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Old 12th August 2008
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Hello everyone. I'll be heading off to uni in a week or so, and I'd like to buy a laptop. I'll be bringing my main system with me, but the laptop will be handy for coding on the go and such. Currently I'm looking for something along the lines of:

* Decent hardware support in FreeBSD. Suspend to disk support is optional, but preferred.
* Decent hardware. Based on what I've hard, I'm only really looking at core 2 duo laptops. I'd prefer a decent graphics card, too.
* Light. Less than 6 pounds would be ideal.
* Size doesn't matter as long as it's light. A decent sized keyboard would be nice, but not at the expense of weight.

My budget is between 1000-1500 USD. Any recommendations?

(I'm currently looking at IBM and Dell. I hear the former is particularly popular among *nix users.)

edit:
Also, I'm considering just running FreeBSD in VMWare through Windows, rather than dual booting. Any thoughts on this? I still want FreeBSD-compatible hardware, just in case, but I wonder if this approach might be more convenient. I don't really intend to do any heavy lifting with this laptop, anyway.

Last edited by cw_; 12th August 2008 at 02:56 AM.
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Old 12th August 2008
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If by IBM you mean IBM/Lenovo thinkpads, you should be able to find plenty of data on many models online. Experience with laptop-shopping for FreeBSD has shown me ACPI/Audio/Networking support to be the most problematic.. If you can dig up enough info, it's quite easy to decipher some level of compatibility with the 'show stoppers' based on knowing exactly what your supposed to be paying for: the hard part is just getting the info. There are also several HCL for laptops, someone here is bound to post at least 2 of them I'm sure...


Never found much love for FreeBSD in VMWare but if you can get it working to your needs, it could be more convenient then reboots.
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Old 12th August 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TerryP View Post
If by IBM you mean IBM/Lenovo thinkpads, you should be able to find plenty of data on many models online. Experience with laptop-shopping for FreeBSD has shown me ACPI/Audio/Networking support to be the most problematic..
Yes, this is what I'm worried about. I'd hate to get a laptop and find out that the audio drivers don't support mixing, the wireless support is nonexistent, and the screen was punched in by a crazed Apple user. (I guess that last point is still valid even if I didn't want to put FreeBSD on it.)

Quote:
Never found much love for FreeBSD in VMWare but if you can get it working to your needs, it could be more convenient then reboots.
I'm not sure what you mean. What problems did you have with it?

Last edited by cw_; 12th August 2008 at 04:12 AM.
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Old 12th August 2008
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Let's just say that I really, really hate VMWare in general after encountering VMWare Player -- and cannot offer unbiased opinions. Although I'm sure they have good products (as far as such things go), you still won't find me buying any.
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Old 12th August 2008
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I will be buying something like that in near future:
http://toya.net.pl/~vermaden/tmp/ibm_r61.png
http://toya.net.pl/~vermaden/tmp/ibm_r400.png

Dont look at the hard drive, I will replace it with Samsung 160GB 7200RPM.
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Old 12th August 2008
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If you're buying a laptop with brand new hardware you may have trouble getting some things like TerryP said such as ACPI/audio/networking running for awhile. I have a two year old ASUS A8 series laptop that just started to come around with the 7.0 Release. That being said it runs amazing now and everything works great.

Similarily as I would say to someone looking for a linux laptop, definitely go for one with Atheros branded wifi and NVIDIA graphics if you want 3D acceleration.
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Old 12th August 2008
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> Also, I'm considering just running FreeBSD in VMWare through Windows, rather than dual booting. Any thoughts on this? I still want FreeBSD-compatible hardware, just in case, but I wonder if this approach might be more convenient. I don't really intend to do any heavy lifting with this laptop, anyway.

freebsd works just fine on Vmware. (vmware tools is only for fbsd 6.x though but its not a big deal.)

for learning and programming, fbsd on vmware with windows as host os is very productive and i would recommend it.

for laptops, if you are particular about good hardware support then the only way to be sure is to try fbsd on it or search the net for user-experience, workarounds, drivers by other users who own the same model.

fbsd has worked great for me on dell latitude 520 and an older thinkpad r40. basically, go with a "business class" laptop if you can spare some extra cash.

Last edited by ephemera; 12th August 2008 at 07:39 AM.
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FreeBSD does not support Intel's open graphics cards, all specifications of 965G (X3000/X3100) and G35 (X3500) are avialable, all documentation on 2D and 3D accelration, video accelration, everything, along with Intel open drivers for them and FreeBSD does not support them as they are on the market for about 2 years now, I really do not care about FreeBSD's hardware support anymore.

I will propably go for OpenSolaris or Mac OS X anyway, I do not have all life to wait for that hardware support to come.

And I do not want nVidia blob on my system, it hangs randomly too much, not telling that its useless when you use xVM/Xen while Intel GFX are 100% supported under it and works the same speed/features in Dom0 in xVM/Xen.

I never had real long experience with WIFI on *nix so I will not speak here.

If you really seek for 100% supported FreeBSD laptop, then get someting with Intel GMA 950 graphics, it will work for sure, other hardware from that time(nic/snd/wifi) will also be supported for sure.
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Old 12th August 2008
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Thanks guys, I'll keep that stuff in mind. Any opinions on Asus laptops?
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Old 12th August 2008
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I just picked up an Asus u6e and I love it LOVE IT. It's got the core duo centrino, pretty low power consumption, quite nice video. There were really only two things I needed to do to get it running - pick up a USB wifi dongle because the intel 4965agn driver is still in development, and to make use of the Intel GMA950 card, uninstall xf86-video-i810 and install the xf86-video-intel (in ports).

It's a lovely, lovely little machine. The display is apparently LED-lit, making its power consumption relatively low. It's in your price range, so I'd suggest giving it a look.

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Quote:
Originally Posted by peenworm View Post
I just picked up an Asus u6e and I love it LOVE IT. It's got the core duo centrino, pretty low power consumption, quite nice video. There were really only two things I needed to do to get it running - pick up a USB wifi dongle because the intel 4965agn driver is still in development, and to make use of the Intel GMA950 card, uninstall xf86-video-i810 and install the xf86-video-intel (in ports).

It's a lovely, lovely little machine. The display is apparently LED-lit, making its power consumption relatively low. It's in your price range, so I'd suggest giving it a look.
Thanks, I'll definitely take a look. How is ACPI support?

edit: Also, I notice that the u6e has a rather small screen. What resolution can you get with that 12.1", and how cramped is the keyboard?

Last edited by cw_; 12th August 2008 at 11:27 PM.
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Old 13th August 2008
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Quote:
Also, I'm considering just running FreeBSD in VMWare through Windows, rather than dual booting. Any thoughts on this?
I don't understand, why would you running FreeBSD on virtual if you could dual boot or even single boot FreeBSD? I don't know what people said, but I think it's much much much better to dual boot, since you will probably destroy the other OS, or maybe other nasty things...and that's when you learn and never forget

virtual, however, still 'virtual'...

Quote:
Any opinions on Asus laptops?
i would recommended something else....i've used Compaq HP Presario v2000 for 2 years ( althought now it's sold ), and it's still fine till now. Many of my friend buy Acer because it's cheaper, but then i found it's battery is dropping in almost 1 year or later...most of it before 1 year..anyway, i don't like Acer, but it's up to you
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Old 13th August 2008
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The Thinkpads are designed with compatibility for F/OSS in mind, not just Linux. So, you can go with any of those. As for graphics cards, you may want to look into an ATi card. The current development version of the radeon driver fully supports X1000 series cards and AMD will release documents for the rest of their cards in three or four weeks. So, according to the developers on the IRC channel, it will take about 6 weeks after that before the git version of the radeon driver supports the latest ATi cards with full hardware acceleration. I think 9 to 10 weeks is a reasonable time to wait considering how long it's been already.

vermaden, at this point, OpenSolaris has worse hardware support than FreeBSD, and Mac OS X on a non-Mac is, well, even more troublesome. Good luck to you, though.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ninjatux View Post
vermaden, at this point, OpenSolaris has worse hardware support than FreeBSD, and Mac OS X on a non-Mac is, well, even more troublesome. Good luck to you, though.
Like always it depends on the hardware you have of course.

Mac OS X worked fine on my box, it crashed once for 3 weeks od usage, my hardware is Intel Q6600 + Intel 965G, the only problem was that I had to use 1024x768 vesa because there is no Mac OS X driver for X3000, but there is for X3100 (mobile version), such driver do not exist because Apple does not sell computers with X3000, but that was only disadvantage, all other things worked out of the box, KALAWAY ISO for INTEL from torrents to be precise.

About OpenSolaris, Intel GMA works even faster then on Linux, 1590fps in glxgears on OpenSolaris while "only" 1490fps at Linux.

There is also other way of getting hardware working on Solaris, use xVM/Xen, so hypervisor drivers will be used while Solaris dom0 will use only standaart hypercalls to xVM/Xen, hypercalls to "generic Xen hardware" but I have to verify that.

Generall FreeBSD support is very good, but it has big hole when it comes to GFX drivers (kernel DRI) unfortunelly.
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Old 13th August 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cw_ View Post
Thanks, I'll definitely take a look. How is ACPI support?

edit: Also, I notice that the u6e has a rather small screen. What resolution can you get with that 12.1", and how cramped is the keyboard?
I'm running x at 1280x800, it's quite crisp and doesn't want for desktop space. It's a 16x9 display, so the keyboard is pretty comfortable. About the same as my old 15" thinkpad (which the asus replaced after the thinkpad died). I bike commute, so the smaller form factor is a big plus but at this resolution I have no problem running a mess of terminals and VPN/RDP sessions all over the place.

ACPI is supported, battery is monitored properly and shutdown through acpi is fine. I haven't really essed with the sleep mode though.

I'd previously been inclined to thinkpads, but most of the new ones are running GMA950 video chipsets and 4965AGN wireless cards so it's not like their hardware support was notably better than the ASUS. I had to pick this up in a bit of a hurry at Microcenter because I use the laptop for work, but if you've got time you'd probably do well to get a supported wifi card for the express slot rather than the USB wifi device I went with.

Oh, another nice thing about the ASUS u6e is that it came with a 2300mAh battery that's flush with the case (and holds about an hour's charge) and a 4600mAh battery that sticks out a bit but lasts for two hours.

Another bit of gush - I can actually see the display when I'm outside and it's sunny. This is pretty incredible.

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Old 13th August 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by eine View Post
I don't understand, why would you running FreeBSD on virtual if you could dual boot or even single boot FreeBSD? I don't know what people said, but I think it's much much much better to dual boot, since you will probably destroy the other OS, or maybe other nasty things...and that's when you learn and never forget

virtual, however, still 'virtual'...
It looks like using FreeBSD through VMWare might be more convenient, simply because I could switch between Windows and X instantly. I don't plan on gaming or anything in FreeBSD, so the performance should be fine (or at least, it'll probably be faster than my current setup with Xming and putty). I hear flash 9 support is somewhat lacking in FreeBSD, too, which makes VMWare look even more attractive. Of course, I'd still like to get a laptop with mostly compatible hardware, in case I decide that dual booting is the way to go (or even single booting).

Quote:
i would recommended something else....i've used Compaq HP Presario v2000 for 2 years ( althought now it's sold ), and it's still fine till now. Many of my friend buy Acer because it's cheaper, but then i found it's battery is dropping in almost 1 year or later...most of it before 1 year..anyway, i don't like Acer, but it's up to you
Acer and Asus are actually different companies. I made that mistake the first time I got recommended Asus, too :/ Back when I was working with the IT Administrator in high school I worked with Acers a lot. I wasn't exactly impressed, so no, I definitely wouldn't buy anything from them.

Last edited by cw_; 13th August 2008 at 04:49 PM.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vermaden View Post
Like always it depends on the hardware you have of course.

Mac OS X worked fine on my box, it crashed once for 3 weeks od usage, my hardware is Intel Q6600 + Intel 965G, the only problem was that I had to use 1024x768 vesa because there is no Mac OS X driver for X3000, but there is for X3100 (mobile version), such driver do not exist because Apple does not sell computers with X3000, but that was only disadvantage, all other things worked out of the box, KALAWAY ISO for INTEL from torrents to be precise.

About OpenSolaris, Intel GMA works even faster then on Linux, 1590fps in glxgears on OpenSolaris while "only" 1490fps at Linux.

There is also other way of getting hardware working on Solaris, use xVM/Xen, so hypervisor drivers will be used while Solaris dom0 will use only standaart hypercalls to xVM/Xen, hypercalls to "generic Xen hardware" but I have to verify that.

Generall FreeBSD support is very good, but it has big hole when it comes to GFX drivers (kernel DRI) unfortunelly.
I plan to stick with Macs for laptops. It's the first time I've had Unix without any compatibility issues. I understand it's a closed platform, but I don't care. My needs come first, and so far, this MacBook Pro has satisfied them as aptly as my FreeBSD desktop-server does.

I also plan on building a second desktop comparable to my current one to run OpenSolaris on. I like to have multiple desktops with one central source for files that should be available on all desktops. sshfs does very well, and I expect that it should work just as well on OpenSolaris. OpenSolaris holds a lot of promise, but like you said in another thread, it needs packages. pkgsrc doesn't work as well as it should, so IPS and Blastwave are the only options. Blastwave packages are generally out of date as well, so IPS is the only option assuming its collection grows. I think that by this time next year, OpenSolaris will become a real option to Linux.
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Old 13th August 2008
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Ok, right now I'm mostly looking at the Thinkpad T400. There were a few Asus machines I was looking at, including the u6e, but the battery lives for all of them were pretty short at around 2-2.5 hours. The u6e looks like it's a bit too small for me, unfortunately; I want something that's light, but not at the expense of on-board graphics and less power.

Thanks for all the help!
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OpenSolaris?
My, my!
IMVHO "they" killed (Open)Solaris.
That GNU-guy working on Indiana could let Sun abandon the SXDE (developer's editions with all apps you could dream of).
Now Blastware got splitted.
If you want to run *any*Solaris, go Milax.
But few still are Solaris, just an incredible mess.
Only OpenSolaris Express edition seems to have survived.
For how long ?
Not me on xxx86 production machines.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lvlamb View Post
OpenSolaris?
My, my!
IMVHO "they" killed (Open)Solaris.
That GNU-guy working on Indiana could let Sun abandon the SXDE (developer's editions with all apps you could dream of).
Now Blastware got splitted.
If you want to run *any*Solaris, go Milax.
But few still are Solaris, just an incredible mess.
Only OpenSolaris Express edition seems to have survived.
For how long ?
Not me on xxx86 production machines.
SXDE was abandoned because the focus has switched to community-based development. Features will be actively merged from SXCE to the Solaris release and OpenSolaris. As you should know, Solaris is about longer release cycles while OpenSolaris aims for shorter ones.

As for the comment about Indiana, I think you're referring to the lack of configurability in that distribution that has bothered me too, but custom distribution sets are a feature for the upcoming 2008.11 installer. So, I think that'll be a big step forward.

In the end, if the customizability and availability of software improve, then OpenSolaris will be an awesome operating system. Also, I don't like the idea of distributions, so I will not try Milax or Nexenta or Schillix or whatever.
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