Being a hacker

Hi!
So after last Akademy-es (which was great BTW \o/) I realised that I have to find a new laptop since the current is basically broken in many ways.

I’m writing this blog post for 2 reasons, as a reivindication and as a call for help.

The Reivindication: I’m sure I’m not the first one who finds himself in that ugly position where you’re a Free Software hacker and have to pay you want or not for a Win7 license. That sincerely sucks in many levels, it’s hard to get to be a proud and solid community when you feel like all the industry is denying you exist. In fact I think that hackers should be a good market (they fix their computer themselves, everyone asks them to know what’s the best computer,…) but the truth feels far from that, apparently the segmenation is netbooks, businessmen and hardcore gamers. Well then, the reivindication is this: why isn’t there any company that would let our community be part of their market?
Why isn’t there any of such free hardware initiatives in Europe? (which sells laptops, of course)

The Call for Help: I’ve looked through all the important brands, even if I consider to pay for the windows license (even if I hate to do so) I still can’t find anything I’d be comfortable with. I want something at least GNU/Linux-friendly and not too heavy to carry around everyday but still scales up to my usual KDE hacking. Most laptops claim to be “good for business” which is some concept I just fail to understand, does anybody know what’s appropriate for my use case? (of course budget is limited as a student’s :P)

Thanks!

EDIT: Needs, well I need to be able to compile KDE there for sure. I was wondering if some of these ULV processors would be fine. I don’t do any gaming so for graphics intel is just fine, I just need something where KWin works properly.

23 thoughts on “Being a hacker”

  1. Well… if you want a totally Free netbook-type of device and do not care whether it is x86 or not, there is the MIPS-based (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loongson) Lemote YeeLong, which is available in Europe (http://www.tekmote.nl/epages/61504599.sf/en_GB/?ObjectPath=/Shops/61504599/Products/CFL-002). It normally comes with Debian pre-installed.

    According to Internet Rumors, this is also the favourite choice of computer for RMS. Might be underpowered if you plan on heavy compilation cycles though.

  2. I fully agree with you that it’s hard to find computers without Windows. However, if you accept to pay the Microsoft tax, as I understand you do, I think there are plenty of options.

    For instance one of the laptop in the Acer Aspire Timeline series.

    You don’t mention what your needs actually are, so it’s hard to give a precise suggestion.

  3. Hola. Dale un vistazo a esto: http://www.gnuinos.com/

    En PCBox también pueden venderte un PC o portátil sin sistema operativo Windows.

    Saludos, y gracias por tus aportes al software libre.

  4. Actually I have already gone through that…and I succeeded thanks to previous attempts by others. Try Ahtec, http://www.ahtec.nl/ . They offer the possibility of buying a computer without OS. And, in my experience, it was a good decision.

    I cannot tell you where they are based…but, for sure, in Spain and Holland. But, I am sure you can get them all around Europe. I think it’s kind of a “rebrand/remake” of a Chinese huge computer company, Compal (don’t know if they probably sell under the same name in Europe though…)

    Good luck dude!

  5. Well, if you want to buy a laptop/notebook without M$ racketware, try finding a small/medium-sized local retailer which assembles their own machines from barebones. I bought mine at a local Austrian retailer (DiTech), but unfortunately they don’t ship to outside of Austria. Now it’s quite likely that I might have gotten a better price even with the racketware OS from one of those “special offers” at large retailers, but at least at the local retailer I was able to customize the machine to my liking. And I really don’t want to give any money to M$.

  6. I also recommend a ThinkPad. Personally i use a SL500 (NVIDA gfx) and because i was so happy with it, i bought a SL510 (Intel gfx) for a family member. Both run KDE 4.4 smoothly. Mine does compile sessions (KDE, OpenEmbedded) and i had no performance issues so far.

  7. FYI: a (C)ULV will do fine for KWin if paired with a GMA950 or better for normal work. I would certainly recommend an X4500 but those are standard on new laptops.

    However, it’s not good for compiling – high-end CULV’s are like 1.4 ghz dualcore, that’s not a lot. It’s doable but if you want real power the CULV’s are not in your alley.

  8. I recently got a HP Elitebook 8440p and it’s pretty sweet, and you can order it loaded with FreeDOS rather than Windows too! (takes ~150 off the price)

  9. I would also recommend a Thinkpad. If you are a student, you can get decent reductions. e.g. a TP X201 for 999@ (at least in Germany). It is also sold without Windows!

  10. I can recommend Dell. They produce high-quality stuff, have (or at least had) the option to buy a laptop with ubuntu instead of windows preinstalled and you can customize the boxes to contain linux compatible hardware.
    I have a rather old Inspiron 6400, which is a bit heavy, but it always served me well.

  11. I have recently bought Asus UL30a with 2-core CULV processor. It’s very portable, last long on battery and is efficient enough for me for compiling KDE stuff. Hardware-wise everything works out-of-the-box on Linux (KWin effects included). And I was able to buy it without preinstalled Windows.

  12. I have a Dell Latitude E6500, and aside from the fact that I don’t think (?) you can buy it without Windows, it sounds like it might be suitable. Aside from the smart card reader and SD readers (which I haven’t tried to fiddle with) everything worked great out of the box with Chakra Linux. It’s a pretty decent machine, and comes in a very wide range of configurations, so you could tune it to your price and needs. My university uses that model (but in a lesser configuration) for their loaners. As an added benefit, it comes standard with on-site service, at least in Canada.

  13. Just for your information…

    I recently (May 2010) bought a customised Dell studio from Dell UK and after writing to them, was promptly refunded the cost of Windows 7 and all other software included, which came to a little over £100. No questions asked, no long arguments with support required. So there is still hope. If you’d like a copy of the email I sent to Dell customer support let me know, I’d be more than happy to help.

    Thanks for all your hard work on KDE.

    Nick

  14. Aleix never give up! never buy a machine with f* M$ installed, there are plenty of free options.

  15. I have recently bought Asus UL30a with 2-core CULV processor. It’s very portable, last long on battery and is efficient enough for me for compiling KDE stuff. Hardware-wise everything works out-of-the-box on Linux (KWin effects included). And I was able to buy it without preinstalled Windows.

  16. I can recommend Dell. They produce high-quality stuff, have (or at least had) the option to buy a laptop with ubuntu instead of windows preinstalled and you can customize the boxes to contain linux compatible hardware.
    I have a rather old Inspiron 6400, which is a bit heavy, but it always served me well.

  17. Hi, I’m very interested in Linux but Im a Super Newbie and I’m having trouble deciding on the right distribution for me (Havent you heard this a million times?) anyway here is my problem, I need a distribution that can switch between reading and writing in English and Japanese (Japanese Language Support) with out restarting the operating system.

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