Buying a laptop for Linux


13 posts
by rasbeer » Fri Jun 29, 2012 7:46 pm
The community here seems rather active & knowledgeable, so I thought I'd try asking here...

My current laptop (a Dell Inspiron 640m) is getting *cough* venerable, & must be getting close to the end of its natural life. I realised that some of the faster processors found in cheap 'oversized netbooks' (eg Intel Atom D2700 or D2800) are as fast as the 640ms. But I've had a frustrating (& ultimately not terribly successful) experience getting a GMA 500 netbook to work under Linux.

Does anyone know how good the Linux support is for the faster Atom processors (D2700, D2800, D525)? Or alternatively where would be a good place to find info on this?

Thanks :)
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by obarthelemy » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:47 am
You're question is a bit vague as you don't state a price, size, or use. I've tried googling general info 'coz I'm interested too, but as always, the results are spotty and outdated to the point of being useless.

The issue is drivers for the GPU and other peripherals (touchpad, wifi,...), and handling power-saving modes.

If you want to play it safe, get a netbook/laptop with Linux pre-installed. Asus, Lenovo and Dell (and surely others) offer that on some of their lines.
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by rasbeer » Sun Jul 01, 2012 8:53 am
I was mainly worried about the GPU those Atom processors come with, having been burned on the GMA 500. I didn't realise there are still significant issues with other hardware. :( (Inspiron 640m's came with a wireless card that wasn't well-supported a couple of years back, but that was ironed out at some point...)

Most of the 'oversized netbooks' I was interested in are OEM (ie unbranded). The exception is Hasee, but AFAIK it's not well known in the West, tho it turns out there is some info on Hasee + Linux.

With D2700 or D2800 processors I think these are about as powerful as my current aging laptop, which runs Ubuntu very nicely (with 1GB ram). & some of the OEM/Hasees are <$300; so I could probably import one with little or no tax/duty liability. :)

I can dig up some links?
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by Nr90 » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:16 pm
I'd spend a 100$ more and get a regular laptop with in i3 processor.
You'll know it'll be problem free and much faster.
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by rasbeer » Sun Jul 01, 2012 12:33 pm
Nr90 wrote:I'd spend a 100$ more and get a regular laptop with in i3 processor.
You'll know it'll be problem free and much faster.

Tax/duties mean there's no way to spend $100 more. Add $100 to the base price & the overall price goes up by ~ $250. (If customs bother to check the package...)
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by Narishma » Sun Jul 01, 2012 3:55 pm
If you want to get an Atom netbook, avoid the CedarView family (D2xxx and N2xxx) as they have a PowerVR GPU that doesn't work well in Linux (or Windows for that matter). Pick one of the previous generation (PineView) Atoms (Dxxx and Nxxx). Those have Intel GPUs that work fine on Linux.
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by rasbeer » Sun Jul 01, 2012 4:20 pm
Thanks for that info - that's exactly the kind of thing I was trying to find out.

It looks like the Pineview processors are all at least considerably less powerful than what I'm used to :( (Which to be honest, isn't a lot by 2012 standards!)

Looks like I'll be sticking with the old Dell a while longer - unless anyone knows any low cost processors that play well with linux with benchmarks of ~800+ here.

Weird thing is, I'm pretty sure some Hasee laptops ship(ped) with Linux. I'll have to ask them about that...
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by obarthelemy » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:21 am
Isn't AMD support good enough these days ? I got Ubuntu (10.10 or 11.04, early Unity, was very klunky, dropped it because of that) to dual screen on an E350 nettop w/o too much hassle, and everything else seemed to be working too (ethernet, wifi, usb, sound). I think Brazos netbooks are rather competitive with Atom, with a much better GPU, a similar CPU (no parallel threading though ?), but a bit higher power consumption ?
Warning: I did *not* test ACPI or whatever power management is called these days. Wifi is a separate chip so check that your specific model is supported. Ditto for sound, surely. But both of those don't seem to be raising lots of issues these days.

More info:
some perf graphs here: http://www.blogeee.net/2011/08/amd-e-45 ... formances/ (sorry, in French, his conclusion is: AMD kills the Atom).
in another article the guy quite likes the Acer Apire One 522 and 722 (10.1" vs 11.6"), esp. screen. http://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductLi ... 0Processor. RAM seems to be upgradeable only on the larger one, but I'd double check, I've read the smaller one is (was ?) upgradeable too.

EDIT: googling for Acer Aspire One 722 Linux (https://www.google.com/search?client=op ... +722+linux) seems to confirm it works, but requires some tweaking of the wifi config.
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by rasbeer » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:25 am
obarthelemy wrote:Isn't AMD support good enough these days ?

That's also the kind of thing I'm trying to find out :) I'll see if there are any Brazos "oversized netbooks"...
(ie laptop-sized devices with netbook processors)...
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by obarthelemy » Mon Jul 02, 2012 6:31 am
you got me inbetween edits, more info in my post above.
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by darkcity » Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:10 am
Here is a helpful website listing what works and what doesn't in the laptop world-
http://www.linlap.com/

Also, have you tried running Puppy Linux on your current laptop? It's originally designed to run on old hardware.
List of Laptops running Puppy-
http://puppylinux.org/wikka/PuppyOnLaptops

Puppy homepage-
http://puppylinux.com/
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by rasbeer » Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:21 am
Thanks for the linlap link - unfortunately with OEM products you don't know who the manufacturer is. And the less well known Chinese brands aren't there. So I guess I'd have to go by the hardware components.

My current laptop runs Ubuntu nicely, which is why I was thinking similar performance would be fine. I did try it with a Puppy a while back, and that too was fine - slightly faster if anything. There's no sign of motherboard or other problems, maybe I should just replace the HDD...
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by andri » Sat Jul 07, 2012 9:33 pm
How about ASUS EeePC?
The AMD version come with AMD RADEON Graphic.
Faster than Atom version.

http://www.foundem.co.uk/M/computing/La ... C_1015.jsp

I buy ASUS Eee PC 1215T a year ago.
Specifications:
Processor: AMD Athlon II Neo K125
Graphics Adapter: ATI Radeon HD 4250
Display: 12.1 inch, 16:9, 1366x768 pixels

OS: Ubuntu 11.04
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