ideas for laptop selection

Duncan Guthrie dguthrie at
Sun Apr 30 15:39:46 UTC 2017

Dear all,

I'd like to start by warning against purchasing any product from Purism. 
They have consistently misled and profited off the backs of the free 
software movement, without giving much back at all. Their marketing 
material made many high claims - that they would be able to run 
Coreboot, they were working towards getting Libreboot on the device. 
This was false. They made claims that they were working towards 
convincing Intel to free its infamous management engine (something even 
Google were unable to do for its Chromebooks). Finally, when Coreboot 
was actually ported (by a Google employee on their lunch breaks, 
apparently), it ran with blobs that performed all the initialization 
code. I think it is not unreasonable to describe what they did as a 
scam. At any rate it is an overpriced generic laptop.

I do recommend getting a device running Coreboot, though. It is an 
important free software project, and you won't have trouble with 
manufacturers restricting you, e.g. the secure boot issues mentioned, or 
whitelists of wireless hardware. The X230 runs Coreboot, and there are 
interesting things that one can do with it.
However, if you are not going to use this, then a better route might be 
to get a device that ships without Windows or with something like Ubuntu 
out of the box. An example of this is the Dell XPS laptops, which are 
reasonably well made, although not as configurable. However, they are 
expensive. Other people I know have had reasonable results with the 
newest Thinkpads, although, one should note, they use whitelists for 
network hardware (Dell may too, but I am not sure), and they are slowly 
becoming less configurable, e.g. they no longer have dial-up, it's 
harder to replace the memory, and they no longer have features such as 
dial-up (tongue in cheek, but it's an example). They still perform well 
and are somewhat configurable, though. Other things to watch out for are 
the use of discrete graphics - often newer NVidia cards are used, which 
may or may not work well with Nouveau, and are reasonably power-hungry.


On 30.04.2017 17:00, Steven R. Baker wrote:
> I've spent a lot of time thinking about this lately. My next machine
> will be a Purism Librem, I think. But I've been a life-long fan of
> ThinkPads. I currently have a W550s, an X250, and an X1 Carbon. Cannot
> recommend enough.
>> The main reasons for replacing the X220 tablet:
>> 1. weight - I'd like to get something under 1.5kg, the lower the 
>> better
>> and there are plenty of models between 1.0 and 1.2kg these days.
>> 2. screen resolution - the 768 pixel screen height is troublesome for
>> some applications
> X270 will solve this nicely. So will the X1 Carbon. I have two machines
> with "HiDPI" (the W and the X1 Carbon) and it's very well supported by
> both GNOME and KDE.
>> 3. battery - it is not like new any more
> The X270 has a replaceable second battery, so you can carry around as
> many as you need.
>> Looking around, though, if I choose a current model laptop (Lenovo or
>> otherwise) it appears there is something of a minefield:
>> - am I going to run into Secure Boot issues?  I've met other people at
>> events recently who had new laptops and were struggling to get into 
>> the
>> BIOS and disable Secure Boot.
> I haven't had any issues with this.
>> - Windows included - can anybody give any tips on how to buy without
>> paying the Windows tax?
>> - dongles - many of them favor dongles/expansion ports these days, 
>> some
>> of these dongles only work with the PSU, will the total weight with 
>> PSU
>> and dongle really be less than my current laptop?
> The X1 Carbon comes with an ethernet dongle, and that's annoying.
>> Are there any specific models that anybody would recommend in the
>> ultraportable form-factor (e.g. under i7, 16GB or more, 1.5kg, 12.5" -
>> 14", suitable for use on small spaces such as on trains and 
>> airplanes)?
> If I wasn't nearly certain my next machine would be a Librem, I'd be
> getting an X270.
>> Has anybody tried the 2017 models of the X1 Carbon or X270 with any
>> Linux distribution?
> I have more than one colleague with X1 Carbon from 2017 (on is an X1
> Yoga), and one with an X270. Both claim that support is great. I don't
> know which distributions they run, but I suspect Ubuntu.
> Good luck!
> -Steven
>> Regards,
>> Daniel
>> _______________________________________________
>> Discussion mailing list
>> Discussion at
> _______________________________________________
> Discussion mailing list
> Discussion at

More information about the Discussion mailing list