My good old desktop died, and instead of replacing it by another one, I am considering going for a notebook this time. I’ve been using one with Windows for work, and the mobility is definitely appealing. Besides, using with a secondary display makes things pretty comfortable.
So, my point is: how well does Fedora install and run on notebooks? I remember that not so long ago running any Linux flavor on a notebook was a matter of tremendous luck and commitment. A lot of features could malfunction: display, touchpad, suspend/resume etc. Every upgrade broke even more stuff. It was a nightmare, at least in my personal experience.
Should I take the leap of faith now, and give it another try? It will most likely be more expensive, so ending up with a subpar system is not an option.
The options here in Brazil are, as far as I can see: Dell, Lenovo, Acer, HP and Samsung. Dell offers the option to come preinstalled on some models with Ubuntu 20.04, so I would expect Fedora would also be a viable option. Acer comes with their own Linux-based OS (Endless OS), don’t know what to expect from them. Lenovo also offers preinstalled “Linux”, but they don’t say exactly which flavor.
So, what’s your take on this? Any recommendations on good options, and also on what to avoid?
Genrally, a lot of Fedora installations run on notebook. So, I don’t think there is a “general” problem. However, you should check the hardware of the notebook (which you also should at a desktop): the graphics remains a potential issue. Some graphic cards will only work properly with a proprietary driver, while some users don’t want to have (and to manage) that in their kernel space. E.g., nvidia can be an issue for the open source drivers (nouveau developers rely on reversing the code of nvidia), both in terms of support (if the card is very new) but also performance. So check that out first.
As @kpfleming already noted, Lenovo is a good point: I will get the carbon x1 gen10 next month. It can be shipped with Fedora officially by Lenovo. Although I prefer to do my installations myself, this indicates that the notebook is well tested with Fedora. Quite sure there are other models, too.
Thanks @kpfleming and @py0xc3 ! I also prefer to install and upgrade de OS myself. As for the graphics card, I don’t mind using Nvidia’s proprietary driver, if Nouveau doesn’t fully work for some reason. But it’s definitely something to keep a close eye on.
The Carbon x1 gen10 is still not available here. The gen9 costs almost as much as a Macbook Pro . I was initially aiming for a more mid-range model. Even if I consider Lenovo, I would still need to be careful about my choice of the model, right?
On one hand, you can check on your preferred search engines for other Linux experiences with that specific model, even if it cannot be shipped with Linux/Fedora, this does not mean that it won’t work. On the other hand, you can also search for Linux experiences with the contained graphics card. I will get Intel graphics as I don’t need much graphics performance, and with Intel, I can rely on stability without the need to focus graphics and related issues at all.
Nevertheless, it has to be noted that compatibility issues have become rare (especially if you don’t need super special and super new high-end hardware). I know many people who just bought a notebook off-the-shelf, without problems when installing Linux/Fedora. Linux systems that use the binary blob kernel (this includes Fedora) are, at least in my perception, today nearly as hardware flexible as Windows. But I think keeping an eye on these issues remains a good idea before investing money, just to be sure, even if the possibility of issues is very low.
Almost all modern notebooks work well with linux. The thing you need to look for is the age of the model of the machine you are looking at. A model that was released a year or more past usually is a safe bet, whereas a brand new model may have hardware that does not yet have drivers available.
Almost any of the brands you mentioned work well with linux, but check carefully for reviews of general brand quality. Some have a less stellar reputation than others. Also, you will find that the models that are a year or 2 old usually carry a lower price tag than those that are brand new.
One additional thing to consider as you are looking at systems. If you get one that has the nvidia GPU (common in dual gpu laptops) then you will likely want to use the nvidia driver for graphics quality. If you choose that then you will need to disable secure boot before the kernel will load the nvidia modules. The default nouveau driver that comes with fedora has some issues that interfere at times. Other than that you should have few issues.
I have the Dell XPS13 9300 and for the first year or so, it was a bit dodgy with the thunderbolt dock and an external 4k display (random display freezes and blackouts [ssh still worked]). But they finally released a firmware update that fixed it. Not sure whether it was the laptop or dock. Both had a bunch of updates.
It’s pretty nice now, so I’m reluctant to install any more firmware updates. Running fedora 34 now.
As I understood preinstalled comes gnome 40 + what is known as Workstation.
But probably you realized, here in the community, we try to give you support using the terminal.
This means you not really depend on a certain flavor alias DE.
I can follow your thoughts about the problems we are facing here in Brazil. My hardware gets older too and I’m thinking also to buy me a portable computer. Till now I had luck. I bought me an older Dell and Fedora worked smooth.
Sounds good. @sideburns how about RJ45 connector, was there an adapter included or did you have to install everything with wireless?
This i would like to avoid because of eventually incompatible/problematic drivers where need to be installed manually before you can get the Network running.
This USB-C network adapters, can they keep up with the network speed a build in adapter offers?
Slightly offtopic, but just for the record, I have Windows (previously 10, now 11) on my Dell Inspiron 7580, and I would say suspend works properly at most 10% of the times, probably even less. If I set it to sleep when I close the lid, it usually remains awake for some reason, and totally drains the battery within a couple of hours. Pretty annoying. It seems Dell has a very bad reputation when it comes to suspend/resume, regardless of the OS
Reading the XPS thread you found, it seems that at least on Linux it is (unsurprisingly) easier to diagnose the problem
Hello @ocosta ,
I have put Fedora Linux as Workstation and Silverblue on laptops and notebooks from a Dell Inspirion 1501 (AMD Turion 64 bit!, 2003 era) to a Lenovo Thinkpad E530 (Intel I5 5th gen) and others like HP and ACER and Compaq when referring to the cheaper models I’ve tried it on. Worked everytime, just some were faster than others obviously. Plus I haven’t played with the fingerprint scanner yet on the Lenovo, it can be an issue I have read. I don’t think you should worry as much unless you get into a more esoteric build, or maybe the newest hardware out.
Just a quick update on my quest to find a nice notebook: after comparing a couple of the options, I am inclined to go with the Acer Nitro 5 AN515-44-R11B. I really don’t care about the “gaming” aspect, but it does offer a nice pack of features (nice CPU and GPU, easily expansible RAM and SSD) at a mid-range price, and AFAICS it doesn’t look too bad on the Linux Hardware Database (thanks @ankursinha !). The plastic chassis looks very cheap, though, but I guess I can live with it… I didn’t understand the 802.11acR2+ax on the tech specs, looks like a “pre WiFi 6”, maybe? Anyway, not a major issue either.
I’ve also considered Dell Vostro 5510, and Lenovo Thinkpad E14 and Ideapad Gaming i3, but overall it seems the NItro 5 offers a more interesting package. What do you guys think?
UPDATE: To spare you from googling the specs:
CPU: AMD Ryzen 7 4800H
GPU: Nvidia GTX 1650
RAM: 8GB, expansible up to 32GB (will definitely go for the max here)
Very likely no problem here I am running a 5600G Ryzen 5 on my ASUS mobo
If you don’t game try to stick to the default graphics drivers, on my nvidia equipped stuff, I found the neuveou drivers worked ootb fine.
At least 16GB now is my preferred min standard due to the use of zram for swap space, but my laptops are all 8GB and out of memory is not an issue I encounter with them.
SSD storage is good, a 1TB option would allow you to set up a snapshot partition to take snapshots of your home dir for backups for instance.
Thanks for the info. I am pretty confident this will work, too (of course, there are tons of other hardware that can fail – bluetooth, audio etc. ) As for the graphic driver, I agree, I will only switch to Nvidia proprietary driver if for some reason Nouveau doesn’t fully work.
There is another Nitro 5 setup with 16GB preinstalled (AN515-44-R5YZ), but with Ryzen 5 instead of 7, so I’d rather let go of 1x8GB modules and go ASAP for 2x16GB modules with a better processor.
Another plus of the Nitro is that it comes with an empty SSD SATA bay, which will let me transfer the one I have on my desktop. It won’t add that much storage (250GB), but it doesn’t make sense to waste it either.
I have two Acer laptops: “Aspire E1-532G” and older one (while “emachines” brand was still in use) “emachines E725”. Plastic cases on both of them are very sturdy. I had issues with wireless driver on “E725”, but solved it relatively easily. It still works, upgraded memory to max (4GB :-)) and replaced dying HDD. Runs F35 pretty satisfactory. Newer one (Aspire) runs great with 8GB but I wanted to cranck it to 16GB. I didn’t open cover from bottom, to see the slots, cause I trusted these:
$ sudo dmidecode -t memory | grep -i max
Maximum Capacity: 16 GB
When I got memory, I found out that socket for second DIMM ws not soldered in. Manufacturer spared couple of bucks, but I’m screwed. Now I’ll have to contact one of rare services in Croatia that is capable to solder it in. So make sure that it is possible to insert additional RAM.
p.s. I’d go nuts if my keyboard would throw red light on my eyes.