Choosing hardware that works with Ubuntu

Session Logs

   1 [03:01] <pleia2> Now we have cyphermox joining us to wrap up the day with a class on selecting hardware that will work with Ubuntu
   2 [03:01] <pleia2> Mathieu Trudel-Lapierre is a member of the Quebec LoCo and working at Canonical as Hardware Certification engineer. When not fighting bugs, he's working on NetworkManager.
   3 [03:01] <pleia2> oh dear!
   4 [03:01] <pleia2> We'll wait for him to come back :)
   5 [03:04] <pleia2> cyphermox_: welcome back, take it away :)
   6 [03:04] <cyphermox_> Hi! :) Apparently I should have listened to this sessions better ;)
   7 [03:05] <cyphermox_> So, first, I don't have a whole lot of material, so please don't hesitate to ask questions... and since this is my first session, please be patient and tell me if I'm too fast
   8 [03:06] <cyphermox_> So... you want to buy a new computer that works with Ubuntu?
   9 [03:06] <cyphermox_> Things are good, there's lots of systems that support Ubuntu real well... but there is alas quite a few that don't... and you can get into pretty terrible situations
  10 [03:07] <cyphermox_> Some of the things you can see if you're out of luck: failure to boot, blank screen (I really don't like those), no Wifi, no Ethernet... etc.
  11 [03:08] <cyphermox_> Some of the things you can get if you're lucky: ponies!
  12 [03:08] <cyphermox_> So, how can you make sure the new system you're looking at will work well?
  13 [03:08] <cyphermox_> The quick answer: try it!
  14 [03:09] <cyphermox_> Most places are reasonably open about testing out a live CD on their demo systems (in fact, that is how I chose my work laptop, at Staples, nothing less!)
  15 [03:10] <cyphermox_> Some will just look at you like an alien though, and just won't let you approach the nice toys
  16 [03:10] <ClassBot> IdleOne asked: Where can I buy a USB coffee brewer?
  17 [03:10] <cyphermox_> IdleOne: ThinkGeek!
  18 [03:11] <cyphermox_> :)
  19 [03:12] <cyphermox_> Most stores have very decent warranty provisions that let you try out a system for a period of time (often two weeks, sometimes up to a month). Just be sure that you make the recovery CDs if they didn't come with the box... it's long, it's painful, but it's worth it, as most will expect to see the system back in pristine shape... as pristine as it can be with a non-free OS :)
  20 [03:12] <ClassBot> waltercool asked: How and where can i check the ubuntu support of my "future" hardware?
  21 [03:14] <cyphermox_> waltercool: I'm getting to that shortly, but in short:
  22 [03:14] <cyphermox_> this is where all the stuff that I and others in the Certification team tests, and gets the Big Red Stamp Of Approval (tm) :)
  23 [03:15] <cyphermox_> so, what about if you're not buying from a brick-and-mortar store?
  24 [03:16] <cyphermox_> Know that then, it gets a little more complicated, since you pretty much have to deal with the warranties for sure if you want to *try* it, or you're already sure that the system you're choosing works
  25 [03:16] <cyphermox_> Some very good places to order a machine online:
  26 [03:16] <cyphermox_>
  27 [03:16] <cyphermox_> they even sell cute Ubuntu stickers! :)
  28 [03:17] <cyphermox_> -- also has a very decent selection
  29 [03:17] <cyphermox_> maco mentions one advantage of ZaReason is that they also provide systems with Kubuntu and Xubuntu, while System76 only does Ubuntu
  30 [03:18] <cyphermox_> personally, I'm just a big fan of touching a computer before I buy it :)
  31 [03:18] <ClassBot> Lrpbpb asked: Is there anyway to buy a laptop with ubuntu preinstalled (without windows, just ubuntu)?
  32 [03:18] <cyphermox_> Another nice one is Lenovo. Many of their systems work admirably well, but there are still a few issues here and there
  33 [03:19] <cyphermox_> Lrpbpb: yes! that's precisely what ZaReason and System76 offer, I'm sorry if I wasn't very clear before
  34 [03:20] <cyphermox_> additionally, Dell also does this pretty well, altough lately, IIRC, there were only very few systems listed as preloaded with Ubuntu
  35 [03:21] <cyphermox_> My favortie has got to be Dell, but again it's a matter of personal preference. Again, most of their systems will work *really* well with Ubuntu, minus a few exceptions.
  36 [03:21] <cyphermox_> The thing is, how can you be sure something you're looking at on the web will work? Or at least, get to a reasonable level of certainty?
  37 [03:22] <cyphermox_> Truth is, there's a couple of tricks.
  38 [03:23] <cyphermox_> One thing to go by is Intel. They're components are very well supported (except maybe for the infamous Poulsbo bridge, but even that is somewhat changing), and perform great, too
  39 [03:23] <cyphermox_> Intel wireless, Intel ethernet adapters, Intel anything you want will get you pretty far
  40 [03:24] <cyphermox_> The exception to this is probably just the processor, where it really matters much less
  41 [03:24] <cyphermox_> going back to Dell: the page to get to much of the Ubuntu compatible hardware on their site is here:  (thanks sebsebseb!)
  42 [03:26] <cyphermox_> Then, you'll probably want to stick with Nvidia more than ATI for the graphics card, as they *tend* to get better support, especially for the proprietary drivers
  43 [03:26] <cyphermox_> of course, it also varies as lot, so you'll have to try it, mostly
  44 [03:27] <cyphermox_> In the case of wireless, my personal preference is to stay *FAR* away from Broadcom.... there's a number of issues at the moment, including now showing the signal strength well (at least in NetworkManager), and maybe instability
  45 [03:28] <cyphermox_> they're not evil, because they provide drivers for their hardware, but it could use a lot of improvement.
  46 [03:28] <ClassBot> Lrpbpb asked: on graphics cards, how well supported are integrated intel cards?
  47 [03:29] <cyphermox_> Lrpbpb: quite well! I like them a lot. There are exceptions there too, and open bugs about the issues, but it's being actively worked on, and if I'm not mistaken there is already a patch available
  48 [03:30] <cyphermox_> intel integrated cards are, as far as I am aware, the place where the most activity happens in terms of supporting new stuff, and where the response time for fixing bugs is the smallest
  49 [03:31] <cyphermox_> Which brings me to talk about bugs.
  50 [03:32] <cyphermox_> One nice way to get all the more certain that your system is going to work well with Ubuntu is to look at bugs about the model of the system you're planning to buy
  51 [03:32] <cyphermox_> In some bugs, the title will include the model, so that's a good indication that something isn't quite right, especially if the report is recent
  52 [03:33] <cyphermox_> Reviews will usually give you a good idea of the support as well; especially if it's a report from Phoronics :)
  53 [03:34] <cyphermox_> And if you buy a system and find that stuff doesn't work.... please! report a new bug about it. it's crucial for us to know about broken stuff so we can fix it :)
  54 [03:36] <ClassBot> Lrpbpb asked: One would assume that linux/ubuntu laptops qould be much cheaper than windows laptops (because you aren't paying for the OS). However, these laptops seem to be overpriced (as in you can get a much better one TODAY for the same amount), why would that be?
  55 [03:36] <cyphermox_> If you're getting a system from the lists on, know that the fact that these systems are on the list means they are *certified* to work, which means you can call the excellent support people at Canonical to get help
  56 [03:36] <cyphermox_> Lrpbpb: give me a second to type my answer :)
  57 [03:38] <cyphermox_> Lrpbpb: I think it has to do with demand. There isn't a high demand for systems with Ubuntu (or any linux) preinstalled, so my guess is that manufacturers and resellers are pre-installing systems by the batch, and changing that pre-installed costs a technician's time, hence why the lack of difference in price.
  58 [03:39] <cyphermox_> Lrpbpb: if you saw the same model more expensive with Ubuntu than with another OS, I wouldn't know. I'd say you should probably head to a better store, or shop online elsewhere, as that place may be evil :)
  59 [03:41] <cyphermox_> hmm.. questions?
  60 [03:41] <cyphermox_> I seem to have covered much of what I had planned on
  61 [03:42] <cyphermox_> <Lrpbpb> cyphermox_: I'm not sure if you are from canonical, but does the company have any plans to begin selling ubuntu computers? Something as part of their attempt to bring ubuntu to more people?
  62 [03:43] <cyphermox_> Lrpbpb: I am from Canonical, but I really don't know... sorry
  63 [03:46] <cyphermox_> No more questions?
  64 [03:50] <ClassBot> There are are 10 minutes remaining in the current session.
  65 [03:55] <ClassBot> There are are 5 minutes remaining in the current session.
  66 [04:00] <pleia2> Thanks cyphermox_, great session! :)
  67 [04:00] <cyphermox_> thanks all :)

UserDays/07102010/Choosing hardware that works with Ubuntu (last edited 2010-07-11 03:02:54 by alderaan)