$200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

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377Ohms
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$200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by 377Ohms » Mon Aug 06, 2018 5:53 am

Hello Everyone,

I can buy a brand new low-cost laptop locally (Best Buy) over the counter for $199 for the next few days. [Yup, it's Back-to-School Sale time].

This time the machine in-question doesn't have a cripplingly small amount of eMMC storage, or any Linux unfriendly AMD/Radeon parts. This one has an Intel CPU/GPU and a big'nuf rotating HDD.

Unfortunately the thing comes with Win10 (but not 10S, thankfully). However I want to dump Windows entirely and run Mint 19 Cinnamon on it instead. [Yes, I checked the Mint HW Compatibility List first but didn't find a meaningful match.]

Below are the laptop's specifications as far as I can determine after some digging.

QUESTION: Does anyone see a compatibility issue with this machine running Mint 19 Cinnamon? I have no idea how these Intel Gemini Lake parts are playing with Linux, plus I'm worried about drivers for the removable PCIe-Mini radio module that is internal to the machine. I downloaded the correct service manual for this laptop from Lenovo, but specifics on the radios are missing.

Thanks for any feedback, David

* Lenovo - 330-15IGM 15.6" Laptop Model 81D1003TUS.

* CPU: Intel N4100 Celeron Gemini Lake, 2.4GHz max, Quad Core Quad Thread, 4MB Cache, Intel UHD Graphics-600 at 700MHz max, dual-ch memory.

* SDRAM: 4GB DDR4-2400MHz, SODIMMx1 (max 8 GB).

* HDD/SSD: 2.5"/7.0 mm SATA-II/III 500 GB HDD.

* Radios: PCIe-Mini Module (No Details, Maybe Broadcom?)

* Display: 15.6" 16:9 1366x768 Anti-Glare (YAY! I_H8_Glare)

* Misc: USB 3.0x1, USB 2.0x1, Combo Audio, HDMI 1.4, RJ-45 Eth, SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC Slot, Internal Li-ion 2-cell 35 Wh, Win10 64-bit.

P.S., Is "cripplingly" really a word?

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by kc1di » Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:34 am

The 330 works with Ubuntu 18.04 Thus should work with Mint 19 - only problem area that I've seen on line is the touch pad not being detected and working.
but this thread is purported to fix that situation. https://askubuntu.com/questions/1049787 ... t-working/
though I have not personally tried the 330 Lenovos are usually pretty good with Linux.
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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by AndyMH » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:45 am

You might be better off looking for a second hand ex-corporate laptop, such as a Thinkpad T430. For about the same money you will get a much better machine, certainly a much faster processor.
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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by Pjotr » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:50 am

AndyMH wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:45 am
You might be better off looking for a second hand ex-corporate laptop, such as a Thinkpad T430. For about the same money you will get a much better machine, certainly a much faster processor.
Personally, I'd never buy a second-hand laptop.... Desktop: fine (at least when the previous owner wasn't a smoker). But not laptop.

Reason: laptops consist out of much more vulnerable and flimsy parts than desktops. Plus laptops tend to be lugged around and dropped.... God knows what that second hand laptop had to endure in its previous life. :shock:
Last edited by Pjotr on Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:54 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by Moem » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:54 am

I started using second hand Thinkpads in 2001 or so, and only one of them had to be discarded because it broke. All others lived to ripe old ages and in fact still function today. Those are pretty sturdy things.
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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by whm1974 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:57 am

Pjotr wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:50 am
AndyMH wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:45 am
You might be better off looking for a second hand ex-corporate laptop, such as a Thinkpad T430. For about the same money you will get a much better machine, certainly a much faster processor.
Personally, I'd never buy a second-hand laptop.... Desktop: fine. But not laptop.

Reason: laptops consist out of much more vulnerable and flimsy parts than desktops. Plus laptops tend to be lugged around and dropped.... God knows what that second hand laptop had to endure in its previous life. :shock:
I brought a refurbished Thinkpad T430 last year for $160 and doesn't even like look it was used at all. Thinkpads are well built and easy to repair and upgrade. They also work quite well with Linux and are one of top brands for Linux users.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by bbaker6212 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 12:36 pm

AndyMH wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:45 am
You might be better off looking for a second hand ex-corporate laptop, such as a Thinkpad T430. For about the same money you will get a much better machine, certainly a much faster processor.
I'm pretty sure this machine will have an M.2 slot you can plug an SSD card into and the RAM is upgradable to 8GB. There are lots of reasons why this (NEW) machine is a great deal and probably a better choice than a used machine. A likely better battery life with this new 4.8-6 watt CPU for one. Modern GPU and drivers, AC-wifi, DDR4 RAM, probably v2.0 spec HDMI, etc., etc.
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Lenovo Ideapad 330S-15IKB, Core i5-8250U, 8GB RAM, Samsung EVO 850 SATA SSD, 14GB Optane M.2 PCIe NVMe, QCA9377 WiFi

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by 377Ohms » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:35 pm

kc1di wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 7:34 am
The 330 works with Unbuntu 18.04 Thus should work with Mint 19 - only problem area that I've seen on line is the touch pad not being detected and working.
but this thread is purported to fix that situation. https://askubuntu.com/questions/1049787 ... t-working/
though I have not personally tried the 330 Lenovos are usually pretty good with Linux.
@kc1di: Thanks for the substantive reply. I should have checked Ubuntu for information regarding this laptop's compatibility first.

That trackpad problem and kernel-based fix looks nasty. But thank you for the link.

I have heard about trackpad compatibility issues with the Mint 19 release. The Mint 19 Cinnamon release notes mention replacing the "libinput" driver with a "synaptics" driver. I wonder if that will fix the problem with this laptop? The Mint solution seems much better than the kernel approach. The Mint release notes with the trackpad fix instructions are here:

https://linuxmint.com/rel_tara_cinnamon.php

If only I could try the laptop with a live USB version of Mint. But Best Buy doesn't like you sticking things into their floor display machines (if they even work), and I can't blame them for that. I was told the laptop is sold with Windows installed and Linux not working is probably not a valid reason for returning the machine - but of-course I could lie to them and say something else is wrong.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by 377Ohms » Mon Aug 06, 2018 2:45 pm

AndyMH wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:45 am
You might be better off looking for a second hand ex-corporate laptop, such as a Thinkpad T430. For about the same money you will get a much better machine, certainly a much faster processor.
@AndyMH: Thank you for suggesting the T430. It is certainly an alternative to consider. I looked at used/refurbished older T430 laptops. There are issues:

It seems it is hit and miss whether I can get a T430 with an anti-glare display. I must have anti-glare, I sometimes use the laptop in well lit rooms and even outdoors on occasion. In my opinion, a shiny screen is next to useless in those environments. I thought all the original T430 diplays were anti-glare, but perhaps some of these laptops that need new displays get shiny replacement screens? Awhile back I looked at some refurb T440's (not T430's) that Office Depot was offering online. Office Depot replied that all those T440's had reflective screens.

Next, I need an HDMI output. The T430's don't have native HDMI and there are reports of no audio through the cable if you try to use a display-port to HDMI adapter. Then-again there are reports that HDMI adapters do pass audio with these laptops. Like I said - hit and miss.

Battery life is typically not so good with older refurbished machines, but that's a wash since the machine will be near power almost all the time and the new Lenovo machine I'm looking at suffers with a tiny 2-cell battery right out of the box anyway.

Then there's the HDD/SSD. I think it's a good idea to replace the HDD/SDD in a used/refurb machine, especially an old SSD. That adds cost. So looking at a baseline price of around $250 for a decent used/refurbished T430/i3-i5/4-8GB, I need to add roughly $100 to replace the HDD/SSD. That brings the total cost up to $350, $150 more than the new machine I'm looking at now.

I don't need the power consumption and heat of a larger processor. I'm looking for a semi-portable machine for light duty work (e.g. 720p multimedia playback), but with a real HDD/SSD not a near-useless tiny eMMC drive like all the crippled low-end laptops have these days.

Finally there are the "refurbished" case parts. I've read about the Chinese replacement parts in these used/refurb T430's breaking down over time, especially parts with rubberized coatings which eventually turn into a sticky mess. But then again I read about these refurb machines holding up well. Who knows.

Pfffft, I really don't want to get into an Amazon (or worse yet ebay) tussle trying to return a bad machine to a shady 3rd-party seller. I guess that's what it all boils down to.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by kc1di » Mon Aug 06, 2018 3:34 pm

If I were to get a refurbished Lenovo t430 or such I'd get it through new egg here: https://www.newegg.com/Product/ProductL ... isNodeId=1
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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by AndyMH » Mon Aug 06, 2018 6:04 pm

I've been buying/using used thinkpads for about as long as moem - early 2000's, bought quite a few and never had a problem, okay had to replace the screen on the T410 (replacement screen was cheap off ebay). That's it.
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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by KBD47 » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:30 pm

Pjotr wrote:
Mon Aug 06, 2018 11:50 am
Personally, I'd never buy a second-hand laptop.... Desktop: fine (at least when the previous owner wasn't a smoker). But not laptop.

Reason: laptops consist out of much more vulnerable and flimsy parts than desktops. Plus laptops tend to be lugged around and dropped.... God knows what that second hand laptop had to endure in its previous life. :shock:
Drop a Thinkpad and you are more likely to hurt the floor than the laptop :)
I buy on Ebay with Paypal and that gives you some protection. Plus you can look at a seller's ratings and see if they have a good history. So far so good. All 5 Thinkpads I've purchased on Ebay I'm happy with.
Edit: OP that sounds like a good deal for the price. Linux works well on Lenovos.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by rui no onna » Mon Aug 06, 2018 8:43 pm

Just do note that Gemini Lake is the latest iteration of Intel Atom. The ThinkPads will likely have better processors even if they're 2-3 years older. If, as you mentioned though, you'll only need it for light work, then the new Lenovo should be sufficient and would have a fresh battery, too.

As for SSDs, unless one's running something like OLTP on it, they're more resilient than most people expect. My 5+ year old SSDs used in client-type workloads have barely used 3-5% of their rated P/E cycles. Given the mechanical nature of HDDs and mobile nature of laptops, I'd be more inclined to replace old HDDs before old SSDs. Indeed, one of the reasons I switched to SSDs is because my laptop HDDs always tend to fail between the 12-24 month mark.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by 377Ohms » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:20 pm

Update: Trolling around I read some more stuff about the trackpad not working in Linux on that new $200 Lenovo - 330-15IGM 15.6" Laptop. Bummer...

So blindly following the sage advice of @AndyMH - I bit the bullet and bought this crapshoot instead for $245:

* Lenovo Thinkpad T430 Refurbished/Certified, i5-3320m (2.60 GHz, 3MB L3, 1600MHz FSB), Integrated Intel HD Graphics, 8GB SoDIMM DDR3 SDRAM, 128GB SSD, 14" 1366x768HD Anti-Glare Display, DVD/RW, WiFi, Mini-DisplayPort w/Audio, VGA, 2 x USB 3.0, 1 x USB 2.0, 3.5mm HP/MIC, SD/SDHC/SDXC/MMC Slot, 720p WebCam, Backlit Keyboard, Express Card 34mm, 6 Cell 2.6 Ah Battery, Windows 10 Pro 64-bit.

I also bought a Mini-DisplayPort to HDMI dongle to go with the laptop. It was $9 bucks. Fingers crossed - it'll work.

The monstrosity is supposed to be delivered next Thursday (two days), but where I live 2-Day delivery promises are not temporally reliable.

I'm concerned about the SSD that lives in the machine. Not only is it old, I read somewhere the mSATA port on the T430 is SATA-II but there is mention of a SATA port that's rated SATA-III (twice as fast I think?). I dunno.

Does anyone know the inner workings of the T-430 laptop and what Linux friendly upgrades actually work? First thing I want to do is upgrade that SSD.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by rui no onna » Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:51 pm

377Ohms wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:20 pm
I'm concerned about the SSD that lives in the machine. Not only is it old, I read somewhere the mSATA port on the T430 is SATA-II but there is mention of a SATA port that's rated SATA-III (twice as fast I think?). I dunno.

Does anyone know the inner workings of the T-430 laptop and what Linux friendly upgrades actually work? First thing I want to do is upgrade that SSD.
Unless you need fast sequential writes in excess of 200MB/s, I wouldn't worry about the mSATA slot being SATA II. The biggest benefit of SSDs over HDDs for use as an OS drive is the much faster random small block performance. If you're concerned about NAND wear, install GSmartControl to view S.M.A.R.T. info/SSD health. Or maybe before you nuke Windows 10, install CrystalDiskInfo first to view the SSD stats. I find CrystalDiskInfo's GUI more user-friendly than GSmartControl.

That said, you can get good 500GB SSDs for $100 or less nowadays. That's around where you get best bang for the buck ($/GB). If that's within the budget, go for it.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by 377Ohms » Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:21 pm

rui no onna wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 10:51 pm

Unless you need fast sequential writes in excess of 200MB/s, I wouldn't worry about the mSATA slot being SATA II. The biggest benefit of SSDs over HDDs for use as an OS drive is the much faster random small block performance. If you're concerned about NAND wear, install GSmartControl to view S.M.A.R.T. info/SSD health. Or maybe before you nuke Windows 10, install CrystalDiskInfo first to view the SSD stats. I find CrystalDiskInfo's GUI more user-friendly than GSmartControl.

That said, you can get good 500GB SSDs for $100 or less nowadays. That's around where you get best bang for the buck ($/GB). If that's within the budget, go for it.
@rui no onna, Thanks for the info.

I have a suspicion this T-430 laptop may actually have two SATA interfaces inside, one for an mSATA drive and one for a rotating SATA drive - or maybe it's for the DVD drive? I have seen some HDD/SSD adapter add-ons for this T-430 that turn the DVD bay into a mass storage location.

I heard the SATA interface is SATA-III but the mSATA is SATA-II. If all this speculation is true, I'm thinking I would stick a new 2.5" form-factor SATA SSD in and boot from it instead of the old 128GB mSATA drive (maybe I can change the boot order in BIOS?) The old 128GB mSATA drive can just sit there like a lump on a log, or if it isn't a nasty job I'll pull it to reduce power consumption. I don't trust old mass storage devices from used machines anyway. What do you think about this?

As for storage speed, this machine will host lots of changing multimedia content, so moving big files around faster is probably a good thing.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by rui no onna » Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:33 am

377Ohms wrote:
Tue Aug 07, 2018 11:21 pm
@rui no onna, Thanks for the info.

I have a suspicion this T-430 laptop may actually have two SATA interfaces inside, one for an mSATA drive and one for a rotating SATA drive - or maybe it's for the DVD drive? I have seen some HDD/SSD adapter add-ons for this T-430 that turn the DVD bay into a mass storage location.

I heard the SATA interface is SATA-III but the mSATA is SATA-II. If all this speculation is true, I'm thinking I would stick a new 2.5" form-factor SATA SSD in and boot from it instead of the old 128GB mSATA drive (maybe I can change the boot order in BIOS?) The old 128GB mSATA drive can just sit there like a lump on a log, or if it isn't a nasty job I'll pull it to reduce power consumption. I don't trust old mass storage devices from used machines anyway. What do you think about this?

As for storage speed, this machine will host lots of changing multimedia content, so moving big files around faster is probably a good thing.
I believe the T430 has 3 SATA interfaces: mSATA, 2.5" 7mm and optical.

Fast sequential for multimedia is good but if you're just downloading from internet or copying to external HDD, you're going to be bottlenecked by your internet or HDD speed anyway.

The $100 or less pricing for 500GB class I was referring to *is* for 2.5" SSDs. mSATA has kinda been deprecated in favor of M.2 already so they're a bit harder to find and tend to be pricier. Unless you're considering a multi-drive configuration (e.g. mSATA OS + 2.5" 2TB HDD data + optical or another data HDD in caddy), it's not worth paying the price premium for mSATA.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by 377Ohms » Wed Aug 08, 2018 1:22 am

rui no onna wrote:
Wed Aug 08, 2018 12:33 am
I believe the T430 has 3 SATA interfaces: mSATA, 2.5" 7mm and optical.

Fast sequential for multimedia is good but if you're just downloading from internet or copying to external HDD, you're going to be bottlenecked by your internet or HDD speed anyway.

The $100 or less pricing for 500GB class I was referring to *is* for 2.5" SSDs. mSATA has kinda been deprecated in favor of M.2 already so they're a bit harder to find and tend to be pricier. Unless you're considering a multi-drive configuration (e.g. mSATA OS + 2.5" 2TB HDD data + optical or another data HDD in caddy), it's not worth paying the price premium for mSATA.
Wow, 3 x SATA interfaces inside the thing. I need to learn more about the T430! I just downloaded the Hardware Maintenance Manual from Lenovo:

https://pcsupport.lenovo.com/us/en/prod ... umentation

Maybe there's a Lenovo Forum somewhere where people who refurb these crusty old laptops hang out?

How's this for a plan?...

1. Yank the old 3Gbps mSATA-2 128GB SSD and use a brand a new 6Gbps SATA-3 2.5" SSD for the system. Crucial sells them and guarantees compatibility. A 500GB 2.5" SSD goes for $99.

http://www.crucial.com/usa/en/compatibl ... nkpad-t430

2. Use a cheap third party caddy (see link below) to stick a big rotating 2.5" SATA HDD in-place of the DVD drive for archiving multimedia files. I'll spin the HDD down when it isn't being used to extend lifespan and reduce power consumption. A Western Digital 1TB 2.5" 5400 RPM drive sells for $50 bucks (see link below).

- Nimitz 2nd HDD SSD Hard Drive Caddy for Lenovo Thinkpad T420 T430 T510... $16.98:

https://www.amazon.com/Nimitz-Drive-Cad ... 00NAMU8NO/

- WD Blue 1TB Mobile Hard Disk Drive - 5400 RPM SATA 6 Gb/s 128MB Cache 2.5 Inch - WD10SPZX $50.26

https://www.amazon.com/Blue-Mobile-Hard ... 071F9MLJJ/

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by Helmut » Wed Aug 08, 2018 2:42 am

I have several old IBM/Lenovo running on Mint Mate. They are X30, X32, X60 and dunno whatelse. One is running on Mint 19. and the rest on 17.3 Except one laptop for my personal use, they are all running day and night, connected to the net and set up for controlling professional Satellite TV Broadcasting facilities, one of the most sensitive applications thinkable.

I have had no issues with them at all, perfectly reliable and durable, and they cost very little to buy. Mint installs practically by itself, no problems.

I used to use other popular brand new laptops for that purpose, but had too many failures. Then I switched to old Lenovos, no problems any more.

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Re: $200 Laptop @ Best Buy - Will it work with Mint??

Post by AndyMH » Wed Aug 08, 2018 5:55 am

For clarity, the T430 has two SATA3 interfaces, one for your internal SSD/HDD and one for the ultrabay (normally holding the optical drive). The mSATA interface is SATA2 so slower. It has 2xUSB3 ports and 2xUSB2 ports, VGA and displayport outputs. There is also an expresscard slot.

I have two T430s running mint, main machine has a 500G SDD and a further 1TB HDD in the ultrabay, I've got a modem in the mSATA port so I can get mobile broadband. Also upped the RAM to 16G and replaced the i5 with an i7. Originally I had an SD card adaptor in the expresscard slot with a 256G SD, now have an additional 2xUSB3 ports.

Other T430 has a 128G SSD in the mSATA port and a 320G HDD internally, standard optical drive, i5 and 8G RAM.

Rock solid, reliable and easy to fix.

There is a thinkpad forum, not a huge amount of activity on it (compared to mint forum):

https://forum.thinkpads.com
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