How To Buy Ubuntu Laptops and Netbooks
How To Buy Ubuntu 10.10 Laptops And Netbooks
You may well be aware that Linux's stock is on the rise at the moment; with Ubuntu, a Linux distribution, being one of its most famous proponents. Maybe you had even decided to buy a laptop that can dual boot Ubuntu and Windows, or even one that boot Ubuntu exclusively cause you are sick and tired of the same old Windows. Or you just love new toys. Whatever.
Despite not being mentioned in the title, the reasoning herein will also work for a desktop or nettop, as well as anything pre-owned that you intend to buy to install Ubuntu on.
TIP: If you're one of gazillions of notebook owners who complained incessantly about not being able to get your wifi to auto start at boot-up in Windows because of the non-standardized Fn key, you might like to hear that a lot of people have discovered that wifi can auto start at boot-up out-of-the-box in Ubuntu!
More after this ...
Why Buy Ubuntu flavored notebooks?
-Ubuntu flavored laptops are cheaper as the OS is FREE. Never argue against FREE! :D
-It's also cheaper in the long run: Ubuntu upgrades are forever FREE!
Ubuntu has 2 new releases a year. The .4 and .10 versions are released in April and October yearly without fail. This is much better than having to pay for a Service Pack of Windows masquerading as a completely new release.
-You own the OS and can do whatever you want with it; compared to Windows where even though you bought it legitly - you got the license, you don't own the software - if you were to add something new to the hardware or changed some configuration, eg, you have to call in to Microsoft and REPORT (at your own cost), not to mention that you will be treated suspiciously by the person at the other end. If you think about it, you are like a sex offender made to call the corrections officer every week to report yourself. Maybe not quite but you get the picture.
-You will no longer be accused of having a pact with the devil ;)
TIP: Ubuntu is very easy to install these days, if you are new to this, check out my hub on an easy way to install Ubuntu on a Windows partition, complete with a visual walkthrough. And click on the following link, if you need a hint on to know how to install Ubuntu without burning to a CDROM, which is especially useful when you are buying a netbook.
How To Buy Ubuntu Ready Notebooks, Netbooks, Desktops and Nettops
Buy one that has Ubuntu/Linux preloaded
If you're the type that doesn't like to research more about his subject or is too busy to, this is your best option as you have the work all done for you. Note that this is not the same as asking the techie in the shop to pre-load Ubuntu for you. You really want to have a laptop that is preloaded by the manufacturer so that all the necessary drivers would have been thoroughly checked by competent professionals.
Buy one that
has an Ubuntu/Linux bundle available
You would choose this if you still want to run Windows. Or you did not find a preloaded notebook that you really like. Get the one that has a Linux package available separately so you know that it can work with Ubuntu Linux. When you get your notebook, you ditch the Linux package and install Ubuntu on it. ;)
Regardless of whether the Linux distribution offered is Ubuntu, the fact that you can buy it with Linux as an option means that device drivers are already available in the open source community, a sure sign that it'll work with Ubuntu.
IF you did not find a laptop that you like with these 2 conditions, or if you are actually looking for a pre-loved (and now pre-separated!) laptop, you can still try and:
Buy one with all the needed hardware built-in
People have complained in forums saying that they don't know how to get an external usb device, so unless your device is an external USB ADSL/Broadband modem or a standard keyboard or mouse, it'll be a good idea to check Google for that piece of hardware you want to use, eg old usb tv tuner, external dvd player; go to Google and key in these search terms:
"Ubuntu <your device name and model>".
Check out the results that came up.
that sound device before buying
-At this point of writing Ubuntu has been using PulseAudio since release 8.04 which gave people a lot of grief as this caused the sound to work in one release of Ubuntu but fail at the next release. If you were to find PulseAudio not working, you can always fall back on ALSA. You just need to do some reconfiguration. But it's always good to check your future sound device in Google to save you some work. But having said that, this is something that is improving all the time since release 8.04 first came out, and release 10.04 is said to be less buggy than prior releases.
Check your notebook model against
any complaints it may have
Also key in your notebook make and model number together with Ubuntu into "Google Search" just to be on the safe side. You might come up with lots of search or none at all; or maybe just one guy complaining that his sound device didn't play nice with Ubuntu. Check and see whether the problem is resolved, whether there lots of problems. Do not worry about isolated problems, 2 different people can purchase the same notebook but due to some faulty installation, one might face a host of problems while for the other life is just so sweet. :)
Lastly, Ubuntu's getting better and better and your friend who complained, passionately, that Ubuntu is not the greatest thing since sliced bread, well, ignore him! He probably had some bad experience with Linux in the past - politely say something like: "I got mine working!", smile sweetly at him and tune him out. ;)
TIP: Even if your notebook comes with other versions of Linux, generally it is better to ditch it and stick to Ubuntu which is a more popular version of Linux and easier to use. You may need to ask around or google this, as this is not all encompassing.
If yours is a netbook (and especially when it uses an ARM processor instead of a mainstream one, it might be better to stick with whatever Linux distro that comes with it, better if you can find one with Ubuntu preloaded).
For netbooks, you need to have Ubuntu Netbook Edition (UNE) which was known as Ubuntu Netbook Remix prior to the release of 10.04. UNR has been around since Ubuntu 8.04.
I wrote this guide to help allay people's fears about Ubuntu not
to scare you into not buying. ;)
By the way, most of my pot shots aimed at Windows are just for fun. There is nothing wrong with dual booting Windows and Ubuntu; there is no need to jump straight into bed with Ubuntu cutting all ties with Microsoft. Dual booting gives you the best of both worlds and time to get used to Linux. Just in case you find that it's not to your liking, you can always have Windows to fall back on.
Well, what you waiting for? Go ahead and get your new toy!
Lots of devices work out-of-the-box these days unlike the old days, for example the wifi auto start already work better than in Microsoft's Windows. That's cause GNU/Linux has an army of diligent ants working day and night to bring this wonderful OS up-to-par with the best commercial OSes.