Finding the Perfect Linux Laptop


Regular readers will remember that I run Ubuntu on a MacBook pro. Why?

  • I'm a contrarian sod.
  • It's the machine work gave me.
  • I can do everything I need to do with Linux without having to deal with OSX or Windows.

What can I say, it works for me! The only problem is that the MBP is heavy. Much to unwieldy to carry around without a decent rucksack. The keyboard - while delightfully backlit - isn't ergonomic. I rely on an ergonomic keyboard and a vertical mouse.

Basically, I need a portable, battery powered, screen - and a keyboard like this:

Keyboard width

And a mouse like this:
ZeleSouris

So, can I find a "laptop" which runs Linux and doesn't have a keyboard? I guess I'm looking for the mythical Ubuntu Tablet...

Pre Built

Straight out of China we find the i7 Cube Tablet with Ubuntu for a shade Under £500.
Shenzen Ubuntu Tablet-fs8

It looks like a fairly capable device - but, as with lots of products from Shenzen, it's hard to get a direct price quote for the exact Ubuntu model. It appears to be reasonably compatible with the latest version of Ubuntu - but there are a few tales of woe spread around the web.

Newcomer MJ Technologies has a (launching soon!) Ubuntu tablet for $400.
Mjtech Ubuntu Tablet-fs8
Looks good - decent size, range of ports, wireless connectivity, and charges via USB! One less cable to carry around.
The kicker will be in support - will the tablet cope with updates? Will it actually ship? What will support be like in Europe?

Biggest concern is that they're currently crowd-funding with an expected shipping date of June 2016. That's a bit long to wait - assuming that they're successful.

DIY

It looks like the Surface Pro 3 is compatible with Ubuntu and all the hardware seems to work well.

Despite being discontinued, the prices are still fairly high.
Surface Pro 3 Tablets costing £1000 on Amazon.

They're cheaper second-hand - around £500. It'll mean paying the Microsoft tax for an OS I won't use, but they're popular machines so support should be decent.

Similarly, the Lenovo Yoga Pad 3 appears to be compatible with Linux.

Around £500 - £700 on the second hand market. Has the advantage of a built in keyboard if needed, which doubles as a stand.

Giving In And Just Buying A Damned Laptop

Dell UK offer a range of Linux Laptops. At the cheap end of the market is the Inspiron 15 3000-Series Ubuntu for £200. Nice!

laptop-inspiron-14-3452-pol-pdp-accessories-1

Their XPS and Precision workstations start at £1,000 and go up to as much as you're prepared to spend. Pricey, but they do look like good machines.

There are a few HP Ubuntu Laptops at eBuyer.
HP Ubuntu Latptops-fs8

Again, pretty good price and spec - but stuck on an old version on Ubuntu. Apparently HP aren't providing wireless drivers for later versions of Ubuntu.

UK company Entroware do a range of Linux laptops.
entroware linux laptops
I do rather fancy that MacBook Air clone...

So now what?

The hunt continues. Have you spotted an Ubuntu tablet which meets my needs? Or found a laptop which runs Linux and has an ergonomic keyboard?

If so, please let me know!

20 thoughts on “Finding the Perfect Linux Laptop

  1. I like the X220 (and before that, X200) keyboard, but it's not ergonomic... just 'notably better than anything else that size'.

  2. As a linux laptop, Dell XPS 13 (model 9343) is perfect, running ubuntu 14.04.3 LTS with gnome for 6 months now, extremely happy with it.

    Best laptop i ever had, and i am including macbooks & thinkpads in the comparason.

    I would recommend going with with windows version, then install ubuntu on it, since it comes in much more configuration options than preinstalled ubuntu version.

    Bios trick to create boot entry: http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/04/SLN297060/en

    Be careful though, this is the previous model.

    The new one, (model #9350), the one with thunderbolt port has some issues depending on the kernel version you have.

  3. how about a Chromebook? Asus has a nice one and it does run Ubuntu just fine if you do not mind the limited storage or the not-so-quick CPU (I am referring to the ARM Chromebooks now, the Intel ones do seem low spec).

  4. The lenovo t450s 14 inch i7 is a light weight laptop. Double battery, so you can run very long on battery life, and you can leave one battery at home to spare some weight....
    Further i use a samsung 850 pro with 8G ram. Really a blasting quick machine.

  5. Great I read all your comments it still didnt answer my question I am about to purchase a new Laptop and I would like to know which Laptop is Linux compatible I just cant get a straight answer ?

    1. Hi Ted,
      If my blog post hasn't helped you - try talking directly to the manufacturers.

    2. Ted, i am very very happy with the lenovo t450s. This is my business laptop. But it depend of course what kind of specifications you prefer and the budget you have. I also have an older lenovo X220 for home. The X220 is smaller, and does have a brilliant keyboard. Both works perfect with Linux.

      1. Thank you I have just turned my thoughts to a Lenovo and investigating all the pros and cons ,thank you again

  6. Having the same problem! My old Dell inspiron laptop died a few months ago and bought a Asus Transformer as an interim while I looked for a decent linux compatible alternative. I discounted the HP 455 because of the driver issues, the dell 3000 looks too underpowered, and I want a slightly better screen. The m6800 is way over the top for me though... I'm sort of stuck. I don't want to buy a windows laptop and pay for something I won't be using (windows).

    Never seen the entroware laptops so thanks for pointing them out - I'll see what people are saying about them... potentially the apollo looks like a good option!!

  7. system76.com only makes ubuntu-preloaded laptops, good machines, with ergonomic keyboards

  8. Depends on what you need.
    I have been fiddling with the idea of getting an Acer Chromebook R11 with crouton, and just SSH to my desktop (or a server) for the number crunching. Of course this will not be able to handle a full blown IDE, and it has its limitations (4GB of RAM and 32 GB SSD), but it doubles well as a laptop/tablet/standmode. And it could accomodate for your external keyboard/mouse 🙂

  9. I bought a laptop from http://www.tuxedocomputers.com/index.php last year and I am very happy with it. They have a good range. The only downside could be if you do not understand German. However you could email them since they do speak English

    They provide a large range of customisation (memory, different CPU etc).

    The laptop came within a week of purchase which I thought was good given the amount of customisation I did

  10. intel skull canyon + ASUS MB169B+ portable monitor
    don't know how Linux friendly it is but this is what I would buy
    quite pricey and you still have to buy components, but it's good
    generally speaking, my choice is a small "unit of computing" and a portable monitor

  11. Be aware Entroware are just reselling cheap Chinese laptops which you can buy off Alibaba express for less than half the price they are charging. My advice if you want cheap Chinese laptops buy them for half the price and you will only be half as disappointed when it fails apart

    1. All companies resell from other companies. Can you give us a link to show where we can get these laptops at half price? What's the warranty, support, and returns policy like?

  12. At that point where my old laptop just can't hack it anymore with Fedora 24 and xfce . Had to laugh though at "Giving In And Just Buying A Damned Laptop". Feeling that way right about now.

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