It isn’t often that I take issue with articles about Linux and Linux versus Windows, but I took issue with one of the “Editors’ Picks” from Google News. The author of the article, titled “5 Linux Laptops for Small Business“, makes a broad assumption that Linux vendors use better quality hardware than what vendors use for Windows when it comes to modern laptops. She then goes on to say that Windows uses software hacks to get around using cheap hardware. Both assumptions are blatantly wrong. Windows is far more finicky than Linux when it comes to hardware. A lot of hardware is specifically designed to work with Windows only (like Logitech web cams) and that’s about it.
Yes, you can buy cheap Windows laptops these days, mostly in the United States. Although you might expect them to be inferior to the more expensive laptops, it’s usually only in certain specific areas. That’s why you have to read the specifications before you buy. Even so, some modern laptops can barely run Windows at all and I’m sure they can barely run Linux.
I have two modern laptops that wouldn’t have any problems whatsoever in running just about any flavor of Linux. One was priced at about $550 a year before the other that was priced under $300. The sub-$300 laptop is actually more powerful than the other and it’s the one I’m using now. I can’t play 1080p movies on it, but I can play 720p movies quite well. It’s a 64-bit machine with 64-bit Windows 8 on it. It has plenty of hard drive space (more than I’ll ever use) and 4 gigabytes of memory. It has a DVD drive (no Blu-ray), one USB-3 port and two USB-2 ports. It doesn’t have any PS/2 or VGA ports. It has a single HDMI port.
It has an AMD processor and uses AMD video. I guarantee I could run most flavors of Linux on it without having to do anything special. In the past, I’ve had laptops that could run Linux without breaking a sweat, machines that couldn’t run the latest version of Windows. I’ve never had a machine of any kind that could run Windows and not run Linux.
The reason modern laptops are getting cheaper is not because they’re being made with cheaper hardware. It’s because they’re not including hardware to support every kind of device you can possibly attach to them. Of course, you can find lemons in any kind of product, including modern laptops. When it comes to modern laptops, you should always buy brands with good reputations – there’s a lot of generic-sounding brands out there.
The article I mentioned only talked about five Linux laptops. It’s almost like the author was paid to write specifically about those five. While I agree those laptops (and laptops from other Linux vendors) will probably run Linux better than anything else out-of-the-box, you have to be a hardcore Linux fan to plunk down the money to buy one. If you don’t specifically need Linux at home and you don’t specifically need Linux at your business, you’re better off with a Windows laptop. And I say that because of the cost, not the software.
I have no doubt I could run Linux on either of my HP laptops. They’re not top-of-the-line modern laptops but they are modern laptops. I can run it in a virtual machine, within Windows or by dual-booting into it. I’ve already done the virtual machine thing on both laptops although I’m not doing it now.
I like Linux and I want to run Linux, but I want to run it on a desktop computer. I’ve done so in the past and I’m sure I’ll do it in the future. As long as my modern laptops can run the latest supported version of Windows, I feel no need to replace the software. Besides, Skype video still doesn’t work well in most flavors of Linux and I use Skype video a lot.
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