Ubuntu Demon\’s blog

September 24, 2006

laptop hunt continues – feedback request

Filed under: Uncategorized — ubuntudemon @ 12:12 pm

I have the following wishlist for my laptop :

  • about 1200 euro (absolute max is 1300 euro)
  • I don’t wish to pay for windows
  • small and light laptop
  • strong laptop of good quality
  • needs to work perfectly with Ubuntu
  • I want to be able to carry it everyday
  • at most 14″ with (at least) 1200×800
  • intel centrino
  • T2300 Core Duo (Core 2 Duo T7200 if I wait long enough)
  • intel 3945 ABG wireless (ipw3945)
  • 2 GB DDR-2 667mhz ram (or at least 1 GB in 1 slot and 1 slot free)
  • intel GMA 950 (or a newer intel model)
  • 60GB 5400rpm (or better)
  • cd-rw / dvd combodrive
  • US international qwerty keyboard
  • 6-9 cell battery 4400mAh
  • I want this battery to last at least 1 year but preferably longer
  • I want to be able to work at least 2.5 hours on this laptop
  • warranty 1 year pickup and return for the Netherlands
  • optional : small laptop sleeve/carrying bag
  • optional : bluetooth

Two laptops which meet this wishlist are :
ahtec X20 (www.ahtec.net):

  • I need to make sure it works perfectly with Ubuntu
  • The battery life is probably less than the battery life of the MSI S262 (6 cell vs 8 cell, ahtec site reports 2 – 2,5 hours of battery life)
  • This laptop (brand) isn’t very common.
  • I need to find people who actually own it and see whether they are happy about it.

MSI S262 (for example http://www.alb-computer.de) :

  • The black MSI 262 looks good, has nice specs and according to the wiki there are no major problems with it in Ubuntu.
  • It’s possible to buy a MSI S262 without windows and with my specification wishlist. MSI sells barebones to companies who build their laptops with it. There are some people who have some problems with these machines.

The forum thread about my laptop search.
The dutch forum thread about my laptop search
A dutch forum thread about 12″ laptops (not ubuntu specific)
A dutch forum thread about MSI laptops (not ubuntu specific)

I’m very interested in your experience with these laptops. I’m very interested in suggestions for similar laptops.

Thanks for all your feedback!



  1. hp nc4200

    Comment by hehe :) — September 24, 2006 @ 12:23 pm

  2. to hehe :
    Thanks for the suggestion.
    The hp nc4200 is too expensive and doesn’t have Core Duo (at least not for about 1200 euros).

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 24, 2006 @ 12:26 pm

  3. Hm, what about X40 if you can find it somewhere these days? 🙂

    Comment by hehe :) — September 24, 2006 @ 12:37 pm

  4. I’ve got a msi s260. it’s not exactly the same than s262 but not so far. And i can say i’m really happy with it. I had a problem with the bios wich causes bug with acpi under linux and in really little time a new bios correct this and i’ve got help to upgrade this one by mail.
    For me msi is really good.
    you should take the 8cells battery it’s disgraceful but it brings many autonomy (between 3 and 5 hours with the S260)

    Comment by marseillai — September 24, 2006 @ 12:43 pm

  5. to hehe :

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    The IBM X40 is too expensive and doesn’t have Core Duo (at least not for about 1200 euros).

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 24, 2006 @ 12:49 pm

  6. to marseillai :

    thanks for your feedback.

    The MSI S262 looks like a really good option. My biggest concern is that I have to buy it from some german webshop which builds them themselves in order to be able to buy it without windows and with the specifications I want.
    There are some people who have some issues with these alb MSI S262 laptops. If you can read dutch :

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 24, 2006 @ 12:51 pm

  7. you should also look at samsung q35. Its only conterpart is there is no tv output. Very good autonomy (more than 4 or even 5 hours with the standard battery).

    Comment by Simon — September 24, 2006 @ 1:35 pm

  8. to Simon :

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    The samsung q35 is too expensive. It starts at 1.648,99 euro in the Netherlands.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 24, 2006 @ 2:27 pm

  9. […] update :  my latest blog entry on this. […]

    Pingback by Possible laptops - feedback request « Ubuntu Demon’s blog — September 24, 2006 @ 2:31 pm

  10. I have little offtopic question. When Im buying laptop there are often multiple card reader i.e. Flash and SD.

    How can I make it work in Ubuntu? Thanks for the anwsers

    Comment by christooss — September 24, 2006 @ 2:42 pm

  11. to christooss :
    If you want a laptop with a working card reader (in Ubuntu) you have two options IMHO :
    – try laptops with the Ubuntu live cd
    – search https://wiki.ubuntu.com/HardwareSupportMachinesLaptops
    for laptops where the card reader is reported working in Dapper

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 24, 2006 @ 3:08 pm

  12. So card should be working by default or shouldn’t been working at all?

    Thanks for the links. It sure will be helpfull when buying laptop.

    Comment by christooss — September 24, 2006 @ 5:29 pm

  13. Have you checked out the LeNovo thinkpad series? I’m not sure about all of the specs you require, or about the service in the Netherlands, but I recently lost my motherboard (I actually saw flames) on my Compaq R3000 which I bought 2 years ago in the US, and a friend suggested the Lenovo to me.

    There seem to be some especially good deals at http://www.Buy.com where you can get to the specs for them.

    I am considering the Duo-Core also, and from what I understand they have extremely good linux support, are very rigorously tested, and rarely, if ever, have overheating issues.

    Hope this helps

    Comment by karbonik — September 24, 2006 @ 5:37 pm

  14. to karbonik :

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Sadly lenovo/ibm doesn’t offer small Core Duo laptops in the Netherlands for my budget.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 24, 2006 @ 6:15 pm

  15. “So card should be working by default or shouldn’t been working at all?

    Thanks for the links. It sure will be helpfull when buying laptop.”

    to christooss :

    I never said it should be working on default. I just meant that you should investigate before buying a laptop if it’s important to you.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 24, 2006 @ 6:17 pm

  16. I am curious why you don’t give http://www.system76.com a try. They aparently specialize in Ubuntu Laptops and I would venture to guess would be able to customize for you what you are looking for. This will be where I will get my next laptop.



    Comment by christopher dorrell — September 24, 2006 @ 7:54 pm

  17. to christopher dorrell :
    Thanks for the suggestion.
    I want to buy my laptop from a company which offers pickup-and-return warranty for the netherlands. So no system76 for me.
    I recently discovered http://mingos.nl which is a dutch company similar to system76. mingos.nl still needs to prove itself and I’m not sure how good their laptops are. They (mostly?) use ahtec laptops so buying from ahtec would give me more performance for my money.
    If I had lots of money I might have considered buying from mingos.nl to support their effort. But I don’t have lots of money since I’m a student.

    If I hear good things about mingos then I’m going to recommend mingos to dutch people who want to buy a laptop with Ubuntu pre-installed.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 24, 2006 @ 9:20 pm

  18. Dell D420?

    Comment by directhex — September 25, 2006 @ 1:02 pm

  19. Try the new groundbreaking laptop from Negroponte.

    Only costs $100!

    Comment by Balle Klorin — September 25, 2006 @ 2:52 pm

  20. to directhex :

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    Sadly the Dell Latitude D420 starts at 1469 euros (without nice warranty options).

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 25, 2006 @ 4:53 pm

  21. The basic support options for the Dell are:

    * 3 jaar International Next Business Day On-Site (internationale on-site service op de volgende werkdag)
    * Notebookbatterijen worden geleverd met 1 jaar garantie – deze kan niet worden uitgebreid”

    Don’t actually understand a word of that, but it looks a lot like the UK support package, which is 3 years’ next-day on-site.

    Remove the “Business Support” (dedicated tech support line) and “CompleteCare” (accidental damage); Increase the CPU to a Core Duo, comes out to €1.212,00

    Unless there’s something obvious I’m missing… OH… €241,00 for an optical drive. Never mind. Close, but no cigar.

    Comment by directhex — September 26, 2006 @ 1:04 pm

  22. to directhex :

    Thanks for your efforts 🙂

    This dell is way too expensive with nice options in the configuration.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 26, 2006 @ 5:02 pm

  23. There are severals french shop wich provides msi s262 as cybertek and micro concept. I’ve bought mine at cybertek and they forgot my wifi card but i’m almost happy about them. Both of them propose S262 without windows XP

    Comment by marseillai — September 26, 2006 @ 7:13 pm

  24. to marseillai :

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    It’s probably not an option to buy a laptop from France. I want at least :
    “warranty 1 year pickup and return for the Netherlands”

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 27, 2006 @ 6:50 am

  25. Dual core under 1300 USD $ no windows, Did you check Acer.. I just bought one an aspire 5570. everything seems to work well under ubuntu so far. In Asia (that’s where I am) most Acer come with Linux (but not working as nobody know how to configure them…)

    I’ve been satisfied with Acer, it’s my third one…

    Comment by David — September 27, 2006 @ 8:29 am

  26. to David :

    Thanks for the suggestion.

    I can’t find any small Acer laptop which meets my requirements and is affordable for me.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — September 27, 2006 @ 4:28 pm

  27. to magian :

    Thanks for the suggestions.

    system76 is not an option because I want at least warranty 1 year pickup and return for the Netherlands.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 4, 2006 @ 7:51 am

  28. just wanna ask how long the battery will last for the msi s260-p?because i’m planning to buy that one, hope to hear from u guys tnx..

    Comment by ardie — October 8, 2006 @ 8:58 am

  29. to ardie :
    I have no idea. From what I’ve heard about modern laptop batteries it that they last about 500 charges/discharges and after 1-1.5 year it’s best to buy a new one.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 8, 2006 @ 9:02 am

  30. Hi!

    I’ve just seen your comments on the Ahtec X20.

    I just bought one. Very cute and light … and is BURNING.

    More precisely: it is an X20, 80 Gb (7200rpm) SATA with Intel Dual Core 1.83 GHz, 1024 MB.

    Of course, I’m using Ubuntu, the Beta of Edgy. But tried also the older ones.

    The heat problem, then: you turn it on and it is already at 50 C, both CPU and HD. I cannot see the HD temperature in Ubuntu, but I saw it in Windows. After calling Ahtec and telling them about the over heat, they told me that I have to run the Hot CPU test. If the laptop passes the test, then there is nothing they can do and I shouldn’t have asked for such a fast HD because it is normal to get hot. Ha!

    So, I ran the test. Of course, nothing wrong. Both CPU and HD reaching 60 C on a cold October day!!!, but the program says no hardware problem!

    So, I’m stuck with this laptop that burns my right hand!!

    And, it is not the CPU, because the keyboard (on top of CPU) is cold, it is the HD, which gets hot after 10 min of “usage” (it is just turned on, no simulations or anything). So, my conclusion is that the design is very bad. There are many laptops with a 7200 rpm SATA HD that not get so hot (checked the internet). It is the design of the X20 that probably has the HD too close to the upper part of the touchpad…or something.

    It is incredible! It gets really hot!
    I’m thinking of measuring somehow the temperature of the touchpad and contact the consumer administration, because I do not consider such a laptop can be sold on the market. I don’t want to think about it working in July or August. Incredible!

    So, my advice: think twice about the Ahtec. This is my third laptop, and I was lucky – probably – with the other too. And, probably a slower HD would reduce the temperature! (???)

    That’s it!

    Good luck!

    Comment by Andrea — October 14, 2006 @ 7:31 pm

  31. Why don’t you go to the MEDION strore (ALDI) wich make very good laptop at great condition with all the nieuw features on (wifi-bluethoot-cardreader- )
    just got windows with but where can you get a laptop without windos


    Comment by Defrenne Marc — October 15, 2006 @ 7:36 am

  32. […] my last blog post about my laptop search the forum thread about my new laptop […]

    Pingback by I bought my new laptop! « Ubuntu Demon’s blog — October 15, 2006 @ 5:22 pm

  33. I bought my new laptop!

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 15, 2006 @ 5:25 pm

  34. to andrea :

    It’s sad to hear that you got so unlucky. 😦

    I got an Ahtec X30 with an 5400 rpm harddisk.

    The harddrive is positioned on the right of the touchpad. The harddrive becomes warm but not too hot. It’s about 53-55 degrees most of the time. But I haven’t put the harddrive through a lot of stress yet.

    I bought an X30 instead of an X20 because :
    -mingos had experience with Ubuntu on th X20
    -the X30 has a bigger screen but the volume of the laptop is about the same as the X20

    I’ve done some cpu temperature testing as well. You can find more information in the forum thread for my new purchase :

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 15, 2006 @ 5:32 pm

  35. Hi!

    Congratulations for your new “baby”!
    It looks like a great buy!

    I was also about to buy the X30, but in the end I decided for the X20. Looks like your decision was wiser! -;)

    A few things:
    – my X20 weighs 1.950! Cool thing for my back! 😉

    – no update on my hot HD. By the way, how do you measure HD temperature? In Edgy I can only measure the CPU temperature. In Windows (yach!!) I could monitor both of them, and the HD went beyond 60 C. Too bad I had to install windows to check what Ahtec asked me.

    – can you configure the cooling mode?, in /proc/acpi/…I don’t know if this will make a difference. I’m still reading about it.

    Cheers and congrats again for the machine!
    May it serve you well for many years!


    Comment by Andrea — October 17, 2006 @ 10:21 pm

  36. to Andrea :

    I weighted my laptop myself because to be sure how much it weighted. They advertise with the “bare” weight without the optical drive and things like that. My X30 weighs 2.16 kg.

    After warming my laptop up on battery my harddisk stays between 53-55 degrees.

    My harddisk runs a bit cooler when I’m on battery. It seems about 10 degrees cooler. I have to test some more.

    Maybe hdparm provides a solution. I have played a little bit with it but not yet enough. Be very careful with hdparm because you might destroy your data.

    $ sudo aptitude install hddtemp sensors-applet lm-sensors

    lm-sensors is for measuring the CPU temperature

    sensors-applet is for the applet you can add in your panel to actually view the data in a convenient way 🙂

    Don’t forget to run “$sudo sensors-detect”. If you don’t understand the questions answer YES to all of them.

    This is what I did to use less power, more silent and more cooler :
    – running the laptop in S-mode by pressing the special S key
    – system->preferences->power management and always prefer power savings over performance

    The S-mode makes a big difference when doing CPU intensive tasks.

    The X20 should be very similar to my X30. Perhaps you should start a new thread in “hardware and laptops” on the forums. I will try to help you with things.

    Here’s the thread I started for my new laptop :

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 18, 2006 @ 7:38 am

  37. Hi, again!

    I succeeded partially with my burning X20. I went to the technical department of Ahtec and explained that the touchpad is very hot. Everybody was very helpful and without any problem, changed the 7200 dist to a 5400 disk, saying that they sort of knew that it gets hot.

    The technician said that in his experience, these two models X20 and X30 should work with a 4200 HD, but this configuration is not available. He warned me that I wouldn’t notice any difference in temperature on the touchpad with a 5400, even if the HD would run colder. I didn’t believe him, but now I see that it is true. I’ve been working hard on the laptop today. The 5400 (“TOSHIBA MK8032GS”) seems to run 5º C cooler, but this is nothing. As I was saying in the beginning of this odyssey, it not the internal temperature that is worrying me the most, but the temperature of the touchpad and the faith of my right hand.

    The technician told me that in this aspect X20 and X30 are the same, and that I wouldn’t notice difference in temperature with an X30.

    So, my question is: does your touchpad get really hot? Mine, just on top of the HD, is close to my highest acceptability value – really hot. The internal HD temperature is 56º now, without doing anything. I don’t think the touchpad temperature is much lower than this.

    I haven’t done the sensors thing yet, but the hddtemp is enough.

    One more question! Sorry!
    I cannot seem to get the sound working. With the 7200 it just appeared when I installed Windows (yah!) and went OK from that moment on. I am sure that there must be a wiser way! 😉 Did you have any problem with this?

    Cheers and thanks,

    Comment by Andrea — October 25, 2006 @ 11:12 pm

  38. to Andrea :

    My average harddisk temperature is about 53-56 degrees celcius. It runs cooler when on battery. I have to test it some more to find out actually how much cooler.

    In the X30 the harddisk is at the right of the touchpad. The cpu resides at the top right of the laptop. The right side of the laptop becomes warm but not unpleasant.

    Since the touchpad is located in the middle and the harddisk isn’t directly under it (as in your model) it doesn’t get unpleasantly hot. It can get a little bit warm.

    I’m running Edgy and I have no sound issues whatsoever. So I would advise you to wait until Edgy releases before spending more time at your sound issues.

    Maybe you can get your harddrive temperature a little lower when having it standby :
    sudo hdparm -y /dev/sda

    You can put this in your /etc/hdparm.conf to make your harddrive go into standby after 1 minute :

    /dev/sda {
    spindow_time = 12

    If you have a special S-button you should try it.

    Find this section of /etc/default/acpi-support and change false to true. You might save a little bit of power and heat :

    # Switch to laptop-mode on battery power – off by default as it causes odd
    # hangs on some machines

    good luck!

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 26, 2006 @ 5:16 am

  39. Hi!

    First of all, thanks for the info!

    I made the modifications you suggested. I didn’t try the S button though.

    When I said that the touchpad gets hot, it was a way of saying that the entire region on top of th HD is hot, and it transmits to the touchpad too. So, the hot touchpad is a consequence of the hot HD.

    Anyway, I don’t notice any reduction in temperature, neither close to my hand nor inside the HD. The hddtemp says 60 ºC after an hour, and it gets stuck there, even if I run on battery. And Windows keeps getting HD temperature warnings. (I wanted to see if it was due to Ubuntu, but in Windows is the same). So, this is the story!

    I’ve been comparing this laptop with all the laptops of my department’s mates: an older Ahtec, a small VAIO, 2 HPs laptops. None of them gets so hot, not even after hours of simulations. The small VAIO has almost the same features as the X20 and it doesn’t even get warm close to the touchpad after 8 hours of work.

    So, I don’t know what else to do. Today I’ll go to the Ahtec SAT and try to give it back and get the money. I will not be able to probably. The technician warned me that I would not feel any difference on my hand with the 5400 HD. I didn’t believe him, but it was true. He told me also that all the models are more or less the same, so all will have the same problem for me. What I don’t really understand is how can anyone think that it is normal!! I’ve worked on other laptops before and I’ve never had such a temperature problem. I mean, all got hot in the summer, but in the upper part of the keyboard or below, but not where you put your hands.

    As I was saying, I’m not really concerned with the internal temperature (even if it is above normal), but with the temperature getting on my hands. You said that your X30 is cool (both meanings ;))
    If I cannot get my money back (I hope I can), I’ll have to chose another model. Now I really trust the technician on the fact that they all might have the same problem.

    Anyway, thanks again and keep in touch!


    Comment by Andreea — October 30, 2006 @ 9:51 am

  40. To Andrea :

    I’m really happy with my X30. As I said before the right side of the X30 gets warm it doesn’t get so hot that it is unpleasant for my hands. 53-56 degrees is a normal temperature for my harddisk when not on battery (I forgot to look at the HD temperature when travelling this weekend).

    IMHO the biggest difference between our models is that my screen is a bit bigger (while the laptop is barely bigger) and that my touchpad is not directly above the harddisk. The touchpad is in the middle and the harddisk lives on the right.

    Comment by ubuntudemon — October 30, 2006 @ 9:59 am

  41. I have an MSI S262 with ubuntu hardy on it, it’s a nice little laptop. Few things to point out (may have been said)

    – The silver plastic pieces on the ends of the lid hinge WILL fall off. Not if but when. Our entire year got them bulk order at school, no-one of 120 of us has both bits intact, except me, I found mine and superglued them back on.

    – The memory card reader doesn’t work in hardy, or at least i can’t get it to. Still looking for a fix for that.

    – it does get very hot, though it doesn’t seem to harm performance much.

    Comment by Rob — July 6, 2008 @ 10:33 pm

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