I'd like to replace my netbook (Samsung N210) by something a little bit more powerful while keeping my machine weight low and long battery life.

I currently hesitate between two machines I consider on par feature wise.

The Asus UX31:

  • pluses: nice screen resolution, good battery life, usb3
  • minuses: low screen view angles, no backlit keyboard

The MacBook Air 13 inches:

  • pluses: nice screen resolution and view angles, backlit keyboard, one-thunderbolt-cable docking station
  • minuses: price, the non-standard keyboard layout, no usb3

As I don't want to give up using Ubuntu as I have for 5 years now, I wonder, which should I pick with this in mind ?

I fear that we will never get the possibility to fully use the Thunderbolt port (for the Apple screen for example), but is the usb3 support in Linux in good shape ?

Also, if Ubuntu could run out of the box without tinkering that would be nice (even if I don't mind a bit hacking, my free time is rare these days).

  • Not sure why people consider this off-topic. The question is simply: Which one of these two laptops would run Ubuntu best? That's on-topic with a nice, limited scope. – Oli Nov 10 '11 at 12:10
  • Possible duplicate? - askubuntu.com/questions/131/… – jrg Nov 10 '11 at 12:18
  • I have selected those two laptops for their screen resolution, weight and price. It's the only hardware I found on the market that fitted my criterions. – thomas Nov 12 '11 at 20:13
  • I am using the UX31, things work reasonably well out of the box apart from the trackpad (no gestures) and suspend. – wim Dec 8 '11 at 1:10
  • 1
    it is very good.. there were a few wrinkles in 11.10 but most of them are fixed now in 12.04 ! – wim Jun 27 '12 at 23:16

The Asus UX31 has a few Ubuntu Forums threads but this one seems to highlight the main issues and work around one of them. Multitouch doesn't seem to work yet. Suspend works if you follow the SUSPEND_MODULES hacks on the later pages.

The MacBook Air 4,2 has a wiki page detailing the current status of the hardware. When using the Wiki to determine hardware compatibility you should look to see what version of Ubuntu it's using. In this case, it's fairly up to date, using Oneiric.

There are a few worrying issues including the screen but the community support is there. There is a script you run and shazaam, most of everything seems to work.

In my opinion: there is probably a laptop out there that works better than both of these but given the choice, the MacBook is probably going to involve the fewest major issues after the first week (of you fixing things). If you need USB3 however (and you might want it in the future) that might rule it out.

They're both premium hardware with extremely premium price tags so choose wisely.

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  • Sadly their are very few 13 inches laptops (in my budget) that use a screen with a resolution bigger than the de facto standard 1366*768 ... – thomas Nov 13 '11 at 18:29

I have used the UX31 for about one month now. With some tinkering (mainly using patched kernels) everything now works very well. The good news is that many (all?) the patches are on their way into the Ubuntu kernel for 12.04.

  • I get between 5 and 7 hours of use from on charge
  • The laptop is very quiet and cool. I have hardly heard the fan (even when transcoding video)
  • While the viewing angle is limited the 1600x900 screen is stunning.
  • The boot time is about 5 sec and resume from stand-by 1-2
  • My only gripe - if I have to have one - is the keyboard. It often require a harder touch than I am used to.

There is a very nice wiki for the UX31 here.

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Here is a good place to look:


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I would definitely say MacBook air, not just because I'm an apple hardware fan, but because there is more documentation on it; however, I would consider waiting until the new airs come out in early summer. There is also word that the new macbook pros will have the same case as the airs.

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