Originally Published: Saturday, 4 March 2000 Author: Jessica Sheffield
Published to: enhance_articles_hardware/Hardware Reviews Page: 1/1 - [Printable]

Choosing Your Linux Laptop

The articles in the 'Portable World' series generated an enormous response from the community; so much, in fact, that I decided to write another series of articles based on reader suggestions. Today's piece covers 'tried and true' laptops sent in by our readers. You can also look in the hardware database for other suggestions.

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The Portable World The articles in the 'Portable World' series generated an enormous response from the community; so much, in fact, that I decided to write another series of articles based on reader suggestions. Today's piece covers 'tried and true' laptops sent in by our readers. You can also look in the hardware database for other suggestions. Clint also pointed me to http://www.laptopstore.com, where they list specs for Corel Linux on an IBM 600E, and adds, "IBM has already made deals with RHAT and also has developed a section, soon to be a division geared for total support for Linux and Linux based products." Brian mentions that thelinuxstore.com sells Linux laptops. There's also a company called TuxTops which debuted their preinstalled Linux laptops at LWCE New York.

Toshiba Owners of the World, Unite! Many readers responded to my article with stories of their own Toshibas. James, Max, Rick, Bryson, Bob, Dave, Daryl, David, Lonnie, Jerry, and Nikhil all offered helpful advice and hints on the care and feeding of my Satellite. Bryson writes, "My job just got me a laptop several months ago. It's a Toshiba Satellite 2100CDT. The internal modem is a lucent chipset that works with the (binary only) kernel module released recently by lucent. The sound chipset is a maestro2E. There's an alpha-quality driver at http://people.redhat.com/zab/maestro. It gets weird when run on the battery. Someone is working on porting it to the ALSA drivers, but that effort leaves something to be desired. I figure I could buy the OSS/Linux drivers, but I did that three years ago for another soundcard and then 4 months later the Alan Cox's patches OSS/Lite drivers were working on it, so I figure I have time on my side. APM seems to play nicely with the laptop. The USB port seems to be working with the USB backport patch thats available at the linux-usb website. All in all, it's probably more stable than my desktop system(s) since I can't easily monkey around with the innards."

For Whom The Dell Tolls David, John, Ken, Gary, Seth, and Leigh all wrote in with raves about their Dell machines. David sent me a great link to his very informative site about Linux on his Dell laptop. Gary emailed me specs on his Dell Inspiron 7500: "This beautiful system was built with an Intel Celeron 466, 128MB RAM, 6GB HD, 15" active matrix screen, 8MB ATI Video, and the CD-ROM/Floppy Combo. I purchased separately a 3Com V.90 and 10-/100-BaseT Combo Card." Seth also sent in his specs: "I have an dell inspiron 7500 C433Lt... Celeron 433, 6GB disk 64MB ram, Xircom realport network + modem (RBEM56G-100), external ps2/USB logitech mouse, External Teles USB ISDN adapter, Cdrom onboard as well as floppy." Nice to see all this pretty hardware working under Linux.

Some Assembly Required Some of our readers preferred other laptops manufacturers. Guy writes, "I picked out an AMS Tech TravelPro, as it was listed as having decent Linux support." Gordon installed Linux on his "ancient Compaq LTE/Lite 25 i386," and Nathaniel likes his Gateway 2500 with SuSE. Eric sent in specs on his IBM ThinkPad 390X: "400 PII Mobile processor, Neomagic video chipset, 6 GB hard drive, ESS-Solo-1 sound chip, Lucent Winmodem, 64 MB RAM, 14 in. TFT screen. Two PCCard slots, CDROM and floppy built-in." Sensei likes his Chembook 7400 (aka Asus 7400) and says "It's a great laptop, 'cept its heavy." Simon installed Mandrake 6.1 on his HP Omnibook, one of several HP owners who wrote in. However, probably the most interesting Linux laptop I heard about was Jeff's Apple 300 MHz G3 powerbook running LinuxPPC.

Even Better Than The Real Thing Whatever your computing needs are, odds are you can find a Linux laptop to meet them. Whether you prefer to buy one preinstalled with Linux - such as the ones sold by thelinuxstore.com and TuxTops - or install it yourself, our readers have shown that nearly any laptop will do the trick. A final success story from Bill drives the point home: "I'm running RedHat 6.0+ on a Compaq Armada 7800 (originally installed RH 5.2 then upgraded to 6.0, now 6.0+). Running X, Gnome and WindowMaker. Works just great! I use it for embedded systems software development. Built and installed GNU cross development tools for the m68k - no problem. It's faster and more portable than my 'main' development platform - a Sun SparcStation 20!"





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