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Ask HN: What's your primary development laptop?
59 points by pandeiro on Mar 12, 2016 | hide | past | web | favorite | 142 comments
- Macbook Pro

- Macbook Air

- Macbook

- Surface Book

- Surface Pro

- Chromebook Pixel

- Thinkpad X Series

- Thinkpad T Series

- Thinkpad P Series

- Ideapad / Yoga

- Dell XPS

- Asus Zenbook

- System76 Lemur / Gazelle / etc

- Other

Feel free to share your overall evaluation (positive/negative), technical specs, anecdotes, etc.

I've been backpacking around Asia working with an Acer C720 Chromebook. 2GB RAM, 32GB SSD, 11.6" display. It took a few days to get used to the smaller screen and keyboard, but since then it's been fantastic. Cost about £120 refurbished from eBay.

Battery lasts for 5-6 hours. The laptop itself has survived intense use travelling through India, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Cambodia, including having the corner of the screen melted by accident in the Himalayas.

Haven't found anything lightweight that works better than Lubuntu out of the box (trialed Xubuntu, Ubuntu, Debian, ElementaryOS and some Arch flavours). Getting a dual boot up and running was easy.

My work is mainly fullstack, so I sit mostly between a terminal and a browser. An effective configuration with a tiling window manager is a must with this size of screen and being a TMUX/Vim user helps cut down the number of workspaces I need.

Couldn't recommend it more for travelling programmers!

Macbook Pro.

Pros: "it just works" (mostly, nowdays, :)), it seldom overheats/has the fan turn on, it makes a good impression (read: 'dress for success'), I like the screen size, its got enough RAM for me to run a couple VMs, Unix/terminal power.

Cons: Price. Accessories.

Personally, for me though, for some reason a person using a Macbook just gives the exact opposite impression of what you think (just some guy doing it for "show"). I will thus not take then seriously, at least to begin with. I think it might have something to do with people I met in the past ... But I agree that on most people it will have a good initial impression.

Having it make an impression either way says more about you than the other person

Yes, may be. But it still does. Everyone has a MBP these days, and more people I met before bought it for style more than any other reason. What looks sincere to me? Thinkpads. Only sincere people work on them. :)

Except for the fact they no longer run Linux well or are even good hardware. The MBP -is- the new Thinkpad, atleast for everyone that used to rock the T60 era gear.

With Lenovo's security record, I don't think 'sincere' is the best adjective to describe their users.

All MBP fans flocking to downvote a comment which just lists a person's 'feelings' or his opinion. :) Seriously?

For me personally, it was your pointless arguing, which borders on trolling, and dumb comments like "Thinkpads. Only sincere people work on them."

(And for the record, I use both a MBP and a Thinkpad. They're both good, in different ways.)

I feel it was still a relevant reply, the parent comment had told one reason for buying the MBPs, which I had earlier personally (clearly noted) found to be not just "one corner case" but a very frequent reason for buying them. I was just telling the other person that one reason he bought it for might work the exact opposite on people like me (which I don't know are in majority or minority). Also, the smiley at the end indicated that I was saying the Thinkpad thing just in a lighter note, not as a serious fact (I have none of the two, if it helps).

To be fair to the commenting system, we generally don't downvote comments just because we don't agree with them. We downvote them if they don't add to the general discussion. I think mine did add to what the immediate parent was discussing. Of course, you have the right to disagree to that, in which case you'd have downvoted it for the 'right reasons' :).

I too looked at mac users are phonies BUT when I got to know some serious users, I was impressed by what I saw so much; that I replaced my thinkpad with mbp. I do not regret getting a mbp. I do have my tower for other things. As a long time windows user, homebrew & BASH has to be used to understand its benefits. Words cannot explain it. Windows is missing out on MANY things. Hibernate works seamlessly in mac. That being said, YES, many mac users buy it just to show off. It's same with people rushing to buy the next version of iphone not even trying to find out what is special about the new version.

All I can say is "looks are deceiving" & "do not judge a book by its cover" or "do not judge a person by their appearance".

homebrew just works

ThinkPad X250, maxed-out battery pack.

I adore this laptop, it runs like a constant stream of freshly melted butter. It's so light I no longer have to worry about "lugging a laptop", and most times I pick it up and carry around with just two fingers. It has taken a few beatings — filled backpack falling laptop-side-first onto a railing from a height of a half-metre, dropped/slipped from a sitting desk to the floor, thrown across a (small) room and (upon a failed catch) rolling on its side — but there's no sign of damage, either in appearance or running.

I almost forgot! When I got this laptop, my typing speed jumped by nearly 50%! I was using a Dell Inspiron (from 2010) before, and although the keyboard on it is terrible for typing, the ThinkPad has really good keys and typing is just such pleasure on it.

I have plans to upgrade a few components as time progresses: bump RAM up to 16GB, replace either the smartcard reader or the WWAN modem with an M2 SSD, that's about it.

One con is getting used to the extra long battery life. I used to intentionally and lazily not pack the charger, which is actually quite light, and then after a long day find myself with low battery and no charger. Another is the small SSD this particular unit came with, but I'm planning on replacing that.

> the ThinkPad has really good keys and typing is just such pleasure on it

Might be just the one I have but my keyboard, even after replacement, does not register some keys even when they're fully pressed (they have to be pressed further) and since I'm used to Apple's keyboard, I can't use it for more than a few minutes — It misses half the stuff I type.

> It has taken a few beatings — filled backpack falling laptop-side-first onto a railing from a height of a half-metre, dropped/slipped from a sitting desk to the floor, thrown across a (small) room and (upon a failed catch) rolling on its side

I have re-assembled this unit fully and having seen the hacked together inside of it, I highly suggest against physically abusing it.

As for mine, I bought the 16GB version and threw in a Sandisk Extreme Pro 480GB SSD and it's faster than a Ferrari. Overall I like it but in build quality department, it's in league with likes of Asus and Acer. It'll be my last Lenovo for sure.

> even after replacement, does not register some keys even when they're fully pressed Hmm, that would be a deal breaker to me. I've had to use laptops like that before, never lasted more than 15 minutes. Thankfully, this has not been the experience with the three units I've used of this model. Might be just your luck, if still under warranty, I suggest you keep pestering them.

> the hacked together inside of it Could you elaborate on this? I have only seen videos, and it seemed quite tightly packed, but beyond that I didn't find anything hacky about it. I plan on opening up my unit, but from the Hardware Manintenance Manual, it seems very well put-together.

> I suggest you keep pestering them

I've had the motherboard replaced twice and the keyboard once and their last technician incorrectly assembled the main board which put it under a lot of physical stress. So I don't actually trust them to repair it anymore.

As for the internals, there are a lot of parts and the cabling is all over the place. I think it feels steardy because it's lightweight — I would not do anything to twist or bend it the tiniest bit. Compared to a macbook, or even a dell/hp, the lenovo is on the fragile side in my opinion.

EDIT: and worst part is that inlet vents for the fan are on the bottom. So "lap"top? not really, it takes 5 min for the thing to start cooking after used on your lap.

How is the screen? My experience with Thinkpad X-series is that they have nearly the perfect form factor but are marred by the subpar display.

The screen is nice. Initially, I thought the only part of it I wouldn't like is the size of it, but I've come to not mind that either.

Make sure you get an IPS display and not a TN one when you buy a ThinkPad. Matte's are better than glossy (IMO) and my screen is matte. The color range is not top-of-the-line, but it is certainly good. And the brightness, OMG! Only time I've ever had to go above 25% brightness was in direct sunlight.

Errata above: I meant the Dell's keyboard is terrible for typing.

Acer Cloudbook 14" 2G ram, 32G eSSD. N3050 dual core Braswell. $189 at Walmart. (Careful: it is the bait and switch model. Do not believe the "in stock" indication on the web site. I went to pick one up at four different stores and none actually had them when I arrived. I finally got lucky with my second attempt at their "deliver to store today" option.)

It was a rough Linux install, ( noapic edd=off use a new kernel, Debian has the iwlwifi drivers in nonfree, don't use uefi, touchpad in legacy mode. I used both "grub>" and "grub-rescue>" before it was working) but it does just fine for OS development.

The display has such a narrow acceptable angle of view that you can't angle it to get the center and the top and bottom all with a decent black point at the same time. But I use it for programming, so that isn't too important.

I'm really pleased with the eSSD storage. It is much nicer than USB or SD card and supports ext4's discard option.

The power connector is optimized to fracture the solder connections.

This is my "where is cheap hardware" excursion. I tried repurposing a Chromebook into a computer, which was great until it failed to sleep, ran down its battery, and lost the setting that let it "legacy boot" then ate all my data in the restore operation. On the road, away from Internet and any synchronizing. Grr.

Most of my work is at a proper desktop with as many displays around as are helpful for the task, and I generally use a MacBook as my laptop, but I needed to rotate the extended family laptops a little faster than I wanted, so my wife was sharing mine, but she doesn't share well and I found myself with a laptop deficit until Intel can get a Skylake processor into Apple's hands and then they feel like having a rollout.

How are people able to develop on chromebook-like devices with 2GB RAM? I'm seeing a lot of such devices in this thread and don't understand it. Once I spin up a couple of database servers, a few Visual Studio solutions for the various products I work on, and a handful of testing tools I'm easily pushing 12GB ram or more.

Are these low-end machines being used as hobbyist or frontend-only web development? I can't think of any other explanation.

To answer the original question: Thinkpad X220. i7. Maxed out RAM. It's no portable workstation but I can push it just as hard without worrying about it overheating or failing.

>I can't think of any other explanation

Many people have their dev environments sitting on remote hardware and ssh in. Terminal sessions or an IDE aren't that resource-intensive, and that's all you need.

Yes. My laptop is not on the lowest end of the scale, but over the past week my IDE has alternated between vi and emacs on my VPS as I edit Python scripts. I don't need a lot of local power to do that - years ago I was doing that type of thing from VT100 terminals.

You don't even have to offload the processing to a server unless you're working with a compiled language. Python/ruby/node/any other interpreted language plus PostgreSQL, plus a text editor like atom, plus a couple browser tabs should all run together just fine on a chomebook. I was comfortable running a setup like that 5 years ago a single core 1.6ghz atom netbook. Nowadays my cell phone probably has enough raw horsepower to run all that, compatibility issues aside.

8 year old Thinkpad x200, Core2 2.4Gz. Bought second hand ~4 years ago, upgraded the RAM to 8GB, got a new 9 cell battery (still enough for ~7 hours of work). Got an SSD as gift. Currently running Debian unstable flawlessly.

For work I really use whatever workstation my employer provides me, but this is my main machine at home for entertainment and personal projects; I hardly power on my more poweful desktop.

Definitely the best machine I ever had: very light, still runs cool and completely silent when on battery power. It is not a speed monster, but it is still fast enough to browse even most complex websites (no webgl though). The screen is notoriously bad, but is more than enough for my needs.

I dropped it about 6 months ago, and it stopped working. After considering buying a replacement (you can get a refurbished x200 for ~100£) I thought maybe it was time to buy a new machine, and was eyeing a new XPS 13. Then that evening it powered on again (probably a loose RAM). Never had a problem since

Dell XPS 13 (2013) - i7, 8GB, 256GB running Fedora. It's been fantastic. The runtime recently went off a cliff to 2-3 hours though so I bought and fitted a new battery - it took all of 5 minutes and it now lasts 6-7 hours on a single charge again.

Cost ~£750 from Dell's refurb store and can easily see it lasting anther 3 years. Bargain!

Maxed surface pro 3 with Windows 10 (.net developer)


- Form factor is great for travelers. Since it's technically a tablet by TSA guidelines I don't have to take it out at security.

- screen resolution is excellent

- handles VS reasonably well

- battery life can be 5-6 hours with a local instance of tomcat and SQL running


- expensive

- kickstand is kinda clumsy when I'm working in my lap

- high gloss screen

- loooong wake up time and it's easy to accidentally put it to sleep by hitting a button the side of the frame. This is my biggest complaint. It sometimes takes up to 10-15 seconds to come back up. This wouldn't be an issue but it is way too easy to accidentally put it to sleep. I've thought about disabling this button, it's enough of an annoyance.

I use a 13" Retina MBP for work. But I recently got a Surface Pro 4 for personal project and I'm falling more in love with it every day. Being able to pull the keyboard off the laptop, flip it vertical, and read on the couch is a big plus.

Macbook Pro Retina 13-inch Mid 2014 - 2.6GHz i5 - 8GB DDR3 - 250GB SSD

This is my 3rd Macbook. I had a 2009 MBP, a 2012 MBP and now the mid 2014 retina. They're by far the best laptops I've ever owned. My only regret with my current laptop is I didn't max out the RAM when I bought it alongside the SSD.

When I'm at my desk it's plugged into a LG 34UM67 34'' 21:9 ultraWide monitor and I use a magic keyboard and magic trackpad 2.

+1 on the RAM regret

"new" in Nov '15:

Dell Inspiron 15 i5558-5718slv; i5-4xxx, 8GB RAM, 1TB HDD Windows 10: Nuwen MinGW, IntelliJ for C++, Java development respectively VirtualBox VM's: Ubuntu 15.10, CentOS 7

Pros: cost: $400; 1080p IPS screen; backlit keyboard!; reasonable battery life (4-5 hours?)

Cons: Windows 10 (I prefer Windows 8.1 (my last laptop)); slow HDD (planning to upgrade to SSD soon); fan is not silent

I know there's a strong case to be made for spending more $$$ on a better laptop since "[I] use it all the time" and I can easily afford it, but "parsimonious me" objects spending 2x-4x my $400 baseline price for a laptop that might perform 1.4x better.

This laptop replaced a 3 year old $400 Toshiba i3-3110 laptop with 8GB RAM; according to my benchmark (a clean parallel build of one of my C++ projects) the new is only 6% faster than the old. I think my upcoming SSD install will make a big difference.

And: I'm among the apparent minority of programmers who prefers and requires a keyboard with numeric (for me: cursor) keypad. This requirement "narrows the field" of candidate-laptops substantially.

ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen2. i7, 8Gb RAM, 256Gb SSD. ArchLinux. In general I am happy with it.

Pros: lightweight, solid and extremely fast. Battery is good enough for me.

Cons: LTE module is abysmal. People say it is awful even on windows, let alone linux. Keyboard is non-standard, but I got used to it (expect for functional keys).

MacBook Pro Retina, 15-inch, Late 2013. 2.3 GHz i7, 16GB, 512GB running OS X Mavericks (10.9.5).

I almost nothing bad to say about this machine, in fact I love it. I run Windows and Linux VMs through VMWare Fusion for work and for personal development. It's nice having one machine to handle all of these tasks.

The one downside is that the battery life can be pretty low depending on what I have running on my Windows VM so I find myself taking my charger with me everywhere nowadays.

Edit: I purchased it refurbished and saved about $400. No issues whatsoever. It was indistinguishable from New save for the packaging which was just a plain white box shipped from Apple. I have AppleCare and have extended it beyond the initial 1 year warranty that came with the machine.

Conversely, I have the 13" model with these specs (i5 not i7, though) and I was able to get from Toronto to Vancouver and watch a TV show for the whole 5 hours. This was a year after I bought it too, so the battery had some wear. I tend to bring my charger if I'm going to be using it for extended periods of time, but I have no problem getting 5-7 hours on it if I'm not doing anything CPU intensive.

Best computer I've ever owned.

>> Best computer I've ever owned.

I can definitely say the same thing.

Regarding battery life, I am extremely impressed with the amount of use I can get out of it when using just OS X with no VMs running processes. ITunes is a battery hog, but most other uses will give me 6 hours at least, now 2+ years later.

MacBook Air. Top of the line in mid-2012. But anything remotely computationally intensive is either on my beast work laptop MacBook Pro or in a cloud-based cluster.

It's pretty badass to type one shell script name that spins you up an supercomputer for a couple of hours.

I have a 4 year old Lenovo X220 with an i7, 16gb and 1/2 tb ssd with Windows 10. I chose it for the portability factor and performance. At work I have a dock station with two monitors and external s keyboard and a mouse. I haven't found significant alternatives for improvement until last year new Dell XPS and Microsoft Surface Book. Indeed I am waiting Microsoft fixing of some critical issues in their Surface Book before making a decision.

The main issues I found with the X220 were:

- Heat and CPU Throttling with two 1080p monitors that can make it unusable

- Relatively high CPU usage by bad designed drivers and Lenovo applications (e.g: Synaptics)

- Completely terrible support for Bluetooth and USB 3 (e.g: Bluetooth headset unusable)

DellXPS have no dock port. Look at Dell 7000 series.

But does that machine has 16gb and the latest i7?

Thinkpad X230. 8GB RAM, 480GB SSD. Debian Testing.

Con: Crappy screen. Touchpad isn't great but usable lenovo is hard to trust

Pro: keyboard trackpoint battery control with TLP utilities. connectivity, VGA, full size Ethernet etc. (try giving a presentation with circa 2003 projectors)

I got about $2000 stipend for a machine and looking for something to buy. the X260 was my goto but it's botched. no USB-C for example. 12.5 is a tad small, 13" would be better. 16:10 or had 4:3 would be awesome but not available. looked at XPS friends who have it hate the Touchpad under Linux.

For the last 15 years, I have always gone with a Dell laptop for my dev needs.

However, I had an incident where I needed a quick laptop and decided to buy a Lenovo Yoga 900.

Now, two months into using it, I am actually surprised with my decision and it's working fantastic. I'm glad I bought it.

I even wrote up a review about the laptop (http://www.danylkoweb.com/Blog/review-lenovo-yoga-900-13isk-...)

System 76 Oryx Pro (Clevo P650RE3) / Core i7 6700HQ / GeForce 970M 3GB/ 16GB RAM / 500 GB SSD / 15.6" 1920x1080 matte display / Ubuntu 15.10

A very nice desktop replacement for me. So far I am loving this laptop. It is very fast and great as a development machine. I usually have MySQL, Tomcat, Eclipse IDE, Emacs, several Bash terminals and Chrome with many tabs open. Everything feels fast and fluid.

Weighs around 5.5 lbs and the power brick probably an extra lb. Not bad for a workstation class 15" machine.

The matte screen is good, but not amazing. The 1920x1080 resolution is perfectly adequate for a 15" screen. There is a higher end option with an IPS panel and G-Sync, but I didn't purchase that.

If I have one complaint, it is the battery life. I get 2 or 2.5 hours max on this laptop with light to medium use. I don't know if it is poor power management under Linux, but I think on Windows it uses Optimus switching for the dedicated graphics card. Since I use it mainly as a desktop replacement, this is not a deal breaker for me.

Speakers are loud and clear.

I have Steam installed and can run AAA games like "Shadow of Mordor" at Ultra settings with high frame rates. It is great for getting some game time when I travel.

If you are looking for a powerful Linux workstation which can also handle gaming this is a very nice choice.

2013 MSI GE70 Apache Pro 12 17.3in,i7-4700HQ 2.4GHz,16GB RAM(Upgraded),2x1TB RAID0 SDDs(Upgraded)+2TB HDD(Upgraded), GTX 860M, Ubuntu 14.04 & Windows 10.

I do a lot with this computer, software development, PCB design, photo processing, CAD, and gaming(only reason for Windows). It's not out of the question that I would be running a full server VM, debugging a micro controller, and doing live data analysis at the same time. So I've come to appreciate power.

Even though this is quite a machine, I have performance issues in some applications. A lot of it boils down to the INSANE way that dedicated GPUs are handled today. Nvidia prime is the worst thing on my system. I like to describe it like this, using the Intel GPU is like driving a Mazda Miata, it feels fast and nimble but give it a load and it will just crawl. Switching prime to the Nvidia card is like driving a semi truck, it's not great at the little things but it can plow it's way through really intense stuff. DraftSight runs horribly on the Intel GPU but excellently on the Nvidia. But the window composition with the Nvidia card it terrible, lack of repainting the screen, vsync issues, and general slowness. It's very frustrating. My next laptop purchase will have to be something like a desktop GTX 980 in a laptop so I can avoid prime at all costs.

This may be resolved in a newer release of Ubuntu. I am version locked right now thanks to TI's 32bit Eclipse based IDE Code Composer Studio being a dependency nightmare on newer versions of Ubuntu. I'll find out later this year when they finally release a native 64bit version.

13" Late 2013 Retina MacBook Pro. 2.4 GHZ,i5,8GB.

Haven't had any major (or even minor) issues. I've enjoyed using the trackpad (and learning about it, sometimes by accident!) and the backlit keyboard is nice when I would use it outside in the evening. Light and very portable, far more comfortable on my lap than my previous machines. Only real complaint is the lack of a cd/dvd drive.

I have a Thnkpad T430 currently running Antergos (Arch based) Linux. It is an i5 with 4gb and a 256 SSD. It has the 1400 x 900 screen which looks great. I got the machine new on eBay and it came with the docking station which is useful when at a desk. I have personally only ever purchased Thinkpads as they last really well and have great keyboards.

For my day job I have a PC Specialist Cosmos IV (https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/notebooks/cosmosIV-15/) maxed out with a Full HD IPS screen, 16gb, SSD & traditional disks and it is currently running Windows 8.1. It's a good PC replacement and I have used PC Specialist for about 10 years for work laptops. I have to say this is the first one I have had some concerns about as the keyboard is wearing out after 18 months. My first one from them lasted through 4 years at my first start-up where I was using it 6 days a week 12 hours a day.

Asus Zenbook UX32LN (with a GNU/Linux system based on NixPkgs), RAM upgraded to 12GiB from 8 GiB just in case

Pros: · works nicely with Linux whatever kernel build is used, · UEFI is optional and it can be manually configured without hassle · acceptable battery life under light load (~5 hours) but dual-core i7 can perform reasonably well if the power draw is not a concern, · a nice FullHD screen with fine brightness adjustment (I prefer my screen to have the same brightness as a sheet of paper next to it — this is darker than many screens' minimal settings)

Cons: · after third time warranty-replacing HDD I gave up and bought a similar one from a different manufacturer · slightly too small at 13.3 inch — a larger screen plus larger battery plus larger keyboard would be nice…

I recently put it on the edge of a bed in a wrong way and it fell onto a plugged USB extension cable — the cable apparently suffered more than the notebook, which is nice.

ThinkPad X230 -- maxed to 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD. Linux compat: top-notch with Arch Linux (everything is so detailed!). WWAN card is actively used. VGA + DisplayPort on the dock with two screens 27" (I just activate_work_screens in my term to xrandr them).

I love how ThinkPad can enable the workflow of working anywhere and when returning home, just dock it and the charger is already plugged in the dock so that you don't have to struggle with any cable when you're tired, it works out of the box.

I do essentially full stack work but sometimes I do drastically different stuff (security, pentesting, low-level optimization, science, etc...)

My next laptop would still be a Lenovo for sure. But I definitely look forward to Dell XPS capabilities.

Anecdote: A day, my ThinkPad X230 had better 3G coverage than my XIAOMI RedMi Note 3 phone. I mean, I had Internet on my computer, but not on my phone. That was funny.

MacBook Pro 13", Early 2011, 2.3 GHz i5, 4 GB, 120 GB Samsung SSD + 320 GB stock Hitachi HDD, OS X El Capitan

Sticking with a MacBook Pro 13" as well. Gives you a hard limit on the length of functions that fit on a screen. Upgraded to 16G RAM, 1TB SSD + 2TB HDD (not really possible with Retina), since I work a lot with data. Would love to upgrade to 2 x 2TB SSDs some time.

That's my plan as well. Glad there are more fans of the non retina 13" ;)

Four years ago I replaced my desktop and laptop with a maxed-out Thinkpad W series(W520). I7, 16GB RAM, 512GB SSD, and nvidia quadro graphics card. I keep it docked 99% of the time but I can throw it in a bag and take it with when the need arises. Still working great today.

the best machine i ever had! the only other laptop i liked as much was a powerbook G4 12" mac many years ago

Personally I use an Asus Zenbook UX305FA.

Positives: * Great 1080p screen * Great form factor * No apparent incompatibilities with Linux * Keyboard is fairly good * Fast despite its fairly low-power CPU * SSD * Battery life

Negatives: * Track pad isn't great * UEFI * Some small dents appeared on the body of the laptop after only a few months (never dropped it or anything) * A small bright spot has appeared on the bottom of the screen

Although I have a few negatives listed I believe the positives far outweigh them. I have really enjoyed using this laptop for development.

As far as development goes, I have a dual-boot of Arch Linux and Windows 10. I primarily do Go and Python in Arch, and C/C++ in Windows.

I apologize in advance if the formatting of this post is messed up. First time posting on here. :)

Dell Precision M4800,

There is no other better laptop to do programming or other development in the world!

The keys are soft and silent, has grooves in keys for smooth feeling. Touchpad is sensitive enough to be used without a mouse, I have the VERY important middle key, and left-right click, on 2 places

The build feels solid - despite being plastic, this thing is heavy, its not a toy, it cant be accidently moved on the desk while typing or connecting other devices. There are no stupid led lights everywhere shining up in my face, all the led indicator lights are soft white color. The screen can be tilted anyway, is not glossy. Overall the best computer to work on ever.

The insides are i7 quad core with 32gb of memory, dual graphics cards, an intel and nvidia for gaming.

Surface pro 3 running ubuntu 15.

* Power management and wifi are usable if you can live with needing a couple of tries to unlock and having to 'connect to hidden' to get wifi working. Battery life seems to be the same awake and asleep (not in a good way).

* Keyboard is 10% too small for adult hands.

* touchpad is constantly moving cursor while I type

* touchscreen support spotty, no touchpad scrolling

* typecover keyboard is unusable without a perfectly flat table (i.e. tough luck on trains, airplanes, your lap, or uneven tables)

* high-glare coating on the glass screen was a design mistake by MS, but on the bright side I can see people coming up from behind me. A normal solution to glare is to tilt the inwards of vertical, but the kickstand makes that impossible.

In the past I've used Dell Latitude E54xx. It's essentially the same as a Latitude T series (size, specs, and price). And fairly equalivant to a 13" MacBook Pro.

I loved that machine.

Now at work I'm stuck with a Latitude W series. While certainly powerful, it barely qualifies as portable. I hate it.

I'm considering getting a 13" MacBook Pro, for myself, whenever they announce an upgraded model this year.

I wrote a bit about it here: http://josephdaigle.me/2015/12/03/search-for-ultimate-dev-la...

Macbook Air - having my fifth now, also a Linux Asus Zenbook, but this was horrible. First of all darwin catches much more memory errors than Linux. The UI and WiFi and powermgmt is superior. My i7 is even faster than on my big desktop machine for numeric or hashing tests. It's light and beautiful. No need to worry about systemd or gnome 3 quirks.

Downsides: we have found nasty clang and gcc bugs on darwin only lately. Having to use dsymutil sucks, but if you use it it works as on Linux. ranlib sucks. A bit more integration needed, as on windows with similar gyrations.

MacBook Pro. The battery life and power management are solid. I use iTerm2 and homebrew. I can run almost everything I run on my linux vps.

Plus there is support for Adobe software and MS Products if you need to run those.

MacBook Pro, mid-2009, 17" 8GB. Original 100GB SSD + 120GB SSD in slot on the side. Replaced the battery a few months ago. Still runs great. I think the DVD drive died from lack of use (and dust).

Chromebook, not pixel, and not by choice. As a highschooler, I don't have much of a disposable budget, and I have a decent tower, so not really much in the way of laptop budget. My school provides Chromebooks to all students, and they have SSH, which is almost enough to satisfy me. The things are cheap, but that's really the only advantage. Any developer can tell you that development over SSH is uncomfortable at best, even if the system on the other end has a fully-configured emacs or vi setup. It's just too damn slow.

What makes you say development over SSH is "uncomfortable at best"?

Lots of people doing this very thing, on a regular basis. I'm curious to hear your thoughts.

Seems to me like SSH+tmux can be a dev's best friend.

It's just laggy is all. I guess those devs have a better net connection than me :-D. And Chrome's SSH client can't send C-n, which I need for emacs.


I went through several gyrations including a monster 17 inch i7 laptop, several thin and light chromebooks. The chromebooks were very nice, with crouton I was able to run jetbrains IDEs and that was 80% of what I needed.

But the portabiliy and usability of the Dell XPS13 is hard to beat. It took me a long time to get the money together for it and the only thing I regret is maybe not waiting a couple of months for Skylake. But I have no speed issues, even with just 4gb RAM. It's faster than my desktop at home.

Thinkpad T430: i5-3320M @ 2.60GHz, 8GB RAM, 256GB Samsung SSD + some nondescript 32GB mSATA SSD I picked up from work. I'm usually running Debian Unstable, but I distro hop pretty regularly. It "just works" for whatever I feel like doing at any given time. I even spent a while running 9front (with working wifi!) as my daily driver OS. I'm not a huge fan of the chiclet keys, but I've a Model M for use at my desk, and I can deal with them while I'm on the go.

Past: Lenovo R61e Worked beautifully and it still runs perfectly with Ubuntu. Its about 10 years old now. Only downside was the display which had their anti-glare thing and it was a bit dull.

Current: MBP 2012 Works fine. Upgraded to SSD and 16GB ram. DVD player stoppped working. Trackpad needs adjustment and/or replacement. I run OSX and virtualize everything else. Would buy a MBP as next machine if I can upgrade (none of that soldered on parts).

I have a Lenovo Ideapad Y410P running Slackware-current. It's intended to be a gaming laptop, but I don't game on it. I mostly bought it because I figured if it were good enough to run today's games, then it ought to be good enough to run a couple VMs, and I was right. It's not perfect (the screen resolution is a little lower than I'd like, and the trackpad kinda sucks), but overall I've been happy with it.

IdeaPad, 2GB, 500GB.

Ready to give up on it around 2 years ago, just seeming slower and slower, I installed a very minimal OS (Ubuntu, but the 40MB USB installer) then added Gnome 3. Great decision. The machine is now very pleasurable, far more than my work PC. I do most development remotely.

Low end Lenovos tend to have quite poor batteries, compared to higher end ThankPads or Macbooks. They seem good at the beginning, but degrade after just a few months.

Asus Zenbook with Ubuntu on it.


Pros: Cheap, Effective, runs Linux without an issue [ I'm a fan of full disk encryption ], and reliable

Cons: Keyboard is a little small, Trackpad is slightly more annoying than others I've used

Thinkpad T440s ( Archlinux + KDE )

I got this with 8GB ram and 500GB hdd, I can work on it for 5-6 hrs before the battery runs out but the charger is very light. This thinkpad weighs around 1.2 KG's and it's easy to carry and the keyboard feels great when typing.

If I have to buy a new laptop I would try Lenovo X1 Carbon (the 2016 one, with skylake processor )

EDIT: I got this on ebay for $380 with 2 years onsite warranty, so keep an eye on ebay listings.

I use a lenovo z500 3rd gen core i5 6 gigs of RAM and 250 gb samsung 850 evo ssd with Windows 7 and Linux mint. It's ssd runs like a charm. You gotta love the stability and simplicity of Windows 7 plus I experiment with stuffs on linux mint which is really awesome with mate as desktop environment and compiz window manager (you can do a lot of awesome window tweaks with it).

Sager NP7155: 15.6" matte, 2.6 GHz i7, GTX 960M, 16 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, 1 TB HDD, full-width lit keyboard, dual booting with Arch Linux and Windows.

Pros: It's a great machine compatible with Linux. The price isn't too bad.

Cons: The battery is screwed in so it's not easily swappable. The 1920x1080 display is inferior to the 1920x1200 display on my 8 year-old Dell XPS M1530.

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (2015). Had to replace the Broadcom WIFI with an Intel one. Works perfectly well with Ubuntu 15.10.

Did you replace the wifi card yourself or mail in the whole laptop? Was dell helpful diagnosing this, and what was your general impression of their committment to linux support?

I replaced it myself. Actually, I didn't bother to ask Dell for support ;-)

Regarding their general commitment to linux support: frankly, I don't know. Everything just worked out of the box (besides the Broadcom WIFI, which gave me a hard time), so I have not spent much time to investigate this further.

What's the battery life you get?

About 6 hours of heavy use.

11" 2010 Macbook Air, but I do most of my word on a workstation since I want/need 64 GB of RAM and a decent graphics card. The laptop is mainly for hacking on the go. That being said I love the MBA, my only real complaint is that the battery barely gets 3 hours with light/medium use these days.

Thinkpad T Series - but i'm probably going to get a Surface Pro/Book as my T410 is beginning to show it's age. Before this I had a T61 and assumed I'd be a thinkpad fanboy for a long time. Unfortunately I don't trust Lenovo enough to continue purchasing their products.

I'm still on the same Sony Vaio that I got 13 years ago. I bought the best I could afford back then (more than 2K USD) and it has held up nicely. Fell in love with the keypad. The screen is 4:3, which is nice. Had to replace the HD and battery and add another stick of RAM along the way.

I find this very interesting. More details please, if you may: What's your OS configuration? How's the screen held up all these years? What sort of comments do you get about it in public? :)

I believe it came loaded with Windows XP and I had a dual boot situation for the first few years. Now it's only Arch Linux with Openbox WM. Lightly peppered with pixel defects now, but it's hardly noticable. It came with 512 MB of RAM, now 1GB. The only comments I get are about the 4:3 screen, which everybody loves.

Is the main plus the small size? And maybe quality?

A 15" maxed out Macbook Pro from 2011.

The day there is a Laptop with specs comparable to the Apple MBP (in terms of battery life, build quality, screen resolution etc.) that runs a major Linux distro out of the box with full hardware support and no pain in the ass, i am switching.

"battery life, build quality, screen resolution" = total agreement, I can't wait to be back on Gnome 3.

RCA Pro10 Edition II tablet/keyboard combo, with DroidEdit.


Until I can afford a new laptop.

You login to a server to work? Or work locally on the tablet?

Both? I have a samba folder on a small VPS that I work from in DroidEdit, but switch to JuiceSSH when I need to make commits/compile stuff.

Does anybody have a recommendation for a modern equivalent of the x220 thinkpad? The most important factors would be a high res 12 inch display, long battery hours and a non-chiclet keyboard. I used an x230 and that keyboard design is really not for me.

MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015) 16Gb, 500 SSD

Simply it gives the expected performance, always.

In the past i had HP notebooks, they were good but not excellent. Mbp costs more that it should compared to other notebooks, but i think it's one of the best machine out there.

Mid 2014 rMBP. 8GB RAM. It's super quiet, has an awesome trackpad, keys feel a little short-travel, battery does pretty well, the screen makes text so much easier to read, and the only time the fans are audible is when I'm playing games.

2015? MacBook Pro retina, a also had another 2007 MB pro before that. I run Windows on it.

Pros: It runs 2 big monitors, 3 if you count the laptop screen.

More dependable in my experience than Think Pads.

I can get another one in a day if this one breaks or gets stolen.

Has NVidia GPU for running Cuda.

I am looking for something that can connect to 40-50 inch 4k TV as monitor via HDMI 2.0. I can't get any solid info if any laptop has a true HDMI 2.0 port that works well in this setup.

Can anyone suggest a good laptop / setup for this?

hey, you guys using cheap chromebooks for linux. why do you bother with hacking your chromebook to use linux, while you can buy an old core2duo (or even an i3/i5) fully featured used laptop for about the same amount, often even less? i mean, these machines run linux as is, without any major issues, you can max up RAM to 8GB (4GB being the norm), install huge SSD or proper 1TB HDD. build quality is often better than of a chromebook. so is the keyboard. there are decent HP/lenovo/dell/apple high end 5 to 10 year old machines for anywhere between 100 and 250 USD which beat any lowend chromebook

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Chromebook Pixel. It seems like a pretty ideal machine for anyone whose primary development OS would be Linux.

Is there really nobody that went for the 16GB RAM version who can speak about the experience?

I have the Pixel 2015 with 16GB, and run Archlinux on it. It's awesome. There were some of the normal Linux hiccups early on (sound/trackpad had some issues) but they seem to have been completely ironed out now. It's a fantastic machine. I wish they'd make a 15" version!

Thanks, this is exactly what I was hoping to hear. Curious if you dual boot Chrome/Arch or not; I plan to.

Nice! I'm running Arch only--ChromeOS seemed nice, but with storage at such a premium I'd rather just open up Chrome instead of having to partition the tiny drive. :)

Also: you probably want to use https://github.com/raphael/linux-samus to get started.

Doesn't it only have like 64GB of storage on it? How do you survive?

I have a 128GB USB drive (a SanDisk Ultra Fit) that stays in the machine permanently, mounted to ~/ext, for anything non-dev-related. This has worked out fine for me--haven't ever really come close to filling up my drive, with the exception of a couple times when unused docker images built up over time. Definitely wouldn't recommend it if you're going to use the machine for photo backups or something, but as a secondary machine (I use a desktop 40% of the time) it's never really been an issue.

I've just purchased one, and to go along with it, I ordered a 128GB SD card and a 64GB USB C pen drive, bringing the total capacity to 256GB. The removable storage obviously won't be as fast, but I believe I can keep my daily work stuff and OS entirely on the SSD, and use the other storage for more extraneous things.

Obviously a 128GB SSD would've been preferable, but I think this strategy will work out.

OK. Sandisk SDs should support TRIM (provided the SD controller supports it too) so you could keep their performance up over the time.

I can confirm that Sandisk's 64GB microSD extreme pro is TRIMable on a raspberry pi.

I have the lower-ram pixel experience and it has been awesome. Not having to deal with an OS desktop has been the icing on the cake. Digging through folders two times to copy something is not something I miss.

what do you mean about digging through folders twice?

Once to to open the source folder and once to open the destination.

MacBook Pro (Retina, Mid 2012), 15-inch, 2,3 GHz i7, 8Gb, 250Gb, OS X El Captain 10.11.2

Love almost anything about it. Have about 6 hours of work without charging, it's lightweight and very comfortable for me.

MacBook Pro (Retina, 15-inch, Mid 2015)

Got a work machine to upgrade from my 2011 13" MacBook Pro, and the extra screen space really helps with multitasking, but it sure is a lot heavier than the 13".

Thinkpad T540p, 120gb ssd, 16gb ram, 2880x1620, extended battery Replaced touchpad with newest version. (disabled touchpad, only using trackpad) Fedora 23

Next one will be Thinkpad P... (in a few years)

HP Pavillion 17.3 inch, 8GB RAM. Got it a year and half ago for about $350.

I like it. I'm a back-end web developer(php, node.js, python) that likes using Windows. Everyone else at work is on Macs.

Exact same here. I always get weird looks at events/seminars, but I don't care. Huge screen, great price, has run like crazy for me, and does absolutely everything I need.

It's interesting to see other devs choices.

Unfortunately I chose a Lenovo X1 Carbon - I personally think this was a mistake - despite its build quality it is not very performant.

In what sense?

A 10 year old Toshiba running Windows Vista. It runs everything I need it to run, and I have mac and linux desktop machines, so I feel no need to buy a new one.

Thinkpad t series (t440). Built like a tank, ~12 hour battery life, great keyboard, every thing just works under linux, silent, bottom does not get warm.

An Acer Chromebook 13. It's really easy to run Linux on it, which is all iup personally need. It's light, cheap and has great battery life.

Macbook late 2008 with 8gb RAM. Battery is completely dead, maybe 10 minutes. Works well for what I do, iOS development. Just need some patience.

MBA 4GB 2011, good for programming (Rails, Ruby/Python) but not good for DevOps (VMs/Docker/Vagrant) playground.

Home: Macbook Pro 15" late 2011 Work: Dell M4800 with Windows 7. They're threatening to upgrade us to Windows 10 :(

System76 Galago Ultra Pro. 8GB. 2 years now.

I use a System76 Gazelle which I bought a year ago. Upgraded to Ubuntu 15.10.

Yesterday I had to connect to a new Canon scanner. The standard Ubuntu SANE package did not have the driver, but the Ubuntu PPA package did, and it worked without a hitch off the PPA.

I have been very happy with it for my purposes. I should probably increase the space bar sensitivity. Also, the 15.10 upgrade went well, except Firefox became more crash-prone so it took a little fiddling to fix that.

I have been happy with the battery life as well, it is much better than their models from years before.

HP ProBook 6470b. Upgraded to 8GB (should've upped to 16) and will add ssd soon. Very good for the price.

HP Elitebook 8460p: i5 2.5 GHz, 16GB ram, 512GB ssd - bought refurbished for 500$ - best deal ever.

ASUS Zenbook UX301LA - 13.3" IPS Touch, Core i5, 8GB RAM, 2x 128GB SSD in RAID 0

Lenovo Y480, 128SSD, 4GiB, Gentoo. Reliable, fast-ish, plays nice with multi-display

Other :) Toshiba C2D 2.16GHz/4GB/500GB/15.6" (2009)

MacBook Pro 13 (2012 - 8gb of ram, ssd) but I replaced OSX with Ubuntu.

Macbook Air 13 2015 i7, 8GB RAM, 256 GB SSD. totally in love with it

MSI GS60 w/ 16G ram, 256Gb Raid-0 SSD, 1TB disk & Ubuntu

Macbook Pro 15" - 2.6 GHz i7, 16 GB Ram, 500GB SSD

I just switched at work to this. Safari is really snappy.

MacBook Pro 2008 with Manjaro Linux.

Dell Precision mobile workstation.

Finally, am not alone in working with Dell Precision.

People just do not know what they miss out on, using those stupid Asus Zenbooks (wife has one), and MacBook Pros, jesus, how can those things be called "laptops" or considered good enough for working on!?

HackerNewsers, try Dell Precision workstation series, seriously.

T460, just got it and love it.

Do you use linux on it? I'm considering this, but I'm wary of the hardware support.

Macbook Pro

Macbook Pro

Lenovo y50

Dell 7440

13" macbook pro retina 2013 for daily use and remote work i.e. business travel

old 13" macbook air 2012 for weekend trips (this was my primary until it got a little too sluggish for daily use)

the air is still much easier to travel with which is why i take it when i don't need full horsepower on the road. the small difference in weight makes a huge difference when lugging it around. both are ssd.

Macbook Pro 13 inch - Mid 2012 - Upgraded to 16Gb ram and 256Gb Samsung SSD. It cost me 70000 INR (Approx 1000 USD).

Absolutely love everything about it. The charger, the backlit keyboard, the El-Capitan OS, everything. Everything about this machine is beautiful.

I think it is the best value for money if you are looking for a laptop.

The only thing I miss is my mechanical keyboard. But the trackpad makes up for it, to an extent..

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