Buying a laptop

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Buying a laptop

Postby qyron » 2020-02-20 21:26

I've been considering buying a laptop and presently my market is flooded with machines that sport fully integrated RAM plus an eMMC drive, usually 32GB.

The pressure for the costumer to adhere to these machines is so big that the price gap from this kind of machine from a more common entry level laptop can be more than three times the price and some times the only objective difference being a true storage drive, be it an SSD or an HDD.

How can these machines store a Win10 OS on such a little space?
And can these machines be installed with Debian?

I've considered buying an used machine but lately the used market is getting completely crazy here, with people putting up for sale for outrageous prices machines that are either beyond or too expensive to repair or machines so old that even a very scaled down and customized installation renders it next to unusable.

Can anyone share some light on this?
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby Danielsan » 2020-02-20 21:48

What do you need? Cheap price? Small factor?

Check these out:

https://www.walmart.com/ip/Vega-HDMI-72 ... /909076408
https://www.pine64.org/pinebook-pro/
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-02-20 22:47

Where is here? Though what you're saying really doesn't compute to me. Guess things could be radically different given geography but things should be particularly ripe for nixers and used hardware, with win7 going eol and win10 just a general disaster, all this m$ provided crapness should produce great conditions for nixers. For myself it's always a perfect time to find a dirt cheap used system, anytime. But have always focused on being a Uber gnu/nix minimalist and uncontrollable tweaker. Old hardware can be made to blaze and somewhat dated hardware the ideal candidate for Debian, in particular stable as these things naturally tend to lag in the Nix- world anyway. Current box is 10yrs old paid under $100 for the poor old thing and it blazes it's compybutt off. :)

Where are you looking for your stuff? Contact sellers if possible with reasonable/realistic offers. What people ask for something and what they're willing to accept or what's reasonable can be drastically different things.

PS, comes to these netbk deals I'd rather avoid them and buy a real used system, with the used factor, should make up for any pricing gap. Just reading and general impression, such are likely to have some cloud computing aspect, lesser nix hardware support, be more difficult if even possible to upgrade and have lower general build quality compared to real deal hardware.
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby tynman » 2020-02-21 02:49

How can these machines store a Win10 OS on such a little space?

32 GB is big enough to install Win 10, but it's not big enough to survive one of their major upgrades - which I think happen a couple of times per year. So they are basically useless for running with Windows. The hardware vendors who sell these laptops as Windows machines should be ashamed. Maybe this an ill conceived conspiracy to get people to try Linux.
And can these machines be installed with Debian?

That depends. The one I bought a year or two ago (ASUS, with Intel Celeron N3350) had no problem with Debian. It's a bit slow, but usable. Of course, that's not to say that all such laptops would work as well with Debian (or any Linux). YMMV.
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-02-21 03:45

Jebuz 32gbs not enough for an operating system?! Holy crap gnu/nix spoils people(spoiled me.) Been many years since I've bothered having any windows installed but do vaguely remember it's appetite for drive space was the same as it's taste for gobbling up all other system resources. Gnu/ Linux can easily fit with plenty to spare on even that sparse a storage media. Still think the idea is trying to get people to offload all their personal stuff into the "cloud" or at best an external USB drive or whatnot. Still guessing these are cheapy mass produced, meant for frequent replacement devices but the price is right so that's what they're trying to attract consumers with. Still wouldn't bother and would go used, real system route. This antique was dirt cheap, blazes, still has room for meaningful upgrade. Max ram is 8gbs on it and low capacity SATA ssd's are dirt cheap.

So for $90 bucks and you're not going to find any new netbk deal for that an old 4gb dual-core that cold boots to working desktop in 40secs. Could likely cut that in half or better and have much lower app latency performance with a cheapy SSD. Could realistically get another 10yrs of personal computing out if this puppy. Heard many of these netbk deals the hardware components are soldered in. They aren't going to make it easy on folks to get cost effective upgrades on something meant to be used for a couple years and pitched. Would certainly say go used but real.
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby qyron » 2020-02-21 06:22

@Danielsan
I'm in EU territory; I can't go to Walmart and I fear I'd get hammered by customs if I wanted to buy a machine from the other site you posted but the machines look beautiful.

I'm afraid to add that page to my bookmarks because I'll eventually cry for not being able to get one for myself.

@Deb-fan
I'm not new to buying old machines and running them; I still have and use an EeePC and I'm not a power user. I'm just in need of some more screen space and a machine more capable with coping with some spreadsheet work, one thing my EeePC suffers to deal with. But finding used laptops lately is completely crazy. I'm seeing machines with asking prices in the hundreds with damaged keyboards, no RAM, no HDD, over 10 years old. And no room to negotiate. When I bought my EeePC, I spent around €60. Machines exactly like it are on the market for €80/€90 today and are not getting younger. For that price range, plus VAT, I can get a new generation machine, with a two year warranty.

Core2Duo are pricey, nowadays. Those machines suddenly got very sought after. And the machines I'm finding usually max out at 2GB memory.

@tynman
I'm currently looking at a machine that has an Intel N4100, with 4GB of RAM. If I don't get crazy, it should make up a decent machine but being a SoC I don't know if this machine will get along nicely with Linux.
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-02-21 06:42

Wow that's horrible. Not that I would ever advise anything extra-legal but sounds like someone there needs to kick-off a PC black market. That's ridiculous! I mean the stupid side channel things are responsible for the demand for old Intel? Sheesh had no idea you're facing that kind of madness and pricing for used. Mmmmm would have to find a loop hole there. Has to be some, no neighboring places where such madness doesn't exist you can't vacation and "forget" to report a laptop you happened to buy there? Can see it now, some guy in a trench coat full of used laptop's standing near the alley way. Errrr sheesh with that kind of markup I need to start checking out trench coats myself. Ok kidding aside that stinks. :/
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby fopenp » 2020-02-21 12:51

I'd suggest you to accumulate money for arriving to at least 400 EUR/USD for a "new" laptop. If you take a cheaper laptop, the risk to get an unusable toy is high!

I'd discard hardware with 4 GB of RAM... My Plasma desktop always starts at about 800 MiB of RAM, but thanks to Firefox the RAM usage is at 4,7 GiB now... So I'd go for 8 GB (and 1 expandable slot).
In my country the lower-end laptops have one or two USB 3.0 ports... the others are USB 2.0. USB 3.1 are in more than 400 EUR models.
It's essential to have as many USB 3.0 ports (or above) as possible... because you can plug an SSD or HDD for make it boot!

In my latest laptop I always use an external USB HDD full of BTRFS subvolumes (every subvolume is a linux installation). The internal NVMe is way faster but I like my big and long-lasting disk!
And linux is always linux: if you don't use any portable application (flatpaks/snaps) it's fast and lightweight in a USB HDD as well!

Generally I suggest you to buy into a physical shop, because you can have a better idea of what you're buying.
When I gone to a shop for buying my laptop, the demonstrative machine had an unlockable demo. I pressed the Power button for 5 seconds and I restarted the machine. Inside UEFI I seen the "USB Storage" option enabled (for USB boot), CSM available (for BIOS Legacy Mode), various "real" hardware specifications and also an Ubuntu public key for booting a (not installed) Ubuntu... very good but not great! Didn't try the key yet. :D
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby trinidad » 2020-02-21 13:20

You can't believe your eyes if your imagination is out of focus.
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-02-21 13:53

Ya want some laptop lil girl(flashes trench coat.) Ah this isn't funny all kidding aside would be spending some quality time with Google about loopholes for such madness. Has to be some, always are. Might put someone in errrr, gray moral areas so to speak but that's not taxation, that's outright robbery. So if it's good for them, good for any techie who finds a loophole and gets around paying such extortion. What are they trying to do anyway, keep a good chunk of their ordinary citizens in the tech darkages? Ah sorry not helping, doesn't even effect me personally but still pisses me off. Just one geek to another on general principle. Such would drive me bonkers. Crap man have you considered immigration to a more civilized place? Wherever you are in the UK sounds way too tight around the collar!

Ok bit extreme perhaps but access to affordable used hardware w/o broken keys should be a basic human right. Errrr but also believe having convenient access to means of blowing huge gapping holes at any given time in stuff (stuff includ others) should be too, shrugs.
Last edited by Deb-fan on 2020-02-21 15:18, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby Danielsan » 2020-02-21 14:45

qyron wrote:@Danielsan
I'm in EU territory; I can't go to Walmart and I fear I'd get hammered by customs if I wanted to buy a machine from the other site you posted but the machines look beautiful.

I'm afraid to add that page to my bookmarks because I'll eventually cry for not being able to get one for myself.


I see...

The PinebookPro is available on EU...

Below a list of sellers that work with "linux" that doesn't mean that sell laptop automagically cheap, but at least you can take a look:

https://www.tuxedocomputers.com/
https://slimbook.es/en/
https://www.entroware.com/store/
https://linuxpreloaded.com/
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby stevepusser » 2020-02-22 03:28

The common wisdom here is to get a used/refurbished Thinkpad 420 or similar on Amazon that has aged out of the business world. Still many times faster and a much higher quality build than a cheapy netbook or any new laptop you can get for the same ~$270-300 US, plus very Linux-friendly.
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby Deb-fan » 2020-02-22 07:09

^ Cool and good to know even if don't live in the EU. Seen this before and will have something viable to recommend in future. So thanks Steve.
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby eor2004 » 2020-02-22 18:59

Get a Lenovo Thinkpad, mine is a Thinkpad T61 with an intel core 2 2.0Ghz and 4Gb of ram and a Samsung Evo SSD 250Gb with MX-19 installed on it and the thing works like a new laptop, even high definition youtube videos play wonderfully and I only paid like $50 (shipping included) for it, plus $35 for the SSD, $85 in total, not too bad!
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Re: Buying a laptop

Postby Hallvor » 2020-02-22 19:40

+1 for Lenovo Thinkpads
Lenovo ThinkPad T440S, Intel Core i7-4600U CPU @ 2.10GHz, 8 GB RAM, 256 GB SSD, Debian Buster (KDE)
Lenovo ThinkPad X240, Intel Core i5-4300U CPU @ 2.90GHz, 8 GB RAM, 120 GB SSD, Debian Buster (KDE)
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