Need recommendations for Linux et.al. on laptop

I need to find a laptop to run (a) Red Hat Linux (b) Slackware Linux (c) BSDI (d) Solaris 2.5, in decreasing priority order.   I'm very Unix-literate,
but have very little Intel-based hardware knowledge.  I'd like to find a machine that has (1) a SCSI bus (2) a 10BaseT or other Ethernet port (3) 8-bit or possibly better graphics at the highest resolution I can afford (4) a
built-in CDROM drive and (5) swappable hard drives -- so that I can switch OS's by shovelling drives in and out.   Bonus if the keyboard has
the Control key where it ought to be (left of the "a" key).   What I'm looking
for are recommendations for off-the-shelf notebooks that fit this spec;
they don't have to be killer CPUs, just get the job done and be reasonably
reliable.    Converse recommendations are also useful (e.g. "don't buy X
because it doesn't run Red Hat Linux and won't soon") because they'll
prevent me from buying something I can't use.
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zonker031798Asked:
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JBURGHARDTCommented:
well go to www.pcworld.com and they test diffrent notebooks. any version of linux will run on any notbook and x-windows will run on any notebook with vga, Intel based notebooks don't use scsi bus only powerbook from aple. You have to buy scsi pc card and also 10T based network pc card
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jeffa072897Commented:
I took your question to one of our product managers for his input.
Where I work we re-sell PC's and notebooks.
I know ours runns Linux, not sure on BSDI, Solaris/Intel worked sort of at release 2.4. What Solaris had trouble with is PCMCIA, and even their supposed supported hardware can be cranky.

The laptops have 3 PCMCIA slots so you can have ethernet in one, and modems, etc in the other. I thinh there is a model with a scsi buss (that's why I asked the product manager) and also easy to remove IDE drive.
The graphics definatly runs XFree86 in 16 colors and I'm sure it will run better, I just have never taken the time to do so.
The CDROM is built in and NOT mutuially exclusive with the floppy, as some laptops are.

It's the same machine I use for LAN troubleshooting on the road that currently dual boots DOS/Win3.1 and Slckware.

If you want more details email me @ jeffa@conres.com


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jclfCommented:
A Thinkpad with CSC's PCMCIA SCSI card and an Ethernet card should fit the bill: swappable disks, a CD-ROM, and the one I'm using is 1024x768 by 8 bit graphics.
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zonker031798Author Commented:
Let me try to clarify my question -- jclf's answer is close
to what I'm looking for, but I need somewhat more detail.

As I said, I'm not familiar with PC hardware: to give you
an idea of how new it is to me, I had to do some legwork to
find out that IBM makes the Thinkpad.  So what I need is
something rather specific, like:

IBM Thinkpad model X with options Y and Z and video ABC
PCMIA card Foo from Blah Industries (SCSI)
PCMIA card Fubar from Bletch Industries (10BasetT)

and so on.  In other words, Linux folk, I'm looking for something
that I can use to go shopping, compare prices, etc.  Sorry to
be so picky, but this is really what I need: I can't afford
to make a $2K+ mistake and wind up with a laptop that doesn't
meet my needs.

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jclfCommented:
Here's a cheap way in Thinkpads:

IBM Thinkpad 380D: $1299 (http://www.warehouse.com/oasis/bin/catproduct.dll?product_id=149475&level=2).
 - CPU:150MHz Pentium
 - CACHE: 256K Level 2
 - RAM:16MB (Exp to 80MB)
 - Battery: NiMH 2.2hrs (Li-ion optional)
 - HDD:1.35GB
 - FLOPPY: 1.44MB
 - CD-ROM:8X
 - DISPLAY:12.1" DSTN
 - PCMCIA: 2 Type II, 1 Type III
 - PORTS: S/EPP, Mouse/Keyboard, SVGA, IR, ZV, Audio I/O,  - Port Replicator
 - KEYBOARD: Full size 85-key palm rest track point(w/quickstop finger control)
 - WEIGHT: 7.11lbs.
 - SIZE: 11.8" x 9.2" x 2.4"
 - WARRANTY: 1 Yr. Ltd.

CSC PCMCIA SCSI-2 Controller (CSCPCMCIA): $129 (http://www.corpsys.com/, seach for CSCPCMCIA in the 'General Search' section)
 - PCMCIA SCSI II controller

Connector specs are not given on page, but CSC has every type of SCSI cable you could want. Note you can't string out to 7 external devices, sadly: bound may be as low as 2. CSC is also a good source of cheap external SCSI devices & will mail you catalogs ~quarterly.

Ethernet card: I suggest
3Com EtherLink III: $129.95 (http://www.warehouse.com/oasis/binpublic/catproduct.dll?product_id=3485)
 - 10BT

Now, this Thinkpad is _not_ (AFAIAA) an 'Ultrabay' (which means 'user swappable disk drives under the keyboard'). That needs a more expensive Thinkpad: but browse www.warehouse.com for appropriate configs. I have a Thinkpad 760XD which is Ultrabay, but may be out of your price range.

Also - you could save $1000 or so to spend on the laptop by going for FreeBSD (www.freebsd.org) instead of BSDI. Much the same, same history (from 386BSD out of Net/2, later integrate BSD lite to avoid ATT lawsuit), just free. Oh, and with full source, not all copyleft.

Got yer 100 points worth yet?

Have fun

J
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zonker031798Author Commented:
Thanks -- this was *exactly* what I was looking for,
and is *really* going to help me out a heck of a lot
in getting myself launched in this area.  100 points?
Let's make it 150.
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