Cheap laptop for FreeBSD

Xylon

New Member


Messages: 3

Hi all,

I want a laptop for FreeBSD but don't know what hardware will be supported (I've only run FreeBSD on servers up-till now).

Does anyone know a laptop with spec like this that works with FreeBSD:
  • 11 inch size
  • anti-glare screen
  • modern CPU and at-least 8GB RAM
  • working WiFi
I considered thinkpads but don't know if the newest generation with the Zen 2 CPUs work well with FreeBSD.

Thanks in advance!
 

gpw928

Active Member

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Messages: 244

FreeBSD support for laptops and notebooks is somewhat limited.

Some relish a challenge, and start hacking. I just want it to work.

Have you considered using Windows to run a VirtualBox hypervisor with a FreeBSD client?

It gets around all the issues FreeBSD has with esoteric laptop and notebook devices, especially things like battery management, odd WiFi devices, and backlit keyboard.

It won't run as fast as FreeBSD native, but speed is not usually the primary focus of laptops

If you want to avoid Windows, look for a laptop that supports Linux and run the KVM hypervisor. e.g. the Ubuntu list is here.

I use both VirtualBox (on a Windows 8.1 notebook) and KVM (on a Debian 9 server) to virtualise FreeBSD systems, and they both work very well.
 

drhowarddrfine

Son of Beastie

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Did you search these forums for topics on this very topic? You will find suggestions everywhere including a link to the page where laptop compatibility is listed.

gpw928 Till my last laptop died a couple of years ago, I never had any issue with running FreeBSD on a laptop except needing to buy a wifi dongle.
 

meine

Active Member

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Messages: 108

Does anyone know a laptop with spec like this that works with FreeBSD:
  • 11 inch size
  • anti-glare screen
  • modern CPU and at-least 8GB RAM
  • working WiFi
I use an Asus EeePC 1005HA that runs on i386 FreeBSD 12.1-RELEASE. This machine probably is some ten years old and I bought it used for €75 (US$80) four years ago. Apart from the 'modern' CPU and the huge RAM (I don't need that, mostly do text editing), it has all the features you are looking for. FreeBSD is the only operating system installed.

This netbook runs very well. Mostly I use sysutils/screen, with a basic setup that opens different terminals with mail/mutt, sysutils/py27-ranger and an empty shell to use for different things and editors/vim. Because these are all terminal based programs, CPU-speed isn't any issue.

For GUI I use the x11-wm/cwm window manager that needs few resources and works fast and reliable. Speed issues mostly come with complicated and heavy tracked and scripted websites.

With basic configuration, Wi-Fi works well, although I only use my private Wi-Fi here at home. Switching it on and off (made an alias to do that in terminal) works directly, no issues.

To make my setup, I used the how-to from cooltrainer.org, https://vermaden.wordpress.com/, the Handbook and some other sites to make things work perfectly. I started on this box with version 11 and all the upgrades went well (used the fixed internet connection to gain some speed and reliability for the download).
 

kpedersen

Daemon

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  • 11 inch size
  • anti-glare screen
  • modern CPU and at-least 8GB RAM
  • working WiFi
I considered thinkpads but don't know if the newest generation with the Zen 2 CPUs work well with FreeBSD.

Thanks in advance!
If you can reduce your requirement of "modern CPU", I would suggest a Thinkpad x61 (for the small formfactor / screen).

The annoying truth is that you potentially limit yourself in the open-source world if you *need* the most modern hardware. Unfortunately hardware support lacks behind in the FOSS world (by design from the manufacturers).

(I am not sure about anti-glare. That is a multimedia / art thing right? haha).

Or, get the latest and greatest laptop and run FreeBSD in a virtual machine. I often do this if I "inherit" fast but awkward hardware from work.
 

vermaden

Son of Beastie

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Get the Lenovo ThinkPad X220 with 12" size. Up to 16 GB RAM. CPU is only about 20% slower then current CPUs and supports Bhyve.

... and its dirt cheap.
 

Minbari

Well-Known Member

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I'm also recommending a Thinkpad from X series but if you want more the 8GB of ram the last notebook capable of doing that from this series is X230 (up to 16GB ddr3). Starting with x240 the motherboard has only one ram slot, which means single channel memory which is a drawback, especialy on video graphics. Also keep in mind that the display max resolution is 1366x768, but with some mods the user can install a full hd display on x230.
 

vermaden

Son of Beastie

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I'm also recommending a Thinkpad from X series but if you want more the 8GB of ram the last notebook capable of doing that from this series is X230 (up to 16GB ddr3). Starting with x240 the motherboard has only one ram slot, which means single channel memory which is a drawback, especialy on video graphics. Also keep in mind that the display max resolution is 1366x768, but with some mods the user can install a full hd display on x230.
All ThinkPads X220/T420s/T420/T520 support 16 GB RAM. I am typing this from T420s with 16 GB RAM:

Code:
% grep -i memory /var/run/dmesg.boot
real memory  = 17179869184 (16384 MB)
avail memory = 16393228288 (15633 MB)
[drm] Got stolen memory base 0xdba00000, size 0x4000000
The ThinkPad W520 supports even 32 GB RAM (has 4 slots).

... and yes Lenovo in their documents states only 8 GB for them and 32 GB properly for W520 - we all know that :)
 

Minbari

Well-Known Member

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All ThinkPads X220/T420s/T420/T520 support 16 GB RAM. I am typing this from T420s with 16 GB RAM:

Code:
% grep -i memory /var/run/dmesg.boot
real memory  = 17179869184 (16384 MB)
avail memory = 16393228288 (15633 MB)
[drm] Got stolen memory base 0xdba00000, size 0x4000000
The ThinkPad W520 supports even 32 GB RAM (has 4 slots).

... and yes Lenovo in their documents states only 8 GB for them and 32 GB properly for W520 - we all know that :)
I said
recommending a Thinkpad from X series but if you want more the 8GB of ram the last notebook capable of doing that from this series is X230
And according to the charts it's processor it's more efficient than that of X220, better graphics (HD 4000), and had some of problems from X220 series solved (faster performance, resolving the throttling issues X220 has, adding USB 3.0 ports, etc.).
 

vermaden

Son of Beastie

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I said (...)And according to the charts it's processor it's more efficient than that of X220, better graphics (HD 4000), and had some of problems from X220 series solved (faster performance, resolving the throttling issues X220 has, adding USB 3.0 ports, etc.).
Performance differences between X220 and X230 are VERY tiny and having REAL 7-ROW KEYBOARD on X220 kills any X230 benefits.

You can have USB 3.0 on X220 - all X220 that have i7 CPU also have USB 3.0 port.
 

userxbw

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11" screen. for me kind of small. I've been getting HP elitebook's 14" screen, off ebay under $200 sometimes got a get power, and hdd. but over all they've been brand new condition. 840 g2/g3 maybe g4 under $200. this one is a g3 i7 - 6600u works great, win,2 linux,freeBSD all installed on it.

32GB MAX DDR3 (google types) to DDR4-2133 ; 2x16GB = 32GB RAM , 1080p, 2 USB 3.0, 1 usb type c SD Card reader. pcie m.2 nvme and sata III
 

CraigHB

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I have a 17" laptop and it's still too small for me (old eyes). I'm chomping at the bit to get my desktop going (moved long distance recently and flushed all my old hardware). Unfortunately in a rush to get something going I bought a Windows laptop that would have a lot of trouble with FreeBSD. If I can ever transition to FreeBSD exclusively (I hope to one of these days) it's going to kill me to scrap that one, really nice machine I got for a super deal.

Anyway, FreeBSD laptop is a big need for me as well, but finding one with a 17" screen that's FreeBSD friendly might be a tall order.
 

vermaden

Son of Beastie

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I have a 17" laptop and it's still too small for me (old eyes). I'm chomping at the bit to get my desktop going (moved long distance recently and flushed all my old hardware). Unfortunately in a rush to get something going I bought a Windows laptop that would have a lot of trouble with FreeBSD. If I can ever transition to FreeBSD exclusively (I hope to one of these days) it's going to kill me to scrap that one, really nice machine I got for a super deal.

Anyway, FreeBSD laptop is a big need for me as well, but finding one with a 17" screen that's FreeBSD friendly might be a tall order.
ThinkPad W701 will surely work under FreeBSD :)
 

userxbw

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there is for me just way too many versions of the thinkpads to pick from, it get too confusing for me, and I've always liked the look of them, then when I look at the guts I get disappointed compared to HP Laptops of the same year.
 

forgiven_noob

Member

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Freebsd will run flawlessly on c2d/c2q machines, the trouble starts at haswell and up I think.
I am fairly certain that sandy bridge i5 thinkpads will run freebsd with the same full compatibility as linux, with some tweaks

The T530 comes to mind, I installed bsd on a customer's when I was working on and it was nice
 

kpedersen

Daemon

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there is for me just way too many versions of the thinkpads to pick from, it get too confusing for me, and I've always liked the look of them, then when I look at the guts I get disappointed compared to HP Laptops of the same year.
That's why you get an old second hand one. No disappointment because they are dirt cheap and a HP laptop of the same year will already be broken so there is nothing to compare against XD

An X230 / X240 is the sweet spot for me currently. Not too old that crappy web browsers struggle and not too new that there are driver issues.

(That said; most old business laptops are pretty good. The HP Elitebook 2170p for example plays well with *nix)
 

Minbari

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Performance differences between X220 and X230 are VERY tiny and having REAL 7-ROW KEYBOARD on X220 kills any X230 benefits.
X220 keyboard works (with some mods) on X230 without a problem.

An X230 / X240 is the sweet spot for me currently. Not too old that crappy web browsers struggle and not too new that there are driver issues.
X240 has only one sodim slot which limit the cpu/gpu on single memory channel , also the maximum allowed ram is 8GB.
 

kpedersen

Daemon

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X240 has only one sodim slot which limit the cpu/gpu on single memory channel , also the maximum allowed ram is 8GB.
Honestly, I find this is not a problem for laptop / development use. Frankly I find even 4 gigs of ram far more than I will ever need.

At this point, I would even take out RAM modules in order to save trivial amounts of battery power or to preserve it as a spare XD
 

Trihexagonal

Daemon

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If you can reduce your requirement of "modern CPU", I would suggest a Thinkpad x61 (for the small formfactor / screen).
I would love to have another X61 as a dedicated .mp3 player. The small footprint took up little room and Intel D Audio gave me good sound (with XMMS).

I've bought 2 T61 on 2 separate occasions for $50 each, the first Thinkpad I purchased was a T61 for $100 that looked like new.. About $110 for my X61. The same for my T400 but I upgraded it to 8 GB RAM. The most expensive was my W520 at $200.

The first T61 I bought went to heaven when I pulled the USB mouse from the dock while it was compiling port. One of the $50 ran over a year but I think I must have disturbed some dust with canned air and it overheated not long after.

With the exception of the first T61 I feel like I got my moneys worth in use out of them. I felt like crying when it died and no longer dock my machines.

The rest all work and most still have the stickers on the palmrest, which is a sign of light use. Shiny spots on the spacebar or keys a bad sign and best passed on. You just have to be looking at the right time, what to watch for as signs or wear and always check the sellers rep from previous sales to see if it's worth the possible hassle.

Choose wisely:

 
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