Wouldn't it be awesome if there was a really good spec laptop that was designed to run perfectly with free software? This is an attempt to define the specs for that machine. If you are interested in news of the project (i.e. you'd like to know if such a laptop comes on the market and are a potential buyer) then please join here too:

Mark Shuttleworth's blog entry about this:

Correction on Mark's blog by Florob:

  • AFAIK OpenBIOS ( and CoreBoot ( are two different projects.
    CoreBoot does low-level initialization of the hardware and can then start different so called payloads.
    OpenBIOS, which can be used as such a payload, needs such initialization before it can start and is an implementation of the Open Firmware standard.

A new Statistics section has been added to the end of the page.


Must have:

  • ACPI that Just Works with Linux (suspend and hibernate)
  • CoreBoot (faster boot time and more efficient than proprietary BIOS)

  • 5 hour+ battery life (with Ubuntu 7.10 or later, tickless kernel)
  • 1024x768 screen (or higher?) - smaller but better for battery life and mobility
  • Wireless a/g/n, Bluetooth, hardware on/off control
  • Phone-quality mic and speakerphone
  • Hardware-based volume & mute controls

These will make it larger/more expensive, but are nice:

  • DVI or Display Port or HDMI (digital video out)
  • RCA or S-Video (TV-out)
  • ExpressCard slot (34mm is fine, but 54mm is better)

  • Multi-format card reader
  • Consumer IR for remote control applications (like LIRC on the PepperPad it even has macros)

Please feel free to flesh this out, specifying components that hit the "sweet spot" of battery life and mobility and are known to work with free software drivers. Please don't turn this into a "my dream laptop would have 5Ghz processor with 12 cores and 36 hours of battery life" exercise, let's try to outline something that an ODM in Taiwan could feasibly make today with at most one miracle required.

  • davbren:
    1. 13" - 14" This is the sweet spot really. The people looking to buy a premium laptop are those with stuff to do, whatever it is, whether it be travelling, commuting, or college.
    2. 320GB HDD, this is more than enough for most people. An SSD as an option maybe,
    3. Discreet graphics. The open source ATI driver is pretty good now and give s a good experience.
    4. DisplayPort. VGA and DVI will probably be phased out soon. There's no real need for HDMI on a laptop. adaptors can be bought.

    5. wireless n
    6. premium metal chassis (magnesium alloy). Build quality is key here. It needs to compete with everything else out there.
    7. I think a 16:10 ratio for the screen is better for a work laptop because it gives more room to work. That said, the resolution also comes into play. For the market concerned a higher resolution is probably a good idea although not necessary. In this case 1440x900 is preferable. What I notice about other premium laptops (envy 14) is that customers don't bother with it unless they can get the higher res screen as that is what separates it from others on the market.
    8. An SD card reader. I'm guessing they are cheaper than multicard readers and they dominate the market.
    9. 2 USB 3.0. Review sites complain when there are only 2 USB slots but I find I rarely use mine and I consider myself a power user. With the option of online storage, something that Canonical is promoting, it seems sensible to push people in that direction.
    10. A backlit keyboard is a nice option but again not necessary. The keyboard should be of a high standard. Think Acer Revo... Its fashionable but different in how it feels.
    11. Without wanting to copy Apple, Minimal complexity is a good idea. Less is more.
    12. I'm undecided about an optical drive. I rarely use mine but thats not to say that I never use it. I would still prbably buy one if it didn't have an optical drive. They are becoming less relevant and its simply not necessary to watch 1080p movies on a laptop.
    13. The CPU would depend on release date. If it was released tomorrow. I would go for the i3-i5 bracket. Or an option for both. Anything less and the core group of users (power users, programmers, geeks) will be lost.
    14. 4GB of RAM is just about standard now so perhaps this with an option for upgrading.
    15. Touchpad with physical buttons. No one has managed a decent alternative to the mac's so unless there are guarantees that's it's going to be, just as good if not better, don't bother.
    16. Multitouch
    17. Webcam doesn't need to be high res but perhaps a decent sensor.
    18. Speakers don't need to be anything special, its a laptop.
    19. Bluetooth as option. Its rarely used but sometimes useful.
    20. Separate headphone and mic jacks.
    21. The Ethernet port is becoming less relevant. It may be worth omitting this. I know it is usual taken out to save space, but in this case it may just not be necessary.
    22. Clear media shortcuts.
    23. No Windows key. Replace context menu key with function key.
    24. Lit "Lock" keys.
    • Battery life: Its all very well and good trying to maximise battery life but most laptops are pretty similar so you're looking at smaller or slower components to compensate. A 6 cell is about average. Whether its removable or not is open to suggestion. If it isn't easily removable at least make it easily accessible without worry of losing the warranty.
  • LucaCappelletti:

    1. 12inch
    2. 60GB capable solid state disk
    3. Capable of good 3D to manage 3D desktops and compositing
    4. Dual WiFi to allow peer2peer Netsukuku-like routing embedding the device into a new cooperative environment

    5. Touchscreen or wide-area touchpad
  • John Teddy: Intel is blatantly unhelpful with the LinuxBIOS/CoreBoot project. Intel wants to promote their EFI BIOS and they are proud of the DRM capabilities it has the potential for, and they tell the big media conglomerates this. I don't think any Intel motherboards work well with CoreBoot. They have been deliberately unhelpful to CoreBoot people(check their -devel lists) ATI should obviously not be rewarded, yes their old graphics chipsets have open documentation, but that's only because it has no value to them. They only give us the old crud they don't want anymore.

  • John Teddy: And as for wireless, Ralink and Realtek are very very helpful(ask Theo from OBSD), but their technology kind of stinks compared to Atheros, Atheros has the binary HAL to subjugate us though. Although they claim it's FCC regulations they're following. But just last week, Matt Norwood and others from Software Freedom law center worked on this whitepaper .. "SFLC Releases White Paper on FCC's New Rules Relating to FOSS in Software-Defined Radio Devices" Maybe someone could get Atheros to read that whitepaper from SFLC anyway. The OpenHAL MadWifi branch is coming along very well, it works with many chipsets right now [ svn checkout madwifi-free]. So the one miracle should be OpenHAL branch of MadWifi SVN working with the card in this laptop.

  • JonathanCarter: Laptops with 14.1" WXGA (1200x800) displays are a bit more useful while still being very battery-life-friendly. I would rather suggest this than a 1024x768 display, unless of course you want a 12" display. Mark, what kind of display size do you have in mind? Another consideration, would you rather want a single-core CPU that consumes less power (longer battery life), or a dual-core chip that gives better performance with a slight decrease in battery life?

  • MichaelRBernstein a 14.1" widescreen would work very well for my needs. I'd like to note that a big contributor to the problem with laptops in business-class seating is the width of the bezel around the screen. keeping this to 1/4" or so (both above and below) will make whatever screen size we have much more usable in that environment. Conversely, a folding arm that can raise the screen an extra few inches (something like the arm on a Samsung 970P monitor) in other situations would be a bonus.

  • Nathan DBB: A small 1024x768 screen with all-Intel chips sounds like a Mobile Internet Device (MID). Examples: Convertible-Style Fujitsu LifeBook U1010 (optional 7 hour battery) or Tablet-Style Nokia N800. The U1010 uses the Intel 945GU chipset (like GMA 950, AFAIK). The 945 is also used in the D430 that JeffWaugh pointed out, and in the upcoming Dell Tablet PC. Laptops larger then 12" will not fit well in airline coach, and larger screens draw more power. This WXGA 10" looks nice and its LED-lit at 300 cd/m2 under 3 watts. A transparent touch pad could go over this screen, and could have a on-screen keyboard (U of Glasgow PDF) with vibration feedback (Nokia PR). Just VNC into your mobile device from a desktop to "code" on a larger screen/keyboard. It should have phone-quality mic & speakerphone. The Intel 945GU/950 should run Ubuntu's desktop effects, but it will be a bit slow.

  • QuentinHartman: I'd second that 1024x768 is a bit on the too small side if some level of general appeal is the goal. a 13.3" screen running at a higher resolution would be a good middle ground of usability and power consumption, especially if it were LED backlit. In terms of specs, the new Dell XPS M1330 would likely be a good baseline to measure against. Not too big, not too small.

  • LvanderRee: I Agree too that 1024x768 is a little too small, but I think a 14" screen would be too big for a laptop you take with you everyday. I too would also opt for a screen size of 13.3" like in the Sony C- or SZ-series. An Intel graphics card would be fine, as long as Compiz can really run smoothly with all features (inc. glass/blur effects).

  • HansdeZwart: Would it be a good idea to try and have a decent built-in webcam that would be supported? Currently it can be quite hard to get that working.

  • FlorianFaber: Magnesium case (good heat dissipation), 13.3" LED backlight (light & bright), camera, Bluetooth and UMTS/HSDPA built-in, Flash disc + HDD and less than 2kg. That's basically what I have extended my Sony S class laptop right now (except the metal casing) with tons of external gadgets. CPU performance is not a big issue (as long as it plays back full screen H264) - it simply has to connect to everything everywhere without carrying more than 2kg.

  • IanBicking: If everyone else is anti-1024x768, just to give a bit of balance I am pro small screen, low resolution. It would be neat if it could have a large enough flash disk, with appropriate caching, so that I could do most of my activities without hitting the hard drive.

  • VincenzoDiSomma: I wouldn't mind a multicard reader.

  • MichaelRHead: Hey Ian, what's the benefit (for you) in having a low res monitor? I can see the argument for a small (in inches) display, but what's the point of low pixel count?

  • Armand CORBEAUX : 12" display, external monitor and S-Video output, passive cooling (that's the miracle part), DVD-DL burner, Bluetooth module (for mobile support, calendar/tasks/mails synchronization) and ROHS certification (we must take care of Earth). Realtek as manufacturer for Ethernet and audio chipset. A 56k modem (manufacturer?), 8 USB 2.0 on the back (supported by Intel chipset), FireWire and IR ports (?), and external volume adjustment.

  • Superjan: a stunning look! The laptop should also look good when powered-off, and it should be possible to recognize a Ubuntu-user from a distance. No more Mac-tax for those who want to have an nice-looking laptop Smile :)

  • Kaleo: I would need a higher resolution to be able to work on it, at least 1400x1050. TrackPoint, (ThinkPad style stick pointer,) is also a very important point which greatly enhances productivity.

  • JeffWaugh: A laptop exists that is very close to the specifications suggested here: the Dell D420 (and now, the slightly more modern Dell D430). I'm extremely happy with mine (including the dock, which has a DVI port for the 24" screen on my desk), and will be bringing it along to Ubuntu Live. Given the existing relationship with Dell, perhaps the D4x0 series or the similarly delicious XPS m1330 (which is in Dell's "power-user" range rather than "business") might be good candidates to negotiate from.

  • BenWilber: I am definitely interested in something ultra-mobile with excellent power management. 5 hours would be thrilling. Is this something that would run Gobuntu or Ubuntu Mobile?

  • ChrisSmith: You guys are going to think I'm crazy, but I really want a 1920x1200 display. It seems like if you can go with the smaller displays, it isn't too hard to get a fairly Linux compatible system, even get something sold by a place that specializes in Linux laptops. But 1920x1200... that you can only get for the big guys, with only specific hardware, and Linux support is always dicey.

  • TomasTtKrag: The closer to a Lenovo ThinkPad X60 the better. Stick pointer, small size and weight, great solidity, wireless b+g, Bluetooth, decent docking solutions, 12" display etc. And all that with free drivers.

  • Lemsto: I was reading all that's already asked up there, and i was thinking about 2 Laptops?! A "business" one (12" or 13,3" screen, no webcam, monocore CPU) and a "leisure" one ( 14" or 15" screen, good soundcard, webcam, dualcore CPU). And I'd like in both: 5 or 10 Go Flash disk for / + HDD for /home, Bluetooth, WiFi, and a dock.

  • DanTrevino: I disagree with the small screen/low res (1024x768). A good amount of screen real estate is always helpful. I'd personally trade a few minutes of batter for 1400x1050 or better, plus 3D support for my non-working hours.

  • AgostinoRusso: 13.3" is a good compromise, better with LED backlight, res 1280×800 should also be a good compromise, weight less than 2kg, and battery life greater than 5hr under real usage, wireless 802.11b/g/n, multicard reader, built-in mic. Durable hinges, and power connector. Optional: built-in camera, Bluetooth, HSPDA/3G. The Dell XPS M1330 should be a good starting point.

  • WritingSama: Support 720p HD, so a 1280x800 screen is a must. A webcam can be implemented at the top of the screen very cheaply nowadays. Intel is coming out with a new line of mobile GPU's that are much, much better than the GMA950 - if they follow suit with the GMA950 open source driver release, that might be a good choice. TV-out of some sort - S-Video at the least - is a good and useful feature. I'd also have to suggest a dual-core CPU and at least 1.5gb of RAM, because virtualization is becoming more and more important. Personally, I have to boot into windows to use decent voice recognition, as I have severe tendinitis. It's my only use for Windows anymore.

  • Sveinung2: I want the OS, BIOS and all other firmware that can do as they want to the computers RAM to be free software. If it is not possible to have Free firmware on devices like WiFI an IOMMU should be installed to prevent the unfree firmware from becoming a security/stability problem. I also suggest generalizing the spec to mention functionality under free software instead of vendors and standards. "ACPI that Just Works with Linux (suspend and hibernate)" for example should IMHO be "Suspend, hibernate, sensors and power control that Just Works with Linux using only Free software".
  • JacobPadilla: At least 720P, and 1280x800 at 14 in. would be perfect for me. I recommended it to Dell Idea Storm back in February (some developer from OLPC was my only commenter). Speaking of OLPC / XO-1, this thing should be standard so that if some weirdo wanted to install Windows/OpenBSD/Solaris/OS2 Warp on it then they could (but Ubuntu will run better of course). You can't do that with XO-1, it's not proprietary but it's not industry standard either. So needs to be industry standard. One major goal should be to promote development of drivers that should be usable on other laptops. HDMI would be great in that it outputs both video and audio, plus it's smaller than a DVI or VGA port. A FireWire port would be pretty key if we'd like media types to adopt this thing. 1920x1080 is pretty worthless without modern hardware MPEG-2 and MPEG-4 acceleration in drivers. Finally, If this thing is to support community software I can't stress enough how strongly I feel the proceeds it generates should benefit free software communities. Funding better-video-driver evangelism would be a great place to start! Of course the folks at FFmpeg need to be included somehow so that libavcodec has some kind of documented/easily programmable facility for drivers to work with. TrackPoint gets my vote too. I'm the user of a beautiful ThinkPad T23 that (video drivers aside) is still up to snuff for me to do most things and it only has a TrackPoint. Love it! In summary:

    • Santa Rosa
    • X3100
    • Industry Standard
    • Use proceeds to fund development of drivers and codecs
    • libavcodec
    • FireWire

    • ULV Core 2 Duos (I just added that one)

    Another idea would be to partner with a company, like AMD, that doesn't have good open source support and market the laptop as a sort of non-profit development kit.

  • BerniePallek: Since mankind has finally settled on a "true HD" format (1920x1080), why not make that a standard mode in the video controller for the laptop, and provide a quality output connector (HDMI?), so the laptop can easily be used with HDTVs? Use a 16:9 or other well-known aspect ratio (and 1280x720 sounds great -- and very technically affordable -- for a built-in laptop screen) to reduce scaling/sizing issues. Provide a decent number of USB ports (5?), each with a fully independent host controller, (again, to counter the corner-cutting by device makers). Finally, chalk up one more vote for the TrackPoint-style input device -- it's compact, fast, accurate, reliable, and those who don't like it just need more practice. Smile :-)

  • Toma4: If we're talking about new hardware, you could make a special onboard section of RAM/ROM that could house the kernel and all its juicy free drivers, leaving more RAM for you and me to play with, possibly speeding it up using a better system bus? Mind you, thats a LOT of work. But, possible. the Free/Open motherboard. Just a pipe dream.
  • wdsl: Display: 13,3", 1280*720 LED-Backlight, Using sunlight to use it outside;Connections: 5x USB (2right, 2x back, 1 left), Bluetooth, WLAN (802.11g/n), 1-2x GBit LAN, HDMI+VGA out, stereo out/in with mechanical control.Components: energy efficient CPU/GPU + Chipset, 1-2GB RAM, 64GB Flashdisk, DVD-DL Writer;other: less than 2kg, 5 hour battery life,keyboard with lighting letters, TrackPoint, touchpad with 3 Buttons and marked scroll-areas

  • PeterVanderKlippe: Is there any chance of a transflective screen? They are great for battery life and visibility outdoors. Oh, and if we can get this to be as upgradeable as possible. 1-2 ExpressCard Slots, Lots of USB (at least 4), Mini-PCI WLAN, DVI out, Bluetooth. I know everyone is voting for a 13-14" 1280*720 screen, but here is a vote for a 15" 1920x1080 screen. As soon as we have resolution independent GUI bits this will be the best choice. Oh, and please 2 full ram slots.

  • AaronWhitehouse: The difficulty here is evident on this page already. Current Linux users are predominantly technophiles and each is very demanding and very particular about what they like. It will be very difficult to satisfy those that want a performance desktop-replacement, an ultra-mobile and an economic balanced option with the same machine. One approach, of course, would be to offer a range of machines. The most important requirements from your list from the freedom point of view is the full driver, OpenBIOS and ACPI support. Specifying the rest will mean that the project constantly argues about "important specs". It is also true that a range of machines already meet most of those requirements (with the exception of the BIOS) - even my old Dell Inspiron 510m. Perhaps a better approach is to get together with FSF, LSB, other distributions, the Linux Foundation etc. etc. and put some weight behind a "Fully Free Laptop" badge (and search/review site). I think you may end up trying to satisfy everyone and satisfying none.

  • DonSmith: While I definitely agree that Linux users are demanding, other companies seem to service their customers with only 1 or two product entries, (Apple for example only has 2 general laptop models, then scales based on screen size/drive space/processor/memory). My dream would be pretty simple, a 13.3" tablet with dvd burner, 1394, 3 USBs, a card reader, external display, Ethernet, WiFi, Bluetooth, and a camera. This may seem extravagant, but HP has a low end model that meets 90% of the requirements. It uses AMD instead of Intel, which cuts cost, but if switched to Intel would probably meet all the driver requirements except for BIOS, which from what I understand, AMD is leading in. Even with AMD, the only thing that jumps out is the GeForce, which nouveau already drives, albeit slowly.

  • VladCodrea: Wireless cards that don't require downloadable firmware are already available. Examples include some cards by RaLink. Dial-up modem: back in 2001 IBM released a Thinkpad dialup modem with a completely Free/Open Source driver called ACP Modem (Mwave). Coreboot is actively being developed, and the main OpenBIOS developer, (Stephen Reinauer,) now spends his time working on Coreboot, so Coreboot is preferable to OpenBIOS.

  • StuartLangridge: Me personally, I don't care about how many pixels are on the screen. I'd like to see a power supply with a thin lead and no (or a very small) power brick; current laptop power supplies are huge and take up lots of room in a bag, (other than the Apple ones, which is the model for what I'm talking about). A built-in camera (a la the VAIOs) would be nice for conferencing. Bluetooth and WiFi supported out of the box by free drivers, as mentioned. (I've made some notes before about what I'd like to see in a laptop.) Basically, the very existence of a laptop supported by and supplied with Gobuntu will be such a marvelous change that the details of exactly what hardware specs it has can be hashed out later.

  • SAAAllen: Screen resolution to me would be last on the list - 1024x768 is fine as long as the graphics chip is capable of antialiasing and resampling to eliminate any low-resolution artifacts. I have an older desktop PC running Compiz-Fusion smoothly to the specs of P4 1.7GHz / 256MB DDR / 20GB HDD / Intel945GM onboard graphics. F/OSS can push the hardware limits further than I ever could have expected, and I *don't* need to upgrade anything for years to experience hardware accelerated effects written for a modern society. That's what I would expect this laptop to do, prove that it's not the small system capabilities that makes a slow system - but a bloated, patent-lawsuit-ridden, poorly-designed operating system, (which GNU/Linux is not, of course).
  • TyraelTLK: Integrated Smart Card Reader. To login, sign, encrypt with GnuPG smart card like the FSFE Fellowship Card (ehy! What about an "Ubuntu Card"?). CardMan 4040 PCMCIA[product]=27

  • AlanPope: This Toshiba Portege M400 has the Intel 945 video (so Compwiz works) and Intel 3945ABG WiFi, a 12" screen running at a very useful 1400x1050, GPRS, SD card reader, 3xUSB, 1xFireWire, Bluetooth and finger print reader. It's also a tablet. Battery life is a little sucky, but you can add a second one in the slim media bay. It's not a massive laptop so it doesn't have a lot of room for a battery.

  • Stephen: Working in laptop repair, the single biggest point of failure for a laptop is the power socket - every second hardware repair is due to the pin in it breaking, or the socket snapping off the motherboard. Apple has the right idea with this one - say what you like about their new connector, it won't break!

  • IronHide: InstantOn! Regardless of the specs after powering on it should take one to the "desktop" already without going through those pesky BIOS POST tests. Those who are old enough to have owned and use an Apple ][ knows what I'm talking about after the power on (AppleDOS cursor blinking and waiting for your next command).

  • MatsWichmann: if it could be "anything on the market now" it would be the compact Sony TX series (current "best" is known as the VGN-TXN29N/L in the US if someone wants to search), there looks to be a lot of hardware that won't run open drivers. Compact means expensive, too. I'm liking the concept of hardware decoding, where the "license" becomes part of the cost of the hardware (see Future section below).

  • Oleg: Good idea, but is it possible at this time FULLY free software only laptop? What about AMD Turion X2 based laptop with Linux/OpenBIOS and NVIDIA video card e.g GeForce 7800go at the first step? (In the future, when possible, replaced with the Video Card with open drivers).

  • DJ Losch: As far as batteries go, there normal batteries (8 cell), extended cell batteries (9-12 cells), bay batteries (4-6 cells, which slide in and out of the bay used for the optical drive), and slice batteries (4-6 cells, which plugs into the docking base port). A laptop with an extended cell, bay, and slice battery could have 17-24 cells. Rather heavy but it would also have a 15+ hour battery life. Make sure that the discharge order is slice, bay, main battery. The future of computing no longer uses optical disks, and many people can go without them most of the time.
  • Anonymous: I intend to rarely use the optical drive on the laptop, and hence, would also like to see multiple options for the connection of extra batteries as suggested here above. The batteries would not have to be restricted to a "perfect fit" of the rectangular laptop case (I think Gateway offers a model that features this), i.e. I would like battery options that stuck out from the sides, thus allowing the inclusion of batteries with more cells (eg 9 cell rather than 6 cell modular bay battery, or 15 cell rather than 12 cell primary battery) and battery shapes that are other than strictly rectangular (e.g. L or T shaped batteries?) - this of course assumes that all battery cells are equal in terms of "running time capacity". Also, batteries that could be connected via other options, (such as USB ports). However, these may not be popular options and may not gather enough support to be added to the final product.

- Options for OLED screens , external batteries/optical drives

  • cbTapir :

    CPU: Turion 64 X2 TL-60 Motherboard: VIA codename "K8T900" RAM: 2GB 667 Mhz dual channel Graphics: Found this in VIA's homepage: ...integrate S3 Graphics technologies based on shared memory architecture, from UniChrome™ through to the latest Chrome9™ IGP core. Screen: 14.1\'\' for mobility + battery life and easily readable text Smile :) 1440x900 is the resolution to go. A bright(glossy) screen option must be included. HDD: 7200 RPM with 80 to 160 GB option. Wireless: Atheros & Bluetooth Battery: 6 or 9 cell option. Life should be at least 4.5+ hours with a 9 cell battery. Weight: Maximum 5.5 pounds with a 9 cell battery Ports/Slots: 1 x Express card, 1 x Smart Media, 3 x USB 2.0, 1 x Powered USB 2.0, 1 x FireWire, DVI / HDMI / S-Video.

  • Davidjones: : A 1024x768 screen is really pointless, for software developers like me. Native HDTV resolution would say a lot about being entertainment-focused. For the visually impaired, lowering the resolution is not the solution, it's just a band-aid. Putting a higher resolution screen on the laptop would create a truly uniquely valuable product for a lot of people, and would also put more focus on developing the Ubuntu desktop into a properly resolution-independent display medium. As a side note, when I decided to buy a new laptop earlier this year, the screen was my biggest concern -- I ended up with a MacBook Pro at 1440x900. I wouldn't settle for anything less, plus it's a great platform for Ubuntu. Smile :)

  • LimSweeTat: I will like to see laptops do away with screens, and just project to the eyes vis-a-vis wearable computers. Where we are seeing PDAs and phones converge, nothing has been done yet to see a convergence of wearable computers and laptops, and this is where a Linux cool factor, can do it attitude can make hardware vendors do it.

  • KaHa : (Excuse me for my bad English)

    • Full 64 bits, dual core with virtualisation enable technologies CPU.
    • 12.1 inch wide screen with at least 1440x900 resolution, LED backlight, Outdoor viewable
    • Tablet PC with Wacom Technology or dual with touchscreen.
    • Low or middle-end current generation ATI graphical card. (ATI because I believe AMD will release the open driver.) (Something like a HD2400).
    • WiFi and Bluetooth. Maybe WiMAX or GSM 3G quad band WWAN.

    • 8 or 10 GB flash drive for system and hard drive for home.
    • Dual layer DVD writer with maybe LightScribe. Media bay with optional batteries.

    • Two batteries so we can change one when the laptop run on the other.
    • International power supply.
    • Some expandability - many USB (3 ??) FireWire, PCMCIA or ExpressCard and docking station.

    • Backlit keyboard.
    • Hardware button for turning on and off : WiFi, Bluetooth and backlight.

    • Please, less than 2kg.
  • MichaelRBernstein : I'd like:

    • A 7+ hour battery life, even if some performance had to be sacrificed.
    • I'd also prefer lower weight (4/4.5 pounds max).
    • As for the screen debate, higher resolution is better, but 1024x768 12" is entirely usable. Do consider smaller widescreens as well though (i.e. 14" widescreen). A 12" widescreen is too small, though.
    • CD/DVD combo drive. Doesn't need to be a burner.
    • WiFi, of course. But can we get a little creative with Software Defined Radio or Mesh networking here?

    • Microphone and headphone jacks
    • If the hardware is fully available for control from software, we can dispense with most external controls and extra buttons, like volume controls and specialty keys. Simplicity is a feature.
    • 10/100 Ethernet
    • 80Gb hard-drive is plenty
    • 1 USB 2.0 port
    • Ruggedizing/weatherizing would be nice.

      Beyond that I'm pretty flexible. I don't much care, for example, how *thick* the laptop is if it is light enough. I don't care if there is a modem, I don't care about Bluetooth, I don't care about FireWire. If the networking works, I don't need a PCMCIA card slot.

      One note: Since there seem to be many conflicting requests here, maybe a pro could be brought in to conduct a rigorous survey? Someone like Howard Moskowitz. Remember there is no perfect laptop, there are only perfect laptops. Wink ;-)

  • AzraelNightwalker: I'd like a keyboard that has a normal, desktop-PC-like, keys layout, what is the most important part for me is the layout of Ins, Del, Home, End, PgUp and PgDown - I really hate when these keys are aligned vertically. When you switch often between a laptop and a desktop PC you'll feel that. These keys should be aligned like this:

    •   (Ins) (Home) (PgUp)
        (Del) (End)  (PgDn)
      Many HP Compaq and IBM/Lenovo laptops have this keyboard layout.
  • Anonymous: I would like to see a keyboard layout that was as close to a normal full keyboard layout as was possible, (as can be found on some of the larger laptop models from the more popular manufacturers). And of course, I would like to see 15.4 or 17" screen options. The weight of the laptop is not a concern for me. - Dual labeled (in different colours!?) keyboard that can button-switch between QWERTY and DVORAK modes (there was a desktop version of this idea a few years ago but I don't remember which company offered it). - Digital and analog TV signal and AM/FM radio and GPS reception capabilities!?
  • GeryMate : Somehow touchpads are pretty common these days, however, as some people pointed out earlier in this document, not everybody likes using them. I think, this is heavily based on the fact, that scrolling, which is a quite common task nowadays, is a pain with touchpads, and even scrolling areas don't solve this problem: they just make interaction with the computer a more complex task. This is a configuration problem that arises from tradition. Instead of the right button bringing up the context menu, it should enable the mouse (touchpad) movement to scroll in all four direction, while the context menu should be available on pressing the right button and the left button at the same time. It may seem weird at first glance, but it is an easily adoptable change (we are talking about freedom, aren't we?), which seems to highly empower touchpad users. It would be nice to see this in Ubuntu the first time. For more details: .

  • MichaelRHead: Hmm... I find I need at least 1000 vertical pixels to get enough lines of code on the screen when I'm working. A smaller (12-13") screen with high res (1400x1050 or 1680x1050) would fit my needs better. Also, it's critical, (for me personally,) for the laptop to have a ThinkPad-style stick pointer. Touchpads are useless to me.

  • DekeClinger: Reiterate the requirement for ThinkPad-style pointer. I also really really like having three mice buttons built into the machine as on the ThinkPad: X11 is much less useful without that third button.

  • John B.: I second the necessity for a ThinkPad style stick pointer. I just cannot use a touchpad. Also don't limit to only Intel graphics. I currently use the open source Radeon driver for my Mobility 7500 and it works flawlessly. You might also want to consider AMD chips as they run cooler/more efficient per my experience. I always loved ThinkPad styling/layout, so check into Lenovo as an OEM.

  • MariusGedminas: a ThinkPad-style keyboard, please. Don't mangle the right Shift, Ctrl, Alt keys. With a trackpoint and 3 mouse buttons, of course.

  • MartinDengler: Making the touchpad multi-touch (a la MacBooks) would be a real nice plus (and is clearly feasible without exorbitant costs). I'll add a vote for trackpoints. If a Thinkpad-like (travel, "feel") keyboard could be added that would be a massive plus, too.

  • NatTuck: I don't see any sense in demanding everything + a pony. If a reasonably light laptop with current-generation hardware that works with Gobuntu & OpenBIOS becomes available at a reasonable price, I'll most likely get one. When I say "works", that definitely does include stuff like suspend and hibernate.

  • ezTol:
    • make it flexible (like Dell or other internet shops), so everybody could choose the components he likes: CPU, RAM, glare/non-glare display, HDD/Hybrid-HDD/Flash, DVD-burner, webcam, Bluetooth..., maybe making deals with different distributors?
    • because of so many different opinions about screen-size, maybe two laptops: 13,3" and 15,3" widescreen with different resolutions, 15,4": 1650*1050/1440*900/1280*800 and 13,3": 1440*900/1280*800
    • Tochpad: Synaptics? with no marked scroll-areas!!! (I like them small, others have bigger fingers and need them bigger, it's easily configurable in xorg.conf, but needs new GUI, since existing tools don't give enough options), IBM like track point for those who like it, I don't
    • If posible: internal mic not inside laptop chassis, but next to webcam on top of the screen (less background noise), at least 1 Power USB 2.0 (1A), additional battery instead of DVD possible, I don't care about modem, but it shouldn't cost to much either, right?
    • Must have: Good thermal management, low noise, low power consumption when idle, (graphics hardware also needs good power play), Dell D830 for example needs 15W (minimum) when idle, battery lasts 9 hours (idle) and 4 hours while surfing with WLAN, working CPU Scaling, ACPI Suspend to RAM/HDD.
    • HDMI (with HDMI to DVI adapter), S-Video
  • PhilipHunt: If I was to buy a laptop, I would be using it as a desktop replacement machine. Therefore specifications would take priority over small size and long battery life. My minimum requirements:

    • A 17" 1024x1280 display (what I use now)
    • Usable with an external wireless mouse
    • Internal 160 GB hard disk
    • Some USB ports, Ethernet and WiFi

    • Internal speakers; they don't have to be top quality
    Ideally I would like:
    • The screen to be detachable from the keyboard so I could put it in a nice viewing position.
    • As big a screen as possible (maybe a range of screens as ezTol suggested).
    • Slots for flash memory cards.
    • The WiFi interface to use software radio so it can reconfigure itself to be a mobile phone, GPS receiver, FM/AM radio, TV receiver (maybe), and to talk to other nearby laptops in an ad hoc network, (maybe it could act as a WiFi router to do this).

    • A top end graphics card, and some open source games that use its full capabilities. Some thing like "Rome Total War" would be ideal -- especially if the ad hoc networking allowed me to play against my friends.
    Stuff like DVD and CDROM drives can be external. Within this specification, light weight is more important to me than long battery life. Looking at other people's comments it seems some people want a highly specced machine while others prefer a light machine with long battery life. For the latter group, how about something based on the XO-1 with perhaps more flash memory?
  • Macavity3:
    • We should extend the free software principle to the documentation and parts available for the machine. There ought to be full technical manuals available to allow system builders and refurbishers to replace and upgrade all the components. Also, the manufacturer should be able to supply a complete set of parts individually to suppliers for worldwide distribution to the end-user. This will help keep these laptops in circulation for longer and therefore increase the number of people using free software (which is, after all, what this is all about!). Availability of technical manuals and relatively low-cost parts is the reason why there are so many refurbished Thinkpads and Latitudes still out there. Although I am only an amateur enthusiast with no training, I have been able to repair several Thinkpad T23s using Lenovo's comprehensive manuals and parts from eBay UK. I could not do this with my wife's Advent machine!
    • At the risk of being shot down in flames, I shall tentatively suggest that it might be a good idea if someone were to make Windows drivers for the laptop available. We are not in the business of forcing people to use a particular operating system via hardware incompatibility, like some companies I could mention. This would reassure potential customers who like the free software principle, but are nervous about making the switch to Linux. Of course once they experience the clear superiority of free software, they will never look back :-).
  • Fedorowp:
    • 802.11a is very useful in congested areas and where there are cordless phones that interfere with 802.11bg on the 2.4GHz band. Intel has two wireless chipsets, the IPW2915 and the IPW3945, which supports 802.11a in addition to 802.11bg. A truly free version was reverse-enginnered by some BSD folks, and it looks like that version has been ported back to Linux.
    • A very low-power FPGA on the SMBUS with a small bit of FLASH and static RAM would open the door to additional capabilities. Possibilities include:
      • E-Book mode which allows the laptop to be hibernating - CPU, chipset, and RAM all off.
      • Low-speed mesh networking.
    • A high-speed FPGA suitable for capabilities such as:
      • GnuRadio - Digital radio, perhaps even HDTV, or 802.11 everything.

      • AES encryption.
      • Prototyping/implemention of the open graphics project.
      • Perhaps this can be the south-bridge chip.
  • OnkarShinde: How about using powerpc architecture? I don't have information about all the technicalities involved but from what I have heard, powerpc based machines (old macs) were one of the best for home use.

  • Ondrej Michalek: a good classical keyboard layout and TrackPoint (like on ThinkPads, eg.: <a href=""></a> it only misses the os logo key and right alt I think) -- no keys missing -- keys on the right places -- blocks of keys are easy to find thanks to spaces between logical key blocks etc...

    • Connectivity the more important than performance. (any of those: WiFi mesh, BT, wireless usb, WAN, Galileo/GPS, dvb-t radio) Minimally 3 USB's

    • don't waste space with analog TV-out or d-subs, if something then HDMI - it's got DVI and sound inside already.
    • 'Distinguishable identity' -- you cannot appeal to all anyway
    • Some clever design may it be passive display, two batteries (so that you can change them on the go), macbook power cord, one extra large multi-touchpad (that you can switch on for better navigation/zooming/etc.) or anything else Smile :)

  • McLogic: I like the power and display of a desktop, and the and battery life of a BlackBerry. This can not be done in one device. Ubuntu will be on some of the Intel mini-computers that will be out next year, and we should just be able to switch to full-Ubuntu mode. If you look at the Arstechnica article, you will see that it is a nice device. I just hope that they keep the full-sized regular laptop hard drive (SSD = $$D); while adding a second USB & headphone (listen/watch with a friend), a mic-in, a line-in, and consumer IR transceiver (LIRC is a "killer-app").

  • FedorowP: I think it can be done in one device, and I've been spending some time researching the best way to do so. This is the first draft for the design I came up with:
    1. A HyperTransport main CPU. ie: AMD Turion 64 X2 Mobile TL-60

      • 31W
      • 2.0 GHz
      • Duel-Core
      • Supports virtualization
      • 1 MB L2 cache
      • 1600 MHz bus
    2. All-in one ultra-low-power PC. ie. ZF Micro ZFx86
      • < 1W

      • 35mm x 35mm
      • 100 MHz
      • 486 Instruction Set
      • Self-contained except for RAM
      • 1-4 banks SDRAM - 16/32 bit - 256 MB limit
      • Connects directly to PCI bus
    3. A custom bridge chip to map the SDRAM controlled by the ZFx86 into main memory space.
    4. Linux kernel support:
      • If the CPU load would be <50% of a the 100MHz chip for lets say 7 seconds, page out memory to FLASH to get down to the working space of the ZFx86. Page out the rest of main memory into the ZF86's SDRAM. Suspend machine state, and resume onto the ZFx86. If CPU load of the ZFx86 hits let's say 85% then it would do the reverse.

      • If virtualization is in use, then ultra-low-power mode would need to be disabled.
    5. The ability to power-off the main CPU and RAM.
    This approach would require a kernel and all applications to be able to run on a 486. The kernel restriction can be eliminated by using the dynamic compilation that has already been added to the kernel for boot-up use. For applications, perhaps the elf loader can be modified to trigger the switch back. Perhaps the SDRAM can be replaced with some static RAM, or perhaps an FeRAM cache in front of some fast FLASH memory for even lower power "operating standby". The power breakdown right now for this mode is:
    • < 1W - CPU

    • ?W - SDRAM
    • ?W - Chipset
    • < 2.5W - Transflective LCD with back-light off

    If we can get the low-power-mode RAM down to about 2W, and the chipset when in this mode down to about 3W, that means about 8.5W consumption in this mode. With a new 60,000mA/H Li-Po battery back, that would give about 7 hours of runtime with the screen on.

    Perhaps with a FLASH/FeRAM combination we could get it down to about 1W for RAM, and with perhaps a separate low-power FPGA, or better yet, and ASIC for it's interface, as low as 1W for the chipset. (The ZFx86 technically has it's own chipset, what I mean is the control interface for the low-power mode, and sharing FLASH disk drive access and CPU with the main CPU.) That would be about 5.5W consumption, which would give 10 hours 50 minutes of screen on use. Turn off the screen, chipset, don't do anything which touches main FLASH, (FeRAM's power consumption is negligible,) and power consumption drops to about 1W, which would allow the ultra-low-power CPU to run for about 60 hours. 40+ hours sounds doable with occasion cellular network or WiFi e-mail polling. Perhaps the most interesting part of all of this is . . . We could place regular high efficency solar panels down the side of a portrait LCD on the cover, which would produce about 9W outside during the daytime. So with light use outdoors during the day, the laptop could be used for a week or more.

* ThyMythos: I wonder why noone mentioned E-SATA. This is an absolute must have for my next Laptop because internal HDDs will always be somehow limited. With E-SATA even an internal solid state disk would be enough.

*adrian: I would like it to be made of magnesium or aluminium, 13,3" or 12" and long battery life. Then a good keyboard, a good touchpad. And that's all. I think this are the most important things: resistance, size and battery.




Atheros wireless chipset using OpenHAL (Atheros has no firmware, only very small bytecode, so it could be completely free. There are some chipsets that work with OpenHAL and are completely free.)[Atheros has the most powerful/best running wireless chipset from a technical perspective, not a free/libre perspective, but some of their chipsets function with free/libre madwifi-openhal.]

  • A note on Atheros: while it may or may not be true that Atheros is good from a technical point of view, it is probably one of the worst from the free software point of view. Atheros has a long history of tainting linux kernels with their binary code, and trying to pursue free software developers that it's good. They say they do that because of a U.S. regulation on frequencies, and they feel that they have to enforce those regulations on their users. There are clean problems with this behaviour: 1. a free user can decide to follow a regulation or not, and there is no need for a hardware vendor to act like the police on one, 2. surprisingly there are still other territories of the world that are not U.S., and in those decreasing number of countries there may exist other regulations. Forcing U.S. regulations on them is an attack against their freedom. Choosing Atheros on a technological basis would be like choosing Microsoft technology for the keyboard: probably they did some invention, but meanwhile they are hostile to the world. From the free software point of view it would be pleasant to find a wireless vendor which has history of supporting free software development, has open specifications and probably released GPL drivers for its' products. Honor the effort! --SportEmber


What about the Broadcom chipsets, BCM4313 for example? The hardware seems to be good, and there is completely free brcm driver. --ulidtko

Bunny Ears

Bunny Ears like the XO, for 2x the Wi-Fi radius.



Intel graphics only work when integrated into the northbridge on Intel motherboard/CPU combos. AMD CPUs connect directly to RAM and they have a HyperTransport bus for talking with the rest of the hardware in the system. (PCI buses etc.) Intel CPUs don't connect directly to RAM yet - but they have a chip in between. This is called the northbridge. Intel graphics if present is always present inside the northbridge chip. There's no solution with AMD CPU and Intel Graphics.

anonymous! - the following may not strictly belong in this section!? - A suggestion for the future - universal cpu support - ie can run any popular cpu chip from the major companies. - support/options for non-x86 cpu chips - eg IBM's cell cpu - low power, and ultra low power versions of cpu's would be nice - more options for power efficiency and long battery life freaks like myself!


Radeon with free drivers, but R200 cards are a bit outdated and newer cards not fully supported when coming to 3D support (correct me, if I'm wrong), Intel is no choice as written in specifications, (which is sad, cause X3100 would be perfect), but maybe AMD will open their drivers? So newer AMD/ATI cards would get interesting.

Open Graphics Project

Open Graphics project maybe?

* FedorowP:

  • I contacted the Open Graphics Project and I was given permission to post their reply:
    • Thanks for letting us know about this.  If you're on the Ubuntu mailing list, you can tell them that we'd be excited to share what we're doing with them.  The biggest obstacles to developing affordable graphics chips are time (which we can only compress so far) and money (which we're trying to get started acquiring by selling OGD1).  Also, we certatinly wouldn't mind sharing silicon with another project (or two or three), depending on how that affects costs and production yield.
        One thought that comes to mind is that an early version of an open laptop need not have all of the 3D capability that we're trying to put into OGA1.  OGD1 is expensive because of the large FPGA.  However, if this laptop projected could accept a much simpler graphics processor, it could go to production with a smaller FPGA with a 2D-only GPU in it.
        ''Could you provide a guestimate as to the man-hours for FPGA development of the 2D and 3D versions.  And an estimate for the startup cost for custom silicon for the 2D and 3D versions, including per unit cost?  Or just the per chip costs with a minimum order if you prefer.''
        I CAN, but not off the top of my head.  Let people decide what they want and give us an informally formal description, and from that we can estimate time and costs.
        For 2D, we have quite a lot done.  But we still would have to develop a 2D renderer (not a terrible effort but still requires work) and integrate it all into whatever size device is chosen.


* XOPC dual-mode screens? ..and maybe even the XO display technology, so this laptop can be used in direct sunlight.

* FedorowP: 13.3" LCDs are presently only available in 1280x800 (WXGA), and they are manufactured by AU Optronics, and by Chi Mei Optoelectronics. Below are the most relevant subset of the specifications provided on the websites:

  • AUO:
    • Active Area (mm): 286.1 x 178.8
    • Mode: TN
    • Number of Colors: 262K
    • Color Saturation (NTSC %): 45
    • View Angle (H/V): 90 / 55
    • Brightness (cd/m²) (5 points average): 250
    • Contrast Ratio: 400 : 1
    • Response Time (ms) (at 25°C): 16
    • Power Consumption (W)(typ): 4.8
    • Backlight: 1 CCFL
    • Outline Dimensions (mm)(typ): 299.0 x 195.0 x 5.2
    • Weight (g)(typ): 350
  • CMO:
    • Number of Color: 262K
    • Brightness(nits): 250
    • Contrast Ratio: 500:1
    • Viewing Angle(U/D/R/L): 20/45/45/45
    • Power Consumption(w/o Inv): 4.9
    • Outlines(W x H x D mm): 299 x 195 x 5.3
    • Weight(g): 350
    • Response Time (ms): 16

* The CMO panel has a 25% greater contrast ratio and 10 degrees more viewing angle, while only being about .1 mm thicker, so the CMO panel is preferred.

* The AUO panel specifies the backlight type, but the CMO does not. According to my understanding, the type of backlight is usually an assembly option for large orders, so although it requires further inquiry, we should be able to specify them with OLED backlights. As an aside, with special driver support, or better yet for maximum compatibility and performance with built-in OGP support, we should be able to have the backlight dynamically adjusted based on the scene, to maximize power savings, and increase levels of contrast for scenes that don't have pixels at maximum luminescence.


Sealed rubber keys(more expensive), in case you spill beer(s) in the laptop!


Hybrid 2.5 inch eide drive with flash based storage, for minimal read/write times, and better battery life.


Two BIOS memories If it uses FreeBIOS/CoreBoot, could it be updated per apt-get? updates could then be written to unused memory, if there were no problems it is set as active afterwars, otherwise (power-disruption etc...) there is still the working BIOS in the other memory.


Some things are not feasible right now, because as far as we know there is no work under way to achieve them. But they would be useful to have on the roadmap for future versions of this page.

  • Free software firmware - full code, with rights to modify and redistribute.
    • (AmirEAharoni) I don't know about other kinds of hardware, but wireless cards from Ralink should be free enough. I am not an expert, but according to FSF they are already better than Intel in this regard. Currently Ralink comes mostly in PCMCIA cards, though.

  • Hardware codec support with patent licenses included - if we can find hardware that does the codec magic then we can have the laptop play media anywhere in the world using only free software to enable the hardware.
    • (BerniePallek) This is a very promising idea. I can imagine some kind of hybrid DSP+FPGA/PLD+flash ASIC that allows simultaneous/independent feeding of up to n streams of encoded data in one end, to get n decoded data out the other, unburdening the CPU. Modern PCs are ready for a standard "multimedia helper chip", with a simple, but solid API. (In case you hadn't already connected the dots, this is the "miracle" part).

  • CheeseSandwich: This is a bit out there, but I've read of those nifty new micro-turbine power generators, which are in the prototype stage IIRC, and can generate power in the 10W-20W range. Imagine the day when we can insert lighter fluid into our laptop & get 24+ hrs of use out of it.

  • Alternative power source options, eg solar panels, cranks or whatever it is that the OLPC project intends to use! and other alternatives.
  • As hardware codec support goes, there are tons of cheap hardware codec solutions for MPEG-4, MP3, etc. A custom internal USB-based interface or some such including some $3-50 codec chips could have a driver written for it relatively trivially. These codec chips are all about simplicity.
  • Did I hear someone say Linux Phone (Lphone)?
  • A version of this laptop, (and Linux phone,) that is targetted at the needs, restrictions and circumstances of NGO/nonprofits and those who work in remote third world localities would be good.
  • A laptop running on OpenSPARC and Open Graphics.


  • This page would be easier to keep track of if it followed some better defined structure!?!
    • Fedorowp: I started carefully cleaning up the page with gramatical, indentation, and minor layout fixes.
  • Some sort of 3G network access.
  • Memory Stick / SD card support?

Vote-scores of upcoming laptop-shaped MID's

ASUS is going to release, "later this year", a new 9 inch Eee PC (225mm and 1024 x 600) screen in It has most of the features requested. Expected to cost $600 USD, and will need a bigger battery (ASUS 6 Cell 7800mAh for 65 USD) and open-driver-closed-firmware wireless card (Intel 3945ABG for 30 USD). The total price is about $700 USD.

It has: Ultra-portable, ACPI that works, 5+ hour battery, 1024x600 wide screen, 3 USB ports, LED-lit screen, multi-format card reader, VGA out, 1.25 kg (with larger battery), Small Power Brick (12 volts), Camera, Mic (quality?)

It lacks: CoreBoot, bluetooth, High-Performance Graphics, TV-out, digital out, touchscreen, GPS, hardware mute, DVD drive, Dual-Core CPU, ExpressCard, Hard drive

Counting each person's requested feature as a vote from the section below, the 9-inch ASUS Eee PC gets about 110 out of 226 votes (counting votes only for features that got 7 or more votes).

The E-lead Noahpad gets about 63 out of 226 votes. It is an UMPC that runs Ubuntu 7.10 on VIA chips, is also expected to cost $600, only has a 7-inch (800x480) screen and includes a 30 Gb hard drive.

No computer can get all 226 votes, as people voted for contradictory features.



Response statistics compiled from 106 responses on Mark Shuttleworth's blog, the specifications at the top and 62 responses with a name specified, (Anonymous included,) in the Specifications section of the wiki as of 2007Aug12Sun 13:45EST.

Ideas definitely evolved like a conversation on the wiki, so this probably should only be used as a basis to get some idea of the areas to focus on, and to perhaps design a poll to narrow things down. I interspersed some comments regarding items I have some ideas or comments about.

Note: I tried to include everything I could, but certainly there may be some statistical errors. In fact, I'm sure there's at least two. The number in [] are the number of responses summerized in the catagory.

Mostly sorted by number of responses per category.

Screen Size


          17+": 1
     15.4"-17": 1
           15": 1
         14.1": 3
           14": 1
  13.3 - 15.3": 1
         13.3": 9
       12"-15": 1
       12"-13": 1
         12.1": 2
           12": 5
12" or smaller: 1
            8": 1
    Reasonable: 1
       Smaller: 1
         Small: 1
          None: 1

Average Numeric Size: 13.16"

Wide Screen


Yes: 5

Screen Resolution


             1920x1200: 1
             1920x1080: 1
    1440x900 or higher: 3
              1440x900: 1
   1400x1050 or higher: 1
1400x1050 to 1680x1050: 1
             1400x1050: 2
              1280x800: 3
              1280x720: 2
              1200x800: 1
 Higher than 1024x1280: 1
  Higher than 1024x768: 2
    1024x768 or higher: 2
              1024x768: 3
               800x460: 1
                   Low: 1

Average Numeric Resolution: 1228x872 8 Responses specified a minimum resolution.

As both Ubuntu desktops can handle resolution independence to a great degree, and if need be a theme can be created for the laptop, I view the resolution as a minimum number. 300dpi or 600dpi would be ideal in my book, unfortunately I don't think there are any available screens that impressive.



Yes: 18

Pointing Device


             TrackPoint: 6
         Pointing Stick: 5
Touchscreen or Touchpad: 2
            Touchscreen: 2
               Touchpad: 1

TrackPoint is IBM/Lenovo's implementation of a pointing stick. Whenever a comment specified TrackPoint rather than TrackPoint like it was listed as such. I did this because TrackPoint's generally seem to have a more usable pointing stick, (isometric joystick,) implementation than most other brands.

Graphics Chipset


            Intel: 5
        Not Intel: 1
Better than Intel: 1
           nVidia: 2
              VIA: 2
              ATI: 1
          Not ATI: 1
    Truly Free 3D: 1
    Open Graphics: 1



                  No gaming: 1
           Reasonable / Mid: 2
                         3D: 6
High Performance (3D games): 4

I've grouped the graphics feedback together for better understanding.

It's a tough one. According to the comments, Intel graphics are the most popular, however they either only are available for, or built-into Intel chipset boards. Intel is VERY unfriendly to OpenBIOS, so as long as we're going with OpenBIOS, Intel graphics won't work. Anyone interested in high-end 3D, games or otherwise, certainly wants to avoid Intel graphics too.

That leaves nVidia, and VIA as the two most popular, but of those, nVidia is not open friendly, so going with it means only relying on reverse engineered drivers. And VIA is known for not having graphics suitable for a high-end laptop, even though they are the most open with their specs for current chips.

We could be forced to go with ATI, but ATI isn't forthcoming with their specs unless it's an older chipset. Does it make sense to go with an older chipset for a new high-end laptop? It doesn't to me. And that means either we need to compromise the ethics, (which are the reason for this laptop,) or on graphics, or figure out if if we have enough interest to make the OGP (Open Graphics Project) viable.

What might be an solution, with immediate availability, is doing a hybrid. VIA -and- OGP. The cost of VIA graphics won't be much, it works, and has basic 3D. Add to that what's needed to do OGP, and make the firmware field programmable, (in a chip that can be used for a lot more too,) and either we'll make everyone happy, or almost no one. Thoughts?

Update: In doing some research I came across XGI's Volari Z9 which is perhaps a better solution than a VIA/S3 for a hybrid approach:

  • 2D is very well supported by X due to a GPL device driver release by the company.
  • Hardware has a reputation for being stable.
  • Total power consumption at around 1-1.5 W.
  • Only 16mm x 16mm for the IC.

USB Ports


  1: 1
 1+: 1
 2+: 1
  3: 5
 4+: 1
  5: 2
  8: 1
Yes: 2

Numeric average: 3.4



Yes: 11

Laptop Size


         Small: 3
Ultra-portable: 3
 Thin Notebook: 1
        Tablet: 4
Doesn't matter: 1

While we have too little data here for specific conclusions, portability is clearly key.

One thing that surprised me, is how much interest there is in tablets. What if we get quite creative here? As this is a high-end unit, perhaps we could add a bit of unique style to it, and offer the best of both. I don't mean with a screen which pivots either. That would use up one engineering miracle, and at the same time be less durable than regular hinges.

How about a low-cost back-lit transflective LCD on the cover? Most likely it would need to be B&W, but from what I understand, in high volumes, low-tech LCDs are rather cheap.

Laptop Weight


            <= 1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs: 1
            <= 2.0 kg / 4.5 lbs: 5
             <=2.5 kg / 5.5 lbs: 1
                          Light: 4
Doesn't matter but prefer light: 1

Weight is clearly important to everyone, and while the lower the better, it's important for us to have a "do-not-exceed" weight for the functionality that's got to be packed in. Asking for "Light" is very subjective, but I think that fits more into the <= 1.5 kg / 3.3 lbs range. For those who view it the same way, 1.85 kg / 4.1 lbs is our maximum for this to have reasonably wide appeal.

Battery Life


                 7+ Hours: 1
                  6 Hours: 1
                 5+ Hours: 3
                  5 Hours: 2
               4.5+ Hours: 1
9 Hours idle, 4 hours use: 1
               Not Crappy: 1
           Doesn't matter: 1

Numeric average: 5.5 hours

A trans-Atlantic flight is about 7 hours.

Digital Video Out


Yes: 9

Durability / Construction


           ThinkPad Like: 3
               Important: 3
          Very Important: 2
Ruggedizing/Weatherizing: 1

Memory Card Reader


        Yes: 2
  Multicard: 4
         SD: 1
Smart Media: 1



            <=$300: 1
             <$549: 1
             Cheap: 1
        Affordable: 3
      Not too much: 2

Price Premium


            Yes: 1
>=20% and <100%: 2



        AMD: 5
  Pentium M: 1
    Not x86: 1

Screen Backlight


LED: 7

Screen Brightness


Super Bright Screen / Daylight Visible: 5
                                Bright: 2

Flash Drive


             Boot: 1
            Cache: 1
System drive only: 1
            /home: 1
             Only: 4



Yes: 6

FireWire / 1394


Yes: 6

Optical Drive


     Internal: 2
External / No: 4

Wireless Chipset


          Intel: 1
      Not Intel: 1
        Atheros: 2
         Ralink: 1
           Free: 1

This is an important one, but it's much too close to figure out any preferences. Atheros certainly isn't open with their specs, but comments suggest not to much other hardware works particularly well. I can vouch for that too. After I carefully did my homework regarding a new card so I could escape the Windows drivers which occasionally locked up my laptop, I was very happy for a while ... but when I started using it on the road, I soon discovered with some access points, it's pretty flaky.

Analogue Video Out


Yes: 6

I was half-done was I realized should have differentiated between VGA, composite, etc. Unfortunately, they're all grouped together here.

CPU Cores


Dual core: 5



    Intel: 2
      VIA: 1
Not Intel: 2

Internal Optical Drive Type


                          DVD Burner: 1
Dual layer DVD Burner w/ LightScribe: 1
                              DVD-DL: 2
                                 DVD: 1

Wireless 802.11g


Yes: 5

PC Card / ExpressCard


 ExpressCard/54: 1
    ExpressCard: 1
ExpressCard 1-2: 1
  ExpressCard 1: 1
         Either: 1

Wireless 802.11b


Yes: 4

Dual Wireless / Mesh Networking


Yes: 4

Keyboard Layout


Ctrl Key Position standard - lower left corner: 1
                                Desktop layout: 2
                               ThinkPad layout: 1

Hardware Volume


Yes: 3
 No: 1



Yes: 3
 No: 1

Extra Battery


Yes: 4

Visual Design


     Good: 1
 Stunning: 1
Important: 1

Pointing Device Buttons


3: 3

Long Range Wireless


Yes: 3

USB Features


  Host mode: 1
Powered USB: 2

Gigabit Ethernet


      Yes: 1
2 of them: 1
       No: 1

Wireless 802.11a


Yes: 3

Hardware On/Off


Yes: 2
 No: 1

Docking Station


Yes: 3

Software Defined Radio (SDR)


Yes: 3

TV Tuner


               Yes: 2
Digital and Analog: 1



  Yes: 1
FM/AM: 2

Pointing Device Scroll Area/Control


Yes: 1
 No: 1

Durable Power Connector


Yes: 2

CPU Price/Performance


   Cheap: 1
Balanced: 1

IOMMU (If non-free a must.)


Yes: 2

Wireless 802.11n


Yes: 2



Yes: 2

Back-lit Keyboard


Yes: 2

Neat idea! As long as it's not at the expense of a great typing keyboard.

Hardware Mute


Yes: 1
 No: 1



                   Low: 1
None - Passive Cooling: 1



Yes: 2

Industry Standard / Windows Drivers


Yes: 2



Yes: 2

Durable Hinges


Yes: 1

Screen Finish


Gloss: 1

Screen Type


Transflective: 1

Headphone Jack


Yes: 1



Yes: 1

Smart Card Reader


Yes: 1

Digital Audio In


Yes: 1

Analogue Audio In


Yes: 1



Yes: 1

Keyboard Quality


ThinkPad-like: 1

Consumer IR


Yes: 1

Vibration Feedback


Yes: 1



Magnesium: 1



Yes: 1

Ethernet Chipset


Realtek: 1

Power Brick


Small or None: 1

International Power Supply


Yes: 1

MPEG Acceleration


Yes: 1

Fingerprint Reader


Yes: 1

Instant On


Yes: 1

Hardware CODEC/Decoding/Encoding


Yes: 1

Dual Batteries (Charge one while use one.)


Yes: 1



7200: 1



Yes: 1

Multi Layout Keyboard


Yes: 1

Customizable on Order


Yes: 1

Detachable Screen/Keyboard


Yes: 1

This would be a unique styling feature, and convenient for presentations. Perhaps a magnetically mounted Bluetooth or IR keyboard with charging contacts?

Mobile Phone


Yes: 1

Open Circuit Design


Yes: 1

E-Book Mode


Yes: 1

AES Acceleration


Yes: 1

FreeSoftwareLaptop (last edited 2011-09-19 14:22:44 by svn)