ideas for laptop selection

Steven R. Baker steven at
Sun Apr 30 16:11:09 UTC 2017

> 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.

Thanks for this. I was taking them at their word without looking into
it. I appreciate the correction.


> 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.
> Regards,
> Duncan
> 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
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