Advice On Obtaining/Building a Linux Notebook?

So, I’m in the market for a new laptop, the one I’m currently using is a battered, lovable LGE500 from a long time ago. But here’s the thing: I haaaaaaaate everything about Windows 8. I’m already running Fedora on the laptop, and use Windows 7 on my desktop.

I’ve been looking into getting a notebook that just comes with Linux out of the box. I’m smart enough to figure out working around SecureBoot, but not knowledgeable enough to write my own drivers. My current notebook has an ACPI configuration problem that proved to be unresolvable in Fedora. I just want something I know will work without issues. I looked at some System76 machines that are out of my price range. It seems Linux boxes are more expensive than their Windows counterparts.

Part of this is practical: I want a non-Windows laptop computer with enough oomph to run Inkscape without slowing down during more complicated operations. I also want Linux for GCC since I’m learning C, and getting it to run on MinGW in Windows is a pain. I kindsa sortsa want an optical drive but I’m not sure if I’m just being nostalgic. Most importantly I need portability, since I’m having to take this to campus where I spend a great deal of my time. Also: I don’t want to break the bank- which seems to rule out Apple.

Part of this is principled: I hate Windows 8. Not all Windows. Not even most Windows. Just Windows 8. I refuse to encourage the bastards. I don’t see them getting another cent from me until they create an operating system designed by people who don’t think “User Experience” is a dirty phrase.

Can I achieve my dreams?

Why can’t you just buy any old notebook and install at least Ubuntu on it? Why does it have to be a “linux” notebook?

FWIW, Windows 8.1 is not that different than Windows 7. In this version, you can enable boot to desktop, disable hot corners, and basically ignore all the metro stuff on a desktop computer with one or more large monitors. If you need a not-fullscreen Start Menu, there are lots of free options to add one in. And the hotkey Win+D will always take you to desktop any time.

I don’t see any reason to give Microsoft any money for an OS I have zero interest in using. Why? Why should I give them another fifty bucks to continue to dominate the market? My motto is: Don’t encourage the bastards, because then they’ll just keep being bastards and then where will the world be? I would rather give fifty bucks to just about anyone else who’s going to give me something I want and something I will use.

And I still have no use for it. One desktop that runs Windows is enough. I don’t want it. Why should I have to pay for it? If OEMs would give refunds, then it would be easy, but it’s like pulling teeth apparently.

I appreciate you’re trying to offer a practical compromise solution, don’t get me wrong- I thank you for your considered advice- but to me this is total bullshit and at very least I’m not going to take it quietly.

Oh, I wasn’t clear that you were objecting to “the Microsoft tax”, where people pay for Windows versions with new computers that they never end up using. That’s fine.

If you’re willing to go desktop, it’s possible to buy machines without Windows. Laptop… Difficult. There used to be a few vendors who specialized in that, to the point of making sure their machines used only hardware that had reliable Linux drivers, but as hardware has standardized and drivers have become more available their market’s been drying up.

You might want to consider getting a used laptop. Realistically, for most tasks a several-year-old machine is extremely hard to tell from most-recent, especially if it was on the high end of the product line at the time. I’d have gone that route if I wasn’t planning to keep this machine longer than justifiable (sigh) and if I didn’t have a specific application (a DAW) which might want all the CPU I can throw at it.


The Dell XPS 13 developer edition comes without Windows, but I find it quite expensive just to circumvent the Microsoft Tax.

As has been said before it’s my experience that it’s hard to find a new laptop without Windows, but for running Linux I have generally had great success with just doing a few online searches before I buy a laptop to make sure other people have managed to get it working with Linux. You can usually even take off the stickers, and if you really want to rub it in you can try mailing them back to MS. Anyways according to random persons on the internet the MS Tax is really very little per machine allegedly that’s why it’s so hard to get them without Windows.

Funny anecdote: Here in Denmark a court ruled that if you are knowledgeable enough to buy a laptop with the express intent of wiping Windows and installing an alternative OS, then you can’t get a refund because you weren’t acting in good faith. To be fair it was a FreeBSD kernel developer suing Lenovo, so the court was probably correct when ruling that he knew what he was buying when he bought the in danish

I’m somewhat tempted to just buy a laptop, mail a request for a refund of the operating system, and when they inevitably decline it, file a complaint with the FTC.


It isn’t as bad as it used to be (given that almost every modern notebook is basically an Intel or AMD reference design with a modest dollop of incompetence provided by the OEM’s BIOS vendor of choice, along with the low-bidder’s creative interpretation of certain vendor-defined aspects of the HDA spec, and similar oddities; but there are definitely issues (especially ACPI) on some models that Absolutely Refute A Loving God if you aren’t running Windows, with the vendor’s pack 'o ‘eh, it’s cheaper to fix in software’.

Because I refuse to use anything without a trackpoint, I’ve always made use of Thinkwiki.

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Whoa: Almost exactly what I was looking for right on the front page.

How did I not find this?

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