Laptop Recommendation

Chris Carline chris at
Tue Jan 24 13:17:27 GMT 2012

On Mon, Jan 23, 2012 at 12:51 PM, Smylers <Smylers at> wrote:
> Hello. Anybody like to recommend a laptop?
> With a MacBook Air it looks like I'd have to get the 13.3" model to get
> an SD card slot (which might be either be a bit bigger than I want for
> convenient packing or useful extra screen pixels for the same weight as
> the competition). Anybody run Linux on one and able to report on the
> touchpad?

The best laptop hardware (hitting a sweet spot in terms of price,
performance and build quality) is made by Apple. Unfortunately, whilst
it's do-able, I do not recommend installing a non Apple OS on such
hardware as whilst it's possible, it is a decidedly non-optimal
solution that would place you amongst the Opus Dei of geeks.

The solution is to run your favourite choice of OS on top of a VM. OS
X has many choices here, but I have successfully used VMWare Fusion
and Parallels (commercial) in this way (I believe free alternatives
are available, but I've not used them). The advantage of doing this is
that it solves the hardware, peripheral and power management issues
you would otherwise encounter. Performance is really not an issue
these days when running within a VM.

I would also recommend this setup for Windows-based laptops too.
Windows 7 is surprisingly lightweight (at least on hardware of today)
and is well capable of running an Ubuntu desktop VM at full pelt. And
again solves a lot of compatibility issues with non-standard hardware,
power management and suspension support (although the gold standard
for this is still OS X).

Whilst this solution is not exactly ideologically pure, it also means
future upgrades and backups are vastly simplified (copy the vm!), and
you will end up saving a lot of time and pain.

I apologise in advance if this solution is insufficiently idealistic
for your taste, but I really would not want to go back to faffing
around with bare metal laptop installations and trying to get
recalcitrant wireless network and audio adaptors working any time soon
thank you very much. :-)

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