Recommend me a laptop and distro!!

Hi folks, I am an intermediate linux user and have been using various flavours of ubuntu and previously redhat for about ten years now. I’m looking to set up a business laptop which must run openoffice and firefox and that’s about it. Top priorities - it must be secure (encrypted hard disk) and very stable, which I’m guessing may be as much about the hardware as software with a laptop. No jazz or GUI fanciness necessary though of course a turn of speed would be nice - I’m wondering if a dual core setup might be better at handling full disk encryption without noticeable lag? I’m also looking for a fairly pain-free installation process with full disk encryption.

Currently I’m thinking either Dell R15, Novatech i3 Plus or Lenovo T400 for the laptop and ubuntu LTS or debian for the distro.

Any recommendations or thoughts for laptops or distros to consider given my priorities above, or comments on the ones I’ve mentioned? All opinions very welcome.

Thanks folks,


Have you considered getting your new laptop from the LinuxEmporium ? … then you can be 100% sure it has been tested for Linux hardware compatibility.

I would think they would encrypt the disk for you if you ask, and it will come with a 2 year warranty and at the very least a Linux helpline.

Something around the price point you’ve been looking at:
comes with Ubuntu 10.04 LTS pre-installed, like I said ask about encryption, they may have already enabled it, but if not I’m sure they will if you ask.

Yes definitely get a dual core, although single core systems are getting harder to find these days anyway… Ubuntu will offer encryption during the install.

Or Asus are usually pretty well built…

Asus X52F-EX580V (core i3-370) £462.67

Asus X52F (core i5-460) £507.86

Go for Ubuntu or Linux Mint (or any other Ubuntu based distro)… if for no other reason than you’ll find help easier to come by.
Although Ubuntu is based on Debian, it’s certainly more “polished” and you may find some packages missing from the default Debian repositories due to their VERY strict adherence to ONLY open source software.
If you DEFINITELY want Debian, I’d consider the Linux Mint Debian Edition, as it’s Liable to have extra repositories/software available by default… though I must point out that Linux Mint themselves, say their “Debian Edition” isn’t ready for “production” machines yet.

Thanks for your help mate. I liked the look of linux emporium, and if i were in the states I think i’d probably be going with them but shipping and duty are likely to price them out of my range by the look of things. Also I wonder if I’m alone in thinking that I’d have to do my own install, even if a machine already came with what I wanted running out of the box? Just me?

For hardware I’ve pretty much decided to go for a thinkpad T410 or L412 for now - I’ve used a T400 for the last couple of years through my old employer and a trip to a few showrooms has demonstrated to me that I’m not going to be able to live with a lesser machine. I’ve not found a manufacturer yet that matches the combination of build quality and keyboard quality (what is it with scrabble-tile keyboards? Sure they look cool on an apple but to my mind they’re no good for working on a machine 8 hours a day for several years IMHO…). Even Lenovo’s own lower-grade machines feel poor in comparison.

Re your comments on distros I’ll take your advice there and stick to a buntu option, though I’m still pondering whether to use the kde or gnome options. On the one hand KDE seems to have a slight cost in terms of cpu/memory overhead, but on the other hand I like (most of) the desktop effects and plasma widgets under kde, I do find them useful on my desktop and an i5 machine with 4gb isn’t going to notice much difference. My living-room PC on the other hand runs ubuntu 10.10 and I also get along with that very well so I’m certainly happy to go gnome if there’s good reason to.

Anyone have any thoughts on stability and security re kubuntu vs ubuntu? Either generally or specific to an encrypted installation?

The LinuxEmporium are a UK based company.

I’m not a big fan of KDE4… the last time I used it (KDE4.2) it was VERY unstable, but has probably improved a lot since then.

So it’s probably a personal choice thing… as far as security, Kubuntu and Ubuntu should be the same, as the only difference is the desktop… the underlying OS is the same.

If on the other hand YOU are in the states, you could check out

You may also find this interesting:

and the tutorial here:

Though I don’t know how advisable this would be on a business system :wink:

Interesting stuff… last time I looked at linux emporium everything was in $ for some reason. Looks a lot better now!

In terms of stabiltiy I’ve not noticed much difference between KDE and gnome on ubuntu but then I mostly use the same browser and office stuff under each. Time for a long hard think…

Amongst other things, I had problems with shortcuts disappearing from the desktop folder plasma thingy, most issues were easily fixable if annoying, but then the hplip printer tray app decided it wanted to load too early in the boot process, then crashed leaving me unable to print… I never did manage to work that one out.

As I said these issues were with KDE4.2 (on openSUSE 11.2) but they put me off KDE4 (and openSUSE) altogether, Gnome has never given me any issues I couldn’t easily fix.

I have an Asus k52f laptop which happily works nicely with linux, I have run Ubuntu on it, although this is very bloated version of Linux, great if you want to install out of the box and do no customising, not great if you know how to handle yourself and want speed.

Currently been running Debian Squeeze for the last couple of months which is stable, rolling updates (unlike Ubuntu), and better performance.

I’m in the process of waiting for the new Distro Bodhi to release a 64bit version (4Gb+ ram), which is running my much loved Enlightenment.

If you are looking for a business setup, and secure, then you want to start with the minimum installed, and then you can keep track of what you install, not leaving extra’s which are not used on the install.