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Hi all. It's time to play "All the Techie People Get to Choose New Hardware!!" Basically, this coming year is my last year of high school, so thoughts turn to ...
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  1. #1
    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
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    For a College Laptop...


    Hi all. It's time to play "All the Techie People Get to Choose New Hardware!!"

    Basically, this coming year is my last year of high school, so thoughts turn to college and therefore, college laptops. While I will be bringing my desktop with me, we're gonna get a laptop for class / other general work.

    So basically, I need help figuring out what to get. I dunno much about laptops, and I don't know too many manufacturers. So maybe we can discuss and perhaps build for Cabhan the perfect laptop? YAY!

    Basically, I'm looking to install Linux as the sole OS. Now, I know most companies offer Windows, which I would immediately uninstall. Emperor Linux sells laptops with Linux pre-installed, but I'd rather set up Gentoo (which they don't offer), so I'd do it on my own. So if possible, I'd want no OS installed, or a really cheap one.

    I hear that ATI graphics cards have a lot of problems with Linux, so I'd prefer either built-in or nVidia.

    As far as wireless goes, I will need wireless support of some sort, preferably b/g. I have ndiswrapper experience, so it's not so important to me that it is supported by default. Though that would be nice.

    As far as processor speed, I'm looking towards around 2 GHz. Hard drive space, maybe 40 GB? 60? And around 512 MB RAM, though 256 may work.


    Basically, if people can tell me if these are good ideas or not, I'd be grateful. Also, if you can tell me manufacturers who may be able to meet my requirements.

    Dell: Processors kinda slow (around 1 GHz)
    Toshiba: ATI Graphics cards
    Compaq: Can't view their site
    Emperor Linux: Kinda expensive (c. $1.8k), but otherwise looks pretty good

  2. #2
    Linux User PsypherPunk's Avatar
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    Well, if you've got the money i'd vote for Alienware. Pretty slick, built to spec. and i'm pretty sure they're even fairly upgradeable.
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  3. #3
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    stay away from HP/Compact

    dell has some rather nice laptops and there dependable. we have some dells at work that are 4+ years old and still run nice. dell also has good customer service.

    make sure you get a Pentium M machine. Thats the best mobile cpu out there. Saves on battery life, thats good for going to class. dont want the battery to die in the middle of note taking.
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  4. #4
    Linux Guru bigtomrodney's Avatar
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    Most laptops now use Centrino, so won't be faster than about 1.8GHz, and will run at half that on battery. Avoid any laptop that has a desktop processor for both heat and battery issues. I use a Dell i8500 and it's excellent. Like a portable desktop , though not as big as the 9xxx it has a 15.4" WUXGA screen, and cards come up to 128MB nVidia. (Mines 64, gets hot sometimes. Wouldn't go higher than that).

    Dell are great. I actually really like the HP laptops. The nc6xxx series are very good and are quite robust, plus if you are in the states you can buy one with SuSE preinstalled, though it is a slightly older version. Alienware are great as mentioned though a bit pricey and a bit flash, if you want to avoid getting it stolen.

  5. #5
    Linux Enthusiast carlosponti's Avatar
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    wow never saw anyone use the word basically that many times in one post.
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  6. #6
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    Dell sounds good to me. Unfortunatly i got a NEC one that has a 2.8 p4..it gets hot. Then again i only have it becuase i got it for free when it was not functioning and now i got it working.
    All i want for christmas is a new liver....a second chance to get afflicted with Cirrhosis

  7. #7
    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by carlosponti
    wow never saw anyone use the word basically that many times in one post.
    It's a good word!!


    So I did some more looking around. Probably not gonna go with Alienware. If the Centrino chips really only go up to around 1.8 GHz, then Dell really isn't bad at all. I did some customizing on the Inspiron 6000, I can get:

    1.6 GHz Pentium M
    15.4" screen
    512 MB RAM (1 stick)
    60 GB HD
    CD Burner
    Integrated Video Card
    The 9-cell Battery
    PCMIA SoundBlaster Audigy
    A Lock, Mouse, Carrying Case
    Internal b/g Wireless

    for about $1200. Which seems pretty good to me.

    Another thing is that I want a sizeable keyboard; I hate the scrunched laptop keyboards. So before I buy anything, I'll probably head to CompUSA or something and see if they have any models (or a different model of comparable size) to test out keyboard-ness.


    Thanks! Lemme know if you think of anything else.

  8. #8
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    I've got an IBM Thinkpad that works great and runs Linux with no issues whatsoever. One of my friends Dell laptops wouldnt even install Linux, so I personally can't reccomend that.

    Or, if you want to be different, get an Apple iBook or Powerbook. They both will run several distros of Linux, and you get OSX as well. The best part: NO matter how much you want to, you just can't install Windows to it (I realize this will change soon, though)

  9. #9
    Linux Guru Cabhan's Avatar
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    I was considering an iBook. They sure are sexy. And they have the UNIX base now that wouldn't make feel TOO bad. But myuh. If I got one, I'd probably end up using the Mac OSX. Since my desktop will have Linux, again, it won't be so bad, but I'm wondering if I can't get a laptop with Linux.

    From what I've seen thus far, I'm leaning towards Dell, but your warning is welcome. Do you know what type of notebook your friend had? And why wouldn't Linux install?

  10. #10
    Linux Enthusiast carlosponti's Avatar
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    let me give you some advice about notebooks. 1200 dollars these days will buy you top of the line in notebook. that said you really dont need the top of the line for a college notebook with linux installed and for doing college work ie papers exams and internet research and of course keeping in touch with us here at linuxforums.org. having wireless ethernet as well as wired ethernet a good thing to have because there is a chance that you might not beable to get on a wireless network and it would be nice to get on with a wired network. your best bet is to go to dell or gateway they have the cheapest notebooks for all that purpose i wrote about. alien ware is going to be a good system for gaming on the road. the drawback to all the notebooks you can buy is that you dont have the option of buying one without windows. i just bought a used dell for under 300 bucks and installed fedora core 4 on it with no major problems. also another piece of advice is to go ahead and get a usb mouse the trackpoint and trackpad as they are called both still suck for mouse input. on the subject of ati video cards well i usually can get the drivers working to get 2d it is the 3D i cant ever get working however that is the same thing as what i said about alienware that its about gaming. for anything else you dont need the 3d usually. basically the newer the notebook the more you will be steered towards a distro that is on the bleeding edge in my opinion like fedora core and such because they will be able to keep up with the newest drivers for the newer notebooks. i bought a used dell like i said earlier and had no fuss getting fedora installed. my personal notebook is a sony and is running slackware but i wouldnt personally recommend sony because of cost. you will find with most notebooks though no matter what you decide on finally is that most will have ati i dont know why but that is what i have seen so far. i am sure in my rambling you might find some amount of usefull information ...basically
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