Re: [vox] New laptop...
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Re: [vox] New laptop...
R. Douglas Barbieri wrote:
I'm in the market for a new PC laptop, and I'd like to know what current
models are favorites for Linux folks. Is this the right forum on which
to ask my questions and get recommendations, or should I move this to
One URL that you'll want to become familiar with is the following:
This is just an index of user experiences, e.g. "How I set up RedHat 9.0
on my Compaq Presario 1244". Some are out of date, some are broken
links, but most are very good.
Here is a pretty good recent Linux Journal Article by Doc Searls that
talks about the current state of running Linux on laptops:
Want to just through some money at the problem? These guys are the
linux on laptops experts: http://www.emperorlinux.com/
Hint: If you don't choose to buy from them, you can still get some info
buy looking at what models they offer.
Becoming familiar with the chipsets is paramount. You'll want ot know
exactly what you're getting as far as video, sound, networking, and
modem before you buy (most of the other components: usb, pcmcia, IDE
stuff, cpu, ram, etc. will work "out of the box").
One of the general rules for linux hardware purchasing (laptop or
otherwise) it to never buy the latest and greatest. If you stay one
generation behind the times, you're almost always going to have better
luck getting things working. You also save money. Consider NVidia
Geforce2 prices versus brand new NVidia cards. The only downside to
buying this way is that you don't get the performance. It's probably
much more seductive to get a laptop with a 2Ghz CPU, DDR memory, and a
64MB video card, but I think that's more of a gamble.
Here are some specific model recommendations (I've personally worked
with the first three):
IBM ThinkPad T series (T22 specifically)
This is one HELL of a portable Linux box for $600:
Pros: 14in screen, PIII 900, up to 512MB RAM, sound, nic, and modem work
under linux, etc. Middle mouse button for X windows!
Cons: fairly crummy 8MB video card (neomagic IIRC), but does play DVDs
IBM ThinkPad X series (specifically X21)
Most of the same stuff as the above but super light (3lbs) with a 12"
screen. No internal drives, but does come with a better video card the
the T model (early Radeon).
Basically the same machine as the Thinkpad X2* except comes with a built
in wireless card that works under linux!
Consider grabbing a refurbished one from the Dell Outlet:
I can't personally vouch for this laptop, but two other people mentioned
it in response to your question and I noticed the cheap price when I was
browsing around the TigerDirect refurbished stuff:
It's probably NOT safe to just go buy anything of the shelf at Best Buy,
but if you are going to buy something new, watch out for the following:
Centrino-based laptops: The built-in wireless (Intel 2100 chip in most
cases) does NOT work under linux. Intel has a Centrino wireless driver
in progress and do plan to directly support this driver, but that "in
progress"has been posted on their driver site for a long time (since
about the same time you first heard about Centrino).
Built-in wireless in general: Some built in wireless cards are based up
the Prism II chip (such as that in the Dell X200 I mentioned), and will
actually show up as PCMCIA card in slot #2 (the "third" slot). Pretty
neat since PCMCIA support and wireless tools are all you'll need to get
that card running. Most other built-in wireless chips (especially
Broadcom, and anything A or G) are NOT going to work at all.
Built in modems: Unless it's a "Lucent Winmodem" or certain Conexant
chips, your built in modem is probably NOT going to work. PCMCIA modems
almost always work, and are cheap these days. I paid $360 for a 33.6
PCMCIA modem a few years back, oy. You can get one for +/- $30 these days.
ACPI: Most brand new laptops get their power management from ACPI (as
opposed to APM). In my experience, ACPI support is flakey in linux.
Suspends work sporadically or not at all. The older APM isn't perfect,
but it works under linux. Shutting your lid, having the machine
suspend, and then bringing it back up with everything working is a very
nice thing. I'm very mobile and so I'm anal about power management.
I've heard ACPI support is better under 2.6, but I haven't moved
anything to 2.6 yet, so I can't say. If anybody out there has tried
some of the various ACPI patches and or userland tools and is reading
this thinking "You're and idiot, ACPI works fine" please let me know.
Anyway, purchase carefully, but then have lots of fun with your new
portable Linux box!
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