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Portables Hardware

Linux on Laptops Manufacturer Report Card Updated 158

wehe writes "The Linux on Laptops Manufacturer Report Card was updated. The changes are based on some of the criticisms the first announcement at SlashDot has got. A matrix of Original Equipment Manufacturers - OEM relations was added together with tips and tricks how to identify the original laptop manufacturer. Also a list of Linux laptop and PDA resellers was added. Unfortunately even in our times of Linux success, support by laptop manufacturers is seldom, or if provided not much helpful. Though the marketing departments of some major manufacturers have announced Linux support for their laptops sometimes, it was not developed or silently dropped. Because of the rapid development (every manufacturer creates new models almost every three months) and the specific hardware of mobile computer devices and accessories (see Linux Mobile Guide for details), it is important to have current and reliable information about their Linux compatibility. A current example is Intel`s new Centrino(TM) technology. Though there are many Linux laptop installation reports available already, Intel still does not provide full Linux support yet. Note: the URL of the original "Linux on Laptops Manufacturer Report Card" has changed from MobiliX to TuxMobil, because of severe trademark trouble with Asterix and Obelix, as reported on SlashDot."
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Linux on Laptops Manufacturer Report Card Updated

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Sunday August 17, 2003 @09:22AM (#6716376)
    Just FYI for those buying a laptop --

    The "Radeons" that come with most new HP/Compaq laptops aren't really radeons. They are "Radeon IGP320/340" chips.

    These -do not- work with the radeon 3d driver. To repeat: if you buy these laptops, you'll only get 3d support under windows. There is -no- 3d support under linux.

    HP, Compaq, and ATI have all stonewalled on the issue. Getting support on this issue from any of them is useless. Heck, the only reason 2D works is because good folks in the community made it happen.

    The bottom line is if you want accelerated 3D, look elsewhere.
    • While it's no speed demon, my old Fujitsu Lifebook Just Works. Except the shitty winmodem. I got that fixed with a PCMCIA replacement in the form of a Lan card. Got X, networking, KDE, Qt 3.2, everything on it runs perfect. Still a little slow. And the video card, although supported, still sux!
    • Supposedly, one of the later 2.5 kernel patches introduced agpgart support for the Radeon IGP. I did manage to get agpgart to detect the ATI Northbridge on my HP Pavilion in 2.6.0-test2 (Something I couldn't do in 2.4.20-9), but I still couldn't get the DRI driver to work. I haven't played with it too much, but it seems that it may work with some tweaking in 2.6 kernels.
    • by Anonymous Coward
      HP's support has to be one of the worst that I've seen. I had a problem with the keyboard on the laptop: the shift and cntrl keys would not work sporadically. Initially their tech guy told me that it was a known issue (a BIOS problem). When I called up asking for an ETA on the BIOS update, their response was: we think its a battery issue, and will send you a new battery! WTF? Obviosuly it was a delaying tactic. I just returned the thing.
    • Also add Packard Bell to that list, I have a PB iGo that uses a Radeon IGP320, parent is correct, DRI does *not* work with the Radeon driver from the kernel sources.
    • The parent's 100% correct about 3d support.

      Then again, it's a laptop. I didn't exactly purchase it to play Doom 3.

      My HP (ze4229ca) was a dream to install Linux on, really. Easier than many desktops. The only things I haven't got working on it (besides the 3d) are the modem (don't use it), and my wireless card (stupid Dlink ac100x card). Beyond that, putting RedHat on it was dead simple. Just use the generic VESA driver for video and boom - a nice, zippy Linux laptop.

      Considering I can't even get Windows 2
    • Im not sure which models your referring to but my Compaq Evo 610c has a true radeon 7500 in it, and is supported with 3d in mandrake 9.1.
  • by winstarman ( 624536 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @09:22AM (#6716377) Homepage
    I've found that PCMCIA is always a pain when it comes to laptop linux installs... anyone know of any really good resources on this?

  • by Anonymous Coward
    Centrino seems to be losing its appeal to Linux users.

    You pay a premium price, there is no driver for the integrated 802.11b device and seperate 54 Mbps 802.11g devices are plentily available nowadays...

    • Re:Centrino WLAN (Score:4, Informative)

      by Yue ( 125988 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @10:06AM (#6716528)
      Centrino seems to be losing its appeal to Linux users.

      If you care, there is a "Intel Support of Centrino Under Linux Petition" here:
      http://www.petitiononline.com/xanthan/petition.htm l
      Please go sign it.

    • seperate 54 Mbps 802.11g devices are plentily available nowadays...

      Yeah, for Windows. Most if not all 54g cards are on Broadcom's chipsets, which have no Linux drivers.
  • Mandrake 9.1 was very cooperative with my laptop, but I understand (from usenet and personal experience) that they have a problem running the latest NVIDIA drivers.

    Using an older version of the driver (sorry, I don't remember which one) worked. It's not perfect, but they do the job.

    Just an FYI for anyone else who may be experiencing similar problems with their Dell.

  • Knoppix (Score:3, Informative)

    by anonymous coword ( 615639 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @09:34AM (#6716442) Homepage Journal
    Isthe only distro that dectects my laptop's hardware very well. SuSE and RedHat Severn work good as well, but I'm still waiting for Drivers for the ATI 3D RAGE mobility card on it. My laptop is a SONY VAIO PCGFX-401, it somehow "convenitently" had a spare 6 GB partition where I installed Linux on.
  • My Experience (Score:2, Interesting)

    by JamesP ( 688957 )
    I am using my laptop to type this. It has Linux installed.

    The worse problem: video. But after downloading the driver everything worked fine (Via TwisterK)

    Network - no problem
    Sound Card - no problem

    Now, not everybody gets lucky. I had a friend who took some weeks and several distros to get his LCD panel to work... Video Card - Mobility Radeon

    The funniest thing is that he payed 50000 more than I did...
    • the last notebook i bought (had to replace the harddrive because i... um... well, cut the crap i shook it while it was on) was a Toshiba Tecra 8000. Awesome linux support on it... no problems with anything except sound, and that's just because it's on the isa bus, and it's not PnP
    • Two questions:

      1) Did you run out of hard drive space for your spell checker?

      2) 50000, more? Are these yen or pesos?
    • That would be 500 Euros (500E00 with the proper symbol turned into 50000)
  • by curious.corn ( 167387 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @09:49AM (#6716479)
    When time for an upgrade came I thought: screw games, I'll go with whatever I get for mac if any. I want it mobile, no more desktops, basta. Should I spend > 1500 for a machine and still have to boot MS to get what I paid for? Should I struggle with poorly designed hardware strung together by a hideous bunch of hackish miniport drivers? Shall I risk frying my expensive HW because linux can't help but drop the towel because of some manufacturer's poorly standardized, buggy bios implementation of ACPI? No.
    So I held my breath and bought an Apple. I miss linux though. ;-)
    • by Chuck Bucket ( 142633 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @10:01AM (#6716517) Homepage Journal
      I bought an iBook and threw Gentoo on it. For what I need, admining servers at work, life, wireless, great battery samba access, gnome2, nothing beats it. Also I can run mol (mac on linux) if I need to access the OS X side. The best of both worlds if you ask me.

    • iBook is teh bomb! (Score:4, Informative)

      by Genady ( 27988 ) <gary DOT rogers AT mac DOT com> on Sunday August 17, 2003 @10:11AM (#6716542)
      I bought my first iBook in the fall of '01, and am now on my second. OS X + iBook = bliss. Occasionally I'll look at Sony's newest bit of eye candy and start to drool, then I tell myself that my os choises are Linux or XP and I get over it. Seriously Linux is good, but OS X is just better. I haven't had to hand edit a system file since 10.2, I'm hardly ever in Terminal anymore. Now if they could just put vi command mode in Hydra I'd be a happy camper.
    • You don't have to pick. I bought an iBook last fall and split the drive between OS X and Mandrake 9.1 PPC. Now I can switch between whichever is better for the task at hand. Throw Virtual PC for Mac into the mix, and now you have a laptop which can run OS X, x86 operating systems, and Linux. :)

    • Linux is surely available for Macintosh hardware. Yellow Dog Linux [yellowdoglinux.com], from Terrasoft [terrasoftsolutions.com], is a port of Red Hat specifically designed for the Apple line of hardware.

      In fact, you can purchase Apple gear directly from TerraSoft with a dual boot of OS X and YDL at no extra charge, and maintain the original Apple warranty.

      I haven't used YDL myself, since I'm happy with the terminal in OS X--but my understanding is that, since, like Apple, they only have to support a specific line of computer hardware, that everyth
    • too bad you've gotta live with a one-buttone mousepad. It's not so bad running MacOS, since most apps expect you to only have one button, but if you're runnig Unix stuff, where the standard is three buttons, it's gotta be hella inconvenient.
      • not that you can't go down to [CompUSA, BestBuy, Target, CircuitCity, FutureShop, MomAndPop, Sears, FuncoLand, SoftwareEct] and buy at $10 USB 3 button scrolling mouse :\
      • Funny, most of the Unix-based servers, firewalls, bridges, etc I administer, I access through a terminal.

        What's more, I can use the mouse or pad to, get this, select text, press Command+C and +V to copy and paste, and my Microsoft IntelliMouse to right click, left click, AND scroll.

        Oh wait, I just realized. You're a troll and I just bit.
        • No... I think they're beautiful machines and OSX is a great system but, for me, having to bust out an external mouse is just a bit of deal breaker.

          That and the fact that I'm a poor college student (not that it's stopping all the other grad students from picking them up).
  • Thinkpads (Score:5, Informative)

    by joel8x ( 324102 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @10:07AM (#6716531) Homepage
    I just installed Mandrake 9.1 on a T20 without a hitch. Once you peel of the "designed for Windows" sticker on the case, you have a laptop completely free of Microsoft since there is no Windows key on the keyboard!
    • IBM Ebay Store (Score:5, Interesting)

      by niko9 ( 315647 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @01:11PM (#6717359)
      Get yourself a great deal on a new, but overstock, IBM Thinkpad at the IBM Authorized Ebay store. [ebay.com]

      Your dealing directly with Big Blue (you pay by credit card thru IBM's secure site), the laptops are brand new with full warranties, and the models are just a couple of steps behind their top of the line models. I have a Thinkpad X22, and everything works with Debian, even 3d acceleration.

      The laptops they auction are heavily discounted, and many have a Buy It Now price for haggle free buying.

      Also,check out IBM's Global Financing [ebay.com] site for refurbished computers and laptops. Great way to get and older Thinkpad that is sure to work with Linux.
  • by jonwil ( 467024 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @10:09AM (#6716536)
    The "cheap" laptops tend to include bargain basement software modems, integrated lower-end video chipsets and the like.

    Software modems are always going to be a problem, one alternative there is to simply get a PC card modem that linux supports.

    Graphics chipsets for example are also going to be a problem simply because even though there may be good linux support for desktop chipsets/cards like the GeForce4MX 440 (which is what I have), getting the manufacturers to support the laptop and "integrated" chipsets is harder.

    Although there is an answer to the whole display drivers issue. Move to a 3-part driver. Part 1 would be like the miniport driver on windows and would contain all the actual low-level driver support. This bit would reside in the kernel and would ideally be Open Source or at the very least have "open glue code" like the current NVIDIA drviers do. This part would also include enough to get text mode going properly.
    Part 2 would be like the DDI driver on windows and would convert the data from x-windows, svgalib or whatever else into the cards native format. This could sit in userland space and wouldnt be loaded until a graphical app was loaded. It would talk to the kernel portion via a special call that would enable 2-way communication between both halves in a way that is driver-specific but at the same time independant from changes to the kernel.
    Part 3 would then be the 3d portion of the driver and would be written to work specificly with OpenGL.
  • by localghost ( 659616 ) <dleblanc@gmail.com> on Sunday August 17, 2003 @10:12AM (#6716545)
    Linksys 802.11g cards [linksys.com] (and the new version of their 802.11b PCI card [linksys.com]) don't work in linux. The chipset manufaturer, Broadcom [broadcom.com], is holding back specifications on the card. If you want 802.11g in linux, the best solution is the D-Link card [dlink.com], or the Netgear one [netgear.com]. Both use the Intersil [intersil.com] Prism GT chipset. Intersil is very open about their design, and supports the development of open source drivers for Linux and other operating systems. Even if Broadcom were to open up, Intersil is more likely the company you would be wanting to give money to.

    Still, drivers for the Broadcom chipset would be nice, so take a minute to sign the petition [petitiononline.com].
  • I notice that a number of the laptop manufacturers have product listings on their websites, but do any of them make their products available more or less directly, rather than having to go through Dell or Sony? I seem to remember someone at a LAN party a few years back showing up with something that looked a lot like a Dell Inspiron, but it had no major name badging anywhere, and he said that it was an OEM laptop.
    • The much-hyped Alienware laptops are actually made by a compny (can't remember the name) that are also sold as Sager's for much less, and the Sager's can be bought without an OS. However, they don't come in fruity colors like the Alienware.

      Sager laptop [pctorque.com]

      Alienware [alienware.com]

      Cnet user reviews [cnet.com] (an funny mix of people pointing out that you can get the Sager for cheaper, and Alienware fans who can't seem to understand that)

      • Interesting... I matched up the Alienware Area-51M Extreme and the Sager 5670-V, and found prices of $3115 and $2570, respectively ($2510.89 for the Sager if purchased via cash-equivalent).

        Any others out there?

        For that matter, any non-major-nameplate manufacturers that don't require losing one's laptop for a week when in need of repair? I'd like to find one that will both have the Radeon 9600 Mobile available and be close enough to a repair place that I can just drop off the laptop for pickup the next d
      • Judging by the list below, they're made by a company called Chicony, Clevo, or Kapok (which owns Clevo).

    • I have a pro-star 8593 and it works flawlessly in Linux. Everything but the winmodem just works and there are binary drivers for that, but I haven't needed it.

      I met a guy who had a computer that was identical to mine, but his turned out to be a Dell. It seems like there is a great deal of rebranding in the laptop world with only a few real manufacturers.

      Only trouble I have had with the laptop is the battery. It doesn't hold a charge anymore and pro-star refuses to replace it, even though I bought an exten
  • I want a laptop to run Linux on, what is the best sub-400 (about $640) laptop to run Linux on?
  • Averatec (Score:2, Informative)

    by mAineAc ( 580334 )
    I bought an averatec laptop and got everything working great on it including 3d acceleration. I bought the laptop at best buy for $549. I was worried about it at first because of it being so cheap.
  • Dell 600m and Linux (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Kewjoe ( 307612 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @11:05AM (#6716717)
    This Guy [guilds.net] has an interesting writeup of how he got his Dell 600m to work in linux.

    I have the same laptop, but im running Win XP Pro for now.
  • Linux on Laptops (Score:1, Interesting)

    by Anonymous Coward
    If we really want Linux on laptops, now is the time to make our wishes ( and buying power ) known. It is well known that IBM is promoting Linux, but on its own terms, where the can get the most bang-profit-market share for the investment. The Linux community should let IBM know that it can ONLY expect our support if IBM supports Linux on ALL its products ( hardware and software ). After all HP is starting to cosy up to Linux ( and maybe even Dell ). If I can get a legacy ( M$ ) free, fully supported, laptop
  • Recomendations (Score:4, Interesting)

    by WindBourne ( 631190 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @11:34AM (#6716852) Journal
    I wish that they would come out with recomendations for what to buy and not to buy. linuxprinting did that and it made it easy to decide what not to buy ( no canon, or lexmark home for me ). I also noticed that support got better on other printers.
  • by pfavr ( 108500 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @11:36AM (#6716858) Homepage
    How about a dedicated laptop linux distribution? So you don't have to choose all the individual drivers for the various hardware of you notebook. Instead you would just choose the manufacturer and model e.g. "Acer Travelmate 340T" and everything would be set.

    What do you think?
    • If I remember correctly, I think that RedHat was working on something similar to this a while back.

      I think they actually decided that very few ppl would be willing to pay for a full ditro for their laptop and decided to drop the idea.

      The reason why selecting a make + model is worthless is that the autodetect routines like Redhat's anaconda already do this without user intervention. The other problem with this is that laptops change throughout their lifecycle. Some get video upgrades (Radeon 9000 to 9600
    • how about just develop better auto recongintion, so that when installing, it won't need to ask you in the first place?
  • I think the article has it wrong, Apple is not against alternative OSs, only their own OS9. You can buy any current mac(even ones that can't boot OS9) with linux from Yellow Dog [terrasoftsolutions.com] who is an offical Apple distributor.

    I think they mainly want to kill OS9 so they don't have to develope 2 drivers for all their new equipment and to get mac developers making stuff for their new OS.

    I pretty certain every piece of hardware on Apple's laptops are supported(802.11, modem, firewire, USB), with the exception of NVIDI

    • They already killed OS 9. Steve put it in a coffin and they had a little ceremony and everything. It's dead. It was in its death throes for a couple of years before this, so no biggie.

      The funny thing is that people still cling to it! I don't know how or why. Other than a very few products that are obscure (capybara anyone?) no vendor still develops for it - INCLUDING Apple.
  • Knoppix (Score:3, Informative)

    by Jebediah21 ( 145272 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:05PM (#6717670) Homepage Journal
    Probably been said already but Knoppix [knoppix.net] is the ultimate way to test a notebook for Linux compatibility. It doesn't cost anything to go to a store and try it out on one of their demo machines. If you can't test or they don't have the machine try to go the Apple route as another poster said. I personally love the iBuddie 901 DeskNote [desknote.net] I have. NewEgg.com used to sell them but no longer does.
    • Comparable to the DeskNote is the AOpen Deskbook 1945 [aopen.com.tw] ( actually, it looks much better: 1400x1050 screen, cheaper RAM, avail without CPU/HD/RAM, etc.

      • Not a bad looking machine. My main reasons for buying the machine I did was lack of windows, weight, and cost. Too bad they bundle windows with the 1945.
        • ... Too bad they bundle windows with the 1945.

          Agreed, but I'm damned if I can figure-out how they do so when it's available without hard-drive, though...

          Actually, it's the screen that'd do it for me: 1400x1050 is really nice...
          ( and the ability to choose the drive: Seagate for quiet, Samsung for cheap, Hitachi Deskstar for performance or Western Digital for huge... yeah... )

          • Good point. It would be tough to have win installed with no HD. The nice thing about the a901 is that it came with ThizLinux. Worst distro I've ever used, but it let me know that the hardware worked with Linux. The only thing I haven't been able to get going with other distros is the modem and that isn't a big deal. The screen sounds sweet though!
  • by LuxuryYacht ( 229372 ) on Sunday August 17, 2003 @02:13PM (#6717732) Homepage
    What really needs to be worked on is not just a laptop that runs Linux but laptops that feature the completely open firmware of LinuxBIOS.

    One of the final hurdles in open firmware for laptops is having support for the "system/keyboard scan controllers". Closed source offerings include:

    Insyde Software [insydesw.com]

    Phoenix [phoenix.com]

    The keyboard scan, power managment (power buttons, cover open/closed, battery charger supervision) on a laptop is typically done separate from the cpu and chipset with a 16 or 32 bit micro (typically by SMSC, Renasas or Fujitsu) with its own firmware with lots of GPIO and keyscan I/O. These controllers are generally tied in with the SMbus for SPD, system management (temp & Voltage monitors) and FLASH ROM BIOS write enables.

    Has anyone come across any open source projects that have started work on this?
  • I bought three Clevo Notebooks last year without any OS preinstalled, then installed Debian Linux myself. The machines work fine. I also have several Sony C1 and a Sony U1, all with Debian Linux (my currently preferred distribution). However, every time, it's at least a few days of work and searching the web.
    Just a few days ago, I noticed this offer from Lycoris/Toshiba:


    Sounds interesting. It's a nice Toshiba Portege 3500 with Linux preinstalled. I hope Lycoris has
  • Linux on IBM T22 (Score:2, Informative)

    by calix ( 73098 )
    I've been quite successful installing Redhat 7.2, 8.0 and 9.0 on an IBM Thinkpad T22. My only complaints are that my serial Palm cradle doesn't seem to connect. Otherwise - display, video adapter (ATI Rage) and all other ports are working fine. Ok, well, the built-in winmodem doesn't work, but I expected that. I've even gotten a wireless NIC from Micro$oft installed and working.

    One meaningless complaint is the lack of connectors from Ximian for Exchange 5.5 (POP isn't sufficient for me)...
  • Is there a list of laptops that work, or must one click on ahundred manufacturer links looking for a hit?
  • Sigh, I guess Gateway is no longer a major enough player to warrant inclusion in the survey ...
    RH 8 and 9 installed perfectly on my 400 series, except for the winmodem. Earlier variants of the winmodem chip seem to have linux drivers, so maybe it will work someday.

I just asked myself... what would John DeLorean do? -- Raoul Duke