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macbook123
Jun 10, 2010, 07:40 AM
After waiting for over a year for a MBA update, I really don't want to lug my 17" MBP around anymore and also am becoming more and more convinced that the MBA is being phased out by Apple (I don't really know why, because I see lots of MBA's around, but perhaps I don't have a good overview?).

Linux used to be my main OS and I'm planning to use this opportunity to go back. I'm sure many here have thought about MBA alternatives before. Can you help me out with suggestions for a lightweight laptop WITHOUT optical drive that will run Linux?

Thanks in advance.



miles01110
Jun 10, 2010, 07:45 AM
http://www.linux-netbook.com/

MEJ
Jun 10, 2010, 09:08 AM
http://www.adamobydell.com/

gglockner
Jun 10, 2010, 04:45 PM
Andamo? Netbook? Sorry, both of these are slower and less powerful than a MBA.

Don't get me wrong - I use Linux daily and would love to have a Linux laptop with the power and design of a MBA. Unfortunately, laptops are a bag of hurt. Laptops often ship with non-mainstream hardware with little or no Linux drivers. And you'll have to choose between power or size. Finally, the sleeker laptops like Sony don't ship without Windows, so you're wasting time and money if you plan to run the laptop solely with Linux.

I'd look towards either one of the few Dell models with Linux preinstalled (and therefore with the proper drivers). Or I'd look at an independent system builder like System76 or Puget Systems. None of these will be as sleek as a MBA or an Adamo, but you'll have a working computer, and isn't that what it's all about?

MEJ
Jun 10, 2010, 05:12 PM
OP asked for "a lightweight laptop WITHOUT optical drive that will run Linux."

Pretty sure the Adamo fits that bill.

Scottsdale
Jun 10, 2010, 05:13 PM
Dell has the v13 with Linux installed for $449. Amazingly, it has an ExpressCard slot, optical drive, and aluminum case. Has 2 GB RAM, 250 GB HDD, and 2 USB ports. In addition has 13" WLED backlit display and full-sized keyboard. Can upgrade CPU to C2D and RAM to 4 GB. Same design as Adamo with a basic aluminum case instead of designer exterior.

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/topic.aspx/us/segments/bsd/vostro-v13?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd

Dell also has the Adamo which has up to 2.13 GHz CPU just like the MBA. In addition, it accepts 4 GB RAM! It has designer metal cases, and similar specs to the MBA. Starts at $999 with MBA like specs.

http://www.dell.com/content/topics/topic.aspx/global/products/adamo/topics/en/us/bsd/adamo-onyx?c=us&cs=04&l=en&s=bsd

I also like the LG X300 which has an 11" display but is really nice and thin... beautiful design.

Of course there's the Vaio Z or even the X.

I like several Asus, HP, Gateway, and more. There is a Gateway with specs like an MBP only it has BluRay and comes in at $699. There is a lot of value out there in the less than $1000 range especially if you're content with Linux. I see $400 laptops weekly in Best Buy's ad. I am always impressed with what $500 to $750 will buy on the PC side. It's really a much better value than these overpriced and seriously outdated Macs.

Good luck.

Let us know what you end up with.

gglockner
Jun 10, 2010, 05:53 PM
Yeah, good luck getting all the Adamo devices working correctly under Linux. See https://launchpad.net/%7Edell-adamo and you'll see what I'm talking about.

If you think laptop device driver is hell under Windows, go ahead and try Linux.

I'm not writing this to be critical about Linux, but rather to be critical about hardware vendors' lack of support for Linux hardware.

gglockner
Jun 10, 2010, 05:57 PM
One more thing: it's hard to compare the Dell Vostro V13 with the MacBook Air. The Vostro V13 costs half what the MacBook Air costs, but it is a much, much slower computer. You get what you pay for.

elppa
Jun 10, 2010, 06:07 PM
I'd say X201/X301 from Lenovo would fit the bill.

As a bonus from what I have seen people seem to be able to get everything going (with regards to drivers) on ThinkPad.

Scottsdale
Jun 10, 2010, 06:30 PM
I'd say X201/X301 from Lenovo would fit the bill.

As a bonus from what I have seen people seem to be able to get everything going (with regards to drivers) on ThinkPad.

I left those out and they're most certainly the business standard in ultimate ultraportability. If I was going to determine the best writer's notebook ever, it's the Lenovo X301 over the MBA. The Lenovo has the better keyboard and much better higher resolution display. However, the MBA is incredibly beautiful with a much better industrial design made from much superior aluminum. If I were going to give up my MBA for a PC, I would be happy to move to the Lenovo X301. As wonderful as the performance is in the Vaio Z, it fails to compare in design or thinness to either the Lenovo or MBA.

MEJ
Jun 11, 2010, 08:10 AM
Yeah, good luck getting all the Adamo devices working correctly under Linux. See https://launchpad.net/%7Edell-adamo and you'll see what I'm talking about.

All I can gather from that link is that a little manual intervention is necessary to make the HDA Intel audio chipset work.

Vostro v13 looks like a nice piece of kit as well, and as Scottsdale pointed out, is available with Linux pre-installed.

Disavowed
Jun 11, 2010, 10:43 AM
Dell Adamo no longer available with 2.1 GHZ, 4Gs of RAM and 256 SSD.

They are currently only selling base configuration, which is inferior to Air specs. Throw in OSX and and it's a no brainer. NO THANK YOU!

MEJ
Jun 11, 2010, 11:05 AM
Dell Adamo no longer available with 2.1 GHZ, 4Gs of RAM and 256 SSD.

They are currently only selling base configuration, which is inferior to Air specs. Throw in OSX and and it's a no brainer. NO THANK YOU!

Again, the OP only asked for "suggestions for a lightweight laptop WITHOUT optical drive that will run Linux," not "suggestions for a laptop that's equal to or better than an MBA."

Yes, the base configuration Adamo is the only one that appears to be available at the moment.

Regarding the specs, the MBA has a faster processor but a much slower conventional hard disk. The Adamo has two the USB ports and ethernet, whereas the MBA has one USB port...unless you need to be wired to a network and then it has none. MBA has a better GPU.

But the Adamo is also two-thirds the price of the base config MBA. OP wants to run Linux, not OS X.

"No brainer" you say? =)

Scottsdale
Jun 11, 2010, 11:27 AM
Dell Adamo no longer available with 2.1 GHZ, 4Gs of RAM and 256 SSD.

They are currently only selling base configuration, which is inferior to Air specs. Throw in OSX and and it's a no brainer. NO THANK YOU!

Worked just fine for me...

2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor

Add with it Windows 7 and 4X the performance for watching HD Videos and Flash, and it's a BIG THANK YOU!

I actually feel like most haven't tried Windows 7 for them to bash it. When it comes to entertainment on computer, Windows 7 is a big advantage over OS X. I boot into Windows 7 on my MBA, and the differences for watching HD graphics, Flash, and anything OpenGL are incredible. I even believe the Intel GMA HD would be fine if one is running Windows 7. OS X is so far behind when it comes to graphics. Hopefully Apple will continue to think about its Mac users while it's focusing on iOS. Recently Apple opened up the low-level API access for h.264 which will help Flash and third-party HD playback apps.

The only disadvantage Windows has is the virus situation. That is easily overcome by watching what one does or blocking ability to install .exe files without accepting a password. Other than that there are small interface advantages to OS X and Windows 7 use depending on the exact tasks. I would say the disadvantages of Windows are quickly outweighed when considering the application availability/compatibility on the Windows platform.

Apple is going to have to really work on OS X 10.7 to ensure they innovate again. Right now, Windows 7 has caught up with OS X 10.6. Apple needs to focus its energy on OS X 10.7 once it releases this iOS update to v 4. Apple's competitive advantage of OS X over Windows is a big reason why it can sell Mac computers for 3X as much money as a PC with the same components. Apple also is going to have to innovate with its next release of Macs. Apple's recent MBPs sadly showed no innovation over PC counterparts. In the past, whenever Apple updated the MBPs there was something new and innovative not offered by PCs. With this latest update, Apple showed nothing innovative which shocked me. Apple still makes about half of its net income from Macs, and I hope they focus on improving OS X and the Macs that run OS X very soon.

Disavowed
Jun 11, 2010, 04:51 PM
Worked just fine for me...

2.13 GHz Core 2 Duo Processor

Add with it Windows 7 and 4X the performance for watching HD Videos and Flash, and it's a BIG THANK YOU!



I meant NO thanks about the Adamo, not the MBA!

Truth be told, I would be willing to pony up with only two upgrades: 4Gs of RAM and 256 SSD. Keep everything else the same and save me a spot in line.

Scotts, I am glad you shared the ease and efficacy of your experience with W7 and the MBA. That has been a concern of many and I think you do a good job of elucidating the pros and how well it works.

macbook123
Jun 12, 2010, 07:25 AM
Thanks all, especially Scottsdale for the list of choices. I missed the Dell v13 in my own search and it sounds appealing (in particular because of the Ubuntu pre-install, assuring that drivers for all hardware components exist). However, solo core and lack of SSD make it much slower than the MBA indeed.

That brings me to the Adamo, for which Linux compatibility seems to be a problem, or the X301, for which I'll have to look into Linux compatibility. Main problem I have with the Lenovo is its insane price.

Let me know if you have any further thoughts on this. I'll keep you posted on my decision progress...

It's just really puzzling to me that Apple is missing this market. It's clearly the future of laptops to get rid of the optical drive, however the MBA is so outdated, mostly because of the lack of high-res display and >2 GB of RAM.

macbook123
Jun 12, 2010, 08:30 AM
And Scottsdale, I also really appreciated your comment about Windows 7 vs OS X. Worth looking into. This article might as well have explicitly mentioned the lack of Air and Mac Pro updates:

http://www.newsweek.com/blogs/techtonic-shifts/2010/06/08/does-apple-s-iphone-4-signal-the-death-of-the-macintosh.html

MEJ
Jun 12, 2010, 08:36 AM
That brings me to the Adamo, for which Linux compatibility seems to be a problem

Did a quick Google search for "adamo linux" and read a few hits. Compatability doesn't seem to be an issue. The only issues I can seem to find have to do with the microphone, and that's resolvable.

Good luck, and cheers!

Scottsdale
Jun 12, 2010, 09:24 AM
Thanks all, especially Scottsdale for the list of choices. I missed the Dell v13 in my own search and it sounds appealing (in particular because of the Ubuntu pre-install, assuring that drivers for all hardware components exist). However, solo core and lack of SSD make it much slower than the MBA indeed.

That brings me to the Adamo, for which Linux compatibility seems to be a problem, or the X301, for which I'll have to look into Linux compatibility. Main problem I have with the Lenovo is its insane price.

Let me know if you have any further thoughts on this. I'll keep you posted on my decision progress...

It's just really puzzling to me that Apple is missing this market. It's clearly the future of laptops to get rid of the optical drive, however the MBA is so outdated, mostly because of the lack of high-res display and >2 GB of RAM.

You can upgrade to a Core 2 Duo CPU and 4 GB RAM on the v13. I believe it's an extra $200 for C2D and another $175 to go to 4 GB on the RAM.

There's also the same computer in the Latitude class with more options for a little more money. Either are going to have the exact same Linux/Ubuntu drivers as they're the same components. It is a lot nicer as the Vostro is essentially the "small business" model.

Latitude 13 is $609 with a C2D upgrade and Linux Ubuntu version. They allow you to upgrade absolutely everything on it to spend as much as you want, LOL. Sorta what Apple needs to do with the MBA.

http://configure.us.dell.com/dellstore/config.aspx?oc=blcw13n&c=us&l=en&s=bsd&cs=04&kc=latitude-13

From Dell there's a much nicer option but the price is higher.

Dell Latitude E4310. Weighs 3.4 lb. They are much nicer and their "executive" ultraportable class. They have Core i5 CPUs, but they're charging a pretty penny for these things. About $1100 low-end and goes up from there. These are really nice. The build quality stunned me when I saw one recently.

http://www.dell.com/us/en/business/notebooks/latitude-e4310/pd.aspx?refid=latitude-e4310&s=bsd&cs=04

There's also the Latitude Z if money is no object.

The thing to remember is Ubuntu is installable on the higher priced versions with faster processors and etc. They all have the same components so you can download Linux drivers for every Dell.

gglockner
Jun 12, 2010, 09:27 AM
It's just really puzzling to me that Apple is missing this market. It's clearly the future of laptops to get rid of the optical drive, however the MBA is so outdated, mostly because of the lack of high-res display and >2 GB of RAM.

My prediction is that the MacBook Air will eventually be discontinued, and the MacBook/MacBook Pro will drop the internal optical drive and become thinner and lighter. It won't be as thin and light as a MacBook Air, but it will be a more powerful machine. In other words, it will be a hybrid of the current MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

This is pure speculation on my part. I have no insider information about this. It's just an educated guess.

As long as I'm guessing, I expect this redesign will happen in fall 2010. This is the typical timeframe for a notebook refresh, and it will be close to the time that Intel will put the Core 2 Duo on end-of-life.

gglockner
Jun 12, 2010, 09:30 AM
The thing to remember is Ubuntu is installable on the higher priced versions with faster processors and etc. They all have the same components so you can download Linux drivers for every Dell.

Voila. This is why a Linux user should select one of these computers and not trying to make Linux work on an arbitrary laptop.

Scottsdale
Jun 12, 2010, 10:06 AM
My prediction is that the MacBook Air will eventually be discontinued, and the MacBook/MacBook Pro will drop the internal optical drive and become thinner and lighter. It won't be as thin and light as a MacBook Air, but it will be a more powerful machine. In other words, it will be a hybrid of the current MacBook Pro and the MacBook Air.

This is pure speculation on my part. I have no insider information about this. It's just an educated guess.

As long as I'm guessing, I expect this redesign will happen in fall 2010. This is the typical timeframe for a notebook refresh, and it will be close to the time that Intel will put the Core 2 Duo on end-of-life.

I just have to disagree. Apple is a mobility electronics company. I believe an MBA is powerful enough for just about any MB user. Therefore, why would Apple EOL the most mobile Mac that actually runs OS X? It just doesn't make sense. Apple could go a few different directions, but I see the iPad and iPhone as selling more MBAs and less MBs. People want to be extremely mobile, and many people want OS X. Apple is going to sell more and more Macs just by selling more iPads and iPhones.

If Apple just upgrades the MBA to 4 GB RAM and a 180 GB HDD in the low-end version, Apple could sell a ton of them. If Apple actually makes a high-end version with an Arrandale CPU and discrete GPU, as rumored, I believe Apple could sell MBAs to would be MBP buyers. There is a gigantic price range potential in the MBAs. People that are new to Apple's Macs, which as many as 50% of in-store customers are, will see more value in portability.

I feel like there's more room for more MBAs, more options on those MBAs, and multiple potential strategies. Sure, the MB/MBP will get thinner without optical drives, but some users want 10-hour batteries which don't happen in ultraportables without killing the GPU. Whenever Apple uses the MBA "styling" on the MB/MBP, it will further "Airize" the MBA. There's always more room for a more ultraportable Mac that runs OS X.

I believe Apple is equally abandoning innovation on all Macs and OS X users across the board in the short-term. Apple only upgraded the MBP after eleven months because sales were slipping on that model. We can all tell that reading forum threads. Apple is still selling more Macs year over year, because it updates one Mac to encourage sales. The iMac updates late last year were substantial, and I am certain that and consistent MB sales kept numbers high. Apple left the MBA and Mac Pro unchanged because it simply hasn't had the time with the iOS products and focus on software. It is a cycle. Apple isn't going to stop making Macs and the end of the Macs are nowhere in sight. Apple might sell more iPads and more iPhones, and over half its revenues might be iProducts... but half its net income is still from Macs. Bottom line, Apple makes a heck of a lot more money selling a MacBook Pro than selling an iPod Touch or iPad.

Apple absolutely must focus on iOS products as they're rapidly growing markets with new users selecting iPhone over the competition. Same thing with the iPad. Once these markets stop growing so rapidly, Apple will tend to focus on each more equally. Right now it makes business sense for Apple to try to grow the iProduct markets and capture as much market share as possible. It is incredibly more difficult to get an Android/Windows 7/Blackberry user to switch to an iPhone than to just get the users to select the iPhone with their first smartphone purchase. Same goes for iPad over other tablet devices which are all failing miserably to date.

It sucks being a Mac user right now. But in the long-run, Mac users will get their products back in the spotlight. For now, Apple can grow the Mac sales just by selling more iProducts and getting those users used to the "Apple Ways." Apple will not abandon the Mac users, so everyone needs to calm down and get these bogus dark fantasies/nightmares out of their heads. When I look at it from a business standpoint, Apple is absolutely doing the right thing. As a Mac user, the right thing isn't very fun right now... but Mac users will have their day again. I believe Apple will make big changes to Macs in the next 18 months. Apple has some great iProducts that can really compete well and absorb new-to-market users over the next year. I suspect not just new great MBPs, but also new great MBAs and other Macs too. Something innovative and incredible is definitely in the works for Macs, and I suspect all of the "End of Days" stories about Macs will disappear. A little over a year ago the iMac was really old and outdated, and Apple gave it a marginal update in Early 2009. Well it was basically a "bump." In Late 2009, Apple gave the iMac the "real" update... and the 27" iMac was stunning. I suspect the same scenario with the next MBP updates... and MBAs thereafter.

One last bit of hope. Apple has successfully implemented every "option" people have expected in iPhones since the beginning. The forward-facing camera is there. The LED-flash is there for a much nicer camera. The retina display is amazing. The design is incredible. The battery life is better. This is an iPhone that has been innovated tremendously and doesn't have much more possibilities in the next year. There's nothing people want now that the iPhone doesn't have. People on Android forums are wanting the forward-facing cameras and gyroscopes in their Android smartphones now. Apple has the successful phone design with all of the parts buyers want. Apple may only have a tiny update next year. If we think about it, the iPhone has what everyone wanted. Apple will be able to triple current sales with this exact iPhone once it gets it on Verizon. There's talk of T-Mobile and Sprint too. Apple will not need to add or update anything to sell on these other networks. Verizon's 4G is potentially (rumored) going to be introduced later this year with a new iPhone. That means Apple is already done all of the work for extreme innovation on the iPhone for probably the next year at least. Apple will focus some time on the next iPad version, but it's going to have a lot of time to re-focus its resources on OS X 10.7 and the entire Mac lineup... I believe us Mac users will see big rewards in our long waits. I feel like MBA users, MBP users, and all of the other Mac users will see some big Mac news over the next twelve to eighteen months.

gglockner
Jun 12, 2010, 11:08 AM
I just have to disagree.

And so do I. The ultraportable market has never been mainstream. Remember the Powerbook Duo? Or the Thinkpad 701 with the Butterfly keyboard? These are cool designs that did not go mainstream.

The future of the ultraportables is in the iPad. As much as I love my MacBook Air (and I believe you do based on your many and lengthy posts), I think the future is in the iPad plus taking the best ideas of the Air to the mainstream MacBook Pro line.