In Which Mac?, I wrote “Not quite ready to unSwitch for day-to-day work yet; it seems the latest Linuxes still have issues with outboard displays and power management [now 37 people are going to write me to tell me how you can make that work, each providing their own multi-step recipe]”. Hubert Figuière , very sensibly, commented “Actually there is no need for a multi-step Linux-that-work-on-laptop how to. Just purchase a model that is known to be well supported.”

He’s got a point. I think it’s perfectly reasonable to look to hardware providers to do this kind of corner-case integration. After all, that’s how Apple makes things Just Work, by controlling the hardware. I remember one of the best laptops I ever had, a Toshiba Portegé ultraportable that came with Windows 95. Suspend/resume worked flawlessly every time; I’d go for weeks without rebooting. At the time, Win95 was clearly the world’s best personal-productivity OS, and Toshiba applied just the right amount of hardware-sensitive fairy dust.

So someone who ships a light, small, powerful laptop with Ubuntu nicely integrated, and takes care of the power management and display adapter and so on so I don’t have to worry about it, well, they can probably steal my business from Apple.


Comment feed for ongoing:Comments feed

From: Nicola Larosa (Jan 28 2007, at 14:06)

You may want to check EmperorLinux. Never used them, but saw their ads in linux Journal for *years*. And given that you're accustomed to Mac prices, presumably you won't balk at their ones:

Otherwise, here's a nice page on the commercial situation of Linux on laptops:

Laptops/Notebooks with Linux Preinstalled

I've been using Linux on laptops since 2000. Only occasionally had working suspend or hibernate, and managed to survive, without looking back, just the same. ;-)


From: Jay (Jan 28 2007, at 14:12)



From: Luis (Jan 28 2007, at 14:59)

I <a href="">wrote about this in September</a>, Tim; specifically about my frustration with Emperor Linux and my surprise that there weren't more 'partnered' hardware suppliers and Linux vendors or communities.

Judging from the responses, <a href="">System 76</a> seems popular (and works pretty tightly with Ubuntu) and <a href="">Groovix</a> got some nice words (though no laptops).

As far as I can see, no one other than Emperor has taken the approach of reselling name brand hardware with Linux installed, though, which I think is a shame (given that it would both increase confidence in the product, and notify the name brands that there was a demand for Linux.)

Wish there was more to say; it does seem like this is an opening for someone with an entrepreneurial spirit to tackle. But then again, I'm a congenital optimist and bought a VA Research box way back in the day...


From: Chris Ryland (Jan 28 2007, at 15:24)

Yeah, but then you'd have to put up with the persistent ugliness of the resulting system. There's simply nothing as elegantly & beautifully implemented as the Mac UI, and it's only going to get better by leaps and bounds with 10.5. Apple's really on a roll with Cocoa/Objective-C and the gap between OSS and Mac OS X is going to grow fairly rapidly. Apple is really an animation software company disguised as a computer manufacturer.

This is said by an old Unix kernel hacker, starting over 30 years ago (yes, there *was* a copy of K&R Unix running at Harvard in 1975, the first one out of Bell Labs, I think...), so it's not from simple naive Mac fandom. And I loathe Jobs and the Disney machine he stands for, but there's no denying the sheer elegance of the software his company is producing...


From: James Cunningham (Jan 28 2007, at 16:20)

System76 seems pretty good; they get great reviews, especially for their customer service.

One thing to bear in mind is that - if reliable suspension is important to you - Linux may not be to the point you'd like right now. Even for notebooks bought with Linux supported out of the box, you may not be able to get suspend-to-ram or to-disk to work. This is true for some of the notebooks that System76 sells, and at least some of the Thinkpads EmperorLinux sells.

This is important to me; I'd thought about going with a System76 notebook for my next purchase, but it doesn't look to be the case at this point. I'll get a Mac, and if I need Linux, I'll use it.

One more thing: buying a notebook preloaded with Linux will entail some markup. EmperorLinux is pretty absurd, as far as I'm concerned. This probably isn't a concern for you. (It is for me.)


From: Mark (Jan 28 2007, at 16:23)

Having never bought a laptop with Linux pre-installed, I have only a meta-comment to contribute: Tim, look at the comments people are posting, and figure out how to support the markup they're using.


From: Terry Jones (Jan 28 2007, at 18:05)

Hi Tim

I bought a laptop from Emperor Linux ( a few years back, and it was excellent. Everything just worked. Yes, it costs a little more up front, but if it saves you an initial day or two of pulling your hair out, it actually costs much less.




From: Mark (Jan 28 2007, at 18:34)

"And given that you're accustomed to Mac prices, presumably you won't balk at their ones"

NIcola, it's 2007, and this is no longer true, oranges to oranges, although personal preferences and needs can make one platform seem more or less expensive than another.


From: Thijs van der Vossen (Jan 28 2007, at 22:38)

I think it's only a matter of time before Canonical Ltd. releases the first UbuntuBook.


From: David (Jan 29 2007, at 02:16)

Hi Tim,

I'm actually trying to decide what my next Ubuntu Host will be .. and I'm beginning to think System76 - for one reason. The Darter laptop they haven't officially announced yet.

Unboxing Pics:

This appears to me to just be an Asus Z35f laptop (but badged System76 and with a pre-installed and configured Ubuntu install).

More pics of Asus Z35f's here:




From: MikeP (Jan 29 2007, at 05:31)

I support CS faculty and grad students at an institution you might recognize Tim, and while I'm an Apple guy myself, you could do worse than a Thinkpad running Ubuntu. 6.10 seems to work more or less right out of the box on the R series machines I've tried (52 and 60) and works well on T60p machines (modulo one we have that's being a booger, but it was also the first one we got, subsequent models have been nice).


From: Wes Felter (Jan 29 2007, at 11:57)

No matter what hardware or distro you get, my impression is that "monitor hotplugging sweetness" is still about a year away.


From: Werner Heuser (Jan 29 2007, at 21:59)

See TuxMobil for an <a href="">international overview of retailers who offer laptops and notebooks pre-installed with Linux</a>. There is also a <a href="">list of laptop manufacturers, which offer Linux support or machines without Microsoft tax</a>.


From: David Smith (Feb 04 2007, at 19:18)

My 3-4-year-old ThinkPad R32 happily updated to Ubuntu 6.10 and is perfectly happy displaying on my 19" flat screen, and seems to handle power management as well as I could ask. I don't travel with it a lot since work insists on Windows and if I'm traveling on my own dime I don't take the tech. The batteries are old and tired, but that's not Ubuntu's fault - or IBM's for that matter. I just beat the dickens out of it.


From: Preferably Anonymous (Feb 05 2007, at 16:19)

Just found this, maybe you know about it, maybe you don't:


author · Dad · software · colophon · rights
picture of the day
January 28, 2007
· Technology (87 fragments)
· · Open Source (82 more)

By .

The opinions expressed here
are my own, and no other party
necessarily agrees with them.

A full disclosure of my
professional interests is
on the author page.