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Need Laptop Recommendations for Linux

rpalo profile image Ryan Palo ・1 min read

I’m looking for recommendations for a Linux laptop!

I just want a little laptop to play around on and maybe take places that I don’t want to lug my MacBook to. It doesn’t need to be powerful or big. Honestly, 4Gb of RAM and 64Gb of hard drive is probably plenty but more is always gravy. Littler is better, 11 or 13 or 15 inches. And I’d like it to be less than $500 ideally.

But what is necessary—absolutely necessary!—is that the laptop buttons like screen brightness and volume must work without fuss, as well as the lid open and close functionality.

I’ve got a Dell Inspiron now, but it suspends when I close the lid and never comes back no matter what and I’ve spent TOO MANY HOURS fighting with it. It’s no longer fun. So please, only bulletproof compatibility suggestions please.

I’m planning on probably using Ubuntu if that matters, but bonus points if it’s bulletproof for multiple distros.

Thank you for your help!

Discussion

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Ghost

Thinkpad X200, X220, X230 or X240, choose the one on your budget. they are tough and easy to fix and maintain, there are replacement parts for almost everything and dirt cheap. Everything is replaceable just taking a couple of screws. They are not the lightests but to get an old i5/i7 for around 150USD, to me is unbeatable. You can find them refurbished at ebay and some of them can even use FOSS BIOS.

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Muhammad

These thinkpads can be hackibtoshed too, so check for that

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Diane

I'm rocking a PCSpecialist custom-built 14" laptop, with a Pentium N5000, 8GB of RAM and 1256GB of SSD, all that for 450€, which means that you can easily go under that (I recently built a config for a friend, with a SATA3 SSD of 128GB, and everything else the same, for 380€).

Edit: can be seen here.

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Ryan Palo Author

What distro are you running? That sounds awesome!

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artemis profile image
Diane

An Arch-Linux setup.

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codemouse92 profile image
Jason C. McDonald

When it comes to running Linux, I've had good experiences with:

  • Lenovo ThinkPad
  • Acer (surprisingly!)
  • System76 (see below)

Also passable include:

  • Dell (usually)
  • HP

Although in both cases, you may have to do some extra twiddling with drivers.

I do NOT recommend:

  • Asus
  • Newer Lenovo (YMMV)

I currently use a System76 though, and I LOVE it! So, if you have the money to splurge, yes, they're worth every penny. (Sys76 laptops are actually Clevos, which are solid to begin with; the additional hardware compatibility testing, the warranty, the assembly, and the support System76 provides are all worth the price tag.)


All that said, based on your description, I'd recommend an Acer. They're inexpensive, decently long-lived, and the hardware typically works with Linux quite well in my experience.

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Ryan Palo Author

Good to know, thanks!

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Mat

I would look at a used/like new Dell XPS 13 which is very light and great specs. They have strong support for linux with Dell shipping ubuntu as an option.

Ebay has many listed under $500 with some as low as $150. The 4k screen is brilliant but comes with scaling issues under gnome (even with latest versions). Fractional scaling just isn't quite there yet. The 1080p option is cheaper and has slightly better battery life.

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Ryan Palo Author

I have heard good things about this one. I’ll do some looking for a used one. Thanks!

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Michael Cain

I found a Dell Precision M4800 on NewEgg for $750 - 32G of RAM; took out the CD drive and put in a 1TB SSD that I use for my Linux partitions. I use Mint (Ubuntu) with Kernel 4.15 and it’s great; no problems. I love “The Tank” and I’m sure you would too

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Zombo

Thinkpad t430s, I got it for 100$. Just make sure if you're using a Thinkpad or some other laptops in linux, get TLP. If you don't , your battery might die after a few months, but TLP also let's Ubuntu read the battery better.

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Kamal Mustafa

Ideapad S145 work fine on both ubuntu 19.04 and fedora 30, except wifi not working ootb, you have to install driver found on github. It only came with 4GB ram but the amd version has expandable memory. Build quality not that great but what can you expect from a cheap laptop. If you're looking for 'real' laptop, then it would be the X1 Carbon.

I'm also interested in yoga s730.

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🌌 Sébastien Feugère ☔

Just buy a second hand ThinkPad (e.g. X230) for $150, add some RAM if needed and put a SSD and you are just fine.

Those machines works very well with any Linux distro.

I use this since a year and a half now and cannot imagine something better.

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Paweł Kowalski

Take a look at this video: youtube.com/watch?v=iJvr0VPsn-s
It has some interesting choices (i personally buy only used, to save money) you might find useful.

PS. Someone below uses Arch - I would also recommend considering it - performance is much better than *buntu.

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Jordan Kicklighter

Not to mention how much you learn about Linux. The Arch Wiki is wonderful, and you'll never know more about your system than when you have to configure it all yourself.

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Pavol Rajzak

You can buy used Thinkpad which has superb compatibility with Linux. I have a T430 and everything works like a charm. You could get even newer models for less than $500.

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Tony Pellicccio

If you're near a Micro Center check out their refurb deals.

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ahmadhasyim

Try look at thinkpad t450 or t460

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Sen

A t430 or t420(thinkpads) are the best.

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Bahstin Beat

Technoethical offers refurbished Thinkpads with coreboot and Trisquel pre-installed-- totally Free/Libre software the whole way. Rugged enough to be dragged around in a backpack