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Old 06-09-2004, 06:30 PM   #1
LQ Newbie
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada
Distribution: Libranet 2.8
Posts: 19

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In need of laptop model suggestions

Hi all,

I'm seriously considering buying a laptop to put linux on. I've been using Libranet for about a year now and I've really gotten a lot more familiar with Linux thanks to it. When I get my laptop, I've pretty much decided I'm going with Gentoo -- I know the install can be a pain, but I want maximum customizability and optimization, and you can't beat the learning experience. :-)

Initial research into laptops has been overwhelming so far. So many manufacturers, and so many models, to choose from! I am a university student, with a dual major in computer science and physics. I travel by train several times a year, and have sorely missed being unable to mess around on a Linux box while doing so. I do some web design, some competitive programming (ACM competition), and I'm learning OpenGL. Here is a rough idea of what I'm looking for:

- Decent-to-good 3D card with separate memory. I may be on a budget, but I'm still not up for this "shared" crap!
- DVD drive (for playing DVDs, duh)
- WLAN for when I'm at school; we have a lovely wireless network.
- Good battery life (would also accept "pretty good" battery life)
- Power management options (e.g. scale down the CPU when it's not in heavy use, etc.)
- Regular ethernet connection (10/100) for the rest of the time
- Not a Celeron, if I can avoid it
- Decent price

To give you some idea, I found in my research the eMachines m6805, which seems to be the perfect model for all of these criteria ( However, I thankfully did my homework before jumping right into it, and I found that it really doesn't play nice with Linux. Just getting the 64-bit to work is a formidable task, and I'd still be unable to use 3D acceleration (due to the ATi card) and my WLAN! That's a knockout blow.

Now, I'm prepared for a bit of flexibility on any of the above points, due to the real world being what it is and so forth. With that in mind, can anyone give me some suggestions of models that have what I'm looking for, and I can put Linux on them? Thanks in advance!
Old 06-09-2004, 08:24 PM   #2
Senior Member
Registered: May 2003
Location: Sydney, Nova Scotia, Canada
Distribution: slackware
Posts: 4,185

Rep: Reputation: 59
well first thing i will tell you is not to get a emachine, they are just plain crap so just
avoid it .. and secondly i personally am a hp/compaq sales agent, so i can give you
some insight on some of our products ... now without question i am going to tell you about
the zd7000 series, and for the plain reason, is that it is a powerhouse, and it has a
17" widescreen display, and it just rocks ...
another nice one in the hp lineup is the zx5000 which is just as powerful, but the main
difference is that you get a 15.4" widescreen ... which also rocks, and most people look
at that number and say, whatever it is only .4 inches .. but if you ever compare a 15" to
a 15.4" screen, you will see the drastic difference ... about 30 - 33% more viewable
area ... and the R3000T (dedicated) compaq model would be a equivalent ... there is
also an R3000T (shared) but obviously by the name you can see that the names in
brackets are referencing the video card, so if compaq is of more interest then stay
away from the "shared" version of the r3000t as its not what you want anyways ...
hope this helps

oh and everyone of these models have what you need, and if you choose whatever
one to come with a 12cell battery then you'll double your battery life as opposed to the
crappy 8 cell battery ... also if you did want the 64 bit processor then check out the
HP zv5000z and the Compaq R3000Z, which both have the 15.4 inch screen ...

Last edited by DrOzz; 06-09-2004 at 08:28 PM.
Old 06-09-2004, 08:40 PM   #3
Registered: May 2003
Location: Sydney, Australia
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 67

Rep: Reputation: 15
Well I'm using a Dell 5150 and haven't really had many problems so far. But there are stories with some people having problems. I've used mine for about 6 months without any problems.

Anyways I'm running Debian on it and with 1280x1024 resolution and 3D acceleration. But my machine doesn't have in-built wireless, so i'm using a PCMCIA card to go wireless. Anyways I'm quite happy with the machine. You can have a look at the specs and Debian installation on my machine at

Well good luck with your laptop hunt.

Old 06-09-2004, 10:57 PM   #4
LQ Newbie
Registered: Oct 2003
Location: Ontario, Canada
Distribution: Libranet 2.8
Posts: 19

Original Poster
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Don't be so quick to discount eMachines! I know their reputation as well as anyone does, but according to all the reviews I've read this particular model seems to be a notable exception.

I rather like the zd7000, and am tempted to buy despite the fact that I can't afford it. As a sales rep, you should know: can I simply order the laptop without Windows (or any other software, for that matter?)
Old 06-09-2004, 11:12 PM   #5
Registered: Apr 2003
Location: Vancouver, BC
Distribution: Slackware, Ubuntu
Posts: 558

Rep: Reputation: 31
There's always the Hardware Compatibility List -- laptops & notebooks.

Personally, I am posting from a "HyperData" K6-II 300 MHz, 64 MB RAM notebook with a seriously fubar'd LCD (it's held together with a bungee cord) that my dad gave to me for free (no wonder, it's one step away from the landfill). I put in a 6 GB hdd, and bought a Netgear MA401 pcmcia 802.11b card. It runs Slackware great.
Old 03-25-2005, 12:22 AM   #6
Registered: Jan 2003
Location: Fort Worth Tx
Distribution: Slackware RedHat Mandrake BackTrack
Posts: 31

Rep: Reputation: 15
Money ??

if your not worried on how much your going to spend you might want to check out the lappy's on these 2 sites. oh yeah the first site will even tell you the make and model of their versions.
Old 03-25-2005, 04:53 PM   #7
Senior Member
Registered: Sep 2003
Location: Sweden
Distribution: Debian
Posts: 3,032

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If you want a laptop with power and features at low cost - and can stand lugging around quite a lot of weight - the R3000 series from HP/Compaq are outstanding. I have the HP-branded nx9105 which is the same. My specs are 1.6GHz Athlon XP Mobile (actually a 64bit CPU with the 64bit functionality disabled) which usually runs at 800MHz if I don't do anything processor intesive, 512MB RAM, and the 1280x800 widescreen LCD. It came with Bluetooth, Firewire, Highspeed USB 2.0, and Broadcom WLAN (which does work with ndiswrapper, however evil ndiswrapper may be). I chose the DVD/CD-RW combo drive because I don't need the DVDRW (I have one in my desktop and during the 4 months I've had it I have burned *one* DVD). And it cost me about half of what an equivalent Intel-based system would. In fact, it's downright dirt cheap. HP/Compaq are on a roll and pressing the prices a lot.

After lugging around this laptop for a while I started getting problems with my back so I bought a Targus backpack which has put made my back usable again. If you get a non-lightweight laptop a dedicated computer backpack is a very good buy.



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