Help me find a sub $700 ubuntu friendly laptop
March 7, 2011 9:03 PM   Subscribe

Ubuntu-filter: Sub $700 laptop works with Ubuntu 10.x out of the box

I just had an awful experience buying a dell vostro 3400 that was supposedly listed on ubuntu's certified list.

I'm sending it back to dell in disgust. Oh, hive mind can you recommend something similar with a better ubuntu install experience?

Looking 13" - 15" screen, intel I3 or higher... (or AMD equivalent).

posted by rampy to Computers & Internet (10 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Give System 76 a look, all they do is consumer Ubuntu hardware.
posted by mcstayinskool at 12:39 AM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: Check out ZaReason's offerings. They only do Linux hardware. Assembled in California.
posted by brainwane at 4:42 AM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: for fairly fundamental reasons there is never going to compatibility between linux and the nvidia hybrid technology (i forget the brand name): the cert. for the vostro was almost certainly for a non-nvidia or non-hybrid configuration.

so, find a laptop that isn't a hybrid and chances are it will work fairly well.
posted by at 4:52 AM on March 8, 2011

ASUS laptops and netbooks are generally quite compatible with Ubuntu, if you have a doubt about a particular model just google its model number + ubuntu.
posted by thewalrus at 6:58 AM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: I got an ASUS K52D for just under $700 from Newegg before xmas. It was THIS one to be specific. I have installed Ubuntu 10.10 as a dual boot with windows 7 and it worked fine. I think any similar laptop would be fine.

Ubuntu is pretty easy to manage I am surprised that you're having issues with anything.
posted by koolkat at 7:35 AM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: I just bought an Asus K50J from the Microsoft Store and put Xubuntu/64 10.10 on it without changing any defaults. Everything I've tried works, in fact in writing this message I realized I hadn't checked the webcam yet, and yep, it works too.

The only problem I had was that the completely braindead way the Windows install was partitioned on the hard drive made it more trouble than it was worth to keep a dual-boot Windows system, so I nuked Windows and went all Linux. If someone decides to pay me to develop Windows software they can buy me another machine.
posted by straw at 10:12 AM on March 8, 2011

Response by poster: you are correct, which is why I'm sending it back. The folks at: are making great strides but I hate windows7 and hate the fact that I bought what I thought was a supported discrete card to find it's some hybrid nonsense and doesn't work with ubuntu.

@everyone else: Thanks for the links to the linux specific retailers... any chance anyone has a recommendation for something more mass market i.e. I could pick up at a best buy ?
posted by rampy at 11:17 AM on March 8, 2011

Best answer: Sorry the Dell didn't work out.

I'm not sure if Lenovo laptops are available at a Best Buy-type store. But in case you're interested anyway, I run Ubuntu 10.10 on a Thinkpad 410i and it worked out of the box except for suspend. The T410i starts at $749, but other Thinkpads with similar specs are likely to be a good bet. As you already know, be careful about the graphics and be sure to choose one with integrated graphics and an available Linux-compatible driver.

A word of caution about wireless on Thinkpads: Avoid the 11b/g/n wireless card as these are very tricky to work with and definitely do not run out of the box. More info: 11b/g/n page on Thinkwiki. I've had good luck with the Intel Centrino 1000 wireless card, which is a free option.

More Resources:
Also, the Ubuntu Forums are a better source than Canonical for hardware compatibility information IMHO. Check out the Laptop Compatibility Thread for the full scoop on a wide range of models. (You can also search for specific companies/models to get info on those.)

Another thread worth combing through can be found here. The topic is "fully functional Linux laptops."

Both of these Ubuntu Forums threads are huge and take some time to go through. But if you stick to the more recent posts you're more likely to find laptops that are currently for sale. If you're really torn between a few specific computers, Google what you can but feel free to post a request for help on Ubuntu Forums. Folks tend to be very knowledgeable and helpful there.

Best of luck!
posted by brackish.line at 9:13 AM on March 14, 2011 [1 favorite]

Slightly off-topic, but there is an advantage to buying a laptop intended for Linux use at Best Buy: see xkcd.
posted by brackish.line at 9:16 AM on March 14, 2011 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I did an experiment on less model Vostro 3500 without the hybrid graphics (intel graphics and i3 ) and it worked out of the box. So I ordered Vostro 3400 with the i3 and default integrated intel video chipset and hoping for the best.

I'm going to replace the optical drive with an SSD and jam 8 gigs of ram in there, can't wait!

I'll post back on how the 3400 without the hybrid graphics works out for me.

thanks for the suggestions... this was a frustrating presale and postsale research process for me :( I almost gave up and bought a mac :P
posted by rampy at 11:30 AM on March 14, 2011

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