12 votes

What's a cheap laptop that works well with Linux and is available wordwide?

Because I'm in Brazil, highly specific brands that do not ship to my country are out of the question, and even the ones that ship usually cost more than I can pay due to currency exchange rate and shipping costs themselves. What are some universal brands and models that I can probably find on my location, that won't give me much trouble running Linux?

I don't require playing games or top performance (4GB 8GB RAM, a nice/vibrant screeen and an i5 processor would be the minimum requirement. SSD would be nice, but for my budget it's a plus. Just something that is durable (with a good guarantee) and works reliably under Linux, especially when it comes to HDMI output, video graphics adapter support, booting from USB, hibernating, sleeping, power management etc.

Thanks!

23 comments

  1. [8]
    spit-evil-olive-tips
    Link
    Some previous discussions: https://tildes.net/~comp/ew7/whats_your_dream_laptop_for_running_nix https://tildes.net/~tech/ejz/lightest_cheapest_laptop_out_there_with_best_battery_life I'll stick by...

    Some previous discussions:

    https://tildes.net/~comp/ew7/whats_your_dream_laptop_for_running_nix

    https://tildes.net/~tech/ejz/lightest_cheapest_laptop_out_there_with_best_battery_life

    I'll stick by my comment here - get a Lenovo. They're very common business laptops, so you can probably find used ones locally in Brazil rather than having to buy a new one and deal with shipping / exchange rates. They run Linux flawlessly, and tend to have very nice specs for the price (my 1st gen Carbon X1, for example, has only 4GB of RAM and the battery is drained to hell, but despite that it's got a Core i5, a 128GB SSD, and a 1080p screen, so it's a capable little machine as long as I don't push it too hard).

    6 votes
    1. [7]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      My current laptop is a Lenovo Ideapad. I was never able to hibernate/resume. I might give it another try.

      My current laptop is a Lenovo Ideapad. I was never able to hibernate/resume. I might give it another try.

      1 vote
      1. [6]
        spit-evil-olive-tips
        Link Parent
        Ideapad and Yoga are the consumer-oriented Lenovos, and are generally crap for running Linux. Lots of "only works under Windows 10" crap. You want one of the business-oriented Lenovos - primarily...

        Ideapad and Yoga are the consumer-oriented Lenovos, and are generally crap for running Linux. Lots of "only works under Windows 10" crap.

        You want one of the business-oriented Lenovos - primarily the T series, or the X1 series if you don't mind paying a bit more for thinner & lighter. (think Macbook Pro vs. Macbook Air)

        https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/Hardware_Specifications has an excellent breakdown of the various models, though that also lists a lot of very old models. In your shoes I'd look for either an X1 Carbon (any generation) or a T4x0 (410 - 480, with lower numbers being older models).

        5 votes
        1. [4]
          sebs
          Link Parent
          As a counter argument I can offer my experience. I have a Yoga 710 (14IKB) from 2016, now discontinued, running Fedora from the start and e v e r y t h i n g works perfectly out of the box. And I...

          As a counter argument I can offer my experience.

          I have a Yoga 710 (14IKB) from 2016, now discontinued, running Fedora from the start and e v e r y t h i n g works perfectly out of the box. And I mean everything, including the orientation sensors that allow to rotate the screen automatically. Wifi, touchscreen, touchpad, webcam, external hdmi, audio, usb 3, bluetooth, card reader, orientation sensors, virtualization tech from the cpu, bumblebee/optimus for the gpu... everything. Including hibernation and suspension.

          I use it mainly as a on-the-move working environment for web development and sysadmin stuff and never had a problem with the hardware and this combination of OS/software.

          And the best is that the battery runs for between 6 to 10 hs. For example, if I'm testing deployments locally using several vms running a lot of containers it's more like 6 hs... but if I'm just coding or accessing remote servers I can squeeze almost 10 hs.

          But overall I agree with the sentiment that Lenovo notebooks are excellent.

          4 votes
          1. TheJorro
            Link Parent
            The Yoga line is hit or miss. Some are very good, some are not so good. It's a bit of a crapshoot, honestly. I'd recommend the Carbon line over the Yoga line for that reason alone.

            The Yoga line is hit or miss. Some are very good, some are not so good. It's a bit of a crapshoot, honestly. I'd recommend the Carbon line over the Yoga line for that reason alone.

            4 votes
          2. [2]
            ali
            Link Parent
            I think it’s a case by case basis, my yoga 2 pro was very bad with Linux. And it couldn’t display yellow properly. That was a device for 1700 bucks.

            I think it’s a case by case basis, my yoga 2 pro was very bad with Linux. And it couldn’t display yellow properly. That was a device for 1700 bucks.

            2 votes
            1. guy
              Link Parent
              I had that one too. Sold it on Craigslist after a month.

              I had that one too. Sold it on Craigslist after a month.

              2 votes
        2. TheJorro
          Link Parent
          The Carbons and the T-models are excellent machines, with a lot of bang for their buck. Of note, the T-models have a second internal battery in case of any power outages or battery failures too,...

          The Carbons and the T-models are excellent machines, with a lot of bang for their buck. Of note, the T-models have a second internal battery in case of any power outages or battery failures too, really worth having when you absolutely need your computer to keep functioning in some worst case conditions.

          I don't see these ThinkPads listed there but stay the hell away from any L-series models.

          3 votes
  2. [10]
    Silbern
    Link
    Would a used laptop be acceptable? Older ThinkPads are quite durable and have some of the best Linux support of any laptops, and hopefully there are some inside Brazil, so you wouldn't have to pay...

    Would a used laptop be acceptable? Older ThinkPads are quite durable and have some of the best Linux support of any laptops, and hopefully there are some inside Brazil, so you wouldn't have to pay import taxes if you buy them through eBay or the like.

    2 votes
    1. [7]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      Yes, a used laptop would be acceptable. I'll look into it. Do you recommend any Thinkpad model/revision in particular?

      Yes, a used laptop would be acceptable. I'll look into it. Do you recommend any Thinkpad model/revision in particular?

      1. [6]
        rmgr
        Link Parent
        I've used an x220 for a few years and it's still fine but unity games don't work on it because of OpenGL incompatibilities. I recently decided to upgrade up to an x250 and it's pretty great!

        I've used an x220 for a few years and it's still fine but unity games don't work on it because of OpenGL incompatibilities. I recently decided to upgrade up to an x250 and it's pretty great!

        1 vote
        1. mrbig
          Link Parent
          No problem, I won't game at all on this machine.

          No problem, I won't game at all on this machine.

        2. mrbig
          Link Parent
          And new for 1435 BRL (325 USD without shipping). Sounds like a good deal.

          And new for 1435 BRL (325 USD without shipping). Sounds like a good deal.

    2. [2]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      What do you think of these? They're all new. This site is a Latin-American version of eBay. Divide by four to have an idea of the price in US dollars. And these are the used ones.

      What do you think of these? They're all new. This site is a Latin-American version of eBay. Divide by four to have an idea of the price in US dollars.

      And these are the used ones.

      1. Silbern
        Link Parent
        Yeah, this is what I was thinking. For these older ThinkPads, I'd suggest either the T or the X series - the T is larger with a bigger keyboard and battery, while the X is smaller and more...

        Yeah, this is what I was thinking. For these older ThinkPads, I'd suggest either the T or the X series - the T is larger with a bigger keyboard and battery, while the X is smaller and more portable. If they're in like new condition, $200 is a fair price, usually an X220 for example will go for between $120 to $160 in the US depending on its condition and the accessories it comes with. For the exact number years, I'd suggest from the T420 / X220 up to the T450 / X250 if you want the best value. If you equip them with a super cheap 2.5" SSD storage drive, they're delightfully snappy even to this day, and the X220 / T420 even have the old style keyboard, which some people really like since it emulates a standard desktop keyboard.

        I myself use an X61t a college, it's quite a bit older than even the X220. I find it still fast enough for university work and you can get it a little bit cheaper, but the X220 and X230 offer much more power and value for even just a little bit more money, and working replacement batteries for the X61t are getting hard to find unfortunately. I love my ThinkPad, but I think from an objective standpoint you're probably better off getting something newer.

        Lastly, if you're wondering how these model numbers work, the first digit (T or X) indicates which series it belongs to. The second indicates the size of the screen - 2 means 12 inch, 4 means 14 inch, 5 means 15 inch. The last two indicates the revision number. Hopefully that makes it a bit less overwhelming if you see them!

  3. mrbig
    Link
    Extra question: is there a website that shows which PC parts and laptops that are guaranteed to work optimally under Linux?

    Extra question: is there a website that shows which PC parts and laptops that are guaranteed to work optimally under Linux?

    2 votes
  4. Shahriar
    Link
    Used 4th gen or 5th Lenovo X Carbon off of eBay would only cost you < $200.

    Used 4th gen or 5th Lenovo X Carbon off of eBay would only cost you < $200.

    1 vote
  5. markh
    Link
    Have you tried a Dell XPS? They have a developer edition that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu, no other crap installed. I have one from 2016 that is still going strong, and I think the 2017 model...

    Have you tried a Dell XPS? They have a developer edition that comes pre-installed with Ubuntu, no other crap installed.

    I have one from 2016 that is still going strong, and I think the 2017 model was even better.

    1 vote
  6. Grand0rbiter
    (edited )
    Link
    Hello, i'm from Brazil. Got an Asus VivoBook (x510ur) recently on a sale that works wonderfully... except Optimus, but i think Nvidia is starting to work on it. It was only R$2300 and it has a...

    Hello, i'm from Brazil. Got an Asus VivoBook (x510ur) recently on a sale that works wonderfully... except Optimus, but i think Nvidia is starting to work on it. It was only R$2300 and it has a Full HD IPS display.

    I bought a SSD and +4Gb RAM for it, so it was more than the initial R$2300, but for Linux 4GB RAM can work just fine, specially if you don't use Gnome. No need to replace the HD (comes with a 1Tb HD), it has a separate sata interface for SSDs (careful, needs to be put upside down, lots of people burnt their SSDs).

    There's nothing that does not work. I was using it with Void Linux and now i'm on Fedora (31 pre beta) and everything just works. Though i don't hibernate... with a SSD i don't see a need for it so i don't even have a swap partition.

  7. citizenerased
    Link
    Echoing thoughts here and suggesting a Thinkpad. If you're on a budget, then getting a refurbished former business machine is great value for money. I'd suggest one of the follwing 2 models...

    Echoing thoughts here and suggesting a Thinkpad. If you're on a budget, then getting a refurbished former business machine is great value for money.

    I'd suggest one of the follwing 2 models depending on how portable you want it to be:

    X-series = thin, light, small, amazing to travel with
    T-series = high end, heavier, keep more at home models

    I'm currently using a X220t (t for tablet) whch is perfect for my use case (touchscreen is useful for teaching). Cost £60(!) and shipped with 2GB RAM, 120GB HDD, i5 2.5ghz*4 processor. I just put in a 4GB stick of RAM and 240GB SSD and I've never(!) noticed any lag or performance issues at all. I get 2 hour battery life.

    Thinkpads have an active community for linux : https://www.thinkwiki.org/wiki/ThinkWiki