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What Linux laptops do you use for development?
11 points by Prrometheus on Apr 26, 2007 | hide | past | web | favorite | 52 comments

Debian on VMWare on an Acer Travelmate 4501.

I had trouble getting any Linux to work (well) on it, because of the wireless card. This was a couple years ago, and driver support for the Centrino's built-in wireless was pretty spotty for Linux. Rather than beat my head against it, I shelled out a couple hundred bucks for VMWare and mooch off the Windows wireless support.

VMWare gives a lot of other nifty benefits too, like I can burn my whole computer to DVD, swap it out, back it up, run multiple OSes, etc. Free imaging too; I have a VMWare image with a base Debian install, all preconfigured with my favorite settings, and when I start a new project I just pop that in and copy it.

Dell Latitude X1, but they don't sell it anymore. It is actually a Samsung notebook, and it's successor apparently is the Q40 (http://www.dynamism.com/q40/main.shtml).

Now I love this nb, actually it is the only acceptable notebook that I know of:

#1 FANLESS - no annoying noises whatsoever!!! #2 really, really lightweight, less than 2,2lb if you remove the battery (2,4lb with battery) - external dvd drive, though

I have tried a MacBook, but it was too noisy for my taste. Hoping that Apple will produce a fanless subnotebook one day...

Macbook Pro with Ubuntu 6 on Parallels. Best of both worlds. As you are probably not going to be running Macosx on your servers. This way you have an excellent dev env, and a vm which you can mess about with for your code.

I use a Lenovo T60 running Windows XP, with Ubuntu 6.10 running in a VMWare virtual machine. VMWare Workstation is really cheap and VMWare Player is free. You can find many preconfigured Linux virtual machines on VMWare's website.

Power management and battery life in particular suck on Linux. Even if you can get it to actually work (lots of Googling + configuring) you will get at best 2/3 of the Windows battery life. Plus, I don't have a lot of faith in the quality of the suspend-to-disk functionality in any flavor of Linux.

What about sleep support and battery use? That is a big selling point for the Mac, my MacBook uses more or less 1% of battery per hour and fully wakes up (wifi included) in a matter of seconds. Is there any PC notebook with similar sleep performance under Linux? This is not a troll, I actually prefer Linux for most things, and would gladly use a 12", <3lbs notebook running Linux if it had fast and reliable sleep.

Consider MacOS on a MacBook. I realize it's not Linux, but you avoid the trouble of installing and maintaining Linux.

If you haven't tried Linux recently, it's actually gotten pretty good on both of those fronts, especially if you compare it to Windows. Also, many PC manufacturers are starting to pre-install Linux, which should make it even easier for people who don't want to worry about installation.

I have no trouble installing, customizing, and maintaining a Linux machine. I simply don't want to. I'd rather spend the time coding! :)

Plus the Mac OS X desktop environment is nice. This is exactly what I need: native UNIX and a good desktop environment.

I'm just saying... the whole "Linux is too hard" argument doesn't hold much water with me anymore, since both my wife and 8 year old have been using it with no problems for a while. =)

But yea, OS X does seem pretty nice, I'd probably give it a try if I didn't care about things like openness [1] and vendor lock-in [2].

[1] http://diveintomark.org/archives/2006/06/02/when-the-bough-breaks

[2] http://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/200x/2005/09/18/Apple-XML

MacOS is a nice Unix in its own right, and if you really need to have Linux, it runs fine under Parallels. I've got Windows XP, Ubuntu, and the One Laptop Per Child project images on my MacBook, and can boot any of them depending on what I want to check out.

Do you have to pay for all your software, or is there good free software to use for a Mac?

I use almost all free software. I do all of my work under the MacOS unix environment with vim, gcc, python, etc etc. You can use the MacPorts ( http://www.macports.org ) package manager to install and manage your usual unix utilities. (MacPorts is analogous to portage/emerge on Gentoo, apt-get on Debian, yum on RedHat/Fedora, and FreeBSD's ports). I also use Firefox for web and Adium X for IM.

The only thing I can recall paying for is Parallels, a virtualizer similar to VMWare, to run MS Windows under MacOS. I hardly ever use it.

It seems that Linux-philes use IBM/Lenovos and Dells. I have seen this elsewhere, too.

Linux Mint -- http://linuxmint.com/ -- is a great distribution for laptops, particularly since they do a terrific job of supporting media and wifi cards "out of the box".

I run Ubuntu on a MacBook, but as long as the laptop you buy has Intel graphics and wireless, you'll usually be fine. My last laptop was one of Dell's 12" widescreen models, and it worked fine for me.

have you run into any problems with the built-in wireless? i know the older powerpc based models did not have a linux driver available for the wireless, but i'm not familiar with the intels.

The wireless works fine for me. I think I've come across a post or two on forums about the newest MacBooks having issues with the wireless that force people to use ndiswrapper, but mine works fine. I wouldn't suggest getting a Mac if you know you're going to be running Linux all the time. I got mine because I got a pretty nice discount. I never touch the OS X partition.

Ubuntu Feisty on an IBM T42

Ditto, except mine is T43.

Caution: PostgreSQL 7.4 disappeared in Feisty. I'd been wanting to move to 8.1 anyway; this just accelerated it.

You don't need to use Linux on your laptop for development.

For example, I use GWT + Eclipse under Windows XP and deploy to a ubuntu feisty server.

Ubuntu 7.04 on a HP Pavilion laptop (dual-boot with XP ... but I rarely boot into windows anymore). Ubuntu is great.

I've been looking at a Dell and at http://www.linuxcertified.com/

I've had terrible, terrible experiences with Linuxcertified.

The stuff they put together themselves is totally shoddy. Things come apart and rattle around inside, the monitor connection starts to get fatigued and the screen develops snow, and it's heavier and thicker for less functionality than other laptops.

Much better to get a Dell preinstalled with Linux if they start doing that, or look at Emperor Linux: http://www.emperorlinux.com

Much better experiences with them. I even got one for my girlfriend, who doesn't know anything at all about computers; they put Ubuntu on it and she adores it.

I'm currently on a Dell M70, which works fine; if I were to buy a new one, it'd be from Emperor.

Ubuntu 6.06 on an IBM T43p.

I'd prefer os x on a macbook, like I have at home, but that's outside of my control here.

Has anybody tried PCLinuxOS? That's what I just installed on my laptop and I love it!

HP Presario and Windows XP :P (am I the only one using Windows... Geez!)

You're not the only one! haha

I use Emperor Linux. They are expensive but very responsive to customers.

Arch Linux on a Dell Inspiron 600M (also not sold anymore, I believe)

Ubuntu Edgy on IBM T41P. Yes I know, I need an upgrade!

I have a T41p, I think its quite adequate.

I hate typing on laptops. Do any have a good keyboard?

Buckling spring keyboard from pckeyboard.com modified with Unix layout, or a Sun Type 7 if you prefer a quieter keyboard.

Ubuntu 6.10 on Fujitsu-Siemens Amilo Pa

Ubuntu on a Dell Latitude D620

Ubuntu feisty, IBM T43P

feisty on dell d810

I don't. I use a MacBook Pro.

then why did you even respond? the question was "what Linux laptops do you use for development?", not "how many of you are mac fanboys?"

My guess is the same reason I felt compelled to click on the link. OS X is the best desktop Unix experience I have ever had. It has all the tools I use, all the power underneath, and it comes wrapped in a pretty pretty wrapper.

Linux to me has become a loose term for any Unix. I've heard it used to refer to any of the BSD's, Solaris, and even OS X.

I've never heard anyone refer to BSD/Solaris/OSX as Linux

keep it civil please

Because of the false assumption inherent in the question.

You don't develop on laptops. This is not what they are built for: they slow, keyboards are not capable of decent typing speed and screens are tiny.

Stop trying to look hip and get yourself a workstation.

Some of us like to code in bed. Or on the floor, or outside, or while watching TV.

For me, the convenience of being able to take my computer wherever I want far outweighs the bigger screens and hard disks of a desktop. And I've never found the keyboards to be a problem; I type 90+ WPM on a Dvorak-layout laptop keyboard.

Depends. I've been developing our site on a macbook pro. I prefer a workstation for the faster hard drive, but when developing a web app based on an interpreted language, that doesn't really matter.

And I'm using an external keyboard + LCD, so I have the best of both worlds.

I would have to agree. I can deal with a laptop in a pinch, but it slows me down considerably.

How is Linux at supporting dual monitors?

Having used laptops with both ATI and nVidia chips inside, nvidia support is definitely the way to go between the two, especially for multi-monitor setups. I actually returned my old laptop with ATI graphics because their Linux drivers and support was terrible.

I hear that the new Intel graphic chips are also quite nice, and the fact that they open sourced the drivers should make them the ideal Linux graphics adapters, but I don't have any experience with them.

That would have been my answer to the parent: I use an external monitor, mouse and keyboard at home.

I've managed to get the ATI Radeon under Ubuntu to display both two desktops or only use one screen or the other. But it was quite a fight. And more fancy things like one large desktop on two screens didn't work out.

if you're using nvidia like me, then it's as simple as adding a couple of lines to your xorg congfig

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