10-13" netbook to run Ubuntu on

I'm looking to purchase a netbook to use for university (note taking, pdf editing, LaTeX, browsing) so looking for something around the AUD$500 mark. Can anyone recommend any netbooks that they have been able to run linux on without any real issue around this price point? Only real requirements are that it's portable (10-13") and has 4GB of RAM (2GB would probably do it but i'd rather have the 4GB)- I don't need a 2-in-1 touchscreen deal (although it seems most of these netbooks have touchscreens now).

Thanks for your help!

I just got back from a few stores where I tried to boot Ubunutu 14.04 LTS x64 on the Acer R11, HP x360-11 and Lenovo yoga 300 without any success. After disabling UEFI, I could get the normal install/try ubuntu screen but when booting, I would get the error
Error: [0.000000] tsc: Fast TSC calibration failed
and sometimes a second error about hardware on every machine. The boot would then just hang... I'm guessing this may have something to do with the touchscreen.

Have a look at refurbished 2nd hand ThinkPad x200 x220; They should be plenty strong for what you need and are in the 12,5" class, if I recall corectly; The thinkpads 99% of the time run out of the box wiht linux (except those with optimus)

just get a chromebook and install linux. you can buy some of them with 128GB of storage and 4GB of ram. Just make sure it is x86.


Have you thought about something like an Asus T100 series or the T200 series or their competitors alternatives?

The refurbished Thinkpad x220's go for about AUD$300 so that is a way better price point than I expected! These could be what I will buy, however, does anyone have experience with how well the batteries last in these older/refurbished laptops. Apparently the 9-cell Li ion battery for the x220 will last 13.8 hours so don't know how long I could expect the refurbished/older batteries to last.

As for the chromebook, I hadn't really considered these an option since I'd read a few negative things about having to run ubuntu/whatever on top of Crouton (and that it could be problematic). Dje4321, do you have any experience doing this? Does it run the same as a straight install on a PC like the Thinkpad mentioned above?

I've got the T430s refurbished, which has the same cpu as the x230 I've seen, the i5-3320m vPro. It runs every distro I've tried, only problem has been dual booting with win10, as usual. Some DE's work better than others, Cinnamon is a breeze, XFCE (both manjaro XFCE and Xubuntu) needs some tinkering with compton to not wobble when scrolling web pages. MATE works. Have not tried Ubuntu though, but I reckon it'll work. Mind you I only have the iGPU, I don't know if you can even get the X series with a quattro card.

Battery life.. As this is an s model (slim, I guess) the battery cannot get bigger than standard at 39 Wh. It came with 12% wear level, got me about 3 hours of taking notes with the screen brightness at half strength. The smaller screen and the fewer pixels on the X series will use less power, as when doing something light like taking notes, the most power hungry thing is the screen.

Now, a year later, it is down to 30% wear level, effectively 27 Wh. and gives me ~2 to 2,5 hours of the aforementioned tasks.

I'd buy a refurbished again and not even give it a second thought.

EDIT: The battery I have is actually designed to hold 44Wh, the power management in mint just shows it wrong.

Thanks for the info Zumps- good to know you have had almost no issues with the T430 and the various distros.

Offers like this one seem pretty attractive. It comes with a 9-cell (94 Wh) battery which should last alright and if not, you can pick up new 94Wh ones from Hong Kong for $40 (for the x220). Not sure if the Hong Kong batteries would be decent or not but there is always that option.

All in all, I think the refurbs are sounding pretty attractive. I'll look into the chromebooks more tomorrow as well.

The best is, you still can get fresh from the fab batteries for those; I think even original ones are still available and the usual knockoff is nooot that bad usually (those I had were even OEM sold by the maufacturer under a own knockoff brand)

Whoa, 94Wh, you'll be running that beast for days ;) I think the variables are many in regards to battery life, for instance the X220 has the 32nm sandy bridge chip, so it's not as power conserving as the X230, which has a 22nm ivy bridge chip. I don't know how much this alter the power draw, but I do think it is a variable. People more knowledgeable than me maybe knows?

To add to what I wrote earlier on my battery life, I do not run the power conserving program TLP, that can turn off I/O ports when they are not in use and much more. People around the web say they get a good deal more screen on time with it. However, I've read there are some extra tinkering that needs to be done on certain Lenovo models, you want to look into it if you do get a Lenovo. I have not yet had the time to tinker with it.

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I Picked up a ASUS F201E for $200NZD put a 120GB SSD and Runs Elementary OS.
Sadly it's only got 2GB ram ( not Replaceable ) but it runs fine - its my go away laptop :)

Thanks again Zumps- I've found a nice x220 with the 9 cell battery (apparently in 7 hour estimated runtime state) so will probably pull the trigger and buy it. I just can't justify spending over AUD$1200 for a machine in a similar class from any of the usual laptop suppliers who's hardware fits linux (Dell XPS would be nice but not for starting price of AUD$1800).

I know what you mean tigrooby, I have an old Lenovo S10-3 with an intel Atom and 2GB of RAM and it runs a bit slow but still gets the job done just for editing documents and marking up pdfs for university lectures (now running Ubuntu 14.04 as well).


TLP is a must on a Thinkpad and even many other brand notebooks; It realy helps save the battery; e.g. many optimisations that powertop suggests are applied by TLP.

I have installed TLP just as deffault as it can be, and except one USB device (a sierry WWAN modem) everything changes to great in powertop when on bat and to bad (more horespower) when on wall charger;

Wortk realy fine; With halve dim screen and the big rear battery I get 18,5 hours of office out of my T450s and still 10h of HD youtube

Cheers Th3Z0ne- I'll keep that in mind. In the meantime, I just installed TLP on my little netbook running ubuntu so I'll see if that makes some difference to the battery life come Monday when I use it.

Already being 4-5 year old lap top, has anyone with an X220 got any idea how much longer it will last? The ones I'm looking at on ebay all have TN displays (which apparently are rubbish)- by the time I factor in a new IPS display and a new battery (expect the one it comes with will probably only be around 50% life mark), I'm looking at around AUD$550. While this is still a lot less than a nicely spec'd X250 (http://www3.lenovo.com/au/en//X250-AU-C2/p/20CMCTO1WWENAU1), if the 2011 refurb is only going to last a year or so, I'd rather spend the extra AUD$1000 and get a new X250** for $1500 that will take me through the next 5 years*.

*- Although the i5 processors in the X220 and X250 are similar in performance, apparently the newer one has lower power consumption, leading to the touted 21 hour battery life.

**- there's always the argument that I buy a newer refurbished laptop when the X220 dies but anything newer than the X220 (in the X series) still has a high price (~AUD$900), despite still being 3 year old machines....

EDIT: originally described the TN display as TFT. Changed to correct terminology (thanks Zumps)

Addendum to the above- I just realised Lenovo have an "education store" for those with a university email address. this means I can get the X250 with i5-5200, 8GB ram, IPS 1080p display and 6 cell battery for AUD$1190.

For the sake of longevity- I'm going to say it'll be a no-brainer to buy the new one and have the piece of mind of a new product at roughly twice the price of an already 4 year old, unknown history one of similar specification.

@JohnWest From reading a bit up on it, it seems IPS is actually a type of TFT, another type is TN. The bad reviews you've been reading might have been concerning the TN panels, which have bad viewing angles, poorer color reproduction ect.

Regarding your purchasing decision, the university rebate seem like a really good deal. I don't know the pricing in your area (other than it being literally half the price of where I am, both refurbished and new), but you can actually get the new X260 with a TN panel if you are not careful and just go for the cheapest model (To clarify, the price will obviously also depend on CPU etc, but a TN panel is cheaper than an IPS panel). I think it's rational to assume it's the same deal with the X250 from last year, as the first line under Display does not specifically say "IPS".

I too installed TLP @Th3Z0ne and read up on the conflict with laptop-mode-tools. I've also read there might be a conflict with pm-tools, but from reading this debian mailing list, it seems it's not always the case. However, It's way over my head, so I don't know how to interpret it, do you know anything about it? All I know is I have both systemd and pm-tools per default in Mint and I can install TLP without uninstalling pm-tools, but the package manager says if I want to reinstall pm-tools it will uninstall TLP. (Maybe we should start a new thread on this or ask the developer, now that I think about it).

EDIT: x250 link.
EDIT2: Thanks for mentioning the student discount, we've got it here too :D

@Zumps I have edited my post to say TN (instead of TFT). As you mention, apparently the TN panel has bad viewing angle and colour- the IPS also gives you 1080 resolution instead of the 768 pixel vertical. Most people seem to retrofit the IPS to the older X220s (IPS display about AUD$80 on ebay).

I can't believe how good a deal the education discount is - unfortunately it doesn't apply to the X260 but I'd be more than happy with the X250 with the 6 cell battery for AUD$1200.

Regarding TLP, I've installed it without issue in Ubuntu 14.04 LTS x64. While it didn't hinder TLP install, my Lenovo S10-3 netbook has an unresolved inability to wake from suspend- I believe pmtools is used for suspend operation so if there is an issue, I may just not have realised it since I don't use that function. Probably a good idea to start a thread on this.

Thanks for your help mate.... I've really gotta have a go with Mint some time -_-

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For what I have seen so far is, that TLP worked for me starting with a W500 up until now with a T450s and that was ubuntu 7x up to 15.10 now.

Never had any issue; have to admit I only uses suspend to ram as thats the most usefull; could hold weeks sleping like that.

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Thought I'd update to let you know I bought a Lenovo x250. Their 40% educational discount was too hard to refuse and I'm happy with the purchase. Upgraded to the optional i5-5200, IPS display, 192GB SATA SSD and 6 Cell (72 Wh) battery for a total price of just over AUD$1200 delivered!

Running Ubuntu 14.04 LTS x86 there are no issues* after updating to the latest kernel (3.16.0-60 - all the earlier issues of trackpoint not working, screen brightness control not working are fixed). I also have a windows partition with Win10 on it but haven't really used it at all....

As for TLP, with wifi on, three non-multimedia tabs in Mozilla, two PDFs open, and about 30% screen brightness (any brighter and you'd need sunglasses with the IPS display) power consumption is only around 4-4.5 W so with the 3 cell + 6 cell battery, you get an estimated runtime around 20 hours. I have set charging thresholds to maximum 80% on the 6 cell and 60% on the built-in 3 cell and with a full charge (80%, 60% respectively), estimated runtime is around 15 hours so very impressive overall. If I'm just reading PDFs and writing documents, power comes down to 3.5-3.7 W.

The TLP documentation on the linrunner.de website is fantastic and you can change a few things in the config file ("powersave" profile on battery, charge thresholds) to get a bit more battery time out.

In all, I'd definitely recommend this setup to anyone who needs mobile computing. It has exceeded my expectations by a long way (and I'm even a convert to the trackpoint- something I never thought would happen).

*- Only issue was with graphics not rendering characters correctly in unity desktop. While annoying, it was quickly fixed (permanently) by installing ubuntu tweak and changing to "standard greyscale aliasing" as per this post.

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Welcome to the cult of the TP ^^ praise the thinkpad ;-)

I am very glad, that it works so fine for you and you could solve all the little hickups =)

Look at the acer c720 i3 version its $300 (USD) and it has an i3 4gb ram and a expandable SSD. Its a chrome book so everything is compatible with the Linux kernel. With a quick BIOS flash you can have a full fledged Linux laptop. You can read a tutorial enter link description here.

Hope this helps