I’m going to be buying a laptop soon, and want to run Linux on it. Is there anything I should look for hardware-wise to make sure everything will work with Linux? I’m very new to this.
Sorry if there’s a thread I didn’t notice that I should be reading or posting this in instead.
Get as much Intel hardware as possible including NIC and Wifi, avoid any kind of switchable graphics except that bleeding edge hardware wont work as expected / have quirks.
Try to get a Intel based Wifi. I had a Lenovo once with a realtek Wifi, I had to find drivers for it via GitHub. It worked in the end but with each nuke and pave to distrohop, I find that I had to have the drivers in a USB nearby.
Like what @diizzy said, switchable graphics is a pain. I’ve heard of an nvidia bumblebee project but it looks dead with the last update on 2015-2016. Nvidia Optimus the Arch Wiki suggest things but since I dont have a laptop anymore, I wasn’t able to test it. You might want to go to AMD or maybe Intel with its integrated graphics or the new Xe graphics for a more smoother laptop experience.
Power management is a perennial issue in Linux and you may have to do manual tweaking if you want to squeeze more performance and/or switch the laptop operate in a more power efficient state.
If you also intend to do presentations in a connected screen (bigger monitor, projectors), take note that you may need to prepare far ahead of time and see how the projected screen behaves or if it can output at all. Also test to see what happens when you suspend the screen or if the power saving features kick in during presentation. See if your machine will wake up properly. Better yet, put it in a performance/always-on mode during the presentation so the screen wont bork.
Linux takes issues with a different screen sizes as well so there is that along with the problems mentioned above.
In the end, it could be workable, especially with the right distro. I would recommend a corporate backed distro like an Ubuntu or Fedora because they have the money to iron out issues. The rest is hit or miss and requires more than the entry level knowledge of the general workings of Linux.
I dual boot for work, on an msi gs76 stealth, SHITE for battery life on linux due to the aformentioned graphics problems, but awesome for gaming. Its also resonably light, and I have not had a problem with linux in the past 4 years on the last two msi stealth machines I’ve had. I say that as at first drivers were a pain for graphics but have gotten better over time.
If you want good battery life, do not get a GPU with the laptop, its just not a fun time.
Are you looking for new, or second hand? And what’s your use case (work, home, school, etc)?
If you take a common model and google for its " linux", you should find people talking about how well / badly it works. If you have issues on one distro (like Ubuntu), it can be worth trying a different distro (like Fedora). Ubuntu also have a certified database of hardware. Arch also has lots of information on their wiki, so it can be worth searching for "arch wiki ". Most of the info applies for all distros.
Generally I’ve had really good luck with lenovo T series, both newer and older versions. Buying a second hand business laptop like a T460 can be quite affordable if you don’t need latest specs.
If you’re looking at new Framework and System76 are probably the first choice for new laptops with official Linux support (But they are pricey). For other new laptops I’d generally expect Linux to run decently on most of them. If you find a laptop you like just look online for more info on it.