Best Laptops for Linux
Today there are hundreds of different models of laptops on the market, but there are just a handful of operating systems available so when it comes to choosing the best laptops for Linux it can be difficult.
Windows and MacOS are two of the most common operating systems and have been around for over 30 years.
While the two have been modified and upgraded to fit the constantly evolving needs of users, they still lock you into the same digital ecosystem.
The lesser-known younger brother of MacOS and Windows is known as Linux.
It is a unique operating system that has been around since the early 1990’s.
Linux was originally reserved for tech-savvy users that understood the complexities of its open-sourced nature and code.
However, it has grown in popularity among users that desire a powerful and versatile computing experience.
People are increasingly switching over to Linux.
While some manufacturers of laptops offer their devices with Linux already pre-installed, your options are severely limited.
The best way for you to experience Linux is actually installing it on a laptop yourself.
You need to choose the right laptop that meets your unique needs if you want to make sure that the installation process goes as smoothly as possible.
What is Linux?
Although Linux is often referred to as an operating system, the terminology technically incorrect.
Linux is actually a kernel that forms the heart of the operating system.
This kernel essentially communicates with the hardware and handles all of the processes that need to be computed.
The software installed above the kernel is what makes up the actual operating system.
But no matter what terminology you use, the Linux is free and completely open-sourced.
It was first released way back in 1991, and it has since grown to become one of the key operating systems around, that accommodates virtually any kind of computer user.
Although it’s accessible by anyone, Linux is a favourite among developers and programmers.
There are also a number of different forms of Linux available, and the exact features and user experience you get will depend entirely on the Linux Distribution (Distro) you choose.
What is a Linux Distro?
As mentioned earlier in this We Trust review, Linux is made up of a number of pieces of open source software.
The traditional operating systems usually package the entire software internally, which results in only one single file that you can install.
A Linux Distribution, or Distro, is the same thing.
The creators compile all of the necessary software into one operating system, which you can then load onto your PC.
The compilation also includes the kernel core, the graphical interface, the terminal interface, and a lot more.
Of course, you have the option of compiling the various components to your liking.
Nonetheless, this requires extensive coding skills and so much time to complete.
Fortunately, Linux Distros handle all this for you.
To make sure that you have all of the flexibility you need, there are a lot of many Distros available.
Each of these Distros comes with its own interface, theme, and unique software.
These commonly tend to be user-friendly for beginners, and they can be a good place to start for people who are new to the world of Linux.
How to Choose the Right Linux Laptop
When it comes to choosing a laptop to install Linux on, it can be a little tricky considering that you can’t just pick any product you get your hands on.
Although the operating system is rather versatile, not every Distro will support every piece of hardware.
Some of the laptops will need you to install additional drivers to get around the possible compatibility problems. And even then some hardware features might still fail to work.
To avoid these and other issues during installation, you have to choose a good laptop that works for both your preferred Distro and your own requirements.
How to choose the best laptop for Linux
Get the Hardware Correct
Before installing Linux, you have to make sure that your laptop has all the necessary hardware to ensure a smooth operation.
Since Linux is quite flexible in terms of the hardware specs, you can look for devices that are in line with your personal requirements.
The best approach is to think about how you will be using your laptop and then consider some of the common issues that you have experience on your previous device or operating system.
From this, you can choose a laptop that has specs exceeding these parameters.
Of course, you can also choose a laptop depending on its standard hardware specifications such as processing power, RAM, hard drive/SSD space, etc.
Scrutinise the Compatibility of Extra Features
Nowadays, laptops come equipped with a load of different features.
It’s now easy to find laptops with fingerprint readers for added security, touchscreens for enhance user experience, extra LCD screens for convenience, and a lot more.
Nonetheless, these features might not work well with Linux.
If you go for a laptop with some of all of these features, ensure that your Linux Distro supports them.
Some of the popular options like Ubuntu can readily support fingerprint logins and touchscreen functionality.
Nonetheless, you might have to download and install some additional drivers in order to get these features working with other Distros.
Check Compatibility with the Linux Distro
When you find a laptop that you find has the right features for you, you should check whether the Distro you want to install is compatible with your device.
Many Distros do offer a list of tested laptops, which helps to eliminate the risk of uncertainty.
In case there are some compatibility issues with the hardware or features, it’s likely that you’ll find quick solutions.
Due to the open-source nature of Linux, its rather easy to find in-depth information regarding hardware compatibility.
There are even dedicated forums where users can share recommendations or even troubleshoot the problems they experience together.
You can use these to your advantage and collect as much knowledge as possible before making a purchase decision.
Don’t Break the Bank
Stay within your budget when purchasing your Linux laptop.
Of course, getting higher specifications will let you do a lot more things with your PC.
Nonetheless, Linux is relatively efficient and lightweight on its own, and it won’t use up a lot of resources compared to the larger operating systems.
Linux actually tends to thrive on hardware that’s difficult for windows.
If you’re on a tight budget, you can opt for a lower spec laptop and then make use of a lightweight Distro.
There’s quite a wide range of Distros that are designed to run on as low as 256MB of RAM.
Pre-Installed Operating Systems
Most of the laptops purchased from stores often come with a pre-installed operating system.
While Linux can still operate on these devices, you may have to pay much more for the PC because of licensing fees charged on the OS.
If you intend to keep the OS, you can still install Linux.
Due to its lightweight nature, Linux is a great candidate for dual boot-up setups.
Doing this means partitioning the hard drive and dedicating some of it to the Linux system.
With this, you can switch between the operating systems based on your unique needs, all on the same PC.
Consider Linux-Ready Laptops
If you don’t want to check or evaluate the compatibility issues overall, consider getting a Linux-ready PC.
These laptops come with an already installed Linux Distro, and based on the manufacturer, you might have a few different Distros to choose from.
This way, they take out all of the hard work required in setting up the system.
The downside of this is that you may not have all of the customisation you need available straight out of the box.
Many manufacturers offer only the most popular Distros. Keep in mind though that they might have limited specs.
FAQs About Linux Laptops
Q: Does installing Linux on my laptop affect its warranty?
A: Unfortunately, it does sometimes. But this will mainly depend on the specific circumstances and the manufacturer. Many manufacturers give out explicit warnings about this on their paperwork. Be sure to check this out beforehand!
Q: Can Linux be Installed on an older laptop?
A: In most cases, yes. Most laptops don’t have a problem running a Distro. The main thing to take note of here is hardware compatibility. You might have to use some tweaks to get the Distro up and running. And since there so many Distros out there, you can easily find one that will work best with older hardware.
Q: Can I Install Linux on an Apple Computer?
A: With the right Distro, you can install Linux on an Apple computer. You obviously need to check for hardware compatibility beforehand since many Apple computers have some unique features that aren’t present on traditional PCs.
Q: Can you create your own Distro?
A: Yes. You can create a custom Distro through a compiler, though this is not recommended. Compilers use the source codes of software and then build your own custom Distro. This process will however take a lot of time, and usually requires advanced knowledge to do it successfully.
Q: Can you run Linux on a Google Chromebook?
A: It depends on the make and model of the Chromebook (READ: Best Chromebooks in 2019). You should use Google to research the modle you ar einterested in to make sure it can be unlocked in order to install a Linux distro.
Q: Is Linux compatible with popular software?
A: Not all programs and games that run on the traditional operating systems are available on Linux. Some developers do provide a Linux version for their software. For those that don’t, you might have to look for a workaround. Fortunately, there are so many Linux program that effectively emulate the windows platform, which let you play some games and run certain software.
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