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Choosing Hardware for linux to be run upon, dual boot maybe


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#1 rp88

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 06:51 PM

I am looking to buy a fairly cheap (under £300) laptop on which i can run linux, either a laptop with windows ( it would be 8 or 8.1 given the selection these days) preinstalled which has a UEFI/BIOS system which is quite happy to allow a dual boting system to be run or maybe a laptop with a linux system preinstalled. However from what i can see it is pretty hard to find laptops sold (atleast for UK buyers) with linux preinstalled online, and practically impossible to find them in town centre shops. What's more most laptops sold with linux preinstalled are fairly high performance expensive ones. Above my price range by factors of atleast 2, So dual booting looks like it might be the best option. The problem here is getting a laptop type on which it is KNOWN that linux can be run from a USB or CD and can be installed in "paralell" with the existing windows system. I have heard the horror stories of linux users who bought laptops with certain types of secureboot built into the UEFI and these laptops effectively self-bricked when the people tried loading linux onto them, which laptop types are these so i can avoid them. I also know that other things within the BIOS/UEFI can cause other less expected problems with attempting to run linux, and that some hardware might have components for which no linux drivers exist. Which laptop type should I buy to meet my price range requirements (I'm willing to go up to £50 over them if that's the only option for hardware that fits these conditions) and where I can safely dual boot with windows (8 or 8.1) alongside linux (ubuntu, linux mint or debian look like the best choices for linux flavour)? As far as the source for buying it from is concerned my ideal choice would be a UK high street store, the following are examples:pcworld, argos, john lewis, maplin

But i could also use amazon or buy directly from the manufacturer's website. I would rather buy in a shop, if it comes to buying online I only trust websites i have heard of before.

Given the number of linux users here, many of whom are probably running a linux distribution of some form on modern hardware which likely came preinstalled with window 8 or 8.1, and a fraction of whom are surely in the UK i hope others have faced these questions before and have answers to me. As well as recommendations on which types are good and whether any particular models fit the requirements excellently, links to guides on setting up dual booting ( you have to do some stuff with partitions don't you?) on the types of laptops you recommend would also be helpful.

Thank You



I tried asking this sort of thing in another section of the forum but got almost no responses, surprising given the seemingly very large number of users on this site who use linux systems and how helpful i have found other users of this site to be. I guess the section where i placed it must be one which not many people, and not many of the linux users, visit.

Edited by rp88, 10 March 2015 - 06:52 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

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#2 Jman005

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 07:10 PM

For dual booting Linux Mint (Which seems to be a bit less complex than Ubuntu and has more of a Windows feel), here's a good video:

 

Here's an Ubuntu tutorial: http://www.techradar.com/news/mobile-computing/laptops/how-to-dual-boot-your-netbook-or-laptop-915457

 

As long as your HDD (or SSD) has at least 800GB or so you shouldn't have a problem with dual booting. I've never heard of any specific Motherboard or BIOS modification needed to install Linux.

 

This laptop could do good for you: http://www.amazon.co.uk/X551CA-SX130H-15-6-inch-Notebook-i3-3217U-Integrated/dp/B00LCXGOUE/ref=sr_1_1?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1426032453&sr=1-1

 

You may want to install an SSD on it to be sure.

 

That's pretty much all I know.

 

-Jman005


Edited by Jman005, 10 March 2015 - 07:11 PM.


#3 NickAu

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 08:27 PM

 

As long as your HDD (or SSD) has at least 800GB or so you shouldn't have a problem with dual booting

Why would you need a HDD that big?

 

 

I've never heard of any specific Motherboard or BIOS modification needed to install Linux.

If its Windows 8 UFEI/Secure boot comes to mind, This is easily fixed.

 

 

You may want to install an SSD on it to be sure.

 Can you explain why?

 

 

 

This laptop could do good for you: http://www.amazon.co.uk/X551CA-SX130H-15-6-inch-Notebook-i3-3217U-Integrated/dp/B00LCXGOUE/ref=sr_1_1?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1426032453&sr=1-1

Yes.


Edited by NickAu, 10 March 2015 - 08:34 PM.

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#4 shadow-warrior

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 08:34 PM

UEFI is pretty well covered by most Linux distros now...you just need to read the  distros own documentation or .forum posts  to find out the details... heres a little  info on the subject

http://www.howtogeek.com/175641/how-to-boot-and-install-linux-on-a-uefi-pc-with-secure-boot/

 

I cant help with prices of laptops in UK  but i do know they sell laptops with Ubuntu pre installed in Central America..

 

iseem to think a friend in UK boughta Dell or an HP last year with Ubuntu.....but I think he had to actually request it rather than it being on show...it was about 220 gb pounds



#5 paul88ks

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Posted 10 March 2015 - 11:17 PM

you do not need an 800 Gig Hard Drive to dual boot Windows and Linux.If you have a laptop with Windows7 and maybe a dual core processor and at least 4 gigs of RAM and a Reasonably sized Hard Drive -even 150-200 gig is PLENTY of space. Also,I would not recommend a pre-install of Linux since there are so many distributions to choose from- Ubuntu- Zorin-Linux Mint- just to name a few. You can download these free and burn the ISO. To a DVD to install. All you will need is a few tutorials on how to do this which you can find pretty easily on the website. Not sure how much 300 Pounds converts to in US dollars-but if memory serves me correctly- about 450 bucks- you should be able to find something in that price range- 



#6 cat1092

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 03:25 AM

I believe that the notebook which Jman005 fits the budget that rp88 mentioned. 

 

http://www.amazon.co.uk/X551CA-SX130H-15-6-inch-Notebook-i3-3217U-Integrated/dp/B00LCXGOUE/ref=sr_1_1?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1426032453&sr=1-1

 

Seems to look like a decently loaded notebook for the price & ASUS is a top brand. Being that it's sold by Amazon, it's backed by their A to Z guarantee (if that also applies to UK customers). 

 

rp88, this is the place to ask questions regarding Linux, it's why we're here. Although I wander to other sections of the forum, due to being an Advisor, this is my home. Linux Mint is my main OS, anything that I do with Windows is secondary, even though I do have a few installs. However, just because they're installed doesn't mean they're being used. The last time I fired up my 8.1 installs was to update last month & seen today that another round of updates are due. So I guess I'll dutiful update these. 

 

You'll come to really like Linux Mint the more you run it. And yes, am running on modern hardware, though have Secure Boot disabled due to Microsoft won't allow Windows 7 to be ran with it enabled (for what reason, I'll never know, other than MS wants users to purchase a useless upgrade). 

 

Any questions regarding Linux will get an expedited answer in this section.  :)

 

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#7 rp88

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 12:40 PM

Thank you for the answers, i had previously tried this in a hardware section, now i see this is "THE PLACE" for linux related questions. The links you have provided are quite helpful but there are still some things i wish to clarify:


Regarding the link about how to dual boot, that is a guide designed for the lubuntu linux distribution, does the same apply for linux mint and ubuntu?


Regarding secure boot(and other potnetial booting problems), how do i know if a pc is of a type where it can be turned off, the how-to-geek link seems to say ALL machine with intel chips let you turn it on and off whilst all machines with ARM chips won't let you turn it off. What should i look for in product information on amazon or in person at high street shops to make sure a pc is of a type which lets users disable and enable it as they wish? Also on the subject of secure boot are there other things which might complicate booting into linux for me, might some machines have other types of boot restrictions put in? Critical hardware like the processor hard drive or screen incompatible with linux? Anti-theft systems which refuse to let the machine boot up with other operating systems? Systems where other hardware (like the USB ports, ethernet port, DVD/CD drive) might not be compatible with linux? Systems which would boot linux but destroy windows in the process even if linux was only being used in the "live" "try from USB" mode?

Regarding the machine on amazon you gave links to: is it a type any of you have had personal experience with? are ASUS laptops generally long lived and reliable?

thanks for your help so far

Edited by rp88, 11 March 2015 - 12:41 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#8 NickAu

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 03:14 PM

 

"THE PLACE" for linux related questions.

Most of us do not venture of of the Linux section much, Windows world is scary and full of malware.


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#9 Jman005

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 07:08 PM

 

 

As long as your HDD (or SSD) has at least 800GB or so you shouldn't have a problem with dual booting

Why would you need a HDD that big?

 

You may want to install a few different versions of Linux. 800GB is not needed, but it's a good thing to have.

 

I've never heard of any specific Motherboard or BIOS modification needed to install Linux.

If its Windows 8 UFEI/Secure boot comes to mind, This is easily fixed.

 

 

You may want to install an SSD on it to be sure.

 Can you explain why?

 

 

 SSD's can boot and handle Operating systems quickly and safely.

 

This laptop could do good for you: http://www.amazon.co.uk/X551CA-SX130H-15-6-inch-Notebook-i3-3217U-Integrated/dp/B00LCXGOUE/ref=sr_1_1?s=computers&ie=UTF8&qid=1426032453&sr=1-1

Yes.

 



#10 Jman005

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Posted 11 March 2015 - 07:25 PM

Thank you for the answers, i had previously tried this in a hardware section, now i see this is "THE PLACE" for linux related questions. The links you have provided are quite helpful but there are still some things i wish to clarify:


Regarding the link about how to dual boot, that is a guide designed for the lubuntu linux distribution, does the same apply for linux mint and ubuntu?


Regarding secure boot(and other potnetial booting problems), how do i know if a pc is of a type where it can be turned off, the how-to-geek link seems to say ALL machine with intel chips let you turn it on and off whilst all machines with ARM chips won't let you turn it off. What should i look for in product information on amazon or in person at high street shops to make sure a pc is of a type which lets users disable and enable it as they wish? Also on the subject of secure boot are there other things which might complicate booting into linux for me, might some machines have other types of boot restrictions put in? Critical hardware like the processor hard drive or screen incompatible with linux? Anti-theft systems which refuse to let the machine boot up with other operating systems? Systems where other hardware (like the USB ports, ethernet port, DVD/CD drive) might not be compatible with linux? Systems which would boot linux but destroy windows in the process even if linux was only being used in the "live" "try from USB" mode?

Regarding the machine on amazon you gave links to: is it a type any of you have had personal experience with? are ASUS laptops generally long lived and reliable?

thanks for your help so far

After looking at the Linux mint guide(http://www.linuxmint.com/documentation/user-guide/Cinnamon/english_17.0.pdf), it seems that the "MATE" edition of Linux mint should cover most hardware. 

 

HowToGeek is right about ARM/WinRT PC's not being able to turn off secure boot as those PC's are locked from secure booting. Simple as that.

 

If you're worried about Anti-Theft systems blocking Linux, remove all Bloatware after installing Windows.

 

From personal experience and other things I've heard, ASUS is reliable, fast and pretty long lived.

 

One question: What are you intending to use the computer for?

 

 

Glad I could help :)


Edited by Jman005, 11 March 2015 - 07:25 PM.


#11 cat1092

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 12:08 AM

 

 

HowToGeek is right about ARM/WinRT PC's not being able to turn off secure boot as those PC's are locked from secure booting. Simple as that.

+1! :thumbup2:

 

Doesn't matter if they're $25 per unit, they'll be worthless in less than a year, once support drops for those early versions. I'd like to think that by now, the news is well on the streets to avoid computers with ARM type CPU's like they're a plague of the worst type. Because what you bring home, is what you'll have until the device passes on or it's gifted/donated. No upgrades, no Linux installs. Just that same old OS that came with it. When there's no more updates offered to the device, the trash can is the best place for it. Running unsupported Windows is just plain bad, doesn't matter if it's Windows XP or RT. One can run unsupported Linux for a spell & get by, but not dare attempt this with a unsupported Windows. 

 

ARM CPU's should be re-evaluated & strictly regulated for consumer sales, to include a multi page document that every potential buyer must read & agree to, that will give them in their plain native language a Full description of what ARM CPU's are, in particular the no upgrade path specs, and only after then go over the device's features. I'd bet that over half on non-business customers would walk away from these devices, if they really knew what they are........totally worthless after the end of support for the installed OS. 

 

Not being able to disable Secure Boot only pours gas on the fire as to why to avoid these devices as a consumer. 

 

Just think for a minute, what other consumer electronic device would we dare to lay down hard earned money for, only to have three years of useful life out of these, and that's only if purchased when it was released? If it were a $25 item, I could see it, maybe even one of the 'Windows CE' notebooks, but not a device that could cost over $1,000. Perhaps just as bad, the consumer can't even install all of the apps that may be desired on these. VLC Media Player? Forget it. 

 

It would seem that in the year 2015, that we could have as many OS's as we wished on these devices, the fact is that with ARM, the OS distributors & hardware OEM's has more control. More than ever imaginable. When we see these ads that 'the possibilities are endless', that's in favor of the computing industry, not it's customers. 

 

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#12 Jman005

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 07:11 AM

Thanks for stating that to the community :)

Remember to not download any ISO torrents. As the rest of the community says, torrents can lead to a smorgasbord of malware and even file infectors - malware that infects files and opens a backdoor that you may never be able to get rid of.

#13 rp88

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 02:09 PM

Jman005, post #10 : Am i right in thinking that windows 8 and 8.1 systems use intel chips and RT and RT.1 use ARM systems then, I would never go near an RT computer (the RT system is something i would never venture near, no freedom to install programs, just (cr)apps). If i buy my machine in a shop (as is my intention) I'll make sure to be very clear about my wish to avoid RT/ARM machines. I intend to buy the machine, boot up and first make a system image (with window's 8/8.1 s own imaging tool) onto a USB, then annhilate the bloat/junk/cr*p ware, install some windows programs, make another image (should i use window's tool for this or a third party imaging program? or both?) and then work on testing and dual booting with linux.

I plan to use the machine for: general browsing(with firefox), watching online videos(youtube and some catchup services, mostly flash based video), watching DVDs(with VLC), a little 3d modelling with blender(this isn't as processor/RAM intensive as one might expect, my old XP machine with hardware about 8 years old can do it). I would like to be able to accomplish these sets of tasks in both the installed windows OS and the linux OS i plan to dual boot with, I really want to try out linux and find if there are ways it can work well for me because i don't like the look of where windows is heading for (RT devices show that sort of thing). I would intend to try wine in linux and see if all the windows programs i use ( i know some can but i don't know about others) can be run under linux using it, if enough can then i would probably never boot into the windows OS again, if not enough can i would boot into windows when i needed to use such programs and linux at all other times. I also want to have this computer serving as a backup for my main one, not a backup as in files(they're all backed up already on USB, CD-RW and the cloud) but a backup machine so when my current machine has a hardware death (which i can tell is soon approaching) i don't have to go weeks without a computer whilst getting a new one/trying to get the current machine repaired. I think this is a good oportunity to get a type of machine which should work well with linux so i can begin trying it sooner rather than later.

cat1092, post #11 : thanks for confirming why RT devices should not be touched with a barge pole a light year long.

Jman005, Post #12 : what do ISO files have to do with this? I don't plan to do that on windows and not on linux either, are you just trying to say that linux isn't as secure as some beleive (as in that kind of action would infect it?)? On this subject i will need to ask some questions about security on linux at some point, mainly in regard to avoiding exploits and malvertising via flash/java/firefox/chrome etc.

A other thing, should i be going for 64 or 32 bit devices, I'm not sure if 32 bit exists any more and i don't know whether how many bits windows has is due to underlying hardware which would have an effect on linux compatibility. Also i notice some laptops are available with really short booting times(from what i hear it's because they never quite properly shut down), should i be avoiding this sort?

Edited by rp88, 12 March 2015 - 02:09 PM.

Back on this site, for a while anyway, been so busy the last year.

My systems:2 laptops, intel i3 processors, windows 8.1 installed on the hard-drive and linux mint 17.3 MATE installed to USB

#14 paul88ks

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 04:04 PM

May I ask-what is an RT Device?



#15 paul88ks

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Posted 12 March 2015 - 04:07 PM

nevermind- I just Googled it-






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