Best Linux laptop for developers?



The large number of reports of coil whine scared me off. Also, that Dell has a threshold of noise level before they’ll replace it.

But I got to try the XPS 15" the other day in a store, and it felt amazing; great trackpad and build quality.


Lenovo X2xx series is good to go :), Have one x260 with xubuntu installed :smile:


Worst thing I ever bought was a Macbook Pro after the 2015 model. I’ve had 3x Macbook Pro 2016 models and 2x 2017. Every single time the keyboard partially didn’t work and in once instance a Genius broke a key when ‘testing’ it in the back of the store.

I’m looking at the Lenovo’s for their great keyboards but I’m not looking forward to spent time on getting an OS up and running. After trying many flavours in Virtualbox I think I’ll go for Arch on a T4XX / X1 but I’m curious to see how Arch will run on a real laptop (drivers/etc)


Quoting myself here:

IBM Thinkpads used to be built like tanks but with each new generation the Thinkpad line has been drifting towards mediocrity - and I’m afraid these days the Thinkpad products aren’t that different from the competition.


I ran linux in various flavours for years before I got a macbook. My best experience was with Asus laptops. I ran gentoo on my thinkpad when I was at IBM, but I haven’t tried it on my (wife’s) lenovo. The nice thing about the macbook is that I can do everything I used to do on linux, but I don’t have to fight with it.


I’m using Lenovo Thinkpad T470p (Kaby Lake) at work and a Lenovo Ideapad U330 (Haswell) at home.
Both on Ubuntu sometimes have problems with recognizing that the external display was plugged in / unplugged. Sometimes a reboot is necessary.
I’m not using suspend so can’t speak about it.

Other than that both run great - my next laptop will probably be a Lenovo Thinkpad X1 or X series.


Both my MBPs now run Ubuntu 17.10 (the personal 2011 one with Wayland, the work 2013 one still Xorg as I heard that nVidia doesn’t go well with Wayland). It works, but man is Linux behind the times. I can make things work as I’ve been fooling around with *nix systems for close to 30 years now, All sorts of manual tweaks are needed to get the touchpad, the display lid sensor, etcetera just behave. It works, and once it works it’s fine, but I wouldn’t recommend it unless you have some serious stamina and Google-fu.

What I’m currently testing on my AlienWare 17" “Luggable” is that I kept Win10 - I actually think it’s ok - and have Linux in a Hyper/V VM, headless. I start XMing under Windows, ssh into the VM, and start xfce4. It works, it’s fast, it’s compatible, and Linux is nicely shielded from all the laptop hardware it has a hard time supporting. And I can run games, Lightroom, Emacs and Terminator all on the same system :slight_smile:


This is highly dependent on which model laptop you’re running. Overwhelmingly, people who run Linux don’t generally have Macbooks and so they’re probably less well supported. You’d most likely do without almost any configuration at all if it was a Dell or one of the better Lenovo laptops.


Dell announced a new XPS 15 2-in-1.

I’m still running an old Thinkpad T430 that is just too good to give me reason to replace it. My main priority is a good keyboard, and I haven’t found a better keyboard than on this Thinkpad. I’m hoping these next gen machines are compelling enough to get me to switch.


You might be right. Given that the thread started talking about developers using OS X switching to Linux, I guess that starting with the hardware you have makes sense :-).


I experienced very similar issues as I investigated Linux distros. :slight_smile:
I know your pain and I was in this process for months…

To make it short:

On downloads, ISOs get sometimes slightly damaged, since servers slow down and the integrated download clients in the browsers are sometimes incapable to resume correctly.

Videos and other media are not affected by this since players can sort that out.
ISOs with operating systems on it can work as you describe in such scenarios.

In order to avoid that, either download ISOs via .torrents, who then get automatically checked by their clients on integrity, as in QBittorrent.

The other way around is that you check the SHA256SUM of the ISO manually.

I recommend strongly Etcher, which checks again on the stick, once the write is done.

My Laptop is running perfectly since years and I will never ever change this system.


I am looking currently for a small laptop to complement my large workhorse laptop, which is quite heavy and large to take with me all the time.

Any suggestions?


I like chromebooks, quality varies on them, but they are fantastic SSH and VNC thinclients plus great web browsing with fantastic battery life. :slight_smile:

/me so badly wants a Pixelbook 2 but they are significantly more high end than what is needed…


MacBook Air 11" - not sure if they still do them, but I love mine :049:


But I would go for more power for XPS 15 (in 14 size case)


I really don’t get why Developers love to Develop their code in computers that are not the native platform where the code is running.

Why develop in “emulators” when you can do it in the real thing.

I am talking mainly to MAC fans that write code to run in Linux servers. I love Docker but MAC users know how slow it is in their laptops. Basically they are running a Linux VM in their Mac with Docker inside… too many layers for my taste!!!

In the day I will write Apps for IOS then I will use a Mac instead of emulating it in my Linux machine. Same for the day I will write .NET I will just do it inside Windows.

So my philosophy is to write code in the platform where I will run it., thus I use Linux based computers, because the code I am writing will run there.

Regarding the machine I prefer Lenovo Thinkpad laptops that comply with military grade specs… I love that red button in the middle of the keyboard :slight_smile:


I do have pretty much the same opinion on this, but sometimes there are corporate policies in place, that simply do not allow you do work on a proper and native system.

For me I have to target RHEL servers (most of the time) but currently doing legacy stuff against some debian system mostly defined and managed by the customers IT departement.

My company does not allow client stuff on personal computers (which I fully understand), and it also does only allow Windows 10 as OS on the actual Office PCs. So I work in Virtual Boxes there to match the target OS.

Even worse when I am on my weekly remote. VPN to office, RDP into Windows BOX, starting VM, work…

Also, in my opinion and experience, getting laptops suitable for linux is hard. Even though hardware supports is getting better, one of the biggest problems I do have is WiFi. Especially when broadcom chips are used.

Besides of that getting built-in card readers to work is challenging often too.

I had this problems on “built for linux” laptops as well!

And since parts in a laptop can vary by charge and configuration, there is no one-fits-all.

Just look at the overall specs (CPU, Memory, etc), go into your local store of trust, install your prefered linux distro and then test it. And after you know it works buy the exact same instance of the device you did your tests with.

Do not buy something only because it has a penguin sticker on it… I did that error twice…


Because not that many people can afford buying separate laptops
for CentOS and Ubuntu and NetBSD and Illumos and… ?

(Leaving aside the issue of carrying them all around!)


I installed Linux on quite a few machines (aside from the one I work on) and most of the problems I had were marginal and relatively easily fixable (googling Linux problems is much easier then Windows ones).

One WiFi card (a desktop one) that I had problems with was unstable on my Linux but it didn’t work at all on the dual booted Windows system, rest I can think of were problems with specific driver versions that were easily solvable by changing the versions. Also I don’t think I had any hardware-related problems since 2014.

As for the Linux laptops, I researched this topic recently since I’m thinking about Laptop upgrade and I really like the System76 line, I’ll probably get this one. I might try their OS as well, it’s Ubuntu with some visual tweaks and hardware drivers targeted at their hardware. So as a hardware company they aim to be the “Apple of Linux Laptops” which is a definitely interesting niche.


Even if you can afford them all, it doesn’t make practical sense to even have more than maybe a laptop + desktop for development, aside from SSHing chromebooks and whatnot that you use “on the road”. This is even considering this supposed waste of performance with VMs.

Personally, I pretty much write only things that run on Linux and I run Linux on my development box, but even if I was developing for Windows or MacOS I wouldn’t spend the money on a new laptop, especially not an overpriced one where I’m paying for a brand.