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Thread: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

  1. #1
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    I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    Hello everyone, I am a long-time Windows user who wants to get started with Ubuntu. I actually quite like Windows 10 but privacy concerns and an interest in Ubuntu lead me to want to learn this system. I would like some recommendations on which computer would be best to buy. I want to install the new Ubuntu release in April. Pretty much every computer I look at comes pre-installed with Windows 10 which is unfortunate. I had a bad experience trying to set up a dual-boot with Windows 10, so this time, I want to start with a new machine dedicated to Ubuntu but I don't like having to mess about with Windows to do it (shutting off boot protection and all that nonsense). I watched a video wherein the advice was given to avoid AMD processors for Linux. Is this true? Are there any specific recommendations for which processors are ideal for Ubuntu? I will be doing simple internet browsing, email, YouTube videos, watching movies, and maybe some photo editing. No games. Nothing very high-level, but still I want a snappy performance.

  2. #2
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    First of all, I'm a noob as well, welcome to the world away from windows. I have a lenovo ideapad 320, and played hell installing dual boot with lubuntu 18.04. I have seen people with issues with other models of lenovo as well, so I would recommend not using one. I have seen adds and references to manufacturers selling fully set up and running computers with linux based os installed. Pick your distro and they will install and get everything running, then it's like the out-of-the-box windows, just set your preferences and do a little fine tuning....and enjoy. Good luck on your search, I wish you luck. And, by the way, I installed lubuntu 18.04 and lubuntu 19.10 about 5 weeks ago, and I have'nt booted into windows in over a week now. It's a bit of learning but I feel it's worth it.
    I'm a firm believer that the only stupid question is the one you don't ask.
    Lenovo ideapad320-15iap, 1.1G Intel processor with onboard graphics, x64, 1TB hard drive,
    8GB ram, currently multi boot windows 10, lubuntu 18.04.4 and lubuntu 19.10

  3. #3
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    Welcome.

    A lot to unpack for a first post...

    Good news is that if you avoid the very cheap very entry-level Intel BayTrail and CherryTail class (if they're still around) and go just one tier higher, Intel or AMD, you find everything you need and some more for simple internet browsing, email, YouTube videos, watching movies, and maybe some photo editing. And some not very demanding games, why not?

    Preinstalled Windows, not a problem. But if you want preinstalled Ubuntu you have options but not as many. Most laptops are very easy, trivial I dare say, to install a dual-boot, especially in the entry-level no mucking about with Nvidia or AMD dGPUs that is more than enough for the needs you expressed in the post. Any Intel Celeron or AMD APU based cheap laptop with a 256GB can run a Windows + Ubuntu dual-boot comfortably.

  4. #4
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    Can get a computer with pre-installed Linux or a computer without a OS installed. Intel does seem to play nicer with Linux. I would go with hardware that is at least a year old, instead of brand new hardware that just came out. I have had good luck with Acer(2) and a refurb Dell(needed bios adjustments for install). Check the software that you use/need on Windows can be used/have alternatives on Linux. Photoshop does not work well on Linux, but there are good alternatives like Gimp and others. Should also check prices of refurb computers, can usually get more bang for your dollar.

  5. #5
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    Welcome to the forums, polar-bear-8,

    My usual recommendation for people new to Ubuntu and who ask your question is: install Ubuntu into a VM and run it from within your Windows machine. Yes, I realize that you are willing to make the jump into Ubuntu with both feet, but I've seen so many people become disillusioned by the newness of the OS and then fall back to Windows over the years, that I've formulated the above recommendation instead.

    From within a VM, you will be able to comfortably familiarize yourself with Ubuntu without pressure. More importantly, you will not have to give up functionality that you have grown used to—and perhaps even take for granted—while still educating yourself in something that can seem very different. Just as importantly, breaking your Ubuntu installation within a VM is a non-issue because you can undo your mistake by simply rolling back to a working snapshot. Last but not least, this allows you to purchase a Windows machine and not have to convert it to Linux until you are good and ready. It should be you who sets the pace, not have the pace set by external circumstances.

    There are a number of free VMs that will run on Windows. Since Ubuntu is a free download, it shouldn't cost you a penny to implement the above.

  6. #6
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    Any Intel or AMD CPU over $50 will be fine. Whoever said to avoid AMD had a different agenda. I would suggest staying away from newly released hardware, say anything first released in the last 6-12 months. Since HW vendors don't often test with any Linux, it takes some time for volunteers to get new hardware working in the kernel. An AMD Ryzen costing about $80-$140 would be crazy fast and not break most budgets.

    But why get new hardware at all? You can learn Ubuntu by running it inside a VM. I think that is the best way to start, since running in a VM removes almost all hardware compatibility problems. Virtual HW is almost always to most compatible there is with excellent drivers. Plus, you won't need to struggle to get wifi or bluetooth or GPU drivers to work just by choosing bad hardware or not knowing how to tweak motherboard settings to get the best/fastest RAM support possible.

    Running inside a VM to learn only costs the disk storage - so 15G - 25G is usually all someone new would need. If you only want to run Ubuntu server, you can start with much less storage since there isn't any GUI or GUI-bloat. A VM host doesn't need to be any great power. I've used carefully selected chromebooks, so chances are that your current machine can easily work as the VM host.

    Wasting over $60 total just to watch movies/youtube isn't something I'd do. I have a few raspberry pis and a $50 tablet for those distractions.

    Snappy performance is easily achievable from a VM, using most of the non-Gnome3 based Ubuntu versions. The GUI isn't the OS. Never forget that. There are 50+ different GUIs. Each work fine, just a personal preference.

    Spend a few months using a VM, see how it goes. See if you like it. Just for reference, I've run 15 virtual machines concurrently on a Core2 Duo with a $40 nVidia GPU. Worked great! Upgraded that machine to a 1st generation Core i5, ran over 20 VMs concurrently on it for almost a decade. Migrated most of those VMs to an AMD Ryzen 2600 about a year ago.

    Don't expect your Windows knowledge to transfer more than about 20% to Linux. That will be the hardest change. Usually, the way to accomplish something on Windows is not the most efficient method, so thinkingi a little different will take some time to get the hang of Linux. That isn't to say that you can't just point-n-click most of the time, but that does you and your computer a disservice. 80% of the power in computing comes from NOT using a mouse and my having the computer do what you want before you need it.

  7. #7
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    Quote Originally Posted by polar-bear-8 View Post
    I watched a video wherein the advice was given to avoid AMD processors for Linux. Is this true?
    No. Not true. Nonsense from a fanboy.

    AMD brought the first 64 bit processors and instruction set to the consumer market. That's why you'll still often see references to AMD64.

    I have both Intel and AMD CPUs as well as a variety of GPUs. As said, stay away from the very latest cutting edge hardware, as it takes OEMs/the Linux community a while to get Linux drivers out. The OEMs aren't stupid and they know that 97% of the market is something other than Linux. They'll spend their time first where the money is.
    Last edited by QIII; March 11th, 2020 at 03:47 AM.
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  8. #8
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    The 'buy new hardware' approach is part of the Windows tradition but using Buntu you can begin with any kind of old gear you have around. 12 years age is no problem.
    https://ubuntuforums.org/showthread.php?t=1543006
    Bringing old hardware back to life. About problems due to upgrading.
    Please visit Quick Links -> Unanswered Posts.
    Don't use this space for a list of your hardware. It only creates false hits in the search engines.

  9. #9
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    The "avoid AMD" may have been said in relation to GPUs, not CPUs, and there used to be some truth to this. But things have changed recently and AMD graphics seem to work quite well these days.

    Having Windows preinstalled doesn't have to be a problem. You can always wipe it. True, you paid for the license so that money is wasted if you go that route, but if you won't use Windows, there's no reason to keep it, even if you spent money on it. You can buy a computer without an OS or with Linux preinstalled, but it may not be much cheaper.

    If you only want your computer for "simple internet browsing, email, YouTube videos, watching movies, and maybe some photo editing," there's no need for a brand new computer. Any ten-year-old laptop will do (assuming you increase RAM to the max).

  10. #10
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    Re: I want to buy a new computer for Ubuntu (Beginner)

    Hello OP,
    I was in your situation two years ago with similar requirements. I began by buying a six year old HP Elitebook 8460p (no OS) with an early i5 plus 8gb Ram and 240gb ssd. I installed Ubuntu 16.04 LTS ( since updated to 18.04.04). As Ubuntu is lightweight this runs very fast and apart from the screen resolution it covers all my needs.
    I read a lot beforehand, but as with most things, working with it is the best teacher.
    Such was the success my wife bought an eight year old Lenovo 230i for £150 (no OS) with 8gb ram and 240gb SSD, and I fitted an IPS screen (£35- for better Flickr visuals) and taught her the basics. Success all round and we are both in our seventies!
    Sure, go ahead a buy a posh computer but our way proved cheap to get started and learn.
    Last edited by pantazi; March 11th, 2020 at 12:12 PM.

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