Recommend me a decent cheap laptop that runs Linux

Dave_11

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Wife keeps hogging the laptop at night and I can't surf my guitar forums!:mad: Anyone know of a decent, inexpensive laptop that runs Linux well?

Here's what I'm looking for:
13" or 14" screen
lightweight
128 GB ssd
inexpensive (ok, cheap)
will mainly be used for web surfing - no gaming or anything processor intensive

Thanks
 

Dave_11

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I guess I'm just worried that some laptops may have hardware that's not supported, or not supported well under Linux. I'm wanting something that's know to work well.
 

edvard

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If that's all you need it for, pretty much anything will run Linux just fine. The hardware compatibility hurdles of Linux yesteryear are largely over, even Bluetooth and Wifi (though Bluetooth support can be a bit twitchy, but it's not due to hardware)

I picked up a second-hand laptop for free off Craigslist that's ~5 years old and who knows what hardware is in it, but it runs fine even the WiFi; just needed a hard drive and some memory. And it even runs Ubuntu just fine (I prefer straight Debian for lower-spec machines). Wife and I just use it for projecting videos on the wall when we're in the mood to watch something together.

Check Craigslist for free or cheap used laptops, or go to Walmart or Best Buy and look for their open-box or closeout deals. I just looked on the web of our local stores, and it looks like Best Buy has a cheap Lenovo brand new for a little more than 100 bucks, not bad. Walmart has similar deals.

Gimme a few minutes and I'll vet the specs for you just because I'm a nice guy...
 

wrathfuldeity

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Find something used with some ram and then have it wiped and formated. Few weeks ago found a mini tower, with keyboard and mouse, wifi, bluetooth with 32g of ram and 1T of ssd and seller/repair guy formatted for linux or windows. And I found a 27" monitor for $30. Works great in my tiny office.
 

Dave_11

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Thanks guys - good to hear that hardware compatibility is not so much of an issue these days. The thing that gave me pause was that I tried to switch to Linux on my 2017 Macbook Air a while back and every time it would do an update it would lose the wifi driver.

Computer: sorry, but I seem to have lost my wifi driver
Me: so, just reinstall the wifi driver
Computer: sorry, the driver is on the internet and i can't connect to the internet because I seem to have lost my wifi driver...

This happened with two different distributions.I suppose I should have just downloaded the driver and kept it on the hard drive.

Anyway I'll keep my eye out for something cheap.
 

edvard

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I guess I'm just worried that some laptops may have hardware that's not supported, or not supported well under Linux. I'm wanting something that's know to work well.

OK, I looked up the cheap laptop I picked at random from the BestBuy website, specifying local pickup so I know it's in stock for $109.99:
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-1...-64gb-emmc-star-black/6498805.p?skuId=6498805

It's an ASUS (not Lenovo like my faulty memory told me...) E210MA. Looks like the only caveat might have been the Realtek RTL8821CE WiFi hardware, but all the major distros have that built in to the kernel as of sometime last year. In other words, it'll work fine fresh out of an install of your favorite distro as long as it sports a recent kernel.

That's just one example chosen at random. Maybe you'd like something with a bigger screen or whatnot, my point is Linux is much better these days with regards to hardware compatibility. I don't think you'll have to worry (much).
 

Dave_11

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Thanks again. That laptop is certainly cheap enough, haha. I'll make a trip to Best Buy and see what they have.
 

loopfinding

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OK, I looked up the cheap laptop I picked at random from the BestBuy website, specifying local pickup so I know it's in stock for $109.99:
https://www.bestbuy.com/site/asus-1...-64gb-emmc-star-black/6498805.p?skuId=6498805

It's an ASUS (not Lenovo like my faulty memory told me...) E210MA. Looks like the only caveat might have been the Realtek RTL8821CE WiFi hardware, but all the major distros have that built in to the kernel as of sometime last year. In other words, it'll work fine fresh out of an install of your favorite distro as long as it sports a recent kernel.

That's just one example chosen at random. Maybe you'd like something with a bigger screen or whatnot, my point is Linux is much better these days with regards to hardware compatibility. I don't think you'll have to worry (much).

the realtek drivers are a pain. main repos don't support many of them. and unless you've hunted down the one for your kernel version and stick to that kernel (like in deb stable), an upgrade will eventually break the re-compilation of the driver. worse yet, ubuntu now has HWE stack on by default. so it's a potential cat and mouse game for a casual user with drivers.

an older thinkpad with an intel card would be cheap, safe with iwlwifi and generally well supported in deb or ubuntu. i believe iwlwifi is bundled with the ubuntu install by default. i don't know about mint. with deb you can download a "non-free" iso that includes it with the install.
 
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jvin248

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.

Choosing which flavor of Linux you run will help too.
Go with lower UI 'bling' types like LXDE, XFCE, or Fluxbox. Such as choose Lubuntu instead of Ubuntu to get LXDE.
Use Firefox browser with plugins: uBlock Origin and Facebook Container will dramatically reduce system resources while you are out and about on the Internet.

Just buy a SSD the size you want and swap out whatever came with the laptop you get. That way you have a fresh hard drive (often the first item to break on computers, at least in the old spinning disk days) and you don't need to futz with wiping or searching for a specific laptop just to get the SSD you want.


Lately I've had more success with MX Linux (https://mxlinux.org/)


Download and try out many of the Linux flavors out there .... 'popular use' list chart is on the right hand side.


.
 

bgmacaw

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Look at refurb deals on Amazon, especially business class Dell and HP. I've bought several of these over the years and haven't been disappointed. Of course, I'm running Windows on these, not Linux.

My only Linux systems right now are Raspberry Pi systems that I put together pretty cheap using monitors bought at a local thrift store and the many leftover keyboards and mice I have around here. They work really well for web browsing and such. If you don't have to have laptop portability you might want to consider this super cheapskate approach.

Use Firefox browser with plugins: uBlock Origin and Facebook Container will dramatically reduce system resources while you are out and about on the Internet.

I prefer using a hosts file to block ads, adware and spyware vs browser plugins.
 

bobio

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Why not have some fun with it, get a Raspberry Pi and run one of the flavors of Linux that it supports ;)
I have bought a couple of them for my son over the years. He is turning the latest one into an Arcade system.

Of course, you will need a display and keyboard if you don't already have them...just a thought :)

The Pi can certainly do web browsing and email.

 

twochiptele

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Any quad core with some 4 GB of RAM will run vanilla desktop Linux just fine - say, Fedora 35, Debian 11, Ubuntu 20.04 and such - if the laptop is not older than 8 years or so. SSD instead of HDD is indeed a plus.

The culprit is often firmware that is not included in the standard opensource repositories that comes with the distro. I believe that for instance Ubuntu have enabled the closed-source and or commercial repositories, so most wifi network adapters/drivers will work out of the box. Other distros might do that too - partially or complete .

If I install a fresh new distro on a machine I always install it with a wired (RJ45) network connection, wifi afterwards to be safe. Enable the repo's for the closed source firmware second, then the wifi adapter. Other misfits in "driverland" are in my experience scanners and printers....but luckily it's getting better and better tru the years..
 

hopdybob

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Acer One (atom cpu) lenovo t410, probook 6560B, dell E6400, some acers, and so much more.
and the best distro i had that worked with most laptops is peppermintOS

simple said. make a bootable usb, try to start teh laptop you want to buy up and see if it will
 

imwjl

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I'm not going to argue that some things suggested won't work, but the HP and Dell product families I mentioned are even sold as Linux models. If someone wants something pretty nice and ready I recall there was even a Dev One model for developers and Linux that also has an AMD processor so you likely avoid the historical amounts of extra f*ckry dealing with AMD that with time is no longer the crap it used to be in a stability and reliability sense.

We still get requests for ThinkPads from staff and each purchase has been a reminder of there are things made of okay and not okay chinesium. Lenovo just doesn't have the support a ThinkPad once had.

I can say for certainty the dozens of enterprise grade systems desktop or laptop that have been first tier Intel and common chipsets are usually fine with most Linux distros.

@Dave_11 if you want battery life for simple web surfing and really high quality display consider how good and inexpensive the basic iPads are. At work I see how people seek them for superior display quality you'd otherwise have in a laptop that will cost around 3x more.

To explain my strong bias here, I have to make sure technology works for around 1000 people at work and we support them for matters outside of work. Friends don't let friends buy craptops unless that buyer is fully aware of the negative aspects.
 




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