Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux .. - Portable

This is a discussion on Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux .. - Portable ; Hi, Newbie here.Was thinking of buying a new laptop and partitioning it with Win Xp (or some other version) on one partition and Linux on the other (about 20GB of each) . Want to use the Linux partition mainly to ...

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Thread: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

  1. Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Hi,
    Newbie here.Was thinking of buying a new laptop and partitioning it with
    Win Xp (or some other version) on one partition and Linux on the other
    (about 20GB of each) . Want to use the Linux partition mainly to run my
    C,FORTRAN codes. Any suggestions on what type of processors/comps to
    *avoid*? Any help on this would be highly appreciated
    Thanks,
    Balaji



  2. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    On Wed, 3 Dec 2003 19:01:34 -0800, Balaji Srinivasan staggered into the
    Black Sun and said:
    > Newbie here.Was thinking of buying a new laptop and partitioning it
    > with Win Xp (or some other version) on one partition and Linux on the
    > other (about 20GB of each).


    Remember that 'DozeXP uses NTFS by default and writing to NTFS is iffy
    on Linux. Writing to FAT32 works fine though, and reading NTFS works.

    > Want to use the Linux partition mainly to run my C,FORTRAN codes.


    FORTRAN? Yuck! Oh well....

    > Any suggestions on what type of processors/comps to *avoid*?


    Avoid Sony, Compaq, and Gateway laptops. IBM Thinkpads are a good bet,
    and some Dell laptops work reasonably well too. Your best option is
    probably to go to http://pricewatch.com/ , find 3 or 4 models that look
    good in their "not exactly new" section, then:

    foreach $make (@makes){
    foreach $model (@models){
    Google("$make $model Linux");
    }
    }
    ....and see what the community at large has reported. Remember that
    the wireless Centrino chipsets don't work under Linux yet. HTH,

    --
    Matt G|There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
    Brainbench MVP for Linux Admin / mail: TRAP + SPAN don't belong
    http://www.brainbench.com / Hire me!
    -----------------------------/ http://crow202.dyndns.org/~mhgraham/resume

  3. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Dances With Crows writes:
    > Avoid Sony, Compaq, and Gateway laptops.


    HP (same as Compaq) too?

    > Remember that
    > the wireless Centrino chipsets don't work under Linux yet.


    Can you tell me what's the story with this? Undocumented interfaces?
    Or just that the chipset is new and the Linux support is still in the
    works but will be here sooner or later? Thanks.

  4. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Balaji Srinivasan ??:
    > Hi,
    > Newbie here.Was thinking of buying a new laptop and partitioning it with
    > Win Xp (or some other version) on one partition and Linux on the other
    > (about 20GB of each) . Want to use the Linux partition mainly to run my
    > C,FORTRAN codes. Any suggestions on what type of processors/comps to
    > *avoid*? Any help on this would be highly appreciated
    > Thanks,
    > Balaji
    >
    >



    I am using SONY PCG-TR1. It is a great notebook in B5 size.
    Please visit the following sites :-

    http://www.linux-laptop.net/
    http://www.linuxant.com/driverloader/

    Cheers
    Samuel

    --
    There was a small company called SCO
    That wanted our Linux to go
    They sued all through the night
    Without proving they're right
    And soon they'll have no more dough!

    by Paul Hudson, Linux Format Reviews Editor


  5. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    On 03 Dec 2003 20:23:26 -0800, Paul Rubin staggered into the Black Sun
    and said:
    > Dances With Crows writes:
    >> Avoid Sony, Compaq, and Gateway laptops.

    > HP (same as Compaq) too?


    Yeah. The only things that HP is good for are native PostScript
    printers and RPN calculators; their laptop and desktop x86 machines are
    cheaply made.

    >> Remember that the wireless Centrino chipsets don't work under Linux
    >> yet.

    > Can you tell me what's the story with this? Undocumented interfaces?


    Yes.

    > Or just that the chipset is new and the Linux support is still in the
    > works but will be here sooner or later?


    The manufacturers apparently built the wireless parts in such a way that
    frequency and power output are adjustable from the kernel-level code
    that drives the wireless bits. Tweaking this code could potentially
    allow a user to broadcast on restricted frequencies (police band, etc.)
    at higher-than-allowed power levels. So, the manufacturers definitely
    won't release register-level hardware specs, since they fear lawsuits.
    They're reluctant to even release a binary-only kernel module, since a
    determined hacker with some spare time could use UserMode Linux to
    figure out what makes that module tick.

    There may be hope... linuxant.com has some sort of hack that allows you
    to load 'DozeXP NDIS modules for wireless cards that don't have real
    Linux support yet. It costs $19.95 but there's a 30-day free trial.

    --
    Matt G|There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
    Brainbench MVP for Linux Admin / mail: TRAP + SPAN don't belong
    http://www.brainbench.com / Hire me!
    -----------------------------/ http://crow202.dyndns.org/~mhgraham/resume

  6. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Dances With Crows wrote:

    > Avoid Sony, Compaq, and Gateway laptops.


    Ignore advice like that.

    I would look around, and see what laptop you like,
    and then google to see if Linux is running on it.
    If it runs at all it almost certainly runs well.

    --
    Timothy Murphy
    e-mail (<80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
    tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366
    s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland

  7. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    On Thu, 04 Dec 2003 14:52:27 +0000, Timothy Murphy staggered into the
    Black Sun and said:
    > Dances With Crows wrote:
    >> Avoid Sony, Compaq, and Gateway laptops.

    > Ignore advice like that.


    Explain?

    Here's *why* I tell people to avoid Sony, Compaq, and Gateway laptops:
    The consumer models for these brands have really terrible build quality.

    Sony--keyboards tend to get a terrible, mushy feel to them after
    they've been in use for a year or so. The hardware is often nonstandard
    and "unsupported" on anything other than the version of 'Doze that
    shipped with the machine--that means if you bought the thing with
    'Doze98, many hardware components won't have modules available for
    'Doze2K. Linux support? Maybe, if you do some research first and they
    don't completely change the internals between model PCG-12345-1a (works
    great, not available in stores anymore) and model PCG-12345-1b (doesn't
    work, available everywhere). Customer service? Riiight. Expensive
    repairs? You bet. Some of their high-end Picturebook models work
    great, with everything supported and autodetected in a recent distro,
    but you can get a lot more for your $ elsewhere.

    Compaq--famous for their part in the connector conspiracy, and just as
    guilty as the others of putting cheap crap in a flashy case and selling
    it at a premium. I'd take a Compaq over a Sony or Gateway if I had to,
    though.

    Gateway--all their hardware is built by the lowest bidder, and it really
    shows. They won't believe you when you say "I've got a machine here
    with a defective motherboard," and provide evidence that this is the
    case (use Gateway motherboard, system crashes at random within 3 hours,
    swap with 3rd-party motherboard leaving CPU/RAM/power supply/video card
    as they were, system remains stable for 48 hours.)

    > I would look around, and see what laptop you like, and then google to
    > see if Linux is running on it. If it runs at all it almost certainly
    > runs well.


    Not quite. Plenty of machines run in VESA framebuffer mode due to
    unsupported/semi-supported graphics chipsets, which doesn't translate to
    "runs well" if you want to play games or movies or even scroll text
    quickly. Plenty of laptops have weird problems with ACPI and their
    PCMCIA adapters--you can always boot with "acpi=off" and "pcmcia=off",
    but that plays hell with your battery life and makes it impossible to
    use PCMCIA cards. Don't forget LoseModems--all laptops have LoseModems,
    you can only hope that you have a semi-supported Conexant or Lucent
    model, or you'll be shelling out another $60 for a PCMCIA Real Modem.

    Basically, there's a big murky area between "everything works" and
    "nothing works", and it's not nearly as clearcut as Tim said above. You
    should pick 3 or 4 laptops (not just one!) that fit your expectations
    reasonably closely, then go Googling for them, then pick the one that
    runs the best.

    --
    Matt G|There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
    Brainbench MVP for Linux Admin / mail: TRAP + SPAN don't belong
    http://www.brainbench.com / Hire me!
    -----------------------------/ http://crow202.dyndns.org/~mhgraham/resume

  8. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Dances With Crows wrote:

    >>> Avoid Sony, Compaq, and Gateway laptops.

    >> Ignore advice like that.

    >
    > Explain?
    >
    > Here's *why* I tell people to avoid Sony, Compaq, and Gateway laptops:
    > The consumer models for these brands have really terrible build quality.


    I have a Sony Picturebook (C1VFK)
    and it seems to me to be of very high quality,
    as are most Sony products.

    > Sony--keyboards tend to get a terrible, mushy feel to them after
    > they've been in use for a year or so.


    Not only is this not my experience,
    I have never seen any reference to this in any of the Sony C1 mailing lists
    which I read quite carefully.

    > The hardware is often nonstandard
    > and "unsupported" on anything other than the version of 'Doze that
    > shipped with the machine--that means if you bought the thing with
    > 'Doze98, many hardware components won't have modules available for
    > 'Doze2K.


    Even if this were true, I don't see the relevance
    for someone who wants to install Linux.

    > Some of their high-end Picturebook models work
    > great, with everything supported and autodetected in a recent distro,
    > but you can get a lot more for your $ elsewhere.


    I don't know any other laptop with this "form factor"
    (ie very small but usable).

    Obviously people have different tastes in laptops,
    with different ideas of what is important and what is not.
    But it is foolish in my view to dismiss Sony in the way you did,
    as there is quite a large number of Sony Picturebook Linux devotees,
    as seen eg if you go to http://www.stevebarr.com .




    --
    Timothy Murphy
    e-mail (<80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
    tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366
    s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland

  9. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Dances With Crows writes:
    > The manufacturers apparently built the wireless parts in such a way that
    > frequency and power output are adjustable from the kernel-level code
    > that drives the wireless bits. Tweaking this code could potentially
    > allow a user to broadcast on restricted frequencies (police band, etc.)
    > at higher-than-allowed power levels. So, the manufacturers definitely
    > won't release register-level hardware specs, since they fear lawsuits.
    > They're reluctant to even release a binary-only kernel module, since a
    > determined hacker with some spare time could use UserMode Linux to
    > figure out what makes that module tick.


    But that's silly--Wifi pcmcia cards work just fine and the specs for
    (some of) the chip sets in them are public. Why should the chipsets
    for mobos be any different?

    > There may be hope... linuxant.com has some sort of hack that allows you
    > to load 'DozeXP NDIS modules for wireless cards that don't have real
    > Linux support yet. It costs $19.95 but there's a 30-day free trial.


    That's of no interest for those of us who run free software because we
    want full source code, but thanks.

  10. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Timothy Murphy writes:
    > I would look around, and see what laptop you like,
    > and then google to see if Linux is running on it.
    > If it runs at all it almost certainly runs well.


    No that's completely false. I've at least run Linux long enough to
    know that.

  11. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Dances With Crows writes:
    > > But that's silly--Wifi pcmcia cards work just fine

    >
    > Eh? *Some* 802.11b cards, mostly those with Orinoco and Prism II
    > chipsets, work.


    Yes, that's what I mean.

    > They don't have to be, but the Centrino wireless chipset was designed
    > such that transmission frequencies and power levels are
    > software-adjustable.


    That's true of every wireless chipset, I think. At least for power
    levels. And keeping the specs secret won't prevent someone from
    reverse engineering it, it will just keep the reverse engineering from
    working reliably (since the specs can keep changing). What I'm
    getting at is that if those cards can be programmed to interfere with
    police communications, it's more likely to be done maliciously by a
    Windows virus than by a legitimate Linux driver.


    > They don't have to be, but the Centrino wireless chipset was designed
    > such that transmission frequencies and power levels are
    > software-adjustable. Given that, a competent programmer with complete
    > hardware docs and some time could use a Centrino laptop to broadcast on
    > the police band or other restricted frequencies....
    > It was cheaper for the engineers to do it that way--really--because the
    > regulations on acceptable frequencies/power levels differ from country
    > to country. They make one piece of hardware and ship all the different
    > drivers for (Japan, USA, Western Europe, Azerbaijan, Indonesia...) on a
    > $0.25 CD-ROM that's identical for every market, instead of having to
    > build 30 slightly different pieces of hardware for 30 different
    > geographical areas.


    I'm skeptical of that--getting hardware homologated (i.e. certified)
    for use in different countries is a big bureaucratic hassle (just look
    at the little stickers that have to be on everything) and having
    slightly different firmware in the cards depending on what country
    it's sold for is no big deal by comparison. (I used to work for a
    modem company that had to do stuff like that all the time). All it
    should take is a little firmware to make sure the card can only be
    programmed for the correct frequencies for its region. Of course
    people will travel around with the cards the way they do with DVD
    players.

    Anyway, if (say) Brazil's wifi band interferes with US police radios,
    then all some cretin has to do is download the Brazil version of the
    Windows driver from Microsoft's web site and run it under Windows.
    That's no worse than what a Linux implementer might do given access to
    the chip set. So any fix has to be in the card firmware and FCC regs
    may even require that (similar to the rules for scanners not being
    allowed to receive cellular phone conversations).

    > > That's of no interest for those of us who run free software because we
    > > want full source code, but thanks.

    >
    > OK... don't buy a Centrino laptop, then; stick with the supported
    > PCMCIA/PCI cards and hope they keep manufacturing them.


    Do you know if any of the current 802.11g cards are supported?
    I believe the Linksys and Netgear 802.11b cards use the Prism chipset
    but don't know about the 'g' versions.

    Thanks.

  12. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Paul Rubin wrote:

    > Timothy Murphy writes:
    >> I would look around, and see what laptop you like,
    >> and then google to see if Linux is running on it.
    >> If it runs at all it almost certainly runs well.

    >
    > No that's completely false. I've at least run Linux long enough to
    > know that.


    You are saying that you found reports that Linux ran on a laptop,
    but you found that while that was true it didn't run properly?

    What was the laptop?


    --
    Timothy Murphy
    e-mail (<80k only): tim /at/ birdsnest.maths.tcd.ie
    tel: +353-86-2336090, +353-1-2842366
    s-mail: School of Mathematics, Trinity College, Dublin 2, Ireland

  13. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    >
    > FORTRAN? Yuck! Oh well....


    :-)

    > ...and see what the community at large has reported. Remember that
    > the wireless Centrino chipsets don't work under Linux yet. HTH,


    I have no clue at all on this topic so forgive if this question is
    stupid. Would the new (Dell,say) Centrinos be amenable to partiotining and
    then installing Linux on a partion. I don't mind if I am not able to
    connect via the wireless when in the Linux mode . I would be fine as long
    as I can connect via the normal "wired" ethernet ..
    Thanks,
    Balaji


  14. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Dances With Crows writes:

    >> Want to use the Linux partition mainly to run my C,FORTRAN codes.


    >FORTRAN? Yuck! Oh well....


    Fortran is still the language of choice for scientific work-- far better
    support for numerical work than C


  15. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    On 4 Dec 2003 03:35:24 GMT, Dances With Crows :
    > On Wed, 3 Dec 2003 19:01:34 -0800, Balaji Srinivasan staggered into the
    > Black Sun and said:
    > > Newbie here.Was thinking of buying a new laptop and partitioning it
    > > with Win Xp (or some other version) on one partition and Linux on the
    > > other (about 20GB of each).

    >
    > Remember that 'DozeXP uses NTFS by default and writing to NTFS is iffy
    > on Linux. Writing to FAT32 works fine though, and reading NTFS works.
    >
    > > Want to use the Linux partition mainly to run my C,FORTRAN codes.

    >
    > FORTRAN? Yuck! Oh well....


    Hey! He said FORTRAN, not Cobol! Fortran's just C with an odd
    ancient syntax. Cobol's a language written so PHBs can understand
    it. Hahahahahahahahaha! Chyaa, right.


    --
    Any technology distinguishable from magic is insufficiently advanced.
    (*) http://www.spots.ab.ca/~keeling
    - - http://learn.to/quote (Deutsch) http://quote.6x.to (Eng.)
    Spammers! http://www.spots.ab.ca/~keeling/spammers.html

  16. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    s. keeling wrote:
    > On 4 Dec 2003 03:35:24 GMT, Dances With Crows :
    >
    >> On Wed, 3 Dec 2003 19:01:34 -0800, Balaji Srinivasan staggered into the
    >> Black Sun and said:
    >>
    >>>Newbie here.Was thinking of buying a new laptop and partitioning it
    >>>with Win Xp (or some other version) on one partition and Linux on the
    >>>other (about 20GB of each).

    >>
    >> Remember that 'DozeXP uses NTFS by default and writing to NTFS is iffy
    >> on Linux. Writing to FAT32 works fine though, and reading NTFS works.
    >>
    >>>Want to use the Linux partition mainly to run my C,FORTRAN codes.

    >>
    >> FORTRAN? Yuck! Oh well....

    >
    > Hey! He said FORTRAN, not Cobol! Fortran's just C with an odd
    > ancient syntax. Cobol's a language written so PHBs can understand
    > it. Hahahahahahahahaha! Chyaa, right.


    Back when I was a student, one of my professors predicted that one
    hundred years from now, there would be two main computer languages in use.

    One of them would be the latest, greatest thing out of computer science
    research. It would have all the features deemed absolutely necessary
    for the major tasks of the day. He would make no predictions as to what
    these features would be, or what the language would be called.

    As for the other language, it would have most of these same features,
    and would be largely used among the scientific community, primarily
    because that the most senior people in science will have learned
    computer programming using that language, and will be unwilling to learn
    a new language. He would also make no predictions about the features or
    syntax of this language, but (here's the prediction) it would be
    *called* FORTRAN.

    John

    --
    John Price *** ** ** *** price@physics.ucla.edu
    Where there is no solution, there is no problem.
    -- John G. Price (my father), ca. 1975.


  17. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    On 04 Dec 2003 12:40:16 -0800, Paul Rubin <> wrote:
    > Do you know if any of the current 802.11g cards are supported? I
    > believe the Linksys and Netgear 802.11b cards use the Prism chipset
    > but don't know about the 'g' versions.
    >

    Quite a few 802.11g cards that are based on Atheros chipset (e.g. from
    DLink, Linksys, Netgear and Proxim) work fine using madwifi driver,
    http://sourceforge.net/projects/madwifi/ . I'm using one right now.



  18. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    On Thu, 4 Dec 2003 16:35:22 -0800, Balaji Srinivasan staggered into the
    Black Sun and said:
    >> FORTRAN? Yuck! Oh well....

    >:-)


    Sorry, FORTRAN just reminds me too much of the second language I learned
    (Applesoft BASIC). Personal preference. If you gotta do high-precision
    über-fast math, it's good--but everything *else* about the language
    seems...icky.

    >> the wireless Centrino chipsets don't work under Linux yet. HTH,

    > I have no clue at all on this topic so forgive if this question is
    > stupid. Would the new (Dell,say) Centrinos be amenable to partiotining
    > and then installing Linux on a partion. I don't mind if I am not able
    > to connect via the wireless when in the Linux mode . I would be fine
    > as long as I can connect via the normal "wired" ethernet ..


    Yeah, that would probably work fine. Not sure about the Dell; you can
    probably get some good information by Googling for "Dell $MODEL $NUMBER
    linux" and seeing what other people have reported. I tried this with
    the Centrino IBM Thinkpad X31 and found that everything worked except
    the built-in wireless card (Orinoco Gold PCMCIA card: $60).

    --
    Matt G|There is no Darkness in Eternity/But only Light too dim for us to see
    Brainbench MVP for Linux Admin / mail: TRAP + SPAN don't belong
    http://www.brainbench.com / Hire me!
    -----------------------------/ http://crow202.dyndns.org/~mhgraham/resume

  19. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    Bill Unruh wrote:

    > Dances With Crows writes:
    >
    >>> Want to use the Linux partition mainly to run my C,FORTRAN codes.

    >
    >>FORTRAN? Yuck! Oh well....

    >
    > Fortran is still the language of choice for scientific work-- far better
    > support for numerical work than C
    >


    Better dust off my card punch and reader! ;-)

    --

    Fundamentalism is fundamentally wrong.

    To reply to this message, replace everything to the left of "@" with
    james.knott.

  20. Re: Which laptops are no-nos for installing Linux ..

    s. keeling wrote:

    > Hey! He said FORTRAN, not Cobol! Fortran's just C with an odd
    > ancient syntax. Cobol's a language written so PHBs can understand
    > it. Hahahahahahahahaha! Chyaa, right.
    >


    For some reason, business loves COBOL and it's still in very wide use.
    Also, IIRC COBOL was developed by Grace Hopper (she retired from the US
    Navy as an Admiral), who did a lot of early computer work. I seem to
    recall, that she's also the one who coined the term "bug", when she found a
    moth that had caused a computer to fail. She also liked to demonstrate how
    long a nano second was, with short pieces of wire, that represented how far
    light would travel in one nS.


    --

    Fundamentalism is fundamentally wrong.

    To reply to this message, replace everything to the left of "@" with
    james.knott.

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