View Full Version : Which notebook for Linux?

05-11-2008, 07:20 AM
I'm making a complete switch to Linux. My Dell notebook with a Broadcom wireless chip is giving me Linux wireless headaches.
Any recommendations for a Linux friendly notebook?

05-11-2008, 03:53 PM
Which kernel are you using? All kernel versions since 2.6.24 have had excellent native support for broadcom wireless cards on the new stack, all you need to do is download the runtime firmware for hotplug to use (there is an excellent tool called fwcutter for this, but be aware it usually installs the files in the wrong place).

If wireless is the only problem you're having, I'd recommend fixing the wireless rather than buying a whole new laptop.

Run 'uname -r' from a shell to get your currently running kernel version.

05-11-2008, 05:10 PM
Thanks for the input Erayd.
The kernel is 2.6.27-7-generic.
I've tried fwcutter and followed dozens of threads in various fora. It seems that for some reason Dell notebooks with Broadcom often give problems.
I had it working perfectly with Ubuntu 8.04 using ndiswrapper, upgraded to 8.10 and I can get a connection but it won't stick. After a minute or two it just drops off.
I went back to 8.04, tried Suse and beat my brains out for 2 days with fwcutter ndiswrapper and dozens of fixes.
I no longer need this grunty Dell 1720 machine so I'm hocking it off and buying a Linux sub-notebook.

05-11-2008, 05:40 PM
Don't trust forum posts too much on this - the whole wireless stack has undergone some *major* (read: complete replacement) in recent versions, and much of the information is now inaccurate and / or out of date. The kernel you're running at the moment should support most broadcom cards perfectly with the b43 driver (note this is *not* the bcm43 driver!!!). You'll also need the b43 version of fwcutter for this, and you'll need to manually move the firmware files to the correct location after running it.

What's the model of your wireless card? It shoudn't matter at all whether it's running on a Dell, the card itself should be the only factor here.

If you really do want to replace the whole laptop, what sort of things are you wanting to do with the replacement? It's rather hard to recommend anything without knowing your needs first.

05-11-2008, 09:08 PM
I no longer need this grunty Dell 1720 machine so I'm hocking it off and buying a Linux sub-notebook.The ASUS eeePC mini laptops come in a pre-installed Linux (Xandros) flavour.

05-11-2008, 09:51 PM
The ASUS eeePC mini laptop is very good. Aside from the very good Linux, it comes with all the Windows XP drivers so you can install xp.
Mine has never had any problems and is almost bullet proof!

06-11-2008, 08:20 AM
@ Erayd.
Thanks for that information. I'll have another go at it.

thanks Jen and mzee. I've ordered an eeePC. Now that I've dumped Microsoft I don't need a powerful machine. I should get enough for the 1720 to pay for 2 or 3 of them. :)

I'll only be using it for Internet, email, word processing and such. The eeePC 901 seems ideal and the price is right.