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Which computers are guaranteed to work?

I am in the market for a new high-end Ubuntu laptop, and I was wondering if anyone had any recommendations.

My requirements are:

  • that it be crazy-fast (a quad-core i7 processor will do nicely)

  • excellent battery life under real usage (over 7 hours)

  • high-resolution screen (at least 1440x900)

Basically, I want the MacBook Pro, but with Ubuntu instead of OS X. I know I could just buy the MacBook Pro and install Ubuntu on it, but my understanding is that recent MacBook hardware is not well-supported under Ubuntu. Plus, I'd prefer not to pay a premium on Apple hardware.

Is there anything out there that can run Ubuntu well, and still compete with Apple on performance, battery life, and screen resolution?

Edit: Just to follow up, I ended up buying a Lenovo W520, which works great, except that for a long time the nVidia Optimus graphics were impossible to get working. Now they work quite well, but are still an ordeal to set up.

Complicating things is a BIOS bug that Lenovo refuses to acknowledge or fix. In the future, I'm going to stay away from nVidia graphics on laptops at all costs, and probably prefer other brands to Lenovo.

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marked as duplicate by Uri Herrera, Jorge Castro, Marco Ceppi Nov 3 '11 at 2:37

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Part of the reason apples computers are so popular are that they are well built and have good components. The best solution may be to buy a macbook pro. Just a suggestion. –  Alvar Nov 2 '11 at 20:30
    
It seems like the Lenovo W520 might be the answer. –  jbeard4 Nov 2 '11 at 22:18

6 Answers 6

The System 76 Bonobo is probably your best bet. Not sure about battery life (I don't have one yet), but it will clip a MacBook anything at anything else :).

About battery life: just get the extra battery. It is rather difficult to find any laptop that comes out the box with longer battery life. My HP dv7 (from 2008) came with about 3 hrs battery life at first, but I was able to find a 3rd party (not HP direct that is) battery with about 4 to 6 hours battery life (that was using KDE which allowed me to set power profiles; GNOME does not allow that so I would get a more average battery life of about 4 hrs.

If you want the power more than the battery life, then look no further - unless you want the ZaReason Chimera, which is quite the beast, but also quite expensive :).

Please do not complain about the looks :).

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I read a review that said this laptop only got between 2 and 3 hours battery life, so I've had to rule that one out. –  jbeard4 Nov 2 '11 at 2:23
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You could change the battery... –  Alvar Nov 2 '11 at 20:29

I would definitely suggest a high-end ThinkPad from Lenovo. Though not native, almost all Lenovo laptops support Ubuntu completely and most are even certified for Ubuntu.

If you want serious performance I'd go for the W series ($2000+) however the X series is much more portable with longer battery life and can be configured to an Intel-i7. Check it out!

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If you are concerned with the looks and specs all together, I would suggest you the Dell XPS 15 (and works perfectly with ubuntu, tested with 11.04)

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Looks like a reasonable candidate. What kind of battery life are you getting? Also, how does the NVidia Optimus work under Ubuntu? –  jbeard4 Nov 4 '11 at 3:50
    
Dont expect more than 2 hours battery life (With 6-cell battery, mine having Full HD screen with 2 GB Graphics and I dont expect anything more ;)). As far Nvidia Optimus is concerned, you can use Bumblebee link –  Nikhil Nov 4 '11 at 4:03
    
Ouch. Too bad about all these 15" machines getting poor battery life - that's a deal-breaker for me. –  jbeard4 Nov 4 '11 at 4:19
    
@echo-flow If you are much concerned with battery life you could opt an 9-cell battery –  Nikhil Nov 4 '11 at 4:19

I bought a Macbook Air a month ago and failed to find an equivalent alternative to it for a better price. All of the competitors were priced higher by several hundred euros.

So, a mac tax - if it exists - is not notable compared to laptops with the windows tax.


What I wanted:

  • 13"
  • As light as possible, thus a Macbook Air
    • which means no DVD drive
    • below 1.7kg
  • High resolution (but the MBA is the only one with 1400x900, laptops from other vendors have 1366x768 only, so I accepted those, too)
  • at least 4GiB RAM
  • 128 or 256GiB SSD
  • integrated Intel graphics card since I know those work good with Linux
  • Wireless
  • Bluetooth

This specs were fulfilled by:

  • Lenovo Thinkpad X1, 1.553€
  • Macbook Air, 1.500€
  • Samsung 900X3A A01, 1.299€

(based on the availability and prices in german online stores)

I read some reviews that told me that the Samsung's case is not really steady for such a thin notebook, which ruled it out.

So the only two left were the thinkpad and the macbook air - and the air had the higher resolution.

AND the air has 256GiB SSD while the thinkpad and the samsung have 128GiB only. An air with that spec costs 1300€.

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Can you give a couple of examples of "equivalent alternatives" which were priced higher? –  binW Nov 2 '11 at 18:33

As everyone on my class has macbooks, I bought this Thinkpad X200 for 450 dollars on eBay.

It runs perfectly with Linux, everything but the fingerprint reader works, incl. Suspend on lid closing.

The battery life is about 8-9 hrs, the build is ... well it's a Thinkpad (magnesium alloy cage, the works), the keyboard is amazing and I can't imagine using another one without the trackpoint.

My only gripe is the screen which has horrible view angles, so I'm looking forward to a Thinkpad X220 with IPS screen (they are still over 1K, but you get the screen, Core i7).

This notebook is very light and portable, it has the raw power to run Unity 3D like a champ, and all the compiling in gentoo was fairly fast.

Thinkpads are great linux notebooks and I recommend the W520 if you want a beast.

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Take a look at Samsung's Series 9 and Series 5, they're squarely aimed at competing with Apple's offerings so the styling and specs should be similar.

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