Laptop recommendations?

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This laptop hard drive problem kind of suggests that it's really time to replace my laptop. I'm still lusting after the Panasonic W-2 (Kevin Dick has one), but I've never heard that anyone has successfully gotten it to work with FreeBSD. Does anyone have ultralight laptop recommendations that definitely work with FreeBSD?

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12 Comments

Well, not quite FREE-BSD, but I've been very happy with my 12" G4 powerbook.

It's a weight issue. I want to stay around 3 lbs and the G4 12" is over 4.5.

THen get an X series thinkpad. The ONLY two notebooks I'd ever get would be thinkpads or powerbooks. EG, IBM will actually tell you want components are IN the thinkpad (big plus, and very rare in the PC world)

Why not just replace the ailing hard drive?

Dave:
I'm definitely considering it, but the machine is a PII-330 with about 64 MB of RAM, which is a bit behind the curve these days.

Nick:
Yeah, I'm thinking about the Thinkpad, but it kind of offends me that it's not really much lighter than the W-2 but has no CD.

I have not tested with FreeBSD, but my Sony T-series runs Redhat and Debian Linux. At 3.04 lbs with a DVD double layer burner and 6 hrs of battery life, it might be worth a shot. The laptop is amazing as an airline DVD player/work computer.

You can buy it at CompUSA, run the built-in Sony "backup to DVD+R" system, and then try FreeBSD. If it doesn't work, restore the MSFT OS and CompUSA will take the return.*

Sony has a trade-up program going right now which pays $400 if you the buy the XP Pro OS for exchanging any working laptop. I gave them a Toshiba CS4700 (a 10 yr old computer) for the cash.


*CompUSA told me they would take the return, but I didn't have to make them prove it.

I had a BAD experienec with a sony laptop a couple years back, a result of them not providing information and drivers. I had to run the "restore the OS" disk and return it. Not fun.

Look at Usenix Security or similar conferences. 80+% of the laptops are thinkpads and powerbooks. The remaining 20% are those working for companies who insist on purchasing Brand D or similar.

Nick: You've forgotten about ICIR-surplus Vaios.... :)

Eric,


I don't know how much you care about multimedia, but if you do even low level things like watching a flash animation or using the mplayer plugin for your browser, my experience may be apropos. I've been a FreeBSD user since version 1.5, so I have a lot of loyality, but recently I moved to (Gentoo) Linux for my laptop and my main workstation (the bulk of the work on my network is still done by FreeBSD servers). The reason for this is simply that Linux offers better support for multimedia and for laptops (FreeBSD doesn't support the sound system on my Vaio, e.g.). From a user perspective, it's hard to tell the difference between the two OS's if you're not doing something in the multimedia domain. I know this is a religious issue, so feel free to ignore this post, but if the idea of Linux doesn't offend you, it may widen your choice of laptops.


jcs

The "ICIR Surplus Vaios" are pretty much all livin in the roundfile now. Everybody has 12" PowerBooks round here now (Vern even has two, with 5 batteries, so he's got redundant computers for long european trips!)

Seriously, burn the extra pound and get a 12" PowerBook. Trez nice.

I run thinkpads and I always recommend them. I actually don't buy anything else primarily because the thinkpad is the only laptop on the market with a keyboard worth spit, and as I have perpetual finger problems bubbling away, I simply can't use much else. Otherwise I'd get a powerbook, but their reliability problems are scary. (Oh, top tip, pay for many years warranty as replacing parts can kill the laptop before its time.)

I've been running FreeBSD on them since about 97. It has its ups and downs, but it's what I know and I don't have time for other things.

The current FreeBSD 5.3 is a vast improvement on my A31. There are still lots of hardware shutdown problems, but those are due to the A31 being 'fundamentally broken' in the ACPI area (so I'm told). I'd suspect that newer models (mine is 2 years old now) won't have those problems. I have a 600 as well, which loaded up 5.3 fine, but I haven't tested it yet.

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