14'' laptop for Linux Mint

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logithack
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14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by logithack » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:20 am

Hey everyone,

I've been looking for a new laptop to run Linux Mint on for a while. I'll be using it mainly for programming, studies and the usual multimedia tasks. There are some prerequisites it should fulfil, which makes finding an adequate one rather difficult. However, I'm sure some of you will know a laptop that suffices.

The following aspects are important to me:
  • Budget: 450€
  • Screen size: 14''
  • Resolution: 1920x1080
  • OS: ideally none since that will enable me to save money; As said, I'm going to install Linux Mint on it anyway. Therefore, it's important that Linux Mint will work fine on it. Currently I'm having a bit of trouble with Linux Mint MATE on a small laptop. The terminal and the task bar aren't fully displayed every now and then.
  • RAM: 4GB at least
  • Memory: no eMMC, no M.2, only SATA so I can put in an SSD, which I've already got
  • DVD drive: none to avoid unnecessary noise
  • Battery life: 8 hours at least
These are the requirements it should fulfil. Don't get me wrong, I'm not asking you to search the internet for a laptop because I'm too lazy for it. If you think you know a website that could offer a model that suits me, you're welcome to go ahead and take a look, of course. However, I'm rather hoping that anyone of you knows a model that meets my requirements. I've been searching extensively for the last couple of weeks and also ordered two models, which unfortunately didn't meet my expectations. Therefore, I'm well aware of the fact that it won't be easy to find what I'm looking for in view of the rather low budget. However, I'm convinced that there is a decent system out there.

I'd also be willing to get a second-hand model, which in many cases gives you the opportunity to purchase quality hardware that's made to last at low cost. Unfortunately, I've got no experience with second-hand laptops though. If you think I should keep away from that, I will follow your advice. However, if you've made positive experiences with second-hand hardware, it might be an option. I'd just like to avoid getting a laptop that's damaged in a way that makes it nearly impossible to use, such as scratches on the screen or keys that get stuck all the time. If the case has a few scratches on the outside or the battery needs to be replaced at acceptable cost, then it's fine.

I'm curious to see if anyone knows a laptop that suits me. I'm looking forward to your replies! :)

Thanks a lot in advance!

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kc1di
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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by kc1di » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:39 am

I'm not sure what's available in the EU but here in the US I would recommend a rebuilt Lenovo t-430 , works great with linux.
Newegg sells them for a little as $150.00 US Dollars.
So you might look for one of them. Good Luck in your search.
Easy tips : https://sites.google.com/site/easylinuxtipsproject/
Linux Mint Installation Guide: http://linuxmint-installation-guide.rea ... en/latest/
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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by Moem » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:50 am

To questions like this, my answer will always be: refurbished Thinkpad. 8)
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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by logithack » Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:23 pm

Thanks for your replies, guys! Yeah, it seems like refurbished ThinkPads are always a good idea to take a look at. Don't worry about whether the laptop you're about to mention exists in the EU. I'll just collect all your suggestions and see which ones are available here. But I'm pretty sure that you can get most of them here, too. :)

Keep 'em coming, guys!

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by Moem » Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:36 pm

haxxurrtje wrote:
Sat Apr 28, 2018 12:23 pm
Yeah, it seems like refurbished ThinkPads are always a good idea to take a look at.
Quite right, milady! For the size you want, you'll need to be looking at the T series. Mine is an X201 but that's only 12". I love it to bits though.
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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by AndyMH » Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:15 pm

+1 for a Thinkpad, mine's a T430 second hand corporate machine, lots on Amazon/ebay. But you won't get 1920x1080 resolution, highest on a T430 is 1600x900 and most shipped with 1366x768, not a problem if you use with an external monitor. More than speedy enough for all normal work.

Most ship with win7.
Mint installs 'out of the box' with no problems.
RAM - most ship with 4GB, 16GB is the max (2xDDR3 slots, one under the keyboard).
1xSATA3 for storage, think its 2.5", SSD no problem. There is also a mSATA slot, but SATA1? so slower.
DVD - some ship with a DVD drive, some not, I've replaced my DVD in the ultrabay with a 1TB HDD for backup.
Battery - no way will you get 8 hours from the standard battery, Linux appears worse at battery consumption than win. You can fit a bigger battery (extends out the back of the laptop).

Other variables:
Some have bluetooth, some not.
Some have a separate nVidia graphics chip, most don't (mine doesn't).
There is an expresscard slot, I put an SD card reader in mine with a 256G SD card, you could fit extra USB3 ports in here (comes with 2xUSB3 and 2xUSB2 as standard)

Upgradeable - I replaced the i5 with an i7, no problems.

Docking stations are dirt cheap - got one off ebay for £10.
Homebrew i5-8400+GTX1080 Cinnamon 19, Thinkpad T430 i7-3632 Cinnamon 19, Thinkpad T420 Cinnamon 18.3, Thinkpad T410 Cinnamon 17.3, Thinkpad T60 19.0 Mate

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by RobertService » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:20 pm

I went through same process you're going through now, but 2½ years ago. I came to the conclusion that the absolute best, no-hassle choice would be the Lenovo T420--refurbished by a MAR: Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher, which offered--again--a no-hassle return policy.
Bought one; upgraded RAM from 4 GB to 8 GB, and the battery to the largest I could get, at a good price.
Installed Mint 17.3 (dual-boots Win), and have an absolutely beautiful machine with a reported battery life of 7 hr when first started up; does not have screen resolution you desire.
Bought a T430 one year ago; 8GB RAM, OEM battery. Installed Mint 18.2. Kept Win as dual-boot option.
Both are great Linux machines. 420 is heavier, bigger, runs cooler (the T430 would possibly run cooler if running Mint 17.3), and has the last of the true 7-row keyboards. 430 is lighter; has a more 'conventional' keyboard; still no higher-resolution display.
A note on the term, "cooler": the machines themselves do not get warm at all: all temps are reported internal temps--the T420 runs at 37°C; the T430 runs at 42°C; you'd be hard pressed to find any laptop which runs this cool. This parameter is absolutely, inversely, tied--and exponentially--to the lifetime of the machine.
A source I've just recently found for these devices is "tanga.com"; their refurbished T420s and T430s are selling for between USD 150 and USD 200. Tanga claims to have a "FREE RETURNS • 100% Risk Free, 100% Easy" return policy; mostly 'Grade B' units with slight cosmetic blemishes.
Oh...and a friendly reminder--if you keep Win when installing Linux, do not EVER connect to the internet if you have to use Windows for some reason. But you already knew that.
Best of luck to you, and
Warmest regards...

(Oh...icing on the cake: these machines come with a no-noise DVD drive!)
Last edited by RobertService on Sun Apr 29, 2018 2:58 am, edited 1 time in total.

stereo555
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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by stereo555 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 1:10 am

Have to jump in here with another vote for Thinkpad. I have an X1 Carbon, a grade A refurb which cost way less than new. Beautiful machine. Linux installed quickly and smoothly, I've had zero problems with it and it's a joy to use.

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by tenfoot » Sun Apr 29, 2018 1:53 am

I'm another user advocating the Lenovo Thinkpad. Been using a T450s i5-5300u with 256GB SSD, 8GB RAM and a display of 1920x1080. It's never missed a beat!
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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by RobertService » Sun Apr 29, 2018 3:41 am

...and don't forget: there's a 'search bar' at the top of the page, just waiting for you to type in something like "best laptop for mint", or something...

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by logithack » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:37 am

Wow, thanks for the many replies. I greatly appreciate AndyMH's and RobertService's detailed posts, thanks guys!

I can clearly see a preference for ThinkPads here. I'm definitely going to make sure to get my hands on one of those. As for the battery life, I might indeed opt for an extended battery. It doesn't matter a lot if it sticks out a little. And I didn't know docking stations were available that cheap. It would be really nice to have one.

I'm going to take a look now and see if the online shops I usually order my stuff with offer the models you've mentioned. I'm pretty sure they will, though, because I've seen a second-hand section on my usual online shop's website in the past.

Thank you very much, guys! If you have anything to add to this thread, feel free to do so. I'll keep you posted once I've bought a laptop. :)

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by MurphCID » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:59 am

I will be the contrarian here: I am a hard core, die-hard Hewlett Packard user. Look for a reasonably priced HP laptop. I had a 13.3" HP Envy that cost $499 (US dollars), it had an i3, 6 gb of ram, 500 gb HD, and was a nice little system. I lost it during a hurricane when the window leaked, and it got wet. I love the HP laptops, they just seem to work well with linux, and especially Mint. I am typing this on a last years model HP Spectre X360.

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by AndyMH » Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:38 am

You're more than welcome, but I am biased, been a thinkpad user for well over a decade, long before I became a linux fan. Think my first was a T40.

If you go for a T430 at least you know the questions to ask about the spec. I've got two, mine's 1600x900, the one I bought for my other half is 1366x768 which is perfectly acceptable. Did have a Dell from work with a 1920x1080 screen - with my eyesight (just the wrong side of 65) did find text/icons too small on a 14" screen. Think I paid around £300 for her's over a year ago, 4GB RAM and a 240G SSD, inc. DVD drive in the ultrabay. Mine's sat in a docking station driving an ultrawide 2560x1080 monitor. Did find the mouse a bit laggy until I plugged it into one of the USB3 ports, no problems with a 1920x1080 monitor which I had previously.
Homebrew i5-8400+GTX1080 Cinnamon 19, Thinkpad T430 i7-3632 Cinnamon 19, Thinkpad T420 Cinnamon 18.3, Thinkpad T410 Cinnamon 17.3, Thinkpad T60 19.0 Mate

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by RobertService » Sun Apr 29, 2018 11:44 am

@ MurphCID--

Nothing contrarian about it; you're to be commended.
HP makes outstanding hardware and always has; no question about that. HP seems--in the recent past--to have been at somewhat of a loss as to how to handle Microsoft's Secure Boot/UEFI Firmware nonsense; and have, as most other OEMs, responded in a less than elegant (read, "simple for the user") fashion, most particularly when 'dual-booting' is desired/required. They are apparently doing much better now.
Two very good reads, by a very knowledgeable, trustworthy tech writer:

(1) "Installing Linux on a PC with UEFI firmware: A refresher
Practically all new systems have come with UEFI firmware for some time now. Here is a brief overview of the current situation with installing and using Linux on such systems."
By J.A. Watson for Jamie's Mostly Linux Stuff | October 3, 2017 -- 10:48 GMT (03:48 PDT)

(2) "Hands-On: Installing five different Linux distributions on my new HP laptop
This HP laptop comes with both a 256GB SSD and a 1TB hard drive. I'm going to load it with a variety of Linux distributions and see how it works."
By J.A. Watson for Jamie's Mostly Linux Stuff | March 2, 2018 -- 15:05 GMT (07:05 PST)

Warmest regards...

logithack
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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by logithack » Sun Apr 29, 2018 12:00 pm

MurphCID wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:59 am
I will be the contrarian here: I am a hard core, die-hard Hewlett Packard user. Look for a reasonably priced HP laptop. I had a 13.3" HP Envy that cost $499 (US dollars), it had an i3 CPU, 6 gb of ram, 500 gb HD, and was a nice little system. I lost it during a hurricane when the window leaked, and it got wet. I love the HP laptops, they just seem to work well with linux, and especially Mint. I am typing this on a last years model HP Spectre X360.
Thanks for your reply, MurphCID. A couple of weeks ago I considered getting a HP laptop, too, because I thought HP has been around for such a long time, they must have quality stuff. I got a new laptop with an i3, 8GB of RAM, a 500GB HDD, which I would have replaced with an SSD anyway, and Windows 10 on it. It cost 500€. It was really disappointing. Despite the good hardware specs, it was slow as hell and the touchpad felt like it registered my movements with a delay. The DVD drive made a lot of noise and the Enter button on the keyboard had the same shape as the right Shift button, which caused me to accidentially press the # button all the time. (I know this is default on English keyboards, but I'm used to German keyboard layouts, which always have an Enter button that has the size of the + and # button together.) I was really disappointed particularly in view of the price and sent it back. I guess if you're a pedantic user like me, you should opt for a more expensive model if you're going for HP.

AndyMH wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 10:38 am
You're more than welcome, but I am biased, been a thinkpad user for well over a decade, long before I became a linux fan. Think my first was a T40.

If you go for a T430 at least you know the questions to ask about the spec. I've got two, mine's 1600x900, the one I bought for my other half is 1366x768 which is perfectly acceptable. Did have a Dell from work with a 1920x1080 screen - with my eyesight (just the wrong side of 65) did find text/icons too small on a 14" screen. Think I paid around £300 for her's over a year ago, 4GB RAM and a 240G SSD, inc. DVD drive in the ultrabay. Mine's sat in a docking station driving an ultrawide 2560x1080 monitor. Did find the mouse a bit laggy until I plugged it into one of the USB3 ports, no problems with a 1920x1080 monitor which I had previously.
I wouldn't say you're biased, you just rely on your positive experience with a manufacturer that's done well over the years from your point of view. I've got a ThinkPad at work, and its touchpad occasionally doesn't register when I tap on it, so I wasn't too sure whether that's a common problem. But according to your posts the ThinkPads are quality stuff. I'd like to have a resolution of at least 1600x900 because the last laptop I tried had only 1366x768 and it looked all blurry. Not a pleasure to work with for a longer period of time. A resolution of 1920x1080 would be ideal, though.

I've found 4 models that I've added to my short list. They're all second-hand laptops. You're welcome to take a look at them if you don't mind and tell me what you think of them. Unfortunately, I'll have to give you German websites since I'm going to purchase it there.
1. Lenovo ThinkPad T440s i5-4200U 1920x1080 8GB DDR3 128GB SSD Windows 10 Home
2. Lenovo ThinkPad T430 i5-3320M 1600x900 4GB DDR3 500GB HDD Windows 7 Pro
3. Lenovo ThinkPad T430 i5-3380M 1600x900 8GB DDR3 320GB HDD Windows 10 Pro
4. Lenovo ThinkPad T430 i5 1600x900 4GB DDR3 128GB SSD Windows 7 Pro

The first one is a T440s. I think that's my favourite so far. Can anyone report any issues with the T440s in general, and with running Linux Mint on it in particular? If you'd advise me to get a T430 by instinct, I'll try to grab one of those. I have no experience with these models and therefore I need you to report your experiences.

Thanks guys!

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by AndyMH » Sun Apr 29, 2018 5:08 pm

I'd be tempted by the 440, later model than the 430 and gives you the screen resolution you want. Price is attractive. Hopefully someone else can comment on the ease/difficulty of installing mint on it. See if you can get them to fit a larger SSD, 128G is a bit on the small side.
Homebrew i5-8400+GTX1080 Cinnamon 19, Thinkpad T430 i7-3632 Cinnamon 19, Thinkpad T420 Cinnamon 18.3, Thinkpad T410 Cinnamon 17.3, Thinkpad T60 19.0 Mate

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by logithack » Mon Apr 30, 2018 2:39 am

AndyMH wrote:
Sun Apr 29, 2018 5:08 pm
I'd be tempted by the 440, later model than the 430 and gives you the screen resolution you want. Price is attractive. Hopefully someone else can comment on the ease/difficulty of installing mint on it. See if you can get them to fit a larger SSD, 128G is a bit on the small side.
Yeah, I think it's very tempting. I've heard its screen quality is higher than that of the T430. However, I've also read that some people have had issues running Linux on it, particularly with the trackpad. They had to adapt the synaptics configuration and that didn't solve the problem entirely. The SSD wouldn't be a problem since I've got a 240GB SSD, which I will put in.

Can anyone comment on their experience with a T440 and Linux Mint? Thanks!

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by AndyMH » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:20 am

Can't comment on the trackpad, first thing I did was switch it off. Never been able to get on with them, a mouse for me.
Homebrew i5-8400+GTX1080 Cinnamon 19, Thinkpad T430 i7-3632 Cinnamon 19, Thinkpad T420 Cinnamon 18.3, Thinkpad T410 Cinnamon 17.3, Thinkpad T60 19.0 Mate

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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by Moem » Mon Apr 30, 2018 5:42 am

It has a trackpoint; once you're used to that, you may never want anything else. I, too, switch off the trackpad on my Thinkpads as soon as Mint is installed.
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Re: 14'' laptop for Linux Mint

Post by RobertService » Mon Apr 30, 2018 12:10 pm

"...However, I've also read that some people have had issues running Linux on it [Lenovo T440], particularly with the trackpad....and that didn't solve the problem entirely...Can anyone comment on their experience with a T440 and Linux Mint?..."

Suggestions--

(1) Perhaps it's time to be very specific, and open a new topic, on a new forum, said topic to be something like, "Any problems with ThinkPads and Mint?". After all, your original question would possibly be, more appropriately, a candidate for the Newbie Questions and the Hardware Support forums. The sub-title of this forum is "Questions about the project and distribution..., and might tend to be overlooked by those wishing to give opinions on hardware.

(2) The Mint organization states that Mint reliability, highest to lowest, follows this path: Xfce ► Mate ► Cinnamon. Xfce is best; Cinnamon is worst.

(3) Mint 17.3 Xfce appears to be the most reliable Mint distribution, and was acclaimed to be the very best of all Linux distributions, going into 2017. For a complete newbie, a Linux Mint installation takes a grand total of one hour; in your case, it should take 15-20 minutes. So the suggestion is this--

To get the statistically best indication of the success of your choice of hardware, start by installing Mint 17.3 Xfce first, and use this installation as your base-line for hardware evaluation; then go from there (strong caution: you may decide that 17.3 is such an outstanding distribution that you don't need want to "mess with a good thing"! I'm switching back to Mint 17.3 from 18.2 on my Lenovo T430, by the way). One benefit: you'll be starting out with one of the best Mint version ever, and Linux Mint 19 is not that far away. Then you can switch to the newest version, if you think "newest" is what you must have...or something else; it appears that MX-17.1 Linux is an elegant, powerful, lean distribution which is garnering a lot of attention because of its grace and speed, and does not use 'systemd' (...probably a wild, totally unrelated coincidence: Mint 17.3 was the last version of Mint to not use 'systemd').

(4) Please, ultimately, report back; it is obvious that you have a wealth of critical skills in this area, and we would all benefit from knowing what the end of your journey is, and most importantly, how you got there.

Best of luck, and warmest regards...

(P.S.: not to be overlooked--if there's the slightest possibility you're going to take my "starting off" suggestion, download any and all versions of Mint 17.3 NOW, as they won't be easily available once Mint 19 arrives.
There are very few pieces of software which I consider so valuable that I archive it physically. A complete set of Mint 17.3 is one of those. And Mint 13--'Maya'.
Verbum sat sap...)
Last edited by RobertService on Tue May 01, 2018 6:38 am, edited 2 times in total.

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