Which Linux Notebook do you recommend?

I'm currently on the search for a new notebook.

Right now I am using a 15" MacBook, but I'm not satisfied with the overall performance anymore. I also need to switch to Linux (preferably Ubuntu) because DevOps activity is increasing in my daily job, and the tooling on Linux will make my tasks easier. Docker for Mac with Kubernetes enabled slows down my macOS extremely.

Lately I read a lot about the new Razer Blade 15 (one hour of googling made me optimistic that Ubuntu will work on that notebook - also it looks nice πŸ€“), which makes it my favorite at this moment.

What is your experience with running Linux on notebooks? Which notebook would you recommend to me?

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DISCUSSION (80)

If the Razer Blade 15 is in your price range I'd also look at the Dell XPS 15 - I think those are the two laptops you really should be considering :)

I think you're less likely to get issues with Linux on the Dell.

3 Dell XPS in our company (13" & 15") - 3 times hardware issues within a year. Will have to look for alternative options.

The XPS 15 is on my list too, but I really like that the Razer is aluminum unibody like the MacBook. Did you tried running Linux on one of those notebooks?

I have a Razer blade stealth as my development machine set up with arch, some colleagues with Ubuntu. Basically everything works out of the box

Thank you!

That sounds very good! Which machine do you have? Can you maybe give me a link to your setup?
How is the battery life? Is the notebook responding after you've opened the lid?
Is the keyboard backlight working?

It's a 2018 model blade stealth 13" in gunmetal. I think they come only in one configuration. Battery life isn't exceptional, but good enough for me. I get approx. 5 hours of working time with node scripts running in the background.
Backlight and lid work fine, when managed by gnome

That sounds very promising. The only difference to the 15" model is the dedicated Nvidia graphic card. I hope it won't make to many problems.

Good to know that Ubuntu is working on the Blade Stealth.

FWIW, The Blade is a half pound heavier.

I have been on an XPS 13 (Ubuntu) for a few years now. It's light...the lightest ultrabook on the market, lighter than a Macbook Air. I love my XPS, no, I lerve it.

I have no problem working productively on the (high def) 13" screen, but I do also have a large monitor that I use in my office with it. I wouldn't buy one with the touch screen again though; I turned it off, because more often than not, I just want to clean my screen rather than interacting with it.

Good luck!

A colleague of mine is using the XPS 13. The screen is really small, but as you said in the office you have a large monitor.

I guess the Dell notebooks are a solid choice when it comes to running Linux on a notebook.

May I ask you what lerve means πŸ˜…?

No I haven't, I know the XPS works well on Linux. I'd heard about people having issues with the Razer but it was a while ago when I was doing my research and things could be better now :)

I never had problems with installing linux on notebooks with preinstalled windows. Now in my ideapad 530 I use both Linux and Windows. Linux for coding and windows for everyday tasks. I think you won't have problems with installing linux in any notebook. So you can choose any.

Thank you, that makes me confident.

The last time I tried to run Linux on a notebook (e.g. 7 years ago), I had many problems:

  • Graphic card drivers (nvidia) did not really work
  • Battery life was very low (like 30 minutes from 100% to 10%)
  • Automatic switch from onboard graphic card to the dedicated graphic card did not work well
  • Trackpad did not work well
  • The system did not recover after the lid was opened

You might understand that I am a bit hesitant because I don't want to waste a lot of money.

I have a dell XPS 15:

Graphics drivers work out of the box, just had to set acpi_rev_override=5

I get 10+ hours of battery with the FHD screen and the 97whr battery

I have Optimus set up and it works without a hitch

trackpad is amazing

Closing the lid is a bit buggy someone's, gotten better with recent kernels

Hi Zakhary! Can you explain what acpi_rev_override=5 means? What for bugs have you experienced so far?

Tbh I'm not 100% sure. The system crashes as soon as you get to a gui if you don't set it. I got it off the arch wiki.

From what I understand, it returns the acpi configuration in such a way that the system can handle it

Some years ago I had same problems. But now I don' have

I've always had good luck with Lenovo using both Fedora and Ubuntu.

I'm also closely watching Chromebooks - Google is working on adding native Linux support which may make a nice development machine if it works well.

itsfoss.com/linux-apps-chromebook/

I use Lenovo thinkpads for most of my work, as well.

The Lenovo chromebook caught my eye. Which ones are you looking out for?

I recommend this system76.com/laptops (here I'd buy a mini version of a computer called meerkat)

or this eve-tech.com/ (it's not a linux machine, but it's good. I don't have it yet, but want to buy it).

They seem to work with Ubuntu out of the box, but honestly, they are ugly as hell πŸ˜–.

Really? Is that the only laptop you looked at? Have you seen the power in that laptop? What do you expect it to look like? they have a whole range of laptops. I have the oryx pro and it is thinner and more sleek than most laptops in the market period. Not to mention I have more power than anything else in the market. I swear by System 76. I've owned 3 and they are great, cause let's face it you can't just "install Linux on any notebook". They do have good looking laptops, their warranty is really good and they are super responsive, based out of the US. They are also getting started with their own manufacturing now and so here in the next couple months you'll see a product more resembling the MacBook Pro in terms of build quality. Not buying system76 when going for Linux is the biggest mistake you could make.

All I'm saying is look at the oryx pro before you write them off

I currently use an HP Pavillion, running PCLinuxOS. I originally tried to get Slackware installed on it, but I had trouble getting a bootloader to work with EUFI, so I switched to a distro with better support. I've been using it for a couple of years now.

I wonder when the answer will be "a Microsoft Surface notebook". πŸ€“

Here are a few things you should take a closer look at, but most of them have already been mentioned:

  • battery life
  • a wifi chip that works out-of-the-box (additional driver installations are a pain in the ass)
  • dedicated gpu chips are the single most likely cause for laptops to die early due to their thermal stress, avoid them if possible
  • fingerprint scanner works? (if that's important to you)
  • picture of camera is not upside-down
  • is the body solid? also check the hinges and look for a consistent clearance between the screen and the body when closed.

Actually, I considered the Surface too. It looks really nice and they offer some fancy colors. I think the second generation is right around the corner.

Do you have any experience with the Surface notebook?

dedicated gpu chips are the single most likely cause for laptops to die early due to their thermal stress, avoid them if possible

Do you mean in general or when you running Linux (because you don't have appropriate drivers for example)?

No, I haven't had a surface notebook, yet. It's just that Microsoft seems to be serious about opening their portfolio to the non-Windows world. And now they are the 5th biggest hardware producer in the world, so I am really hoping to see some interesting notebooks for linux.

Do you mean in general...

Yes. Actually I don't know anyone damaging a linux laptop with a crappy GPU driver... but that's only because I don't know anyone buying a laptop with a dedicated GPU chipset who then installed linux.

I haven't had any more or fewer problems with different notebooks running Linux. You are always going to have some issues with getting drivers up and going, but the current landscape is better than ever for PnP support. I really like the Dell XPS line for notebooks, they have great battery life and good specs.

On the other side, I would consider System76. I have been using the Galaga Pro since April and I am glad I got it. Having everything work out of the box without worrying about finding drivers or taking the time to install Linux when you first get it. The only complaint I have with it is that the trackpad is small and can slow me down if I need to be using the mouse a lot (luckily I have a good bit of keyboard warrior in me so the mouse isn't something I reach for every 10 seconds). The Oryx Pro line looks really great too, but I do love my Galaga.

Lenovo thinkpad x series 270-280 or dell xps but 13 inch. i am use thinkpad (debian). I'm glad

How is the battery life of your machine? Is it onboard graphics only?

Do you need more than Intel chipset graphics for DevOps work?

I was looking at the Lenovo Ideapad 720S to run Linux, but I couldn't find solid information as to how well it runs Linux.

Apparently some issues SSD/HDD hybrid-fusion drives (so don't get a hybrid-fusion drive! but if you do, you need to go through the steps to un-fusion them), pre-installed Microsoft disk security locking down the system (means you'd have to wipe the machine, and lose Windows -- if that's a concern), changing disk drive to ACHI mode, and concerns about WiFi support. That's the kind of futzing around that makes my OCD meters redline. I just want things to work right out of the box without any "DLL hell" (to inappropriately use a Windows aphorism for Linux).

I either want a ultralight, or a desktop computer. I don't want a 6 lb brick to carry. Most of the prefab Linux laptops are 6+ lb beasts. And I'm not looking for a desktop computer for Linux... I've already got one.

And it has to have a UHD screen (200ppi or better), which is also hard to find on prefab Linux laptops.

Dell has the XPS 13, but I have bad history with Dell -- so not on my list.

I'm aware of the System76 Galago Pro. At about 3 lb, still too heavy. I already know that if a laptop is that heavy, it'll never leave my desk. 2-ish lb or less. But that's just me; your mileage may vary. I hope System76 continues to slim down it's lighter laptop! I'll keep an eye on that.

UPDATE

Just saw the ASUS ZenBook S. Looks like the right fit for me (at 2.2 lb), if it runs Linux.

Do you need more than Intel chipset graphics for DevOps work?

Of course not, but many notebooks have a dedicated graphic card, so I was asking if anyone experienced compatibility problems.

I thing we have similar requirements to our notebook, maybe the Razer Blade 15 might be the right choice aswell?

I'm thinking that the Dell XPS 13 Developers Edition (9370) is really the right one for me. Despite what I had said earlier about my prior sour history with Dell.

I may have to give them a second chance. It'll be about my tenth "second chance", but as they say: fool me twelve times, shame on me (to the 10th power).

The XPS 13 should run very well with Linux. It is on my list too.

Apparently, Linus Torvalds uses the Dell XPS 13 for development.

Not sure if he bought it himself, or if Dell did some savvy marketing move and gave him one .

Look where good quality Notebook's, where company fix all previously bug's in construction's and hardware.
I use HP Pavillion 15n028sr where: very bad screen, cooling system and battery.

Get lucky, %username%!

I have a Razed Blade Stealth with Ubuntu 18.04 on it, it takes some time to get all of the drivers to work as in Windows (Chroma Keyboard), but the result is amazing.

Thank you!
What for resources did you use and which drivers did you install?

The most important one was OpenRazer (chroma Keyboard) and the applications that complement the driver (github.com/openrazer/openrazer). I noticed a big difference when I switched from Ubuntu 16.10 to 17.10, almost everything if not everything was working out of the box...specially on the newest distros.

Did you try Ubuntu 18.04 yet?

What is chroma Keyboard?
I find the table in the openrazer repository readme confusing - the Razer Blade 15 (2018) is listed within the keyboards πŸ€”.

It is just to control the backlit keys and adjust the different colors on the keyboard... I guess it is not necessary since the keyboard works without it, but it is a nice feature to have on a Razer computer. I am on the process of updating to 18.04, I will let you know how it works!

Work bought me the dell xps 9570 with 32 gb ram and 1tb ssd, so far it's been great. I also use the acer nitro 5 at home, which is pretty powerful but I wouldn't recommend it for work, as I've always found quirks with acer and linux.

We bought two Razer laptops (a Blade and a Stealth), two Razer Core boxes for external GPUs, and a bunch of other peripherals like mice and keyboards, headphones and such. They have been an unmitigated disaster from a reliability standpoint, and the company has been very difficult to deal with. Had to keep pushing back on a battery issue and finally had to offer to let the CPSC deal with it before they finally replaced the battery which had swelled so badly that the laptop became inoperable. The Blade won’t run off the AC supply when using the GPU, so the battery runs down while doing graphics-intensive programs. They are on my (mercifully short) β€˜never another dollar’ list. I’d go with a Dell or Thinkpad.

I have a slimbook at home and I'm really happy with it. It ships with Linux (so you don't pay the license fee for an OS that you won't use :P), they make sure that all the hardware is compatible, and it's not expensive compared to other laptops.

At work I have a Dell XPS with Kubuntu and it works well too, I haven't had any issues with it. I can recommend both laptops.

On the high end, I am absolutely in love with my Lenovo Yoga X1. It is thin and light, has a lot of sockets including two thunderbolt ports (i dont need adapters).
I am a student too, and the pen and the touchscreen are really nice to annotate pdfs or to just do maths. I dont use paper for that any more. I had no problems getting that to work. Gnome has the best touch support.

I have ordered a notebook to a local manufacturer; 15 inches, 32 GB , I7 8th generation,512 GB SSD and 512GB SATA. 32GB of RAM is better than 16 if you want to setup kubernetes with 3 nodes and istio on your laptop for developing and testing.

Been using Linux on laptops since 1995 or so (Thinkpad 365 was the first), so I have a bit of experience to share.

Currently using a HP 8570w with Ubuntu, which I can't really recommend. It gets hot (but that may be normal for a 2012 laptop with a high-end processor and graphics card), the graphics card support is "meh" - it is a not-so-common nvidia chip - and I haven't got the backlight to work after days of trying, which makes looking at sites like dev.to a physical pain (put your backlight on max and you know what I mean). Also the extra disk drive is nagging me about bad sectors (750gb Seagate in the DVD-rom-slot), I heard those extra drive mounts are way worse than the ones IBM/Lenovo used to have, and the "bad sectors" are really just bad electrical connections. Pros: nice-ish screen apart from the backlight issue, still fast enough, and basically Linux doesn't really have problems with it, suspending both to memory and disk worked out of the box.

I have in the past had good experience with Thinkpads, from T20 up to T61p, even the R51p worked nicely (until its discrete graphics chip stopped working - three times in as many years - a known defect of that model). Don't know much about the current model, though I have a cheap non-Thinkpad Lenovo available that I could try out. The T61p was the best laptop I ever ran Linux on.

My experience with Dell laptops doesn't really count since I am forced to run Windows on it (company policy), and besides, the powers that be forced a totally unsuitable model on me (a mirror they call touchscreen, bad keyboard, too small battery that "bubbled up" after just a few years of basically sitting in a docking station...). Have no idea what it would do with Linux, and since it is basically unusable without an external screen and keyboard I wouldn't even try, since it defeats the purpose of having a laptop.

If you want something cheaper and also powerful’ you Have the xiaomi notebook 15” and 13”. And the 15” one can have two m2 pcie ssd !!

Lately I had a problem with Ubuntu on my notebook, but I think it's because I updated it to 18, and didn't went for a fresh install. Sometime the touchpad stops working, and the VPN trough the UI doesn't connect. Also I am afraid to install the Nvidia driver on Linux, based on previous experiences :)), luckily I don't do any ML/AI processing on it.

A nice function is the Large Text and HighContrast (from Gnome) when I'm working outdoors, where the evil sun glares at me.

Buy the notebook based on your preferences and performance/price, I don't think it makes any difference from the OS perspective. I just bought the cheapest one (at a minimum level of perf), an Acer A5 something and I'm coding on it part-time for the last 2 years.

I can't say I have personal experience with this laptop, but I'm planning on buying the XPS 13 towards the end of November.

My current laptop is a Sager/Clevo and I have had major compatibility issues in getting Linux to work on it (screen backlight has one setting of ultra-bright, cannot boot from NVMe storage because the BIOS says so even though it has slots for it, etc.)

My best bet on that is the HP Spectre 13''
I am using it for more thatn 2 years now, it has been refreshed recently. It works perfectly with Ubuntu Budgie. And you can find pretty good deals on that machine.

I very highly recommend that one.

I've heard awesome things with business grade Thinkpads with regards to Linux distros (and general performance, really).

I do not recommend the Razer blade, it has many problems. In that price range I'd go for a xps 15 but checkout Inspiron or other Dell laptops and Asus notebooks

Can you tell me more specifically which problems you had with the Razer?

Check out linus tech tips video about it.. sorry I can't link it rn

What an overwhelming feedback you guys provided (and still providing)! I really appreciate this - @ben you've built an awesome community here πŸ‘.

Through your comments and advices my fear, that Linux won't run decently on notebooks.
I guess I'll have a deeper look at Razer, Dell and Lenovo (besides I don't like the Lenovo's design).
I will definitely let you know what my decision was and how it worked out!

Dell Precision 5520 has been amazing for me. It allows me to use many different applications and VMs at the same time without skipping a beat.

I'm currently using a ThinkPad T470s with Ubuntu, and everything works well besides the non-existent support for HiDPI fractional scaling in Gnome and fingerprint scanner.

It is my first ThinkPad and so far, after a little more than 1 1/2 year of owning it, I'm really pleased with it.

If you are looking at 15" laptops, the newly released ThinkPad X1 Extreme might be worth looking at.

It's a powerhouse of a laptop, and can have up to a i7-8850H 6 cores CPU, 32GB of RAM, and a 4K display.

I haven't looked at Linux support for it, but generally, ThinkPad do have great Linux support.

Not sure if the discussion is still going, but I would really recommend looking into any of the Dell Developer edition laptops. They are configured to run Ubuntu out of the box and come with Ubuntu installed. That being said when I had to recently get a new laptop I went with a Lenovo X1 Carbon. I duel boot between Arch Linux and Win10. Linux for dev and Win10 for games. I use an eGPU hooked up to the laptop and get good enough performance in games for me (mostly playing older titles in my backlog). The only issue I had with the X1 and Linux was when closing the lid, it wouldn't go truly into sleep mode so the battery would drain. The recent bios update seems to have fixed this though. If I was buying right now I would be looking heavily at the X1 Extreme. If you look up the "Lenovo Perks Code" you can usually find a nice discount code.

I use an Asus VivoBook Pro 17". I got mine on Amazon from CUK (Computer Upgrade King) ... Basically, CUK will maximize the RAM and Storage for a very reasonable price. Mine (with a quad-core i7-8550U CPU) was about $1600 with 32 GB RAM, 1TB SSD and 2TB (laptop grade) HDD. It is very thin and light (~ 4 lbs) and I really appreciate the quality of the 17" display and the great keyboard!

I have 4 machines from CUK, all are running well (I'm not affiliated with CUK).

I've got this little thing running Arch and love it. I do both programming and design with no issues. dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-laptops/i...

Be sure to consider the new Thinkpad X1 Extreme and P1 to.

Have you considered putting a different OS on your existing MacBook and seeing how it runs natively?

Hi Ben! Yes I tried that a few weeks ago but I had problems with the keyboard. The keymapping was wrong and I could not get it working.

Dell XPS 13. But these days there's the windows subaystem for linux so you could also just get a windows machine.

In 2018 worries of incompatibility are mostly a thing of the past. I'd say look at a few options and google thatlaptop+linux to see if anyone's complaining.

I have been using linux mint for 3 months on Samsung laptop. Switched from Windows . All drivers automatically installed. Mostly used for web and Android dev. I really recommend it for newcomers

I wonder how nobody has mentioned Purism yet. They build great Linux-only laptops. More on the expensive side, but really good:

puri.sm/products/

I use a 14" system76 laptop and I also run minikube, ideally you would want 32G Ram and at least 4 (get 8 if possibly) logically CPU.

System76 laptops are made to run Linux (Ubuntu or popOS)

I'm gonna go against the grain and reccomend a Chromebook, the i7 16 GB pixelbook. Chrome OS has native support for Linux apps but with the security of chrome OS.

Xiaomi Mi Notebook pro 15 inch or 13 inch. Looks like a macbook, is cheaper than a dell and works great with linux

if I were buying a new laptop i would get an lenovo x1 carbon or an lenovo P52. most of what I do is inside Docker.

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