A Free-Software Only Laptop


Mark Shuttleworth asks if people are interested in a high-end free-software laptop (it seems that Linspire is leading in the low-end free-software laptop stakes).

I am interested in such things. My last couple of laptops have been Thinkpad T series. They are reasonably light (not really heavy), are reasonably fast, have full-size keyboards and reasonable size screens (currently got a 1400×1050 screen on a 3yo laptop). Unfortunately for Mark I’m planning on making my current Thinkpad last for another three years.

The idea makes a lot of sense because laptops are not re-purposed very often. It’s quite common for a desktop machine or a server to be re-installed several times over it’s life – and often having significant hardware changes during the process. Laptops are extremely difficult for hardware upgrades to the degree that by the time people desire an upgrade it often makes sense to buy a new one. So having a BIOS that only supports Linux and prevents the machine from ever being used to run a lesser OS is not likely to reduce the utility of the machine.

The benefit of better Linux integration is that the greater degree of hardware control would decrease the power use and extend battery life.

Maybe in three years time I’ll buy a LinuxBIOS machine second-hand from a Ubuntu user.


4 thoughts on “A Free-Software Only Laptop”

  1. Corey Burger says:

    I seriously doubt those Linspire laptops are Free Software. However, you can buy good laptops with Ubuntu preinstalled from a little vendor called Dell, who are working to make all their laptops work with only Free software. Or you can try System76.

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  3. etbe says:

    Gunnar: You are correct that the laptop feature of a built-in UPS works well for a server.

    Pity that more than one hard drive (for RAID) is either impossible or unreasonably expensive and that expansion of any part of the hardware is also difficult.

    But I have considered making an old laptop into a router with a couple of PCMCIA Ethernet cards and a USB Ethernet device. Routing cable Internet speeds is not a challenge for old hardware and the inefficient USB Ethernet interface.

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