What is nowadays a good laptop for Linux?

Hi all,

I am in the market for a new laptop and I was wondering what would be a good, fast laptop to use with Tumbleweed.
Specs I am thinking about are:
AMD Ryzen 7 or 9 processor, 8 core,
16 or maybe even 32GB ram,
≥512 GB SSD
≥2 USB-A connectors
≥1 USB-C connector
Bluetooth 5, WIFI 5 (or 6), RJ45 network connector is optional,
large battery to last ≥5 hours

Graphics: ???
I read several horror stories about nVidia and Tumbleweed regarding updates. That is not something I am interested in.
Is it possible to use a different driver than the nVidia one and still get the same (or better) performances? Or should I use the on-board AMD chip? That is what I have now and it never let me down. I now have an AMD 5 3500U with Radeon Vega 8 graphics.

What is a good brand / model, what are your experiences?
What is the warranty system like? Reason I ask is this:
My old laptop got very hot when I just got it. When I contacted Medion’s servicedesk and explained what was going on the answer was I could send the machine to them, BUT it had to be in the original configuration. Meaning: with Windows installed and with the install disk. Since the disk is only 512GB I deleted both Windows partitions to gain a lot of extra free space. When I told them that, the answer was very simple: no, we can’t help you.
Later it turned out the cure was a BIOS update, as I found out in their forums.

How do other brands handle this?
Is it possible to use a program like Timeshift to create backups from Windows on an external disk which can be restored if necessary, just in case?

Long story, lots of questions but this time I would like to buy a really good laptop which lasts a very long time, and I can use some help with that.
Medion is, as can be expected, out of the game. That ship has sailed.

When you have good experiences with a certain brand / model and you have some spare time then please do me a favor and tell which laptop you think is a good one and why.

Thank you all very much.

Nowadays there are a few brands that offer Linux preinstalled devices. They cost a bit more, but you save on headaches. I’m quite happy with my Tuxedo device and some friends are quite happy with Slimbook too, both come with any keyboard layout and any Linux distribution of your choice, they are easy to repare/upgrade (no soldered components), etc. I have no experience with System76 (they do not ship to Europe yet) but it’s a well known brand.

1 Like

Thank you for your answer. I am looking at Tuxedo at the moment and it is looking good.
I have never heard of this brand and also the other one you mentioned, Slimbook.
System 76 I do know but just as you I also live in Europe so didn’t buy anything there.

Again thank you, I will further investigate.

I own System76 desktop hardware (and a Launch keyboard) - these two things work well with Linux.

Some people report issues with their laptops, however - unlike the desktops, which they build in-house, apparently the laptops are not, and some have reported issues with the equipment. I’ve had pretty good support from them, though if you’re not running Pop!_OS, you will have to figure things out on your own (and the laptops do benefit from running the system76 daemon and other stuff that they’ve built).

Everything is open source, so building it should’t be an issue, but the documentation on how they build stuff for each model is very lacking, and that’s the one place their support has not been great at - they point you at the repos and say “here you go”.

For my Thelio Major desktop, I asked if they had any guides, and they pointed me at a repo on OBS that ended up being a test repo that someone who was looking at building it themselves was playing with, but not really looking to maintain. I haven’t really found it necessary with the desktop to build anything special, but laptops really are a different beast because of power-saving, things like sleep/suspend/hibernate, and so on.

@JanMussche Hi, I know of some folks running Tumbleweed on Framework laptops, see https://frame.work/

1 Like

I’ve been quite happy with ASUS lately for the kind of specs you’re looking for; been running them since 2011. First one no separate GPU, AMD processor, long since out of production, but lasted forever, still used for tooling around.
Second one was first gen AMD ASUS-TUF, early Ryzen 7 + NVIDIA graphics card; still runs beautifully, though I had a devil of a time getting the graphics drivers and the switching to work at first (likely members of the forum will recall this). That was was before they updated bbswitch and such to include AMD, might be easier now, no idea. Love the computer, starting to wear out the keyboard (for ref, this is ~30 million keystrokes later). Still used for travel, and work of less intense nature.

Now, and recent switch, using ASUS ROG STRIX with all AMD guts, Ryzen 9, Radeon RX6800. openSUSE install was so easy I thought I’d done it wrong, especially in regard to graphics drivers. So far, very happy with the results. Both graphics cards seen by inxi, glxinfo, etc. and seem to be functioning as expected. Works very well; gaming goes fine, though I only run Linux native games and not overly graphics heavy ones at that, so not the best judge here. 3D modeling and handling of big data sets seems to be going smoothly as well. Keyboard is just as good as the last one.
It appears that my machine has all of the items you seek; comes stock at 16GB ram and a 512GB ssd. You can always expand RAM (switch 8GB modules for 2 x 16) and it has an extra nvme slot, very easy to add an SSD to. (unscrewed the back, added 1TB SSD in 10-20min)

Battery life is always tricky because when you add the GPU you add power consumption. Seems to be pretty fine for me, batteries wear out as they get older, so be prepared for that. TUF’s battery was maybe 4hr if I wasn’t using it to heavily at first. The ROG-STRIX seems to be a bit better, but no real basis for judgment. Of course, your power management matters here too, and what you’re doing on battery.

Just my experience, but I’ve had very good luck with ASUS so far. I’m not a dev, but I am mathematician and tend to expect a lot in terms of performance. Mileage may vary.

Cheers,
SisPenguin

Hendersj, Malcom and Sisterpenguin, thank you all for the info, much appreciated.
Now I have a lot more to search, read and investigate.

Thanks a lot.

2 Likes

Last August I bought a https://www.galaxus.de/en/s1/product/lenovo-thinkbook-15-g3-1560-amd-ryzen-7-5700u-16-gb-512-gb-de-notebook-19765944?supplier=2705624 with 100-day right of return (then 834 €, now
1019 €).

I thoroughly tested: Lenovo Thinkbook Windows 11 / Tumbleweed dual boot and gave it to a young couple: “We are very satisfied with the laptop so far! It really meets all our our criteria and gives us a lot of pleasure. I regularly connect it regularly to my monitor in the study via a USB-C hub - it works very well.”

I currently own/use a Tuxedo Laptop (bought in 2017) and two of my “customers” bought Tuxedo laptops (2015/2021) due to my recommendation.

All those Laptops

  • were manufactured by Clevo (Clevo - Wikipedia) and can be obtained not only via Tuxedo (e.g. https://clevo-computer.com).

  • run fine with openSUSE Tumbleweed (and Microsoft Windows 10/11 in dual boot).

  • are easy to service (add/replace parts like battery, disks, memory, …)

But as in real life there were some cons as well:

  • Two of the laptops were ordered with Linux installed plus MS Windows installed in a VM. One came with Linux and MS Windows installed in dual boot and the other came with Linux and just a MS Windows installation DVD.

  • On my Laptop the battery parameters were never read correctly (neither by openSUSE Tumbleweed nor by MS Windows 10) and that got worse when I had to replace it with a non-Tuxedo-battery (Tuxedo did not offer batteries for this specific laptop although it was just 3 years of age at that time). I tried to solve the issue by installing a firmware-update offered by Tuxedo for my individual Laptop model on their website. The firmware refused to install. I contacted Tuxedo-support about this. In the beginning they did not understand my problem at all. Three months later they send me an email that a new firmware for my laptop model would be available for download. It turned out to be the very same firmware that did not install. I contacted Tuxedo-support again. A few weeks later the firmware was silently removed from the Tuxedo website and I still wait for any further feedback from Tuxedo. Meanwhile i run openSUSE Tumbleweed without the upower-package to circumvent the problem.

Nevertheless I would order a Tuxedo Laptop again.

I never had problems with my lenovo notebook, always worked great (depending on the distro used), and opensuse works great with my thinkpad. I think a intel cpu and a amd videocard are great with linux. Also never tried this newer brand of notebooks/desktops because they are not avaliable in my country/too expensive, but great reports about that in other forums

I once bought a new Acer laptop to install Linux on it but in the end I did return it because the hardware was too new and not supported by Linux.

Then I bought a second hand refurbished Lenovo laptop and that is/was perfect. It had been a high end business laptop so good performance and 16 GB memory. A nice price and good Linux support. Replaceable battery so if that goes bad I can replace it.

Thank you all for writing your experiences.
Regarding the Tuxedo laptop: I found reviews about Tuxedo and although the laptop itself is good, with an occasional problem, the way Tuxedo fixed the problems is not good.
They either don’t respond at all, or with wrong information, or a laptop has to be sent a lot of times to the company after which it still doesn’t work.
I must say this is not the way I want to go. Of course there can be a problem with it, but you expect the seller to help fixing that problem in one go, be it with help over the phone or by mail or if something serious is broken by sending the laptop back once an have it returned fixed.

I will keep searching for a, for me, perfect laptop.
Thanks again everyone.

That seems to be a common thing with companies that rebrand Clevo laptops. I don’t know anything about them myself, but I know System76 uses Clevos as well, and there are lots of reports of people having issues getting support as well for them. I wonder if the issue isn’t so much that they can’t support them, but that they have to backchannel support requests to Clevo and that takes a lot of time, and the repair/warranty/whatever isn’t handled by the “resellers” but by Clevo directly.

FWIW, I picked up an HP laptop for my wife from CostCo, and it works pretty well - had to use Sauerland’s repo for the wifi card (an RTL8821CE). The thing that I did for that and for a couple previous laptops that I’ve purchased (a Dell and IIRC another HP) was to take a bootable openSUSE USB drive with me and just boot one of the demo units from it to see what worked and what didn’t.

Obviously that only works if you have a physical place you can go see one of the laptops at. :slight_smile:

1 Like

Testing with live openSUSE is great way to find out whether a notebook is ready for Linux.

What made me skip this step for the ThinkBook is their How to Install Linux | Operating Systems | Lenovo US. Two months of testing confirmed the claims made in the vendor FAQs. The gifted recipients fully agreed after another month of heavy usage.

Users may want to thoroughly check information of other vendors before considering a buy.

In case you haven’t seen it, there is an article at Tech Radar: “Best Linux Laptops Of 2023”

Since 2-3 years ago, I’ve owned an ultra-book, Dell XPS 13/9370. It was preinstalled with Ubuntu and certified with Red Hat. I add-installed Leap 15 and Tumbleweed which I use mostly on it. Before that I used a larger HP 8710w mobile workstation.

I expect there are cheaper or more cost-effective models, but it can be worth to have a look at Dell and HP’s Linux laptops also:

Terje

1 Like

ive been using the asus rog strix g15 all amd eddition for a while its great ryzen 9 cpu 8 cores 16 threads a vapor chamber, rx6800 gpu with 12 gb video memory and supports up to 54 gig ram i use tumbleweed and literally everything works like a dream on it minus the built in bluetooth but everything else works great and buying a small bluetooth adaptor from wallmart was no problem of and it has a 300hz refresh rate screen if u go for the 1080p model. 3 usb A, 1 usb C, wifi 6 battery life is well decent like a few hours gaming depends on the game. but like 2-3 ish and 5+ if not gaming. rgb keyboard

Sorry, I’m a bit late to the party, but have recently bought a new Lenovo Thinkpad P16:
i7 P1270vPro, 32GB DDR4, NVMe SSD, 16" WUXGA (1920x1200), Nvidia T550 graphics but not using Nvidia drivers, Intel Wi-Fi 6E AX211, backlit keyboard, 2x USB 3-A, 2x USB 3-C, 3.5mm mini jack, bluetooth, white backlit keyboard, 86Wh battery, 5 hrs easily on normal desktop work with a few music videos, browsing, e-mail etc,
My understanding is that Thinkpads have been generally well regarded by Linux users, but I’ve never owned one before (not cheap) though I have had previous Lenovos and have never experienced any real issues beyond Broadcom drivers, but that’s gone away now. My install of Tumbleweed went like a dream, absolutely everything has worked straight away. Having said that though, I should add that because I have never had any use for suspend or hibernate, and having 32GB RAM, I didn’t create a sufficiently large Swap partition for it so cannot comment on that. Lenovo offer this laptop (in the UK anyway) with options for no OS (mine), or Ubuntu pre-installed, as well as Windows.

Graham

2 Likes

Thanks Graham,

I have looked for this type of Laptop and found all sorts of P16 types starting at $3000 and ending at more than $9000. I can agree they are not cheap and since it is meant pure for hobby I don’t think it will be a P16, unless I win the super lottery, which will never happen. :money_mouth_face:
But thanks for pointing this one out to me.

Late in the game but still…

For laptops I always order one that comes with Linux support AND preinstalled by
the manufacturer of the laptop.
For example, my latest laptop purchase was a Dell XPS 13 that came with Ubuntu preinstalled (directly ordered from Dell).
After wiping Ubuntu I installed Leap.
There are other brands as well that offer Linux preinstalled but often they hide it on their websites. Don’t get confused with their announcements “Dell/Lenovo/Whatever recommends Windows 10/11” ********.

I have just acquired a Framework-13 and can recommend it; if I do find any issues I’ll post a description. The big advantage of Framework is that all major parts (the battery, screen, processor & main memory, even the motherboard) are replaceable and upgradeable. If something breaks it’s not necessary to bin the whole device and start again because everything is soldered on the board.

The hardware on my system is the DIY version of the Intel i5. The initial installation of Leap-15.5 from a USB-A memory stick followed by a huge backlog of upgrades was as smooth as silk. But there are a few things to watch.

For example, ‘tlp’ power/battery management is installed by default, and I had to delete this package and set the Ethernet adapter eth0 activated at boot time. The HDMI adapter (adapters are externally pluggable) seems to be similarly affected also.

I’ll reinstall ‘tlp’ and edit /etc/tlp.conf later when I have time.

Maybe this Forum could have a topic devoted to Framework?