Too many hardware & software options - not enough knowledge

rs-24

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Hi all,

I trust you are keeping well on this fine Sunday.

I am looking to make the switch over to Linux and have a few questions that I am hoping (read: praying) you can answer for me, or, at the very least point me into the right direction.

Firstly, I will need help with what particular hardware that I should be looking for. I want to operate the Linux OS on a laptop, I haven't done any research into this matter as of yet so please feel free to link things for me to read up on. With that said, I have found several laptops that come with Linux pre-installed, however, I possibly want to avoid this if at all possible. My ideal goal is to have just a chassis of a laptop whereby I install the OS myself, allowing for the ultimate customisation - although, I am a realist and not entirely clued up on this nature, so open to ideas.

Secondly, allow me to provide you with a few requisites that I am hoping to gain through both the combination of the hardware and software. Those are:

  • Operational security being high on the agenda,
  • Being able to program web development languages, nothing too intensive,
  • The option to add/remove hardware as and when appropriate.

I am looking for something small and portable. I want to be able to whack this (laptop) out in public almost anywhere and be able to comfortably sit it on my lap should it be necessary. My budget is around £400, which I know isn't a lot really but I can always go higher once the savings go up a bit and my knowledge is also enchanced.

Forgive me for my ignorance, as mentioned before this is new territory for me and although I have some experience with computer hardware, combining a new software with the knowledge I have may cause me problems that could easily be avoided should I have just posted this post.

Thank you for your future answers and education.

rs-24
 


Running Linux on a laptop isn't usually a problem. I have 5 laptop's I run Linux on.
Getting a laptop with Linux already on it usually isn't problem. It's the same with a Windows laptop.
If you don't like the OS that's already installed, delete it and install a different version of Linux.

Security in Linux is generally as good or better than other OS's.
Virtually every version of Linux I am aware of or have ever used will allow you to develop web pages.
In fact, every version of Linux I am aware of will let you run your own local web server.

Some Linux distro's have more development tools than others. But as a rule most support
php, javascript, python, go, rust, mono c#, c, c++, ada, fortran, cobol, and a few other languages.

As far as adding hardware goes. It depends on what you need. Laptops are generally more limited
than desktops in this regard. You can add a Video card to a desktop, but not to a laptop.

Adding a lot of external devices can take up a lot of desk space. By the time you add a monitor,
keyboard, mouse, external sound card, external hard drive, external Blu-Ray/DVD burner, some speakers,
a webcam, a SDcard reader, a printer, and whatever else you want... it takes up 5 times as much space as
a desktop tower that sits beside your desk with all these things already inside it. ( Not the monitor and keyboard ).

I wouldn't get anything with a 32bit CPU. I wouldn't get anything with less than 4GB of RAM. 8GB is recommended.
I wouldn't get anything with less than a 40GB hard drive. ( The bigger the better ). On some laptops the wifi
card can be a a challenge with Linux. But usually they work.
 
Running Linux on a laptop isn't usually a problem. I have 5 laptop's I run Linux on.
Getting a laptop with Linux already on it usually isn't problem. It's the same with a Windows laptop.
If you don't like the OS that's already installed, delete it and install a different version of Linux.

Security in Linux is generally as good or better than other OS's.
Virtually every version of Linux I am aware of or have ever used will allow you to develop web pages.
In fact, every version of Linux I am aware of will let you run your own local web server.

Some Linux distro's have more development tools than others. But as a rule most support
php, javascript, python, go, rust, mono c#, c, c++, ada, fortran, cobol, and a few other languages.

As far as adding hardware goes. It depends on what you need. Laptops are generally more limited
than desktops in this regard. You can add a Video card to a desktop, but not to a laptop.

Adding a lot of external devices can take up a lot of desk space. By the time you add a monitor,
keyboard, mouse, external sound card, external hard drive, external Blu-Ray/DVD burner, some speakers,
a webcam, a SDcard reader, a printer, and whatever else you want... it takes up 5 times as much space as
a desktop tower that sits beside your desk with all these things already inside it. ( Not the monitor and keyboard ).

I wouldn't get anything with a 32bit CPU. I wouldn't get anything with less than 4GB of RAM. 8GB is recommended.
I wouldn't get anything with less than a 40GB hard drive. ( The bigger the better ). On some laptops the wifi
card can be a a challenge with Linux. But usually they work.
Thank you, dos2unix. I really appreciate you taking the time to reply and sharing your knowledge.

This is a very insightful post and something that I will write down on my list of items that need to be checked off before I purchase anything. I have found the laptop / netbooks category and am also ingesting what they are posting about there - very useful.

May I ask what laptop brands you are running and how you are getting along with them?
 
Linux is adapted to a very wide range of hardware, but there are no guarantees. In my experience, typical HDMI.

televisions work in terms of the sound and video drivers, and so do your common laptops. Nobody in computing knows all about everything they buy. However, little things can go wrong and keep you from doing what you need to do.
  • Operational security being high on the agenda,
  • Being able to program web development languages, nothing too intensive,
  • The option to add/remove hardware as and when appropriate.
-The biggest thing about security is being able to identify scams and malware websites. We are all susceptible but over time they become more and more obvious.

-You can program in web languages on almost every desktop/laptop, but doing so on touch screen devices is not advisable for multiple reasons. The main one being that the touch screens themselves are a security hazard because they get activated by moisture.

-You will only be able to add and remove hardware easily if you buy or build a desktop computer. Laptops tend to be a pre-designed thing like touch screen devices, but you can of course replace and repair parts to some degree.
My budget is around £400, which I know isn't a lot really but I can always go higher once the savings go up a bit and my knowledge is also enchanced.
Actually, 400 british pounds in the computer market these days can still get you situated pretty easily. You might get priced out of new and quality apple machines but you don't need that, and i find apple hardware to be sketchy because they control how you can modify it very aggressively. I knew someone who hired a friend to build a hackintosh, and it worked but there were issues and she was talking to me about buying a laptop for video editing after she did this.
 
Linux is adapted to a very wide range of hardware, but there are no guarantees. In my experience, typical HDMI.

televisions work in terms of the sound and video drivers, and so do your common laptops. Nobody in computing knows all about everything they buy. However, little things can go wrong and keep you from doing what you need to do.

-The biggest thing about security is being able to identify scams and malware websites. We are all susceptible but over time they become more and more obvious.

-You can program in web languages on almost every desktop/laptop, but doing so on touch screen devices is not advisable for multiple reasons. The main one being that the touch screens themselves are a security hazard because they get activated by moisture.

-You will only be able to add and remove hardware easily if you buy or build a desktop computer. Laptops tend to be a pre-designed thing like touch screen devices, but you can of course replace and repair parts to some degree.

Actually, 400 british pounds in the computer market these days can still get you situated pretty easily. You might get priced out of new and quality apple machines but you don't need that, and i find apple hardware to be sketchy because they control how you can modify it very aggressively. I knew someone who hired a friend to build a hackintosh, and it worked but there were issues and she was talking to me about buying a laptop for video editing after she did this.
Thank you for taking the time to reply to this, Vimmer. As all of these replies, it really does mean a lot.

I didn't realise that about touch screen laptops and their moisture activation ways as I have never owned one, thank you for this - will give them a miss however cool they are.

Am I right in saying that I will be better off firstly understanding the type of distro that I wish to use, before looking at laptops just to understand the compatibility or lack thereof. That's definitely something I will look into now as I understand from what I've seen so far, laptops of certain years are limited to their functionality purely because it's old tech. I am not the most clued up and with my minimal knowledge, i/o ports are something to keep an eye out for from what I understand.
 
Operational security being high on the agenda,
Linux is inherently more secure than other systems, but as with any system the biggest security leaks come from between the seat back and the keypad
Being able to program web development languages, nothing too intensive,
the tools can be installed on any distribution

The option to add/remove hardware as and when appropriate.
modern laptops are limited as to what you can change in them, external hardware in many cases has Linux drivers available in their repositories
laptop whereby I install the OS myself,
Dell and Lenovo are probably the best, although you may have to download proprio try drivers for some Wi-fi and graphics cards


£400 sterling will get you a damn good refurbished unit
 
Am I right in saying that I will be better off firstly understanding the type of distro that I wish to use, before looking at laptops just to understand the compatibility or lack thereof.
No not really you will probably try a few distributions until you find one you like

My budget is around £400
you can pick up a good machine within budget, this is a 2017 machine , but there are many others on the UK re-furb market

 
Am I right in saying that I will be better off firstly understanding the type of distro that I wish to use,
to be honest with you, you are probably better off just trying something out. If you are starting from place where you don't have any data to protect, then all the better, but if you do then put it on a flashdrive or some cloud server before taking the plunge.

However, one issue is that a lot of the time people who buy windows laptops won't have access to their own license (see if your purchase came with license...), and so switching back would be an expense if you decided you didn't like it.

It seems like you are starting pretty fresh, so there's only one way to approach this...your first task will be writing a system to a drive. However, you can also use virtual machines to try out the distros. Either direction is just as simple or complicated. Used/Refurbished laptops are better for experiments since they cost a lot less than new stuff.
 
No not really you will probably try a few distributions until you find one you like


you can pick up a good machine within budget, this is a 2017 machine , but there are many others on the UK re-furb market

really? Stuff is so expensive in Britain that they can't buy any cheaper and more recently made laptops? That looks like a nice computer but kinda expensive for what it is.
 
Stuff is so expensive in Britain that they can't buy any cheaper and more recently made laptops
New Electrical goods have always been expensive in the UK, and it's the same with many other imported products, hence the re-sale price of pre-loved items is also higher.
 
No not really you will probably try a few distributions until you find one you like


you can pick up a good machine within budget, this is a 2017 machine , but there are many others on the UK re-furb market

Thanks for the link, will give that a read once I finish this reply.

I will have a look at that and shop around to see if I can get any better options on several other marketplace websites. Thanks for the recommendation though, I appreciate your help a lot.

to be honest with you, you are probably better off just trying something out. If you are starting from place where you don't have any data to protect, then all the better, but if you do then put it on a flashdrive or some cloud server before taking the plunge.

However, one issue is that a lot of the time people who buy windows laptops won't have access to their own license (see if your purchase came with license...), and so switching back would be an expense if you decided you didn't like it.

It seems like you are starting pretty fresh, so there's only one way to approach this...your first task will be writing a system to a drive. However, you can also use virtual machines to try out the distros. Either direction is just as simple or complicated. Used/Refurbished laptops are better for experiments since they cost a lot less than new stuff.

That's a very true statement, I am starting with little to no protection needs apart from the future needs for secure systems etc. This puts me in a very privileged position to get things wrong, which I sure will.

That is a very interesting point you raise RE: windows licensing. I did not consider that should the transition go somewhat wrong and for the time-being whilst I iron out the kinks need to use a familiar OS, will need way to install it and also license it. Thank you for bringing this up, a very good point and one duly noted when I get a new laptop. On the other hand, I am also privileged to have a main computer which will base all of my operations on so the laptop will purely be for testing and familiarisation purposes, at least to begin with.

I will certainly wait to write a system to a drive as I feel like there is a lot more reading I need to do. Of course, trial and error will serve the greatest purpose in answering several of my questions, however, fail to prepare and prepare to fail is what I live by.

As you have seen, the market in the UK for refurbished goods definitely needs a crash or two so I will keep on searching the depths for the best deal! :D
 
New Electrical goods have always been expensive in the UK, and it's the same with many other imported products, hence the re-sale price of pre-loved items is also higher.
I guess it's easier in the U.S. to get cheaper computer parts because american industry is "the world leader" in computer retail and the I.T. profession. You can find all sorts of stuff online internationally though, but you do "get what you pay for", as in...if you try to be too cheap, you'll be disappointed.
 
I guess it's easier in the U.S. to get cheaper computer parts because american industry is "the world leader" in computer retail and the I.T. profession. You can find all sorts of stuff online internationally though, but you do "get what you pay for", as in...if you try to be too cheap, you'll be disappointed.
So very true, buy cheap and buy twice is what happens most of the time when it comes to cheap anything really. I think it's even more important when buying a laptop that you have the specs you need, as has been mentioned above the transferability of parts of slightly more limited than that of a desktop isn't it.
 
I wouldn't worry too much about Hardware or Software...Linux runs on just about everything...just jump in and have a go.
m1213.gif


I'm not a Laptop person but I have a 12 year old one running Mint Cinnamon 21.1 just in case my Tower dies...I find you can do more with a Tower.
m100.gif
 
I wouldn't worry too much about Hardware or Software...Linux runs on just about everything...just jump in and have a go.
m1213.gif


I'm not a Laptop person but I have a 12 year old one running Mint Cinnamon 21.1 just in case my Tower dies...I find you can do more with a Tower.
m100.gif
Awesome! Thanks for the feedback :)

Funnily enough, I have downloaded Linux Mint for my ancient laptop just to give it a go. After many hours of frustration and not understanding what I was doing wrong - it’s alive! It looks really cool, I’m sure as I get more involved there may be a need for me to move over to a different distro but only time will tell. At least now, I sort of know how to flash a USB drive for boot haha
 
Well done.
Linux Mint will ease you into using Linux better than most other distros.

It has far more and better support than any other distro

Another of the members here, @f33dm3bits, has good knowledge when it comes to gaming....in fact he has goodknowledge when it comes to just about anything concerning Linux. mentioning his name here will alert him to this topics existence.

Question : You have booted the usb stick containing LM21.2 (linux mint 21.2) ....correct?...when this is done, LM runs in RAM....Not on the hdd/ssd
So, you can use it to your hearts content....do anything you like with it.....2 facts for you are : 1/ If you reboot or turn off the laptop you will then have to boot to the usb again....it will start off fresh
2/
if you double click on "install Linux Mint" (situated on the desktop....it will then go through the process of installing fully to the hdd or sdd. When that install finishes you are encouraged to reboot...take the usb stick out....and allow the reboot to continue in order to finish the install

It may be a good idea at that point to figure out Timeshift. It is included in that install of LM21.2, /....it takes snapshots on a schedule or on demand and will store them (Ideally) on an external drive
If ytou managed to screw up LM21.2, you would then either Restore an earlier snapshot from the onboard Timeshift app.....or if it Really screwed things up and crashed!!....then you would boot to the usb stick (so you end up in that "Live" environment again....and access Timeshift from there...restore a snapshot....and carry on as if nothing had happened.

Sounds like a miracle?...it is. Timeshift has saved my bacon so many times I have lost count.
 
Well done.
Linux Mint will ease you into using Linux better than most other distros.

It has far more and better support than any other distro

Another of the members here, @f33dm3bits, has good knowledge when it comes to gaming....in fact he has goodknowledge when it comes to just about anything concerning Linux. mentioning his name here will alert him to this topics existence.

Question : You have booted the usb stick containing LM21.2 (linux mint 21.2) ....correct?...when this is done, LM runs in RAM....Not on the hdd/ssd
So, you can use it to your hearts content....do anything you like with it.....2 facts for you are : 1/ If you reboot or turn off the laptop you will then have to boot to the usb again....it will start off fresh
2/
if you double click on "install Linux Mint" (situated on the desktop....it will then go through the process of installing fully to the hdd or sdd. When that install finishes you are encouraged to reboot...take the usb stick out....and allow the reboot to continue in order to finish the install

It may be a good idea at that point to figure out Timeshift. It is included in that install of LM21.2, /....it takes snapshots on a schedule or on demand and will store them (Ideally) on an external drive
If ytou managed to screw up LM21.2, you would then either Restore an earlier snapshot from the onboard Timeshift app.....or if it Really screwed things up and crashed!!....then you would boot to the usb stick (so you end up in that "Live" environment again....and access Timeshift from there...restore a snapshot....and carry on as if nothing had happened.

Sounds like a miracle?...it is. Timeshift has saved my bacon so many times I have lost count.
You’re a star! Thank you for going into a lot of detail, I appreciate the time you’ve taken and will definitely pick the @s brain in the future as gaming is something I want to get back into.

I followed the docs on the Linux mint website so after the frustration with the USB not working properly (user error but we will blame the software haha) it was pretty plain sailing as the docs are a god send haha.

I did read that it’s better to store them externally to the hard drive on my laptop so will look into investing into one. If you have any recommendations, please fire away :)
 
AN external hard drive...?....the last I bought was a samsung 1tb......tiny little thing...approx 3" x 2 ".....amazon was the purchase place.
of course, they all come in many sizes....you may want more space for other things....the drives can always be divided into a couple of partitions if necessary.....but the whole time I am saying that about bigger sizes etc.... I am spending your money !!

To give you an idea, I run LM21.2, and I keep 4 snapshots. Each day it adds another one and deletes one...so there are always 4. You can schedule Timeshift to take daily, weekly, monthly and all combinations of those possibilities.....I simply elect to keep 4, with a monthly backup from Rescuezilla, (see below) just to round things off.
I also use Rescuezilla......which takes a true backup....it backs up the lot....everything that is on the drive.
Whereas, Timeshift backs up the file system and /home (if you elect to include home )....which is usually enough to get you back on track.

Those 4 snapshots occupy approx 50GB...depending on number of apps installed etc etc....it does not include pics or music.......just file system and related stuff.

Depending on where you are up to....and in particular if you have LM actually installed.....and also if you have the intention of using this laptop for Mint on an ongoing basis......and when you have an external drive to store timeshift on (that's a LOT of if, buts and maybes!)...we can give y ou a reasonably quicj run through on setting up Timeshift

For a quick look...click on menu...type in Timeshift...click on that and it will open after you have entered your password

(just a brief tip....when you find an app in the menu (like timeshift)....right click on the app name and select add to panel
An icon for that app will be placed down in what you probably called the task bar in windows. Or....you can elect to add it to the desktop
 
Linux Mint Cinnamon is an excellent Distro...user friendly...stable and comes with all the tools you need.

Of cause there's a little learning to do but once you get in to it...you'll realise you should have switched much sooner...enjoy.
m1212.gif
 
AN external hard drive...?....the last I bought was a samsung 1tb......tiny little thing...approx 3" x 2 ".....amazon was the purchase place.
of course, they all come in many sizes....you may want more space for other things....the drives can always be divided into a couple of partitions if necessary.....but the whole time I am saying that about bigger sizes etc.... I am spending your money !!

To give you an idea, I run LM21.2, and I keep 4 snapshots. Each day it adds another one and deletes one...so there are always 4. You can schedule Timeshift to take daily, weekly, monthly and all combinations of those possibilities.....I simply elect to keep 4, with a monthly backup from Rescuezilla, (see below) just to round things off.
I also use Rescuezilla......which takes a true backup....it backs up the lot....everything that is on the drive.
Whereas, Timeshift backs up the file system and /home (if you elect to include home )....which is usually enough to get you back on track.

Those 4 snapshots occupy approx 50GB...depending on number of apps installed etc etc....it does not include pics or music.......just file system and related stuff.

Depending on where you are up to....and in particular if you have LM actually installed.....and also if you have the intention of using this laptop for Mint on an ongoing basis......and when you have an external drive to store timeshift on (that's a LOT of if, buts and maybes!)...we can give y ou a reasonably quicj run through on setting up Timeshift

For a quick look...click on menu...type in Timeshift...click on that and it will open after you have entered your password

(just a brief tip....when you find an app in the menu (like timeshift)....right click on the app name and select add to panel
An icon for that app will be placed down in what you probably called the task bar in windows. Or....you can elect to add it to the desktop
Thank you for your suggestions. I will more than likely follow a similar backup system such as you described, so I’ll do some shopping for the same or similar external drives. Appreciate you

Linux Mint Cinnamon is an excellent Distro...user friendly...stable and comes with all the tools you need.

Of cause there's a little learning to do but once you get in to it...you'll realise you should have switched much sooner...enjoy.
m1212.gif
I do not doubt this! I can’t wait to properly get my teeth stuck in and realise the full potential of Linux.
 


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