Getting into linux: Questions about linux compatibility on laptops, what distro to choose, and where to start

I am looking to get a laptop just so I can mess around with linux. I would use it on my desktop but I want to get familiar with it on something different at first. I hear there can be compatibility issues from some articles I have seen online. Is there anyway to check for compatibility problems? The laptop I am interested in buying is the Acer Aspire E15. It is pretty cheap and I was going to try to put an m.2 ssd in it. Bottom line I am looking for something 400$ and under so I can try to get into linux. Also are there any recommendations on what distro of linux I should try out? I am very familar with hardware but very unfamilar with software. Last question would be where to start to learn. Thanks for your time.

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Not exactly sure about the compatability, but most distros work out of the box for laptops( WiFi issues are common though)

You'll have to find a disro that suits your needs and the best way to do that is to disro hop for about a month, and eventually you'll settle for the right distro for you. When you install your first distro, allocate different partition for your root and home directory, that way when you want to install another distro, just install the root directory and you'll still retain all your data.

The best way I know learn more is to read books (Linux The Complete Reference and Linux Kernel Development) and just mess around with things.


they main to watch out for is wifi.
Avoid broadcom. others are ok-ish and intel are preferred.

The distro does not matter.

Mint is a good starter
fedora is good for something that just works
ubuntu has very good out-of-box experince but tends to break


Is it realistic to find a laptop with intel Wifi, product price points vs. profit is shaved so thin. The majority of the users would never notice the difference. So they go cheap. Would it be easier to find a laptop with a swappable wifi card?

I would also suggest sticking to a laptop that just has integrated graphics because dedicated gpu's can be a bit of a hassle to get setup. As for laptops with good compatibility Dell seams to be pretty good they used to ship with Linux on them.

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for a rule of thumb its if not common linux laptops i would do some research first. with ubuntu you should be fine. dell/ thinkpads usually have alot of community support

my experience with acer's if you are buying it brand new for $400 you can get a nice i5/i7 thinkpad for that price. look at the t/x line 2012-2015's


First off, congrats on taking the leap to try out Linux @12_stevo! Secondly, for trying out a distro, to echo @Dje4321, go for one of those three that you like the setup process and default DE by default. By no means, don't think that you are stuck with the setup as it is, change it around, break it, and then go back and fix it (Youtube, eBooks, etc. will all help you in that regard). Whichever route you end up going don't ever just stop after you ask your initial, feel free to PM me, or anyone else and we'll be glad to assist you. I'm sure even @wendell would love to have another person to lead on in this aspect as well.

  • AK

P.S. Again welcome to Linux!!


You can try out several distros in advance if you have a few spare ~4gb usb drives lying around. If you are on Windows, try Rufus to create the live media. Most distros can be booted and tried out via live USB without touching your system. Also Virtualbox is a good alternative though it's not realistic in terms of how the OS "feels", some things bug the hell out on VMs and some work slower.

I'll add Ubuntu MATE and SolusOS to your "distros to try" list.

Mate is imho the best ubuntu spin out there, even for newcomers. Already out of the box you can go to "Mate Tweak" and change the whole layout of the panels to suit your preferences (make it more like windows or mac or other desktops). It's also a good option for lower end hardware, over the somewhat bloated unity (the default desktop environment of Ubuntu)

Solus is a bit more obscure, but it's really promising. It's stupid fast and well documented. Besides forums/IRC are great resources when you are in trouble. The only downside is that there are less guides, tutorials since it's not as popular as mint, fedora ubuntu...


I would echo the Lenovo Thinkpad X and T series for the laptop. Heck on ebay you can find some really cheap that even have a touchscreen Thinkpad X230t $185. Just gotta look around.
I started on Ubuntu and Mint since they had nice graphical installers and simple setups, but didn't really start to understand more of the background stuff till I started using Arch since I had to set all of those things up my self. If you are looking to learn Linux, I would suggest Arch Linux. Heck even if you don't go with Arch check the wiki as it has some of the better documentation out there and will apply to anything using the same components.


hell, even have an older model! I'm still rocking my T60 with ubuntu mate and for basic browsing, note taking and TTY it's just great!

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I bought a cheap Lenovo and run CentOS on it. The wireless nic doesn't work and if I press the power button and put it in hibernate - when it wakes up the monitor won't turn on.

I bought a $19 USB wifi adapter and have to shut my computer down everytime I'm done with it.

A small price to pay to get free unix.

Avoid Broadcom Wnics unless you can verify they're supported. On the other hand I have an HP laptop with Ubuntu - works great and a Gateway netbook with lubuntu - works great.

Why use CentOS as your distro its more geared to a server distribution than a distribution for a laptop or a desktop.

The same stuff happend on Ubuntu with the wireless nic issues on that laptop. I already had an Ubuntu box so I installed CentOS and planned on using it as a host OS and running VMs on it (boot into CentOS - need to pentest? launch the Kali VM, developing? open the Fedora VM, need to throw together a virtual lab for ansible cluster testing? spin up a few cli CentOS boxes, general computing? Open up Ubuntu VM)

The goal is to have a lean host that hosts others that if I break - I can restore from snapshot or quickly make clones for testing while not effecting the host os.

It's been more than a year and sometimes the limited repos have bitten me in the ass, but it works well for me. I can do everything I need to on it.

Wouldn't recommend what I did to anyone else, though.

rather than build a massive list and workload, i'd suggest looking up Chris Were, AJ Reissig, and Don't call me Lenny. there are others, obviously, but these three i find to be the most efficient in how they present themselves. Linux Scoop is another useful channel for picking out DE's, as it's just a user going through various new versions when they release, set to music.

over all, i would recommend picking out a DE you like first, as a lot of distos will feature the same well-known ones, and it then becomes a question of what architecture you end up using. personally, i run Korora on my laptop, which is a remix of Fedora, but with all the annoying tanks Fedora makes you do on a new install [installing codecs, etc] already done. i just ran a system update to Korora 25 today, and there were absolutely no hangups or glitches.

Edit: i forgot to mention that i picked the Mate desktop environment , after years of shrugging it off. i couldn't be happier with how it functions.

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the new trackpads however need a little modifying for palm rejection. for some reason they come turned off

I wouldn't know, whenever I have the classic "nipple" joystick to control the pointer I turn the trackpad off

im not accurate at all with the nipple