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Linux Hardware

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Linux Laptop? 288

Long-Time Slashdot reader sconeu is finally replacing his 10-year-old Toshiba Satellite laptop, and needs suggestions on the best current laptops for running Linux. I'm looking to run some flavor of Linux (probably KDE-based UI, but not mandatory) while using a virtual machine to run Windows 7 (for stuff needed for work). For me personally, battery life and weight are more important than raw power. I'm not going to be running games on this. I've been considering an XPS 13 Developer Edition, or something from System76, ZaReason or Emperor Linux. What laptop do you use? Do you have any suggestions?
It's your chance to share useful information, recommendations, and your own experiences with various brands of laptop. So leave your best answers in the comments. What's the best Linux laptop?
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Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Linux Laptop?

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  • Asus UX305CA (Score:5, Informative)

    by Lisandro ( 799651 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @08:43PM (#53417369)

    Beautiful design, screen and battery life, plus it runs the latest Linux kernels without any issues whatsoever. I love mine.

    • I have a UX301 and like. However day one Linux support was spotty. Models in the UX line tend to be hit and miss.
    • Re:Asus UX305CA (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Dr. Evil ( 3501 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @09:31PM (#53417583)

      Running the kernel is no problem.

      Having working sound, volume controls, 3d support, wifi, touchpad w. multi-touch, Bluetooth, suspend, hibernate (and resume), etc, etc. is another matter.

      For me, having a keyboard which doesn't mix up Fn and Ctrl (with no abilty to remap), or disposes of home/end/pgup/pgdn in favour of putting prtscr next to Ctrl, or forward/back buttons over the arrow keys, keeps function keys as function keys and possibly has a mouse with three buttons... these are the difference between an crappy Linux laptop and an ok Linux laptop.

      Give it 8h battery life (genuine 8h, not pretend 8h), upgradable RAM, upgradable storage, and a high resolution display with good viewing angles, HDMI out (or similar)... then we're talkign a great Linux laptop.

      This might only be the XPS13 or circa 2011 Thinkpads.

      • Having working sound, volume controls, 3d support, wifi, touchpad w. multi-touch, Bluetooth, suspend, hibernate (and resume), etc, etc. is another matter.

        Check for all of the above.

        • by Dr. Evil ( 3501 )

          Awesome, I'll add it to my list to check out. I'm not thrilled about the keyboard layout, but there isn't a manufacturer left who respects keyboard layouts. Apple and Lenovo used to be good about it, but those days are over.

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        NEC LaVie X. Well supported Intel chipset, Core i7, Intel wifi/BT that is easily replaceable, upgradable SSD, full size keyboard with all the right keys in the right place including a numpad, full HD screen. The only thing it lacks is upgradable RAM.

    • Asus x200ca, it's been a great portable. Very light. It had Windows 8 forced onto it by the retailer, but that has never been booted. First boot was a deb install, and that has been perfect since day 1. The laptop was bought for me to do oncall work for $employer at the time. The Fujitsu they gave me was terrible, the battery lasted for half an hour, if that and it was too heavy. Had to put my hand into my pocket to get this but it's been a dream and has meant when on a call-out I could do work with relativ

  • by hambone142 ( 2551854 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @08:48PM (#53417403)

    I use an old HP laptop (NC6400) to run Linux Mint. No problems at all.

    Stay away from their consumer grade laptops. They're unreliable crap.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      +1 for that, the HP commercial laptops are very good.

      I use to have an HP EliteBook Folio 9470m, I was quite happy with it running Debian. Everything worked as expected, after some tweaking with tlp and running a newer kernel from ubuntu.

      I have now an HP EliteBook 1030 G1, Im happy with the built, display and the new CPU but the linux support for the Skylake is awfull. I have problems with bluetooth, power consumption and the graphics card. After some work I have a working Debian, but I could not fix a coupl

      • How do you know if you are looking at a consumer or commercial one?

        • by adolf ( 21054 )

          Go to their (any manufacturer's) website, look for laptops that are for business. And then look for the expensive lines to see what names they have in common.

          For Dell, this is Latitude and Precision (and kinda XPS). For HP, it seems that Elitebook is the proper nomenclature.

          HP's consumer notebooks are absolutely the worst I've ever had to fix. HP's good notebooks are fine.

          My old, stripped-down Dell Precision has a magnesium bottom panel that comes off with one screw, and has been a joy to use: I wanted

      • by adolf ( 21054 )

        Have new Skylake desktop, with persnickity Radeon RX 460 video card, with Ubuntu 16.04.

        It is running drivers from both AMD and Intel's websites, and I'm using both the IGP and RX 460 to drive monitors. Works fine. I hotplug monitors with it, and they just work with the default Unity.

        It was an unrepentant pain in the dick to actually download those drivers (since neither website is navigable using links or lynx): It is literally impossible to install AMD's drivers for this card on a new installation of Ub

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Or a new one. I bought a Probook 470 G3 recently, and it all just works with Ubuntu 16.04. Only issue I had was that Ubuntu wouldn't boot in EFI mode (it booted from CD and ran through the full install, then wouldn't boot after), so I had to reinstall in legacy mode.

  • same as it ever was (Score:4, Informative)

    by steak ( 145650 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @08:52PM (#53417411) Homepage Journal

    pick a thinkpad any thinkpad.

    • by rsw ( 70577 )

      Generally agreed that Thinkpads should be at or near the top of the list.

      But maybe not quite "any Thinkpad": some of the more recent models have RAM soldered to the motherboard or have just one SODIMM slot. The first makes it hard to upgrade (likely on purpose: you want more RAM, you have to buy it from Lenovo) and the second hurts performance (single channel rather than dual-channel RAM configuration).

      I looked at Thinkpads recently and liked the specs and price on the Thinkpad 13: two SODIMM slots (sup

      • One other issues with thinkpads is that WiFi card are 'white listed' in the BIOS and must be purchased from lenovo. So if there card doesn't wish or support is stopped you either trust a hacked BIOS or buy at 5-7x the price from lenovo
        • by Indy1 ( 99447 )

          For the Lenovo's, just go to ebay and get a wifi card thats sold as Lenovo compatible. Doing a search there for "intel 7260 lenovo" or "intel 8260 lenovo" will turn up plenty of cards that will work, and are cheap too.

      • I don't know about the recent 4th gen, but my 1st gen Carbon X1 has RAM soldered to mobo. I didn't know about this and got a 4GB model. But because if has a fast SSD drive and I've also allocated extra swap space (I prefer dphys-swapfile over swap partition and had to up the CONF_SWAPFACTOR a bit to have extra headroom) I don't notice any issues at all.

        Re: i5 vs. i7, I almost always try to get i5. Not even sure why anyone would buy an i5.

        One final thing: I actually prefer not to have too high resolution

      • by AmiMoJo ( 196126 )

        To be fair the machines with soldered on RAM are often that way because they already have the maximum that the chipset supports. My NEC is like that, the older mobile i7 supports max 4GB and that's what it has. The generation after that was max 16GB and that's what the newer version has too.

  • one that's 2 years old is 15% the cost of shiny new.
  • What do you need? (Score:4, Informative)

    by 0100010001010011 ( 652467 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @09:17PM (#53417519)

    Someone that needs/wants a 10" ultra portable isn't going to be happy with a 17" mobile workstation.

    I like my Dell M6700 with a i7-3940XM [cpubenchmark.net]. 32 GB of RAM, 4 hard drives and space for 2x wifi cards. 17" screen. Full keyboard, with number pad. Trackpad and clit mouse (if you're into that). I only wish I could get a higher resolution screen.

    • by amiga3D ( 567632 )

      What are those selling for? The review I saw was old and had a price near 10 grand.

      • I build mine for under $1k.

        I found the cheapest base model I could. Then bought the CPU and 1080p monitor separate. Dell has very good repair manuals for their precision lines.

    • Those specs look nice but I noticed that it's yet another notebook with the trackpad offset as far to the left as possible. Why it's so hard to get a decent notebook with a centered trackpad? I usually use my right hand to operate the trackpad so a left-aligned trackpad is rather unergonomic - but I wouldn't want a right-aligned one either because I often switch to my left hand when I'm holding something in my right.

      It's one of the reasons why I liked Apple's designs until Jon Ives went insane in 2012. Un
      • It's centered on the keyboard sans num pad, which to me, is where it belongs. With my hands on the home row I can touch it equally with both thumbs. With a centered track pad I'd be resting my right palm on it.

  • I bought a Dell Latitude e7450, and quite happy with it. It does not come with Linux pre-installed, unfortunately, but other than that, it works great. (The only problem I've had was: the touchpad was detected as a mouse and therefore things like tap-to-click were not configurable. I'm now running a patched kernel - but looks like the patches went into 4.9, so it won't be a problem anymore.)
  • by waspleg ( 316038 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @09:25PM (#53417561) Journal

    didn't have a lot of money. Bought a Thinkpad T420i off of ebay for $180 (came with 4 gb ram and a 160 ssd). Swapped the ssd for an extra 240 I had laying around and spent another ~$21 on another 4gb stick (this model only takes 8 gb).

    Runs quite well. Linux Mint 18 (using cinnamon), customized the UI a little, usually run 2 workspaces with a VM in the 2nd one. It's actually more responsive than the pirate copy of Windows 8.1 the vendor included lol.

  • I run Linux, usually Debian or Ubuntu on Dell Precision or Latitude laptops. My current personal laptop is a Precision M4400, Core2Quad, 8GB ram, 500Gb SSD. I bought it originally with a 320GB hard drive and 4GB of ram for $200 from the Dell Offlease website. Admittedly, the M4400 is getting long in the tooth, but since I'm retired, don't have a lot of spare $$$ laying around to buy something newer. Since I supported/used Dell corporate systems in my last couple of jobs as a sysadmin, I'm kinda particular a

  • I use Linux as my main OS since the late '90s, and I found that the best laptop for Linux is still the Thinkpad series. I have had 4 different Thinkpad, and a series of other laptop, such as HP, Dell, Sony, Asus, etc. But Thinkpad is the one with the least problems. I'm currently using a Thinkpad x250. Lightweight, good battery, everything works with Linux (screen resolution sucks though). The other really good laptops for travel were Asus Eee PC (the first generation) and the Sony Vaio 505 series (I bought
  • My work just bought one for me recently. Installation of Kubuntu 16.04 was a breeze, it's worked nearly flawlessly ever since install. My only regret is that I did a HDD instead of SDD. It's light, good battery life, great display (when I'm on the road) and great docking station (when I'm not).
  • Very happy with the touch-screen XPS 13 and Ubuntu. Basically no trouble that I didn't create myself.

    Specifically, I immediately tried to upgrade to 16.04 from the (working-fine) out-of-the-box 14.04, which failed, and then discovered that there was bug in the Ubuntu installer so it couldn't cope with the SSD.
    But all work-roundable with pretty minimal googling. I might have been more worried if I wasn't used to setting up linuxes on laptops (first time I did it, I needed a framebuffer for the video. Te
  • System76 Oryx Pro (Score:3, Informative)

    by AnthonywC ( 4415891 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @10:14PM (#53417751)
    Got a System76 Oryx Pro for work; it is a beast of a laptop/server /w i7, SSD and it can go up to 64G of RAM. Will never buy another non-linux laptop again for myself.
  • While we're on this subject, I'd love to hear people's recommendations for buying a laptop without windows in Australia

    • by dwywit ( 1109409 )

      Do you mean vendor/manufacturer-supported? Try Dell. If you have an ABN, you can get access to their business-grade range.

      http://www.dell.com/learn/au/e... [dell.com]

      Otherwise, hit the {distro-of-choice} forums, and find out which laptops will run it. Then hit ebay or gumtree, or your local computer club. Try for something less than 12 months old. My current laptop is a satellite pro core2duo running win 7 and 4-5 linux VMs (not all at once!). I've got an SSD ready to put in it, as soon as the HDD shows any sign of fa

  • For the past 10 + years, I have been using Linux exclusively as my desktop environment, and all on laptops. I use Kubuntu 14.04 at present, and have been on the LTS versions for many years.

    I only buy laptops that are on sale, whatever is in the flyers the week I need to replace a laptop.

    From a 'what works' point of view, most of the laptops I have used have fully worked with Linux. That includes Wifi and sound, the most pesky components. Years ago, one Dell laptop had an issue with Wifi and I had to downloa

  • Try https://www.reddit.com/r/linux... [reddit.com]. This gets asked a lot
  • I just bought an HP Envy x360 15-series this past week.

    Basic specs:
    Intel 7th Gen i5-7200u
    8GB DDR4 RAM
    256GB NVMe SSD drive
    15 inch 1920x1080 screen
    Backlit Keyboard with number pad
    No CD drive
    Nice and light and thin.

    I run Funtoo Linux on it. Install was the same as usual, except I forgot to include the NVMe drivers when I built the kernel, so I had to load up System Rescue CD, chroot in and build it again.

    I have no use for the touch screen, or the fact I can fold it in half, it just met all of my requirements (

  • Purism? (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Sebby ( 238625 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @10:34PM (#53417813)
    Purism [puri.sm] - laptops look pretty sleek.
    • by adolf ( 21054 )

      Neat. Expensive. Last-gen. Backordered until next year, next spring, or maybe-someday-we'll-built-some pre-order-only sleek tablet-convertible thing (depending on model).

      Of the two models that actually will exist again, the smaller one has fewer USB ports and includes an Ethernet port, and the larger one has more ports (and no Ethernet).

      Max RAM is 16GB and 32GB, respectively.

      This is incongruous as all hell.

      Is there an advantage to buying one of these over the cash I dumped on Black Friday at holidayhole.

  • by whitelabrat ( 469237 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @10:50PM (#53417869)

    Seriously I love linux, but dealing with hardware issues is a PITA.

    This is why I use a MacBook Pro. Ok, not linux, but unix. But there isn't anything I can't do on it that I could do on linux. It "just works".

    But if you must, I'd suggest getting something a bit older. Nothing too new and fancy so that folks have had time to develop drivers for the hardware.

    • but it's easy to find out if everything on a laptop is supported for particular open source OS, whether Linux or OpenBSD or whatever. I never have problems because the research is so easy these days.You can buy new and have it work

    • >>This is why I use a MacBook Pro. Ok, not linux, but unix. But there isn't anything I can't do on it that I could do on linux.

      You're kidding me, right?

  • by iamacat ( 583406 ) on Saturday December 03, 2016 @11:06PM (#53417925)

    I can not guarantee that this is the best fit for the original poster, as I did not personally try running a VM on those. But in general Chromebooks are great Linux laptops for those who value battery life/form factor/versatility over raw power. ChromeOS is great for web browsing, movie watching and, these days, Android apps/games. Then for everything else, you can run Crouton or dual boot Linux from USB. All in all, that's a lot of different uses from a single unit of hardware.

  • FYI if you're really going for it and have $$$ and intend to use VR - which I would definitely want to do, then you should take this into consideration [digitaltrends.com].

  • All of the systems listed in the post are good choices. To those, I would add only the Librem laptops, which are designed specifically for Free Software:

    https://puri.sm/products/ [puri.sm]

  • Like a camera - the best is the one you have when you want to use it.
    Just go for something with the specs you want at the price you want, then do a quick google search to see if it's one of the rare things where the manufacturer has not supplied linux drivers or given the community enough info to write them.
    The best choice IMHO for anything that doesn't have to do workstation computing is something that's now too slow to run Win8/10, shove a cheap SSD in it and it will just fly with 99% of linux application
  • I have a Dell Chromebook 13 running GalliumOS. I could not be moe happy. Replaced the SSd with a 256GB one (really easy to do!) and the performance, battery life, keyboard etc are just great. I have the 8GB model, runs VirtualBox like a charm. Highly recoomended!
  • I got a precision with a touch screen and a Linux preinstall (No windows) a couple months ago and the thing works great. The default wireless doesn't connect so well, though. I found I get much faster wireless if I use wicd-gtk. Touch screen works with Ubuntu, as well!
  • by gwolf ( 26339 ) <gwolfNO@SPAMgwolf.org> on Sunday December 04, 2016 @02:31AM (#53418461) Homepage

    I'm quite surprised to see nobody has yet recommended an Acer Aspire One for this use case. I got my first AAO in 2008, when they were still little crappy 9", 1024x600 screens, and when the keys were actualy not at a standard distance. From the period when "Netbook" was being defined. It was far from perfect, but I loved it. Back then, I also had a 12" Dell XPS, wayyyyy heavier and bulkier, but of course, terribly more powerful. I took the AAO with me to way more places than the Dell.
    Five years later, it was time for an upgrade. I got a new AAO; its models by 2013 had improved to a 10" 1366x768 screen, full-sized keyboard, but kept basically the same weight (the computers are quite thinner than the older generation).
    I have recommended and bought seven such computers for friends and family. Never regretted it. As the original poster says, I'm after portability much more than power-- And having a US$300 computer that travels with me... Is just great.
    Of course, I never had a hiccup recognizing all of its modest hardware with Linux.

  • I have recently installed several Dell and HP pro laptops with kubuntu without a hitch. For family, friends and work colleagues. Everything worked out of the box and if you install from a USB key, it takes about 10 minutes to install, reboot, aptitude update and full-upgrade, reboot, done.

    On the other hand I tried a CentOS install, but the kernel was so old (3.10 for crying out loud) that it didn't recognize several recent hardware. I saw that and installed kubuntu over it.

  • by YoopDaDum ( 1998474 ) on Sunday December 04, 2016 @05:31AM (#53418821)
    I've the same priorities than you, and am happily using a 3rd gen Thinkpad Carbon X1 with Debian and KDE. A lot of other hardware will be ok too nowadays.

    To minimize the laptop power consumption, be sure to install and configure either the old "laptop mode" package, or the more recent "tlp" package (The Laptop Project, a successor to the laptop mode). With a SSD, you can aggressively turn off the disk as there's no spin up wear issue. With TLP installed I'm typically idling below 5W and often below 4. The battery life is so good that I don't charge the battery to 100%, but only 85% and rarely go below 45%. This is a good way to increase the battery life of a Li-ion battery, and a nice touch of all Thinkpads is that you can configure an upper bound for charging. At 85% the ACPI BIOS returns a battery life over 10h30.
  • What's the Best Linux Laptop?

    I don't bother with that anymore. I rather just run a Linux VM as a guest on a Windows 7 host with some type of X client on the later. I have a dedicated RH box with all the bells and whistles, but I typically just xterm or vnc to it to build, deploy, run services, etc. My main workhorse is Windows 7 (with Cygwin), however.

    I just got tired of having to deal with wifi issues. I'm sure shit is better now, but for what I do, why bother changing. For back-end shit, serious work, Linux always. For working wit

  • Avoid systems with dual Intel/Nvidia graphics. Support for that combination is not fully there yet and while it works, the Nvidia card subjects you to bad video tearing.
  • Purism [puri.sm] is a relatively new company that builds Linux-centric hardware with an emphasis on open hardware. They have a small but nice lineup.

    As far as modern Linux laptops go, I'd suspect you can't do any better.

  • I have an XPS 13 dev edition, loaded. It's a nice puter, but it's a laptop.

    I have a big clicky keyboard for it when it's at home and a wireless mouse. Hate the keypad.

    It locks up from time to time from running Steam. I assume that is the video driver.

  • I just got a ZaReason Strata 8110 laptop with Mint 18. It is a nice system. Works really well. Quad-core i7 processor, 8GB (now 16GB) of RAM, DVD recorder. I'm using it right now to post this comment. I only wish they had 9 cell batteries available - the 6 cell on only lasts for about 1.5 hours. That is my major complaint. Otherwise, it is a really nice machine. It has replaced my 10 year old Dell D630 laptop quite nicely, which was running CentOS 6.8.
  • Linux Mint running in a VM on a Surface Book. Not a purist solution but performant and a good middle-ground between OS flavours.

  • I've had a ton of Thinkpad laptops, but my current favorite is the T450s with intel graphics. The batteries last forever on this thing under linux (with tlp installed) and you can change the battery. It has a built-in battery, and I have one normal battery and one big battery that I can switch between. Between the two external batteries I can swap, I easily get 20 hours of battery life from my laptop. (I can basically book any airline flight without regard to whether my seat will have a power port.)

    The

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