is the wireless card. I can carry my laptop upstairs to the hub, but the Compaq deskside is a problem. I burn a lot of CD's.
Old 01-06-2005, 09:47 AM   #7
Registered: Jan 2005
Location: Rochester, NY
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i have the "Centrino" tag on mine
installed the ipw2200bg drivers and walla!!!

wireless card found and was working in a few minutes!!!

anyone using fedora / redhat and has the centrino wireless let me know
Old 01-06-2005, 09:59 AM   #8
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Registered: Jan 2005
Distribution: Lycoris
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I picked up an old Thinkpad 390x (Intel Celeron 400mhz, 64mb ram, some neoMagic vidcard) off a friend last week for 50 bucks. He was torturing the poor think with Windows XP. I had it in my hands for about 3 minutes before I started putting Mandrake 10 on it. Mandrake did well, sort of. I couldn't get the wireless network working right and I tried all night, got pissed, then quit. Plus after using Mandrake for about 2 years I grew a little bored with it and wanted to try something different. Well as luck would have it I went through a couple of distros with no luck on the TP. I spent about an hour googling the situation and found out about Lycoris ( Downloaded update4.iso, popped it in the lappy and within an hour I was up and running - wirelessly and all (Is wirelessly a word?). Anyway, the reason I post is to let you know on the Lycoris website they have a hardware forum that will tell you exactly which laptops work, and more importantly which do not.

Hope this helps!
Old 01-06-2005, 01:48 PM   #9
Registered: Apr 2004
Location: TN
Distribution: Only used RH but have heard good things about Mandrake. BSD might be interesting.
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I've seen several posts around that seem to indicate that Centrino wireless works painlessly. It may be Intel is cooperating/supporting Linux better than most of the wireless card folks. I've been using AMD for some time. Maybe they'll offer a Centrino like solution, or maybe I'll need to rething my hardware direction a bit.

Anyone else have Centrino experience: good or bad.
Old 01-06-2005, 07:33 PM   #10
Registered: Apr 2004
Posts: 40

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FWIW I'd take a couple or three live distros to throw in for testing.
For example, Mepis Pro ndiswrapper works fine with my DWL-650+. Knoppix didn't detect the card but works with the rest of the devices (old CF-47 Toughbook/300mhz/192MB).
Old 01-07-2005, 01:39 AM   #11
Registered: Jul 2004
Location: Des Moines
Distribution: Gentoo
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Centrino has a ton more support than any other WiFi chipset in laptops these days. Avoid Broadcom like the plague (I did get mine to work, after much frustration.) Dothan (Pentium-M on Centrino) is a nice processor (AMD64 is better =P) but be aware that is will blow with compiling, since I don't think there are any optimizations for it in gcc. A friend with a Dothan tried to complile the game frozen-bubble. It took him 10 minutes, and it takes me 30 seconds. Plus, all the benchmarks I've seen, the Dothans just suck soo bad at compiling (you can't begin to comprehend.) But, if you're going for a RPM distro, knock your socks off.


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