Running Linux on Your Computer
Linux is a Unix-based operating system that is available for free under the GNU General Public License. Linux is most popular on netbooks and laptop computers, although it can be installed on almost any device with the available space. It is used on servers, desktop computers and even XBox game systems. Unfortunately, some popular native hardware on laptops and other devices is not compatible out of the box with Linux. For this reason, it is recommended that any computer have an Intel processor and a NVIDIA graphics card before Linux installation is attempted.
Acer is one of the most popular laptop brands to run Linux, and some of them even ship with the software. Most users report few, if any, compatibility problems with pre-installed hardware when running a Linux OS on their Acer laptop:
- Linux on Laptops offers a listing of each Acer computer complete with Linux installation instructions, tips and troubleshooting. Due to the popularity of Linux on Acers, there is a page for almost any combination of computer and OS version possible.
- Guide to Improve Linux is an ebook written about the Acer Aspire One, which includes the Linux OS preloaded. It can also be helpful for other Acer laptops running Linux.
Like Linux, Apple’s OSX is based on Unix. However, OSX offers an attractive and easy to use graphical user interface. Some people, however, desire the almost limitless customization allowed by a Linux OS:
- Tuxmobil has a Linux Laptop & Notebook Installation Guide which offers tutorials and tips on installing Linux on Apple products.
- iLinux is an online resource hub and meeting place for Apple owners who use Linux.
Dell was one of the first companies to offer Linux as an option on their laptops and to fully support users with the OS. After a brief hiatus, Dell began selling high-end laptops that use the Linux OS again in 2012:
- The Dell Tech Center has a Wiki that addresses many aspects of running Linux on Dell computers.
- The Linux Precision mailing list is sponsored by Dell and serves as an archive of questions and tips from those who use Linux on their Dell laptops.
Hewlitt Packard, known as HP, offers a moderate level of support for all users who choose to install Linux on their HP machines. They also offer some computers–primarily business workstations–with Linux pre-installed:
- HP’s Frequently Asked Questions page addresses many concerns about Linux for new users.
- The HP Linux Forum is an online community for support of HP owners running Linux OS.
Gateway computers are not always the best choice for installing Linux on a laptop. Gateway does not support this operating system and installing it will void your warranty. There may also be issues with drivers for the hardware, and some sound and graphics cards may not be compatible.
- Installing and Configuring Linux on a Gateway Notebook explains in the pros and cons of running Linux on a Gateway machine in detail. It also offers instructions for installing a Linux OS to a Gateway 400SD4 notebook computer.
- Linux on Gateway Laptops has some tutorials and information, including recommendations for which Linux system to select for your laptop.
Linux OS can be installed on a Samsung notebook, but it may not be as easy as with some other brands of computer if your laptop is not new. Linux installations on older Samsung computers do have some known issues with backlight controls, the touch pad, and the sleep and suspend functions. Most of these problems have workarounds that can be found online:
- Linux Today discusses using Linux on newer model Samsung devices.
- Linux on My Samsung is an online bulletin board and forum for addressing issues faced when using a Linux OS with the hardware that came with your Samsung computer.
Sony does not offer laptops pre-installed with Linux, or support for those with the OS. Most hardware used in Sony laptops is supported by Linux out of the box, however. The notable exceptions are the webcam and the fingerprint reader:
- Installing Linux on a Sony Vaio Notebook has a complete tutorial as well as addressing common issues with configuration of Linux on Vaios.
- Thoughts on Technology reviews a Linux installation on a Sony Vaio notebook.
Lenovo is the company that manufactures and markets what was previously known as the IBM Thinkpad laptop. They have a few laptops that ship with Linux pre-installed, but these are far from the majority of their inventory.
- Lenovo has an official list of hardware and computers that are certified compatible with Linux systems, and they offer support with these products.
- Lenovo Community has a special section dedicated to using Linux on Lenovo products.
Toshiba laptops are known for being difficult to install and configure with a Linux OS. Some features, such as the power savings features of these computers, are run through proprietary Toshiba programs that only work with Windows. It is possible, however, to operate a Toshiba
notebook using Linux:
- TuxMobil has a list of Toshiba laptop and notebook installation guides, including FAQs, tools and resources.
- Network Computing hosts a tutorial about installing Linux on a Toshiba system.
The Linux mascot is a penguin.
(Image by Linux. Courtesy of Nesbitt & Associates.)