Single user, looking for long term relationship with the laptop of my dreams. Love of linux a must
January 18, 2010 2:44 PM   Subscribe

Help me find the most durable laptop that will play well with Ubuntu

I'm in the market for a new laptop on which to install Ubuntu. I'll take whatever suggestions I can get towards that goal, but here are some details about my thinking/situation:

My dearest hope for the laptop is that it will last a long time. I'm tired of power adapters fraying or frying, batteries dying and battery indicators lying, screen locking tabs snapping, and all manner of other annoying malfunctions that seem to plague Toshibas and other laptops I've had in the past. I swear I don't abuse them, but my laptops rarely seem to last more than a year without serious breakage or malfunction.

I also will be running Ubuntu on this new laptop, and would prefer one with hardware that is not averse to talking to a linux os (some amount of tinkering notwithstanding).

I've been thinking about getting a Mac laptop of some kind, since they have a reputation for being durable. I would have thought that, being designed for a UNIX-based OS, it would run Ubuntu happily, but I've heard ominous reports on the web about major hardware difficulties in installing linux on Macs. Anyone have any experience in running linux on a Mac?

Right now I'm leaning towards a Thinkpad of some sort, since I'm more comfortable with non-Macintosh hardware (yay right click button!), and they seem to be pretty long-lasting too.

To sum up: I need a laptop that is (1) durable and (2) friendly towards Ubuntu. Fast hardware is great, but not a primary goal.

Any recommendations? Sorry - I know this question has been asked in various forms, but it's hard to find one that duplicates what I'm looking for.
posted by Salvor Hardin to Computers & Internet (16 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Oh, I almost forgot. I'd also like to purchase a used laptop, mostly because it seems vaguely more environmentally friendly, but I fear that it will mean a greatly reduced lifespan. Can anyone disabuse me of that environmental notion? Is purchasing a used laptop a bad idea?
posted by Salvor Hardin at 2:47 PM on January 18, 2010


I have a ThinkPad T61. It's more than two years old and everything about it is still just as good as the day I got it. The thing is a tank. It's big and heavy, but feels reassuringly sturdy. My boyfriend has roughly the exact same one and uses Ubuntu.
posted by phunniemee at 2:49 PM on January 18, 2010


I vote for thinkpad. I have used them for years, they are rock solid and when something does go wrong they are easy to take apart and repair. If you need power then a T60 or T61 is the way to go (and what I have), if you don't need as much then the T43 is one of the most well made laptops I have used. Buy refurbished straight from IBM and it will have a limited warranty.
posted by token-ring at 2:52 PM on January 18, 2010


Yep, Thinkpad T series. Solid, more user-serviceable than most laptops, spare parts are widely available, and there's a lot of documentation for Linux users.

(Though I'd honestly suggest looking for an off-lease reconditioned or gently-used T61 over a brand new one.)
posted by holgate at 3:00 PM on January 18, 2010


Have a look at the Ubuntu Laptop Testing Team wiki. Loads of good, well-organised information about various laptops' compatibility and quirks under different versions of Ubuntu.

I have a refurbished Acer Aspire 5610z that, after over two years, is still holding up fantastically. My complaint is the now-terrible battery life (down to barely 15 minutes from the glory days of 3-4 hours when new) but I think that's pretty normal for even new laptop batteries that see heavy use. It hasn't been carried around much, though, so I can't vouch for ruggedness.
posted by metaBugs at 3:08 PM on January 18, 2010


if you don't need as much then the T43 is one of the most well made laptops I have used.

Though the T4* series have a couple of flaws -- the GPU bonding and motherboard flex issues -- that were fixed by the T6*.
posted by holgate at 3:09 PM on January 18, 2010


Can anyone disabuse me of that environmental notion? Is purchasing a used laptop a bad idea?

Thinkpads are built to last, but they're often provided to business environments on fixed-term leases (say, three years) or sold on after the cost has been amortized, after which they're wiped, fixed up and resold (not necessarily in that order). You can pick up reconditioned business laptops from a number of ex-lease sellers on eBay, or buy a refurb with limited warranty from Lenovo, and get many more years out of them.
posted by holgate at 3:14 PM on January 18, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks folks - great answers so far - keep 'em coming. It seems like a refurbished/reconditioned Thinkpad may be my next laptop.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 3:28 PM on January 18, 2010


I work on a Thinkpad X200, running Ubuntu with only one problem. Get the extra 9-cell battery.
posted by brainwane at 3:47 PM on January 18, 2010


The HP Elitebook looks like an extremely durable laptop.
posted by axismundi at 4:13 PM on January 18, 2010


Thinkpad T60p. 15" 1600x1200 IPS display (example). 2.33 GHz. Core Duo.

It is the sickness.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:31 PM on January 18, 2010


I've been running Ubuntu on a Dell Inspiron 600m for over 4 years. The 600m is a budget level laptop at best.
posted by COD at 4:45 PM on January 18, 2010


ZaReason and System76 both sell laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed. Buying from a company that specializes in Linux will assure you of hardware compatibility and offer a degree of support that you are unlikely to find elsewhere.
posted by quarterframer at 5:56 PM on January 18, 2010


Another vote for Thinkpad. You really can't go wrong.
posted by sophist at 6:35 PM on January 18, 2010


I've had a Thinkpad T61 for more than 2 years. Besides some minor, expected maintenance, it feels like new.

Furthermore, the latest version of Ubuntu works nearly flawlessly on my machine.
posted by alligatorman at 7:58 PM on January 18, 2010




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