Free Software compatible laptop?

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lembas
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Are you saying Coreboot can't boot live media or ?

mYself
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Yes, but along with SeaBIOS, which is only available pre-flashed on "Pixel". Here are the instructions on how to do that (on "Pixel"):

http://vger.kernel.org/~davem/chromebook_pixel%5Flinux.txt

Chris

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Moving away from x86 is the answer to the larger problem. I don't think its a fix yet though. There is a lot of work that still needs to be done. For instance non-x86 systems are lacking on the software front and I believe there are still problems with 3d acceleration due to blobs.

mYself
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ssdclickofdeath
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Could an admin remove the spam by mario201313?

lembas
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The proper way to deal with spam on these forums is to report the username of the spammer at http://trisquel.info/en/issues/4206

I've reported this guy.

roboq6
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I think I know how this spam bot bypassing CAPTCHA.
It constantly use the same digits. If it fail, it will try again and again.
Alas, this does not take as much time as you would expect.

ssdclickofdeath
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In the Chromebook C7, I like the freeness of the BIOS, but the screen is so small, and it is difficult (but not impossible) to boot other operating systems than ChromeOS. Is there a computer that works well with free software that also has easily upgradable hardware?
Not a recent one, because I don't want it to be too expensive.
The freeness of the bios doesn't matter, though, as jxself said, proprietary blobs are loaded on power up, anyway.

I can't afford the Chromebook Pixel, but I want a computer that is capable of medium to light photo and video editing, meaning a processor and screen resolution/size that can accomadate it.

To clarify the RAM limit, I want the board to be able to address at least 4 GB of RAM.

As I said earlier, please feel free to tell me if such a computer does not exist.

Chris

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I don't think what your looking for exists at the price point you want it. At least not without doing a bit of work.

Essentially what you need to do is:

1. Buy a system that is NOT branded by Dell, HP, Lenovo/IBM, or Toshiba. That will ensure you can replace the wifi card with a free software friendly one.

2. Check that it is using Intel graphics only and does not have NVIDIA/ATI graphics.

3. If you can test it for a week that would be ideal. Otherwise you may discover problems later (suspend to ram works, but not properly, or the wifi worked, but for some reason the system disables it and there is no way to re-enable it).

Non-x86 solutions are not really ready for prime time. I think there needs to be a lot more investment in producing the hardware and time spent porting and developing software. Until then there going to be barely usable. e-mail? OK. Real world use? Probably not for a while yet.

patu
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I recently bought an ASUS notebook with Intel i5 processor and Intel HD 4000 integrated graphics. It has an aluminum case. Wi-Fi works. Camera works.
Two things don't work with Trisquel. One is Bluetooth and the other is SD card reader.
It was also more expensive then what you want (about $600).

When I was searching for a laptop, ASUS was the best brand choice for me, because ASUS computers usually had Atheros-based Wi-Fi. But I'm not sure it would be a good choice for you. They might offer different Wi-Fi on different markets or with cheaper processors.

Dave_Hunt

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I have an Asus 1015 PE, in which everything works with Trisquel. I
think the screen is only 9 or 10 inches, which is fine by me, since I
don't need one, and space is at a premium. It gets over 5 hours per
charge, and can be topped off in 3 hours. Oh, the price was right, too,
since it was on close-out or something, though I did pay the 'windows
tax'.

ssdclickofdeath
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Responding to patu:

"They might offer different Wi-Fi on different markets or with cheaper processors."

Are you in the US?

Also, what is the model?

patu
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K55A-SX500
Not from US. Southern Europe.

ssdclickofdeath
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Searching the model number shows .rs websites, so that must be a region-specific model. Which year was it released? That may help me find the US equivalent.

EDIT: I found the US equivalent- http://www.amazon.com/Asus-K55A-SI50301P-15-6-inch-Generation-Dual-core/dp/B00C1FR4FG

patu
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You can probably find an i3 version too.
http://www.asus.com/Notebooks_Ultrabooks/K55A/

ssdclickofdeath
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When I found the specs of that model, I also saw some pictures, too. I noticed that it was quite thin, so I wondered if it had a replaceable battery, or RAM. Does it?

patu
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Battery is detachable. RAM can be upgraded up to 8GB (from product specification).

Chris

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The one problem with Asus is they don't sell notebooks without MS Windows.

blackomegarey
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On Sat, 25 May 2013 04:07:27 +0200 (CEST)
name at domain wrote:

> The one problem with Asus is they don't sell notebooks without MS
> Windows.

I bought an Asus X101ch and it didn't have Windows on it. It had some
sort of proprietary OS on it though that can use Chrome, but I replaced
it immediately with Trisquel GNU/Linux.

Dave_Hunt

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When I got this Asus, I didn't know about Trisquel, so, installed
another distro. Had to get the "boot booster" turned off, to let me
boot from media such as flash and optical disks. I replaced the
included Win 7 with that distro.

Chris

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That is a netbook. I was referring to laptops (13.3" + screen). There were a number of companies with netbooks running GNU/Linux for a while. The market dried up though. Many netbooks running GNU/Linux were dependent on non-free drivers/firmware. They couldn't even be upgraded to newer versions or replaced with other distributions when support was discontinued (ie there never were OS updates for many of these systems).

The real issue though is not that of MS Windows itself. It's that your making a contribution to the development of non-free software. If it is wrong for a developer to write non-free code it is just as wrong for a user to contribute to it if you ask me. Things aren't always black and white of course. However I think the general notion holds true.

ssdclickofdeath
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Would it be wrong to buy a used laptop with Windows on it? You wouldn't be supporting Microsoft by purchasing a laptop containing their product as someone already purchased it before you.

Chris

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I think its still harmful. It's having a negative impact even if it's minimal. If I was invited to play x-box for example with a friend I'd decline. I won't touch the modern gaming systems. It's value increases by me playing it. Even though I haven't contributed financially the fact I'm talking about it, others are seeing me play it, etc will likely contribute to more people buying a system for there own enjoyment. It is promotion. Something I try to avoid. I'm not perfect and I don't expect anybody else to be either. However I am not a big video game aficionado and declining such an invitation is extremely easy for me.

If your in a PC or no PC situation I'd probably be buying a used one which had MS Windows (previously that is). If you can at all avoid it though I would suggest doing so. You don't have to be perfect to help push things forward.

ssdclickofdeath
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The problem could be solved by putting a Trisquel or GNU/Linux Logo over the laptop's brand name. :)
What brand are the laptops you sell?

mYself
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ThinkPenguin ==>

Chris

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To some degree although your still contributing to the inflation of the value of used laptops which came with MS Windows. Indirectly you still contributing to Microsoft. Unless your buying a used laptop that was not licensed to run MS Windows.

Dave_Hunt

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I think it's reasonable to buy a used laptop, whatever is on it.

mYself
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> It had some sort of proprietary OS on it though that can use Chrome

Was it MeeGo?

patu
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"The one problem with Asus is they don't sell notebooks without MS Windows."

@Chris
They do. It depends on the market they are offered to.
I can find a lot of large screen notebooks without a preinstalled system (actually they have FreeDos) in my local shops. Most laptops are without a system (76%), some with Windows (18%), and a few with Ubuntu (6%).
The bad thing is Asus does recommend Windows, and most likely doesn't care about free software compatibility.

mYself
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ssdclickofdeath
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The compatibility acheived with Ubuntu might not be from free software, it may be proprietary GNU/Linux drivers.

mYself
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Sure, but I just wanted to supplement what he already said with a reference.

Chris

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I haven't looked into it recently although Asus North America will not sell systems without an OS. We couldn't get them OS free from Asus.

ssdclickofdeath
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I bought a direct-from-china Bluetooth dongle that worked in Debian with no proprietary drivers, so I'd guess that it would work in Trisquel. Many things I bought at that store were junk, but the dongle works great. It's not too difficult to plug a dongle in for Bluetooth because the built-in one doesn't work, though it is more clunky.

Chris

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The dongles to get are those with the CSR chipset. Unfortunately there is a lot of junk out there. That is particularly true of bluetooth USB dongles in general though and nothing to do with the chipset itself.

ssdclickofdeath
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It looks like the specific model I bought isn't available anymore, but the website is http://cross-mark.com

muhammed
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I found myself in this situaiton --looking for a laptop-- a few weeks ago. Buying a computer with proprietary software, new or used, supports proprietary software business models. It's money that could support businesses that are friendlier to our community.

We have to research so many aspects of compatibility before buying from non-free hardware distributors. That's because people who came before us purchased from non-free hardware distributors. Just as we are doing here today.

And finding a free-software compatible computer, from a proprietary software/hardware vendor, is no assurance that you'll be able to find a similarly free-software-friendly computer from them the next time you're in the market for a computer. Supporting a free-hardware distributor supports our future options.

ssdclickofdeath
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To muhammed: It would support them if you buy a new one, but why would it support non-free software developers if you buy a used one? By not supporting a free-software-compatible computer seller?

muhammed
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That's one reason. If free-hardware distributors disappear or scale back their offerings, for lack of demand, the non-free ones will have a bigger share of the market. Courtesy of our community.

Also, as Chris said, others will see you using the hardware. People may take that as an endorsement or support for that item. The positive association may help those manufacturers like advertising does.

mYself
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I done the same thing when I bought my laptop PC. It is better to go this way not just because you doesn't buy a new Windows license, but also the hardware is recycled (a second chance for the computer), so you're not contributing to the pollution of the mother Earth. Also, judging by your hardware requirements, it's a necessity for you.

Dave_Hunt

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+1 on the reuse of perfectly-good hardware and not causing a new Win
license to be generated.

muhammed
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I support re-use/recycling as well. Our posts here pit environmentalism against civil liberties. This frames the issue in a strange way:

It suggests that our tiny community of free-software users could abandon our cause --civil liberties-- to contribute to the environment's well being.

The environment has bigger problems than our tiny free software community. It has consumer culture generally, including non-free users, to contend with.

Maybe a good compromise (every decision to use technology is a compromise with the environment) would be to buy free hardware, and commit to using it for as long as possible.

ssdclickofdeath
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Is it possible to buy used free hardware right now?
I'd probably buy a laptop from Thinkpenguin, but even the Gentoo Penguin Notebook is $499.00, and I'm not even willing to spend that much on a computer.

Chris

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The problem with used hardware are it doesn't scale easily and lots of problems are created through used hardware. Most people don't realize how difficult it is to even properly support a small set of systems or identical hardware. Now try doing that on a massive scale with many different sets of hardware. It doesn't work well. It isn't profitable. It might half-work with a non-profit in certain situations. An example is freegeek in Portland, OR. I believe most of the donations though are at least for similar systems. But even this hasn't worked that well.

ssdclickofdeath
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I meant on eBay or Craigslist, if an individual purchases a free hardware laptop from you or some other company, then sells it at one of those places.

mYself
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ssdclicktodeath, these are the recommendations based on my experience with computer hardware:

- Try to look for a laptop that has a "without operating system" or "Linux" label on it. The manufacturer tends to tune the hardware so it can be used with multiple operating systems (in real life that means either Windows of GNU/Linux)

- the internal wireless card can be easily removed and replaced by a FLOSS compatible one. Beware, that as Chris said, some manufacturers tends to implement a blacklist inside the BIOS that can prevent installing a wireless card of your choice. Remember that there are also external USB adapters in case replacing the internal card fails

- if you determine to replace the internal wireless card, you need to bear in mind two things: they're existing in three different sizes, and that some laptops has the bluetooth functionality integrated on the wireless card. Your choice when buying a new card should be according these things

- some laptops has a separate bluetooth card integrated, while others has the bluetooth functionality integrated on the wireless card

- avoid buying a computer with a combined microphone/line out jack input 'cause these tends to not work (proved on ASUS EeePC 1000PX)

- the integrated webcam on the majority of laptops are so poor quality, that even when it's free software compatible you require to buy an external one

- some laptop's touchpad (like mine) tends to stop working after some time. You can prevent this by adding the i8042.nopnp Linux kernel parameter to GRUB (editing the GRUB_CMDLINE_LINUX="" line in /etc/default/grub, or by executing sudo dpkg-reconfigure grub-pc from the Terminal and going through the setup process)

- prevent buying laptop hardware that contains AMD or nVidia chips

- biometric sensors like fingerprint readers are supported through the fprint library. It is already available through Trisquel repositories, so no third-party PPAs are required. The list of supported devices are available in this page (to find out your device ID number, use the command lsusb)

- some special non-standard (model specific) keys/buttons/switches on the laptop should not work so try to avoid buying a computer containing them

If you have any questions just ask.

aloniv

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Regarding microphone/line out: most laptops have an internal microphone so the external one isn't needed (my netbook 1001px has this connection and it works for headphones. I use the internal microphone).

ssdclickofdeath
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I dub tapes to CDs, using an Alesis iO2 Express USB audio mixer. Do USB inputs work in GNU/Linux?

Chris

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They should. We sell a USB mic. There is a USB audio standard.

mYself
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Ladies and Gentlemens, we have a winner :

http://support.lenovo.com/en_US/detail.page?LegacyDocID=MIGR-64191

It has a 14.1 inch display (matte, 1400x1050), Core Duo processor (2GHz), Intel Graphics (GMA 950), supports up to 3GB of RAM (DDR2), and finally....it's supported by Coreboot . It's also cheap and can be bought second-handily on eBay for around $100-200 bucks:

http://www.ebay.com/sch/175672/i.html?_nkw=thinkpad+t60&_sop=15

Beware that this laptop is available in many different configurations, so make sure you get the right one with Intel GMA graphics, and the 1400x1050 resolution display. Now, this convinced me to sell my own ThinkPad R60 and replace it with a T60, although I read a long time ago on the Internet, that the motherboard in the R60 is the same as in T60, just the casing is made from different material, which is quality-wise better on the T60.