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GNU is Not Unix Linux Hardware

Ask Slashdot: GNU/Linux Laptops? 708

conner_bw writes "I'm an OS X user looking to switch to a Linux laptop. I like the Unix/BSD aspect of OS X. Simple things like when I close the lid the laptop goes to sleep, the sound card works out of the box, long battery life, minimum cooling fan noise, and a comprehensive but relatively straightforward backup system and 'AppleCare' package are important to me. What all-inclusive model of laptop and distro would you recommend?" He didn't mention it, but I am presuming that working Wifi should be on that list too.
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Ask Slashdot: GNU/Linux Laptops?

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  • by GreatDrok ( 684119 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:16PM (#37825660) Journal

    A modern MacBook has no mouse buttons since it is multitouch. They are simply the best mouse pad on any laptop currently available.

    My feeling having gone the other way some time back is that a MacBook is the cheapest way of getting a decent UNIX laptop with all the hardware working, plus the hardware is well built and the OS works nicely. You can even run Linux on a MacBook if you really want to go that route. The build quality of most PC laptops is so poor that you end up paying just as much for a good Windows laptop to run Linux as you would buying a MacBook.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:19PM (#37825704)

    Because you like the feeling of completely owning and controlling your laptop?

    Try a laptop from System 76. Everything works right out of the box.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:21PM (#37825730)
    I've got a System76 laptop. They're good, and they have good support. They're pricey though (but nowhere near as bad as Apple).
  • by SerpentMage ( 13390 ) <[ ] ['' in gap]> on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:22PM (#37825744)

    I completely agree here. I have been looking at laptops to buy and quite frankly it is scary. The cheap notebooks are Windows proprietary s**t. And if you start to move to anything better quality with better hardware you get close to Apple hardware. I thought I was seeing things, but Apple hardware is not that much more expensive. And if you want to get anything without windows on it, well good luck with that!

    I am not saying that you can't find a laptop, but it is truly becoming like pulling teeth. The entire industry outside of Apple has decided to jump on the Windows bandwagon. It leads me to wonder what happened to the separation of OEM from Microsoft? Oh yeah went down the tubers when the legal restrictions expired.

    I am not impressed!!!

  • by reiscw ( 2427662 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:24PM (#37825764)
    This weekend, I went to Office Depot, bought an HP 2000 laptop for about $329, brought it home, backed up the windows image, and installed Ubuntu 11.10. All of the conditions of his post are met. Battery life is good, fan is quiet, sound works, closing the laptop lid causes the machine to sleep, etc. Not sure what he means about backup - I use grsync which is easy enough to back up my home directory to a flash drive (primitive, I know, but I've never been burnt). No special configurations were necessary to install Ubuntu. It's funny that people keep bringing up WiFi. The last time I had problems with WiFi on Linux was a Broadcom chipset on Ubuntu 8.04. After that, everything has worked without issue (and I could get it working by extracting / copying firmware). Sometimes I think a lot of the Linux complaints about sound and wifi are out of date.

    I'm not sure what "AppleCare" is unless it's some sort of extended warranty / replacement program. Unless you're very unlucky, a decent laptop is cheap enough that you're better off self-insuring. While it might make sense for an Apple product (I'm being generous) I don't think it makes sense for a basic laptop workstation.
  • by Jeremiah Cornelius ( 137 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:33PM (#37825884) Homepage Journal

    Why not put Linux on a MacBook? I have. []

    "I listen to Fela Kuti and I Vote!"

  • by bmo ( 77928 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:36PM (#37825922)

    >I probably should have ranted on some other, more deserving article footer comment

    Nah, this one deserves it. The footer is a backhanded slap at WiFi support for Linux when it's greatly improved over the years. When I installed Ubuntu 10.04 on this laptop, which was current when I bought it, everything worked, including the touch panel below the screen and the infrared remote.

    Trolling in the summary is bad form, and yes, it did get old a long time ago.


  • by PCM2 ( 4486 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:40PM (#37825972) Homepage

    I am not saying that you can't find a laptop, but it is truly becoming like pulling teeth. The entire industry outside of Apple has decided to jump on the Windows bandwagon.

    I'm not sure what mythical age you're referring to when PCs didn't come pre-bundled with Windows.

    What does seem to have changed, though, is that laptops now seem almost completely homogeneous. You can pick from just a few screen sizes -- 14" and 15.6" seemingly being the two most popular. But guess what? Whichever size you pick, they all have the same resolution: 1366x768. For the majority of models, the graphics will be powered by Intel onboard graphics -- which, by the way, are now actually integrated into the CPU dies. You can pick from a few different hard drive sizes -- 320GB, 500GB, and now 640GB being typical. Those will be 5400rpm drives, BTW. And the drive sizes will be closely tied to the CPU speed for pricing reasons -- so you might find a Core i3 with a 500GB drive, but if you want a Core i5 for just $50 more or so, it will come with a smaller drive. If you want the whole shebang, you'll have to pay more, plus they'll throw in something extra you didn't want (like WiMax or something).

    Basically it's just an all-out price war, where all the manufacturers are producing virtually identical models while trying everything in their power to undersell the other guys. That means most of them are cutting a lot of corners. One reasonable shopping strategy is to find a configuration you like, list all the specific models that have those exact specs, and decide which brand you trust not to build a complete piece of shit -- but you can't even rely on brands these days, it seems.

  • by billcopc ( 196330 ) <> on Monday October 24, 2011 @07:51PM (#37826088) Homepage

    *dons troll-proof helmet*

    I'm a lifelong PC guy who bought a Macbook about six months ago. It still feels "wrong", in that my home rigs all run Windows or Linux, which I've been using since, well, ever, so switching to the Mac is often confusing as I instinctively use the wrong keyboard shortcuts and whatnot. That said, I have been extremely impressed with the hardware since day one. It's the software that annoys me, but the machine itself is superbly built, the display has great brightness/colour and viewing angle, battery life is just fantastic, the keyboard has a good feel as opposed to the flimsy scissor-switch keys on almost every other laptop.

    The downside ? Three thousand fucking dollars. Mind you, that's the 17" with 8gb Ram and a Seagate hybrid drive so it's fully decked out, but even the entry-level MBP is what, 1200 or so ? It costs as much as two similar-spec PC laptops, assuming you have a strong tolerance for Asus or Dell cheapness. I have not yet tried to install Linux on it natively, I suspect it would require some tweaking to support the Fn-keys, GPU and lid sleep/wake, nothing too difficult I guess.

    For myself, PC wasn't really an option as my day job consists of mobile app development. Sure, I could have used VMware to cheat around the OS requirement, but I tried that and it was quite cumbersome and slow, and the battery life was also a key factor as every other beefy laptop I had tried would conk out after 90 minutes to 2 hours, tops. It's hard to find a 17" unit that isn't designed (read: hastily cobbled together) for A/C-powered gaming. This guy can handle 5 hours of iOS development on a single charge. It's not that I'm far from a power outlet, but I do prefer being cordless when I'm out and about, whether it's at a client site or the pub.

  • by martin-boundary ( 547041 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:25PM (#37826356)
    I always get refurbished Thinkpads. 1) you get cheap high end hardware that lasts and lasts and lasts,... and is actually designed to be opened up for maintenance. 2) there's good linux hardware support since you're not on the bleeding marketing edge. 3) The nipple rocks.
  • by iggymanz ( 596061 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @08:33PM (#37826420)

    compared to Microsoft's support for the home user? Heck, even having paid Microsoft support for servers at work means dialing Mumbai and getting read to from a script for a half hour until things get escalated. The internet solves my GNU/Linux and *BSD issues in under five minutes generally. *Never* had issue with open source software that myself plus the internet couldn't solve.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @09:35PM (#37826886)

    Well, at least you know his bias. So you can "correct" for it.
    With others, you don't know it. But it's still there. Because it is always there. Because no bias is a physically impossible thing for any life. No bias would mean no different from what already are your own world views. Which mean you could not possible learn anything new. Which means it would be utterly pointless self-masturbation only.
    Both our sense and our brain cannot process information without filtering and processing anyway. Our brain is even "worse" as it ONLY can process bias (from normal).

    So please stop with that "neutral vs bias" nonsense. All you do with that, is clouding your views and setting yourself up for traps and lies. Accept that everything is biased by definition. Even that which only went through your own senses and no other life-form. Accept that there is no neutrality. Learn that your own view is also just a theory of reality from YOUR point of observation, and doesn't have to be true for anyone else, let alone globally.

    And then you will suddenly notice, how anything, even FOX, becomes useful. Not in determining reality. That you can only do WITH YOUR OWN DAMN SENSES AND BRAIN! But for determining the goals and theories of reality of others! Especially your enemies. But also your allies.

    Which is a thousand times more useful than rejecting everything that doesn't fit your narrow world view because of that.

  • by Acheron ( 2182 ) on Monday October 24, 2011 @10:02PM (#37827078)

    I would recommend buying yourself a Macbook Pro, getting VMWare Fusion or if you're low on funds after buying the MB, then VirtualBox, and running a Linux VM. You get the solid quality of the MBPro hardware and the standardised hardware environment that a VM offers and the resulting good linux driver behaviour.

    I use VirtualBox on my 2010 MBPro and it works like a charm.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday October 24, 2011 @10:23PM (#37827234)

    Dont buy from some fly-by-night company which will be gone tomorrow. Get a ThinkPad and you'll have support for the life of your laptop. You must of forgotten that IBM contributed a Billion Dollars toward the development of linux in the late 90's. You can still get bios and driver update for laptops that are over 10 years old. Ask your self which companies contribute the most to GNU/Linux and through this answer you'll arrive at who will offer the best support. Hint: (hardware)--IBM{so you'll want a ThinkPad}, (software)--Red Hat{so you'll want to use RHL or Fedora}.

"I prefer the blunted cudgels of the followers of the Serpent God." -- Sean Doran the Younger