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i92guboj
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PostPosted: Fri May 30, 2014 5:54 pm    Post subject: Laptop advice for development using Gentoo Reply with quote

Hi everyone. :)

Lately I find myself developing cross-OS software for a living. I need mobility, which is why I found myself compiling 24/7 the past year on a Pavilion zd8000 wich has a regular 775 pentium 4 cpu (yes, that's a desktop cpu, don't ask).

You can imagine how much stressed that poor machine was. And I say "was" not because I am quitting developing, but because yesterday it (the laptop) decided it was about time for retirement.

Now, when I power it on, it turns on, and a second after reboots. Ad infinitum. It doesn't even reach the POST stage. I have disassembled it and did my checks, and I am fairly sure it's the motherboard. And I am not putting any more money into this, because I really can't stand the insane noise level it has reached.

So, I agreed with it that it's due time for it to retire. :)

Now, I need a replacement, and I wanted to get, if possible, some very valuable advice from all of you, ladies and gentlemen.

My requirements are fairly simple:

  • cheap
  • now that you are in context, substract 100 bucks to that :lol:
  • linux compatible, no binary blobs, and, if possible, no closed firmware
  • cpu frequency scaling (I really hated the fact that the zd8000 couldn't scale cpu frequency)
  • min 4gb ram, that's for compiling and VMs. It'd be nice to be able to max it up to 8gb though (ps: I don't care if it only has 1gb by default, I have ram sticks of all sizes and colors to put into it, I am concerned only about the maximum it will support)
  • decent sized screen, to be able to see lots of slocs and tiny-sized terms at the same tiMe, the zd8000 had a 17 inches screen, that's one thing I loved , but I guess I could do with a slightly smaller screen :(
  • silence, please, silence


For the rest, I really don]t need a top notch machine. More cpu is always nice, but I value silence like three orders of magnituda above processing power. Note that I was using plain p4. So, anything will be an improvement...

Oh, and please, don't refrain nor be afraid to comment about old models, because, for all I exposed above, I'm considering very seriously buying a refurbished or secondd hand machine.

Sso, please, lem me know what your ideal Gentoo laptop is, even if it's a few years old.

I am really eager to read your answers to this one :)

Thanks!
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VinzC
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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 7:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hi.

Sorry for your loss. I order my computers from LDLC.com even though I live in Belgium. It's a French group I think. Been served more than decently all the time. They have a vast choice for PC's and laptops, with and without an operating system.

Hope this helps.
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i92guboj
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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 7:50 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

VinzC wrote:
Hi.

Sorry for your loss.


Thanks for the kind words. It certainly did not come in the best time, monetarily speaking. However I prefer to "always look at the bright side of life". It's been long since I got fed up with this laptop's noiseness and I trust that I will be able to find a workable solution.

Quote:
I order my computers from LDLC.com even though I live in Belgium. It's a French group I think. Been served more than decently all the time. They have a vast choice for PC's and laptops, with and without an operating system.

Hope this helps.


Sure it helps. I was interested overall in knowing about concrete laptop models that people has experience with (using Gentoo in them). But knowing where to obtain them is for sure a good thing as well. I will be checking that website you mentioned as soon as I can. Right now real life demands my attention, but I'll let you know the outcome.

Again, thank you :)
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VinzC
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PostPosted: Sat May 31, 2014 8:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

You're most welcome :-) .
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Pearlseattle
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PostPosted: Sun Jun 01, 2014 9:08 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am using since quite some time a HP 470 G0 with an i5 CPU.
What they wrote in the review is correct.
Btw. I deactivated the AMD GPU - I'm using only the embedded one of the Intel CPU.

Some honest remarks:

Noise:
the fan never stops (even if you select the appropriate option in the BIOS) but if the CPU is idle it spins down until you hear only a little bit the air passing through.
But keep in mind that if you start compiling stuff for a longer time using all (in my case) 4 vCPUs then you'll definitely hear the fan, but at least it won't be an unsustainable high-pitched BEEEEEEHHHH (like my old Vaio - terrible) => it's ok.

Keyboard:
it's ok - the keys are placed very uniformly (e.g. the arrow keys), so you might want to stick some marker here and there on some keys so that you don't have to check every the time where your hand are.

Touchpad:
great - I always know without looking what I'm doing, and I was anyway always a fan of having the two physical buttons.

Screen:
mmhhh, not great, but at least it's 17''.
The resolution isn't very high, and the contrast isn't great and the vertical angles of viewing could be better. The screenshots in the review show exactly how it would look like. Having an IPS screen would have made it a fantastic notebook.

Battery:
2hrs if writing+compiling+writing+etc..., otherwise don't expect more than 3.5hrs. Not a problem for me as it's always at home.

Case:
if I read correctly the review they say that it's all made of aluminium, but in my case it only looks like that - it's just plastic painted in silver.

I replaced the HDD with a SSD.
I think that the only proprietary thing that I have there is the firmware file for the wireless card.

In the end, even if it might not sound like that by reading my above comments :) , the notebook is still not bad to do normal office work and program for hours and hours.
I searched for quite a long time and I did not find any better candidate in the 16 or 17 inches segment - I'm sticking to that because I find it subjectively easier to code on a big screen, but I noticed that nowadays most notebooks are for the 14-15 segment.
Cheers
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