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What kind of laptop for Ubuntu/Linux should I buy?

Last response: in Laptops & Notebooks
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December 3, 2010 6:48:11 AM

Hi folks,

I'm looking to buy a 15" laptop that is going to be my only computer. I don't care about gaming...which is a good thing since I'm going to put Ubuntu on it as my only OS. I tend to have a lot of apps open at once, including Google Chrome (with, like, 97 tabs open), a music/video player, email client, and a video/audio ripper/encoder and a photo or video editing program (GIMP and all that other open source Linux multimedia stuff). The main thing for me is that I don't want it to get bogged down like my current Mac Mini (OS 10.6, 1.83ghz Core Duo, 3gb RAM) when I throw all this stuff at it...looking at the system resource use, I know the 3gb RAM is definitely a bottleneck, just not sure how much faster a processor I'm going to need in the laptop.

I'm moving abroad with it, and since most laptops from the past year or two seem to have integrated webcam/microphone, it's important that I can use it to vidchat, so whatever laptop can do that with a minimum of hassle and a maximum of compatibility in Ubuntu/Linux would be good.

Also, any laptop that has multi-touch or or multi-finger trackpad scrolly-type functionality that works in Linux would be really nice.

I've been seeing a lot of holiday specials but also looking at Craigslist as well. I'd really like to keep the cost under $500, but if that's not realistic for what I want to do with the laptop, I don't mind going a little above that.

General Questions I'm considering:

Integrated Video vs. Dedicated card? (The new ones I've seen that have dedicated cards seem to all be ATI mobile cards, but I've heard of problems with Linux and some dedicated cards)

New (newer Core 2, i3, i5, Phenom Triple or Quad Core) vs. Used (older Core 2)

If it comes to having to do a trade-off for affordability, am I better off getting a faster processor or getting more memory than the minimum 4gb I already plan on getting? Actually, I'm starting to suspect I might need even more than 4gb, but I'm not sure.

5400rpm vs. 7200rpm HDD?

Does anyone have any insight out there? A specific model or brand even? Any information I can get is good. I know this is long, but hopefully it's detailed enough so that you have a clear picture of what I'm looking for.


Thanks for your help!
December 3, 2010 10:47:26 AM

take a look at -system 76-. The only sell ubuntu systems so they work out the box :) 
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December 3, 2010 10:50:32 AM

about the processors you asked about. Unless its a core 2 quad or extreme then you should go with the i3/5/7 range. Not many lsptops on the mid high range that sell with amd phenoms. :) 
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December 4, 2010 6:03:50 AM

simonstyle: Besides being 11.2" (nowhere near the 15" laptops I'm looking for), this is a link to a page with a photo of a MacBook Air. What gives?
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December 4, 2010 6:51:49 AM

CsG_kieran_2 said:
about the processors you asked about. Unless its a core 2 quad or extreme then you should go with the i3/5/7 range. Not many lsptops on the mid high range that sell with amd phenoms. :) 


No i7's in my price range that I know of, and very very few i5's, but yeah, there's a lot of i3's and core 2's.

More specifically, do you have an opinion on hard drive speed, increased RAM vs. faster processor, and dedicated vs. integrated video card issues, given my stated performance requirements?

Thanks again!
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December 5, 2010 9:58:08 AM

1. dedicated graphics from 5 years ago are better than integrated.
2. More RAM is better, 4GB is good for what you want to do.
3. you will get a 5.000RPM drive but some come with a 7.200 or even an SSD if you have they money.
4. don't worry about GHz, as long as its 2 or more cores at about/above 2GHz then its all good :) 

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a b 5 Linux
December 5, 2010 8:09:03 PM

Make sure it has nvidia or intel graphics if you want a non headache
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December 5, 2010 8:15:01 PM

skittle said:
Make sure it has nvidia or intel graphics if you want a non headache


Thanks for confirming. That's what I'd gleaned as well from my research, but it's sometimes hard to find the signal in the (anecdotal, opinionated) noise.
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December 5, 2010 8:17:46 PM

CsG_kieran_2 said:
1. dedicated graphics from 5 years ago are better than integrated.
2. More RAM is better, 4GB is good for what you want to do.
3. you will get a 5.000RPM drive but some come with a 7.200 or even an SSD if you have they money.
4. don't worry about GHz, as long as its 2 or more cores at about/above 2GHz then its all good :) 



Excellent; thanks very much!
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December 5, 2010 10:01:36 PM

I thought this is a good one at the attractive price.
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December 6, 2010 4:58:17 AM

simonstyle said:
I thought this is a good one at the attractive price.


No worries, it just looked weird that it had a photo of a Macbook and listed such specs as a non-Macbook screen size and Windows XP as the OS. Looked sketchy.
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