[talk] FreeBSD laptop advice

Brian Reynolds nycbug-talk at reynolds.users.panix.com
Thu Oct 8 14:13:20 EDT 2020

As luck would have it my laptop died at the beginning of Stay At Home.

I'm looking for advice on a laptop to buy that will run FreeBSD
RELEASE.  I know about the FreeBSD wiki Laptop page, and NYC BUG's
dmesg site, but I'm hoping to hear additional real world experience
from folks running FreeBSD as their daily machine.

This laptop will mostly be used for web browsing, command line email,
and administrating my home network.  I expect to boot ZFS (hence
FreeBSD), and tinker with virtualbox, jails, and maybe bhyve, but I
have a desktop for any heavy lifting.

I want an IPS display with a resolution of at least 1920x1080.  I'd
prefer a 15-inch display, but might settle for 13-inch.  I need
wireless to work.  The whole point is to be able to take the laptop
around the house, and not be stuck in my computer room.  I also want
suspend/resume to work.

I don't care if bluetooth works.  I guess if the trackpad is crappy
enough I'd use a wireless mouse, but I don't mind using a Logitech
mouse with one of their non-bluetooth USB dongles.  I really want a
three button mouse/trackpad, so I could wind up with a wireless mouse
even if the trackpad is OK.  Integrated graphics are fine.  It would
be nice if it's user upgradable, but I don't mind soldered RAM and
storage so long as I know in advance, and can change my configuration
when purchasing.

My older daughter has a Dell Latitude 5490 from school that I know
does not work (at least with FreeBSD 12.1-RELEASE).  Dell also has
Modern Standby (hibernation) issues with the XPS line.  (At least
under Windows 10 closing your Dell XPS 9570 and then putting it into a
bag will void your warranty.

I've heard good things about Lenovo, especially the Thinkpad X1
Carbon.  However it looks like their current wifi is not supported on
FreeBSD.  Lenovo recently announced support for Linux on all their
machines, but their website only lists four models, and of course
Linux support doesn't mean FreeBSD works.

I would prefer to buy a new, current model so that I can get warranty
service for the hardware if needed.

I really don't want to pay more than what a Mac Book Pro costs.

If new machines aren't well supported, what specific used machines do
people recommend?

How about a suggestion as to where to buy other than Amazon, Micro
Center, or Newegg?  I've used them before, but maybe I'm overlooking a
better place.  I'd love to find a place that I could walk into, and
plug in my FreeBSD USB stick to test the hardware, but online is OK.
The places I've gone to lock the machines down, and won't let you boot
your own OS.

Other than ebay and Craig's List, where are good places to find used
machines in good condition?

So does anyone have any suggestions for a good daily laptop running

Brian Reynolds -- reynolds at panix.com
"Long ago, it was the way of my people to travel to the Moon.  My people
travelled to the Moon in a ship called 'Apollo.' I tell the story of Apollo
in the hope that some day, my people will again travel to the Moon." P. Alway

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