What to look for in cheap X-server laptop? - X

This is a discussion on What to look for in cheap X-server laptop? - X ; Hi, I'm fed up of being tied to my desktop PC, and I want to buy a (very cheap) second-hand laptop which I intend using mainly as a jumped-up X server for programs running on my main machine. My needs ...

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Thread: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

  1. What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    Hi,
    I'm fed up of being tied to my desktop PC, and I want to buy a (very
    cheap) second-hand laptop which I intend using mainly as a jumped-up X
    server for programs running on my main machine.

    My needs obviously aren't that great; obviously it has to support X,
    and it also needs to be able to support an 802.11a/b/g card (I
    *definitely* want 802.11a, if only because everyone else seems to be
    fighting over the 802.11b/g channels). Oh yeah, and I'm looking at an
    upper price range of not much more than UKP 200.00 (approx US
    $370.00).

    Yeah, I know this sounds simple, *but*.... has anyone else done this,
    and if so, what pitfalls should I be looking for? (For example, my
    understanding is that there were some problems with X support on
    laptop graphics a few years back.)

    Any help appreciated; I'm just trying to spot any obvious problems
    *before* I put a few EBay bids in. Thanks!

    --

    Sam Whetstron
    whetstron@yahoo.co.uk

  2. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    ["Followup-To:" header set to comp.os.linux.portable.]
    On 3 Jan 2005 11:53:03 -0800, Sam Whetstron staggered into the Black Sun
    and said:
    > I want to buy a (very cheap) second-hand laptop which I intend using
    > mainly as a jumped-up X server for programs running on my main
    > machine.
    >
    > My needs obviously aren't that great; obviously it has to support X,
    > and it also needs to be able to support an 802.11a/b/g card


    PCMCIA cards are supported by the pcmcia-cs package (2.4) or in-kernel
    modules (2.6). Practically every PCMCIA chipset is supported. Support
    for individual 802.11abgfoo cards can be more problematic, so check
    Google and/or pay a few bucks for ndiswrapper.

    > upper price range of UKP 200.00 (approx US $370.00).


    Certainly doable. You can probably pick up a Thinkpad 600X for that
    much (PIII-450, 64M, CD-ROM, 1024x768, Trackpoint, 1 USB 1 port,
    Neomagic video chip, worked great with distros of ~2.5 years ago.)

    > my understanding is that there were some problems with X support on
    > laptop graphics a few years back.


    That was Zen. This is Tao. The things to watch out for are really new
    laptops with funky not-yet-supported video chips (not a concern here)
    and really old laptops with S3 video chips (X 4.n doesn't play well with
    really old S3 chips.)

    --
    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: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?


    Sam Whetstron wrote:
    > Hi,
    > I'm fed up of being tied to my desktop PC, and I want to buy a (very
    > cheap) second-hand laptop which I intend using mainly as a jumped-up

    X
    > server for programs running on my main machine.
    >
    > My needs obviously aren't that great; obviously it has to support X,
    > and it also needs to be able to support an 802.11a/b/g card (I
    > *definitely* want 802.11a, if only because everyone else seems to be
    > fighting over the 802.11b/g channels). Oh yeah, and I'm looking at an
    > upper price range of not much more than UKP 200.00 (approx US
    > $370.00).


    You might not even need an X server. The VNC client is available for
    SVGAlib, which runs on darn near any PC-based system.
    BTW...if you find a laptop for that price range, let me know.


  4. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    whetstron@yahoo.co.uk (Sam Whetstron) writes:
    > My needs obviously aren't that great; obviously it has to support X,
    > and it also needs to be able to support an 802.11a/b/g card (I
    > *definitely* want 802.11a, if only because everyone else seems to be
    > fighting over the 802.11b/g channels). Oh yeah, and I'm looking at an
    > upper price range of not much more than UKP 200.00 (approx US
    > $370.00).


    I don't see a big problem. In the States, for example, you can easily
    get a Thinkpad 600 or 770 series machine for $200-300 and it should
    work fine for that.

  5. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    In comp.os.linux.misc Sam Whetstron wrote:
    > I'm fed up of being tied to my desktop PC, and I want to buy a (very
    > cheap) second-hand laptop which I intend using mainly as a jumped-up X
    > server for programs running on my main machine.


    Scored a low-end HP ze5607wm last month, it uses an ATI IGP video that
    needed the X.org server for OpenGL. XFree86 has no support for it.
    Brand new, the HP runs about $699 or thereabouts.

    The touch pad is kinda fun, but unreliable. I'll be buying a trackball
    or mouse to use instead.


    --

  6. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    On 01/04/05 06:25, James Vahn wrote:
    >
    > The touch pad is kinda fun, but unreliable. I'll be buying a trackball
    > or mouse to use instead.


    Most of the notebooks come with Synaptics touch pads or compatibles; on
    Debian like distros you may install xfree86-driver-synaptics or compile
    it from sources available at: http://freshmeat.net/projects/synaptics/

    --
    Dr Balwinder Singh Dheeman Registered Linux User: #229709
    CLLO (Chief Linux Learning Officer) Machines: #168573, 170593, 259192
    Anu's Linux@HOME Distros: Knoppix, Fedora, FreeBSD
    More: http://anu.homelinux.net/~bsd/ Visit: http://counter.li.org/

  7. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    Sam Whetstron schrieb:
    > Hi,
    > I'm fed up of being tied to my desktop PC, and I want to buy a (very
    > cheap) second-hand laptop which I intend using mainly as a jumped-up X
    > server for programs running on my main machine.


    If you want to use OpenGL you should choose one with a Nvidia GeForce
    or better Nvidia graphics card since the Nvidia drivers are the only
    ones which support accelerated indirect rendering.
    Nvidia drivers are nonfree though.

    Philipp

  8. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    On 2005-01-04, Philipp Klaus Krause wrote:

    >> I'm fed up of being tied to my desktop PC, and I want to buy a
    >> (very cheap) second-hand laptop which I intend using mainly as
    >> a jumped-up X server for programs running on my main machine.

    >
    > If you want to use OpenGL you should choose one with a Nvidia GeForce
    > or better Nvidia graphics card since the Nvidia drivers are the only
    > ones which support accelerated indirect rendering.


    Do you mean direct rendering? If so, most ATI chipsets are
    supporetd as well. My Inspiron 5000 has an ATI Mobility
    Rage-128-something (Mach64 chipset), and hardware accellerated
    direct rendering works on it. It's not lightening fast, but
    you can play TuxRacer...

    > Nvidia drivers are nonfree though.


    ATI driver some in both flavors for some chipsets, and only
    non-free flavor for the most recent.

    --
    Grant Edwards grante Yow! Did I say I was a
    at sardine? Or a bus???
    visi.com

  9. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    Grant Edwards wrote:
    >
    >>Nvidia drivers are nonfree though.

    >
    > ATI driver some in both flavors for some chipsets, and only
    > non-free flavor for the most recent.


    The non-free ATI drivers *do not* support laptop chipsets, however.
    Trying to download a Linux driver for a mobile chipset from ATI's
    website takes you to a page explaining:

    > ATI Mobile Graphics products in notebooks
    > Display drivers and multimedia applications for notebooks with ATI
    > graphics solutions are available for download from your Notebook
    > manufacturer.
    >
    > For your convenience, a list of links to notebook manufacturers is
    > available in the ATI Onboard section of our website.
    >
    > The display driver supplied with a given notebook has been customized
    > for:
    >
    > * the built-in flat panel display
    > * any other graphics or video options installed in that specific
    > computer.
    >
    > As a result of these customizations, ATI Customer Care is unable to
    > offer drivers for notebooks.


    (http://www.atitech.ca/support/produc...ops/index.html)

    Not all laptop vendors offer downloadable drivers for Linux, however.
    So, if you're going for a mobile ATI system, you'll want to ensure the
    availability of open source drivers, or at least make sure the laptop
    vendor does offer a Linux driver.

  10. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    Grant Edwards schrieb:
    > On 2005-01-04, Philipp Klaus Krause wrote:
    >
    >
    >>>I'm fed up of being tied to my desktop PC, and I want to buy a
    >>>(very cheap) second-hand laptop which I intend using mainly as
    >>>a jumped-up X server for programs running on my main machine.

    >>
    >>If you want to use OpenGL you should choose one with a Nvidia GeForce
    >>or better Nvidia graphics card since the Nvidia drivers are the only
    >>ones which support accelerated indirect rendering.

    >
    >
    > Do you mean direct rendering?


    I meant _indirect_ rendering as is the case when running OpenGL
    programs on another machine and using the laptop for graphics output,
    thus transferring all OpenGL commands over the network.
    This is ardware-accelerated with Nvidia drivers only.

    Philipp

  11. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    John-Paul Stewart schrieb:

    >
    > Not all laptop vendors offer downloadable drivers for Linux, however.
    > So, if you're going for a mobile ATI system, you'll want to ensure the
    > availability of open source drivers, or at least make sure the laptop
    > vendor does offer a Linux driver.


    Drivers from the vendor are probably not an alternative as they would be
    based on the nonfree ATI drivers which are of horrible quality
    (unstable, slow, lack of features) compared to both the ATI Windows
    drivers and the free DRI drivers. I have a Radeon 9000 Pro card. With
    the nonfree ATI drivers X always crashed after some hours, even when not
    running 3D applications. I rarely have lockups with the free DRI
    drivers, even though I'm using CVS snapshots.

    Philipp

  12. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    Philipp Klaus Krause wrote:
    > John-Paul Stewart schrieb:
    >
    >
    >>Not all laptop vendors offer downloadable drivers for Linux, however.
    >>So, if you're going for a mobile ATI system, you'll want to ensure the
    >>availability of open source drivers, or at least make sure the laptop
    >>vendor does offer a Linux driver.

    >
    >
    > Drivers from the vendor are probably not an alternative as they would be
    > based on the nonfree ATI drivers which are of horrible quality
    > (unstable, slow, lack of features) compared to both the ATI Windows
    > drivers and the free DRI drivers.


    I've never understood why ATI's drivers have such a bad reputation. I
    use an ATI card (FireGL X1) with their proprietary drivers and have had
    *no* problems with instability and have enjoyed great performance.
    (That's performance in real applications like Houdini; I'm not talking
    about games or silly glxgears benchmarks.)

  13. Re: What to look for in cheap X-server laptop?

    Thanks for all the feedback on this. It looks like the video drivers
    are the biggest problem, if any (the wi-fi issue- I guess- will have
    more to do with general Linux support, not the CPU nor any custom chips
    in a particular laptop).

    --
    Sam Whetstron
    whetstron@yahoo.co.uk


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