Originally Published: Thursday, 9 November 2000 Author: Brian Richardson
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Linux Hardware Resources: Linux On Laptops

Where do you go to find information about running Linux on your laptop? Brian Richardson reviews the 'Linux on Laptops' page, run by Kenneth Harker. Read on!

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Despite the fact GNU/Linux was designed to emulate a large-scale server operating system, many loyal penguins run Linux on their laptops. This is far from an easy task, as laptops have always been famous for their proprietary nature. Odd sound cards, unknown video devices, wacky keyboard layouts make dealing with a PC laptop more like fiddling with an embedded computer having a color screen. Windows users have enough trouble finding support for laptops, so the problem can only be amplified in the Linux world.

The Linux On Laptops Web page was started by Kenneth E. Harker to help solve many notebook nightmares. This site (and its various mirrors ) serve as a storehouse of Linux experiences with dozens (if not hundreds) of mobile computers. The site is broken down into several distinct sections:

  • "Running Linux on Specific Notebook Models" - A list of Web sites dedicated to Linux on specific notebooks (PC, Mac and otherwise). This is one of the most extensive lists of its type on the Internet.
  • "Running Linux on Palmtops" - Much smaller than the notebook/laptop list, but providing the same type of information.
  • "Notebooks and XFree86" - X on mobile platforms is a hot topic. This section provides information on some of the more "difficult" video chipsets.
  • "Information on Specific Notebook Components" - This outlines important subjects like power management, APM suspend, increasing battery life, and Infra-Red.
  • "Articles and Presentations" - Papers and presentations related to portable Linux.
  • "The Linux Laptop Volunteer Support Database" - Yes, the site provides a list of volunteers who can help desktop mortals with their portable penguin problems.
  • "Utilities, Patches, and Files" - Programs and patches specifically for notebook/laptop computers.
  • "Discussion Forums" - E-mail lists for mobile Linux.
  • "USENET Newsgroups" - Newsgroups for mobile Linux.
  • "Magazines and Newsletters" - Publications dedicated to laptops and Linux (and various combinations of the two).
  • "General Laptop Information" - Portable resources for any operating system.
  • "General Linux Information" - Linux with or without batteries.

All of the information resides on one large Web page, which may make it difficult to navigate. Aside from one dancing penguin, the site is virtually graphics-free. What the site lacks in style, it makes up for in content (news flash: good Web pages aren't driven by cheesy pictures, they run on information). While the site has many dead links, the vast majority of the Web links point to useful laptop information.

My laptop, the NEX Versa SX, is listed on this Web page ... but was missing from LhD (which I reviewed on Tuesday). Not only did information exist, but it was detailed information including how to make the hibernation support work, hot-swapping the CD-ROM, video chipset specifications; in other words, everything I needed to know before attempting to install Linux on my portable system.

Unlike many hardware resources, Linux On Laptops has no search engine. This is understandable, since most of the content is hosted off-site. However, the detail and organization of the page makes a search feature unnecessary.

Linux On Laptops is a great Web site for Linux users who want to go mobile, especially using older notebooks. Several mirrors exist in North America and Europe. Bookmark one if you want to take Tux on the road.


Brian Richardson wanders the countryside with his NEC Versa SX running KDE2. Of course, he couldn't get it working with Xfree 4, but you can't have everything.




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