Everyone likes having a nice, smooth, newer machine as their daily driver. But what about an older, cheaper laptop, just for testing purposes? Say you want to try a new distro (and a VM won’t do, to see how it handles each piece of real hardware, including Bluetooth devices, and sneaking past real-world UEFI nastiness, on that first install).
Or, say you want to prototype running some new server service (like Nextcloud), before you do a “good copy” install in the cloud on a VPS (and keep the prototype still running on real hardware afterwards, to try upgrades on, before unleashing the same upgrade on the real VPS server, something which I actually do with Nextcloud, which I install from a “snap”).
It can be tricky to find laptops where everything “just works” in Linux. Many laptops mostly work, but then one thing or another doesn’t work. Say, the power management is still a bit buggy (when you sleep, and wake up the laptop), or say, the built-in SD Card reader doesn’t work.
Can anyone vet specific older laptops (say, 7-10 years old, definitely with at least an Intel i3 CPU, or AMD equiv.), as “just working”? Price range of, say, roughly between $300-$500 US on the used market, readily available.
BTW: I’m aware of using VMs for testing purposes, and there are great servers like ProxMox to run many VMs on a server, and I’ve also heard about PCI passthrough as well, but installing on real laptop hardware to me is a simple and effective way also, much more readily approachable by newbies.
This is also useful for newbies to Linux, who want a cheap, realistic-to-find-used machine where they can get their hands dirty, playing around with reckless abandon pretty much, without potentially threatening their existing Windows install, and workflow, and also avoiding the less-than-ideal situation of dual-booting.
I’ll go first. The Lenovo Thinkpad X230, or X220. With RAM and an SSD drive upgrade these still work great, if you use a lighter-weight distro.
There’s also a Coreboot installer for the X230. Extra flex points to be had there.