What should we look before buying a laptop?

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What should we look before buying a laptop?

Michael Paul Zamot
Hello, my name is Michael Paul Zamot, I'm from Costa Rica.
I'm using OpenBSD since two months ago and I'm in love with it.

I'm planning buying a laptop, perhaps a screen of 11" or 12" inches.

I would like to know if you know about a compatible model, under $400.
What should I look before buying one? Any recommendations?

With recent addition of AMD KMS and Intel KMS I don't think video would
be an issue.

Thanks!

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Stefan Sperling-8
On Sun, Aug 25, 2013 at 10:19:11PM -0600, Michael Paul Zamot wrote:

> Hello, my name is Michael Paul Zamot, I'm from Costa Rica.
> I'm using OpenBSD since two months ago and I'm in love with it.
>
> I'm planning buying a laptop, perhaps a screen of 11" or 12" inches.
>
> I would like to know if you know about a compatible model, under $400.
> What should I look before buying one? Any recommendations?
>
> With recent addition of AMD KMS and Intel KMS I don't think video
> would be an issue.
>
> Thanks!

In my experience, now that video is out of the way, the thing to look
out most for is getting a well supported built-in wireless card.
That's starting to become difficult when buying new laptops because
most drivers are lacking support for newer hardware variants.

If the built-in wireless card doesn't work, your options are to replace
it with a supported card or get a supported USB-based one. If you shop
around for used minipci cards or USB wifi sticks with names matching
the ones listed in driver man pages, you should get lucky. Note that
some laptops (e.g. Thinkpads) do not allow the built-in cards to be
replaced unless the new card matches a whitelist stored in the BIOS.
There are various hacks around this, but it's a nuisance.

Some card readers in newer laptops might not be supported either,
especially if they're realtek ones (these don't look like standard
SD host controllers). OpenBSD currently supports one realtek card
reader version, the RTS5209. But there are other versions out there,
which may also be supported in the future.

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Michael Paul Zamot
On 2013-08-26 00:42, Stefan Sperling wrote:

> In my experience, now that video is out of the way, the thing to look
> out most for is getting a well supported built-in wireless card.
> That's starting to become difficult when buying new laptops because
> most drivers are lacking support for newer hardware variants.
>
> If the built-in wireless card doesn't work, your options are to replace
> it with a supported card or get a supported USB-based one. If you shop
> around for used minipci cards or USB wifi sticks with names matching
> the ones listed in driver man pages, you should get lucky. Note that
> some laptops (e.g. Thinkpads) do not allow the built-in cards to be
> replaced unless the new card matches a whitelist stored in the BIOS.
> There are various hacks around this, but it's a nuisance.
>
> Some card readers in newer laptops might not be supported either,
> especially if they're realtek ones (these don't look like standard
> SD host controllers). OpenBSD currently supports one realtek card
> reader version, the RTS5209. But there are other versions out there,
> which may also be supported in the future.

Thanks Stefan.

Are there any particular laptop model you can recommend?

Regards,
Michael Zamot

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Kenneth R Westerback
In reply to this post by Michael Paul Zamot
On Sun, Aug 25, 2013 at 10:19:11PM -0600, Michael Paul Zamot wrote:

> Hello, my name is Michael Paul Zamot, I'm from Costa Rica.
> I'm using OpenBSD since two months ago and I'm in love with it.
>
> I'm planning buying a laptop, perhaps a screen of 11" or 12" inches.
>
> I would like to know if you know about a compatible model, under $400.
> What should I look before buying one? Any recommendations?
>
> With recent addition of AMD KMS and Intel KMS I don't think video
> would be an issue.

Stilll must avoid nvidia.

.... Ken

>
> Thanks!

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Marc Espie-2
In reply to this post by Michael Paul Zamot
On 2013-08-26 00:42, Stefan Sperling wrote:
>If the built-in wireless card doesn't work, your options are to replace
>it with a supported card or get a supported USB-based one. If you shop
>around for used minipci cards or USB wifi sticks with names matching
>the ones listed in driver man pages, you should get lucky. Note that
>some laptops (e.g. Thinkpads) do not allow the built-in cards to be
>replaced unless the new card matches a whitelist stored in the BIOS.
>There are various hacks around this, but it's a nuisance.

I don't know what I will buy for my next laptop.

It used to be a  no-brainer, buy a thinkpad, but the newer lenovo models
are of distinctly shoddy quality compared to what IBM used to put out.

Proof being my latest laptop, which happens to have the "same" keyboard
model as the old IBM thinkpad, except that it's mostly plastic instead of
metal, and it stopped working properly fairly soon (I did actually replace
it with the keyboard from the older laptop, which is how I noticed the
abysmal drop in component quality there)...

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Nick Holland
In reply to this post by Michael Paul Zamot
On 08/26/2013 09:24 AM, Michael Paul Zamot wrote:
...
> Are there any particular laptop model you can recommend?
>
> Regards,
> Michael Zamot

same advices as always...
Load OpenBSD on a flash drive.
Go to the store, boot from the flash drive, see how it runs
OpenBSD...and put your fingers on the keyboard, use the
mouse-replacement-device, and see how the screen looks FOR YOU.

Hearing that Fred loves his model XYZ laptop doesn't matter one bit to
you if you get to the store and all they have is the XYZrev2.  All you
can be fairly sure of is the Rev2 is probably cheaper to build than the
original.

"But I'm buying it mail order"
I do not understand buying laptops mail order.  If my desktop comes with
a crappy keyboard or mouse, I go grab one of my Model M's from my pile,
and a different mouse.  But that defeats the purpose of a laptop.  I
want a good keyboard, I want a good mouse-like-device.  And I want it to
run my OS.  There's no good way to test for that without putting YOUR
hands on the device.

"But...I don't have a local retailer!"
better get a good return policy, then.  I don't care what OS you are
running...a crappy keyboard or a crappy mouse-like device is still not
going to be good to use.  You also have to worry about how the OS runs
on it, that's just one more reason.

Personally, I used to be really picky.  But, as my current life requires
I be passably proficient on a lot of different keyboards, I gave up my
obsession with the best devices, and have settled on "sufficiently
good".  But there is still a lot of crap I hate (i.e., this laptop I'm
working on now with a useless trackpad, backed up by a stick mouse that
makes the trackpad look almost usable.  There's an external mouse
plugged into it.  So much for portability).

Nick.

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Kevin Chadwick-2
In reply to this post by Stefan Sperling-8
> In my experience, now that video is out of the way, the thing to look
> out most for is getting a well supported built-in wireless card.
> That's starting to become difficult when buying new laptops because
> most drivers are lacking support for newer hardware variants.


Perhaps someone knows of a usb wireless card with good range that works
well under OpenBSD.

--
_______________________________________________________________________

'Write programs that do one thing and do it well. Write programs to work
together. Write programs to handle text streams, because that is a
universal interface'

(Doug McIlroy)
_______________________________________________________________________

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Chess Griffin-2
On 27.08.2013 14:35, Kevin Chadwick wrote:
>> In my experience, now that video is out of the way, the thing to look
>> out most for is getting a well supported built-in wireless card.
>> That's starting to become difficult when buying new laptops because
>> most drivers are lacking support for newer hardware variants.
>
>
> Perhaps someone knows of a usb wireless card with good range that works
> well under OpenBSD.

Several years ago I bought an Asus Ralink usb wireless stick that has
always worked well for me as a backup when a laptop's internal card
wasn't supported.  I'll try and remember to check the model number and
post back when I get home later tonight.

As to the OP, I tend to buy slightly-used Thinkpads which usually have
very good support in OpenBSD.  I've owned the X32, X41, T42, X61, T400,
X200s, and currently a X230 and pretty much everything works.  I swapped
out the internal Intel Wireless-N 2200 card in my X230, which wasn't
supported, and replaced it with an Intel 6300 bought off ebay that works
great.

--
Chess Griffin

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

pae3
On 08/27/2013 11:00 PM, Chess Griffin wrote:

> On 27.08.2013 14:35, Kevin Chadwick wrote:
>>> In my experience, now that video is out of the way, the thing to look
>>> out most for is getting a well supported built-in wireless card.
>>> That's starting to become difficult when buying new laptops because
>>> most drivers are lacking support for newer hardware variants.
>>
>>
>> Perhaps someone knows of a usb wireless card with good range that works
>> well under OpenBSD.
>
> Several years ago I bought an Asus Ralink usb wireless stick that has
> always worked well for me as a backup when a laptop's internal card
> wasn't supported.  I'll try and remember to check the model number and
> post back when I get home later tonight.
>
> As to the OP, I tend to buy slightly-used Thinkpads which usually have
> very good support in OpenBSD.  I've owned the X32, X41, T42, X61,
> T400, X200s, and currently a X230 and pretty much everything works.  I
> swapped out the internal Intel Wireless-N 2200 card in my X230, which
> wasn't supported, and replaced it with an Intel 6300 bought off ebay
> that works great.
>
Asus WL-167g USB stick work well (rum0 driver).

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Chess Griffin-2
On 27.08.2013 15:19, alex wrote:

> On 08/27/2013 11:00 PM, Chess Griffin wrote:
>> On 27.08.2013 14:35, Kevin Chadwick wrote:
>>>> In my experience, now that video is out of the way, the thing to
>>>> look
>>>> out most for is getting a well supported built-in wireless card.
>>>> That's starting to become difficult when buying new laptops because
>>>> most drivers are lacking support for newer hardware variants.
>>>
>>>
>>> Perhaps someone knows of a usb wireless card with good range that
>>> works
>>> well under OpenBSD.
>>
>> Several years ago I bought an Asus Ralink usb wireless stick that has
>> always worked well for me as a backup when a laptop's internal card
>> wasn't supported.  I'll try and remember to check the model number and
>> post back when I get home later tonight.
>>
>> As to the OP, I tend to buy slightly-used Thinkpads which usually have
>> very good support in OpenBSD.  I've owned the X32, X41, T42, X61,
>> T400, X200s, and currently a X230 and pretty much everything works.  I
>> swapped out the internal Intel Wireless-N 2200 card in my X230, which
>> wasn't supported, and replaced it with an Intel 6300 bought off ebay
>> that works great.
>>
> Asus WL-167g USB stick work well (rum0 driver).

Yes, I just checked and that is the same one I have.

--
Chess Griffin

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Amit Kulkarni-5
In reply to this post by Kevin Chadwick-2
On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 1:35 PM, Kevin Chadwick <[hidden email]>wrote:

> > In my experience, now that video is out of the way, the thing to look
> > out most for is getting a well supported built-in wireless card.
> > That's starting to become difficult when buying new laptops because
> > most drivers are lacking support for newer hardware variants.
>
>
> Perhaps someone knows of a usb wireless card with good range that works
> well under OpenBSD.


I bought a Edimax N300 Wifi extender...connected with a 10/100 LAN cable to
the back of this desktop machine. Removes the hassle of having a wireless
driver. This machine came with a Atheros wireless card which is currently
unsupported. Good luck.

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Re: What should we look before buying a laptop?

Carl Trachte
On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 7:27 PM, Amit Kulkarni <[hidden email]> wrote:

> On Tue, Aug 27, 2013 at 1:35 PM, Kevin Chadwick <[hidden email]>wrote:
>
>> > In my experience, now that video is out of the way, the thing to look
>> > out most for is getting a well supported built-in wireless card.
>> > That's starting to become difficult when buying new laptops because
>> > most drivers are lacking support for newer hardware variants.
>>
>>
>> Perhaps someone knows of a usb wireless card with good range that works
>> well under OpenBSD.
>
>
> I bought a Edimax N300 Wifi extender...connected with a 10/100 LAN cable to
> the back of this desktop machine. Removes the hassle of having a wireless
> driver. This machine came with a Atheros wireless card which is currently
> unsupported. Good luck.
>

Hopefully on topic, this is a blog post from an OpenBSD user from the
end of last year (8 months ago).  He had to purchase some parts and do
some config and order a specific wireless setup, but it sounds like a
pretty sharp system (Lenovo Thinkpad X320):

http://brycv.com/blog/2012/lenovo-thinkpad-x230-for-openbsd-and-linux/

I have a ThinkPad Edge that I bought blind.  I eventually got a urtwn
based TP-LINK USB WIFI stick that works well, but it was luck.  The
model number is TL-WN821N (300Mbps), but the chipset has to be right
(urtwn0: MAC/BB RTL8192CU, RF 6052 2T2R).

Good luck.