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Dual boot Ubuntu middle-budget laptop for development

Posted on 2016-10-09
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Last Modified: 2016-11-22
Hello Experts.

I am looking for a laptop able to run dual boot Windows 10 / Ubuntu 16.

Requirements:
    The budget range is from $500 to $1700.
    CPU range is i5 - i7.
    SSHD >= 225 Gig.
    GPU >= GTX 940
    Sane heating, Ubuntu must have drivers not to run fans 100% crazy.
    RAM      8+ GB
    Display      15.6+
    The faster the better.

Nice to have:
    Able to have sane Ubuntu installation, possibly without disabling modern BIOS and
    without disabling BIOS security.
    Able to read Windows partition from Ubuntu. (We have HP PC with Wind 10 or 8, which prohibits this ).
    Computer model should be well established with big-and-positive feedback.
    NVIDIA GTX 1060 (If Ubuntu supports.)
    Non-glare ( Non Reflection ) display.
    Memory 16 Gig
    Able to install from common-Ubuntu-repository pack.
    We are afraid, Dell packs may have upgrade problems.
    Dell-certified to run normal Ubuntu, not Dellified-Ubuntu.
    Gigabit Eithernet, modern WiFi.

Less important
    DVD read

We found 3 PC but they are a bit scaring and here is why:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0161CFAQY/ref=pd_sbs_147_5?ie=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B0161BJG06&pd_rd_r=SMEGMHDF35Q5GBANE2V9&pd_rd_w=ZAyFR&pd_rd_wg=Tgjad&refRID=SMEGMHDF35Q5GBANE2V9&th=1
    $1,530
    Acer Predator 15 G9-591-70XR 15.6-inch Full HD Gaming Notebook (Windows 10)
    As PC it is probably the best, but nearly "dead" for Ubuntu. See one of the
    reviews ( with 3 starts there ).

This is a second in hardware quality:    
https://www.amazon.com/MSI-GE62VR-Apache-Pro-001-i7-6700HQ/dp/B01IO9Y3A6/ref=dp_ob_title_ce
        MSI VR Ready GE62VR Apache Pro-001 15.6" Powerful Gaming Laptop GTX 1060 i7-6700HQ 16GB 256GB M.2 SATA + 1TB Windows 10
        good feedback, 85%, modest-base;
        $1,533
        tunable on site
        Graphics Card: NVIDIA's Latest GeForce GTX 1060 8G GDDR5X
    Have no info about Ubuntu on it. The GPU may be too new for some one person make a driver for it.

This is more weaker PC:
https://www.amazon.com/Dell-Inspiron-15-6-Inch-Touchscreen-Laptop/dp/B01F7U5HQ4/ref=sr_1_22?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1476032008&sr=1-22&keywords=Dell+Inspiron+laptop
    Dell Inspiron 15 5000 Series 15.6-Inch FHD Touchscreen Laptop
        $1,629.00
 *       no feedback
 *       8GB Memory,
 *       AMD Radeon R5 M335 4GB, - much ?weaker
 *       6th Generation Intel Core i7-6500u 2.5 GHz Processor (4M Cache, up to 3.1 GHz Turbo Boost) -- ?weaker


And finally decent budget PC massively sold.
https://www.amazon.com/Acer-Aspire-NVIDIA-Windows-E5-575G-53VG/dp/B01F1Z78GM/ref=sr_1_1?s=pc&ie=UTF8&qid=1475959224&sr=1-1&keywords=acer%2Blaptop&th=1
    Acer Aspire E 15 E5-575G-53VG
    $600?
    Perhaps it will be more friendly for Ubuntu.

Side note:
The reason for Ubuntu is a productivity for Web/development and managing Linux network.
Ubuntu itself feels horrible because of waste of resources, destroyed gedit, nautilus, buggy nemo, non-compact gui for managing computer,
use of mouse (instead of keyboard-shortcuts, menus, and histories), but hopefully
I would be able to strip all stuff for kids, to install gnome3/2, KDE,
to strip candy-GUI-skins, and purge all executable and background processes.
I feel that no matter how modern hardware is, the software vendors always overload it making even typing
waiting and blocking a human thought.


Thank you.
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Question by:Bitlab
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11 Comments
 
LVL 90

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by:John Hurst
ID: 41836268
Able to read Windows partition from Ubuntu. (We have HP PC with Wind 10 or 8, which prohibits this ).

Dual Boot is (in my opinion) a strategy that died.

The best way to do this is with a Virtual Machine. I use VMware Workstation on an X230 Windows 10 Pro 64-bit host machine. I have several virtual machines and all can share files back and forth between host and guest (which is what you want).

EUFI BIOS is running and not affected in any way by having Ubuntu run.

Finally, you can run Ubuntu at the same time as Windows 10 is running (no dual booting required).

I see few if any drawbacks to the above approach and lots of advantages.
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Expert Comment

by:Maclean
ID: 41836270
I would not recommend any of the mentioned PC's, as they are not build for heavy processing/development. They are commercial range systems with the home user or average medium budget gamer in mind.

Would suggest you look at Dell ProBook or Dell Latitude range type laptops, which is more reliable (Better components often in business grade systems) and better performing generally for this type of work.

Keep in mind too that you can run linux bash shell inside Windows 10. You do not necessarily need to use Linux for that. However not 100% sure if there are limitations to the Bash Shell under Windows. (Alternatively you could run Wine on Linux so you can run Windows apps, but I never enjoyed Wine too much due to some complications with apps)

As for which model. Nearly any (if not all recent model systems will allow dual boot. Accessing the data cross platforms might be another issue due to security on both OS. Perhaps another EE can advise on this part. My main aim was to advise on bash running in Windows, and a more reliable type of system to conciser.
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by:jessbruffett
jessbruffett earned 125 total points
ID: 41836369
By in large I agree with John, if you need multiple OS’s its best to virtualize not dual boot. I also agree with Maclean on the quality of hardware your looking at in that it isn’t. Get a business grade laptop, Dell XPS, Latitude or Precision, Lenovo Thinkpad, HP ProBook, etc. Why do you need a GPU that powerful? Are you planning on playing games or are you doing 3d modeling? If it’s the later than an Nvidia Quadro or AMD FirePro would be better suited. Workstation and gaming graphics cards can venture into the other world but not effectively. If you want a gaming machine build a dedicated desktop. Also Maclean is right Windows 10 does have Bash but it’s nowhere near mature. It has many issues with programs that interface with the network such as ping and nmap… forget able it at this point. In the future im sure it will be fine but for now I recommend virtualizing a linux distro for anything linux specific. If all you need is say SSH, there are options for 3rd party command line package managers for powershell. Im using chocolatey. The git and unix tools package has given me most everything I miss from linux and its stable. But im a sysadmin and network security engineer not a dev so my needs and workflow are different from yours. But I hope this helps.
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by:rindi
ID: 41836468
Any laptop will run Linux (including Ubuntu, without any problems at all. Ubuntu uses signed media, so you can also install it on UEFI and Secure-boot enabled system. Besides that modern Linux distro's have excellent hardware support.
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by:Bitlab
ID: 41837293
Thank you very much.
I am researching your answers: as a brief notes:

1. "Dell ProBook or Dell Latitude range type laptops"
at given budget they seems miles behind PCs i put in question text? ( CPUs < 6700HQ, Ram < 16 Gig ... )  Any sample of match?

2.  Virtual Machine? Looks good but, I usually use my Laptop to prototype production services or for staging.
Will Virtual Machine run ok Apache server + Postgresqul server + Zabbix daemons. This staging config is a playground
for a production environment, test applications, platforms. My current Ubuntu 14 Acer Aspire 5532 (7 years old,  $100 value today) does this all fine, except a bit slow. It does not do ffmpeg conversions quickly and possibly slow on graphics rendering,  I can move staging folder trees with few clicks: ^x, ^p on server, possibly the same in VM?
And it looks a bit odd to run server on top of VM which runs on top possibly "deadly" slow Windows?

Yes, I don't need games ... yes occasional  "doing 3d modeling? or rendering movies". "...If it’s the later than an Nvidia Quadro or AMD FirePro would be better suited": Any PC sample?

"Any laptop will run Linux (including Ubuntu, without any problems at all. " Seems not the case. Tons of problems with BIOS, wild fans, WiFi fails, see details on Amazon feedback I mentioned above. Yes, there are plenty helps on Web, but they fell short at the generic instructions, but when time comes to specific laptop where is at least one non "dead"?

Thank you.
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by:John Hurst
John Hurst earned 125 total points
ID: 41837313
1. I have a Lenovo i7-6600 16 GB machine on order but it is no way a budget machine.

2. Yes. What you want will run. To make a VM fast you would want an SSD drive in the host computer.

Generally VM's suffice for me, but if you need the best Linux speed, dual boot may give more speed (but at the expense of not seeing the other machine).
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Expert Comment

by:rindi
ID: 41837327
You might have problems on modern hardware if you use an outdated Distro. But a modern distro will not have any problems at all with modern hardware. Most of the time you'll even have less problems than if you use Windows.
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Maclean earned 250 total points
ID: 41837434
I run Linux with Windows virtualized on both my HP EliteBook & Dell Latitude. I never have any issues running or installing Linux, unless I deploy to an old laptop.

Dell Latitude 13 3000 Hybrid would start getting close to what you want at $1099 USD. (Smaller screen, but can hook up external one) or Dell Latitude 15 3000 series (Would need to buy RAM separate from the looks of it for unknown reason, check it with sales)
Judging by what you are running, SSD is more important then RAM. I doubt you need 16GB of RAM, but its not overly expensive to buy I guess. As for CPU, I think a Xeon would often suit better then most i7's for development, but i7 would do fine for your listed apps. You can view some specs on CPU's here.
You can use this list to compare the i7 from the Acer for example vs HP EliteBook 850 G3's i5 CPU.
Or use CPU Boss to compare. Single Core performance on the i5 beats the i7 single core performance, which is better for your environment.

A HP Probook, Lenovo or Dell business range system will often outperform a commercial PC, simply because the components are better attuned to each other, and often build with higher grade materials. That's my experience.
I frequently see Fast spec, low budget PC's, in corporate use by businesses trying to safe a dollar, and those machines often have issues performing well, even if only on Excel Spreadsheets. SSD's helps them a bit, but I worked on one of the Acers (Aspire) mentioned by you, and genuinely thought I was working on a 5-6 year old Core 2 Duo laptop. That was with an SSD too. Some do work fine, but my general experience is not boding well for them.

Amazon reviews are kind of good, but still got to keep in mind that those are opinions of often generic users who do not always build it the right way or might not necessarily have adequate knowledge. Not saying to blindly not trust them, but to use a spyglass sifting through them and perhaps read online professional reviews for the model's in question
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by:Bitlab
ID: 41839394
Thank you.

I must rate the job. Sorry, did not have time to go in depths. Consider this as a draft response.

1. Dell business may be good, but performance miles below of original choice in question. $1837  
http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/latitude-e5570-laptop/pd?oc=cto03hle557015us&variant=8:256SDP~11:10P64M~146:I76820~760:LNCHWW&model_id=latitude-e5570-laptop#overrides=cto03hle557015us:8~256SDP;11~10P64M;146~I76820;760~LNCHWW

2. No specific modern laptop found known for Ubuntu support. Known to me reviews are professional and scare:
https://www.amazon.com/product-reviews/B0161CFAQY/ref=acr_dpx_hist_3?ie=UTF8&filterByStar=three_star&showViewpoints=0
"... I don't even think UEFI is fully implemented in this laptop. It still looks like an old BIOS screen with just a UEFI switch ...
doesn't even recognize the GRUB bootloader.
 "RAID 0" that ..  Along with losing the security benefits of UEFI. ... fans ramp up to 100%. Turns out the fan sensor modules don't support the Linux kernel
 documented fixes online are doing a few kernel modifications to force them to ramp down ... trackpad doesn't work. both the
changing the trackpad to basic mode."

3. VM is not a replacement for a dual boot because DB does coexist with VM.


Details:

http://www.dell.com/us/business/p/latitude-e5570-laptop/pd?oc=cto03hle557015us&variant=8:256SDP~11:10P64M~146:I76820~760:LNCHWW&model_id=latitude-e5570-laptop#overrides=cto03hle557015us:8~256SDP;11~10P64M;146~I76820;760~LNCHWW
$1837
Slightly higher than the budget, but
Falls far below
    in memory,
    in monitor 15.6" HD (1366 x 768)
    no decent VIDEO adapter at all?
Ubuntu support and installation still can be a nightmare. Significant question.
   
its CPU is about the same as 6700HQ: http://www.cpubenchmark.net/cpu.php?cpu=Intel+Core+i7-6820HQ+%40+2.70GHz&id=2659
which are initially on my question choice.
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by:John Hurst
ID: 41839398
Your budget is a bit low, and anything new in November will have UEFI BIOS, so your dual boot needs to be compatible with that.

You would use dual boot only if speed of the guest were paramount.

VM is not a replacement for a dual boot because DB does coexist with VM.  What does this mean?
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by:Maclean
ID: 41839407
Dell Business laptop performance which you mentioned outperforms the ASUS & MSI gaming laptops from where I see it. Except for Games. But you were not wanting it for games, but for development I understood,
The reason for Ubuntu is a productivity for Web/development and managing Linux network..

So it beats the 2 fastest options you initially placed. You do not need a gaming graphics card for Web Development & Network Maintenance. Its all 2D really that work.

A CPU comparison can be seen on CPU-BOSS as well.

Perhaps I am not reading the requirements correct.
I am aiming my suggestions based on reliability, performance, development work, network maintenance, price, & brand support (HP or Dell are pretty good on support)
Whether BIOS is full UEFI or not is normally not relevant for Linux and/or Dual Boot.
The CPU Fan speed is a generic linux problem. Perhaps a linux distribution re-seller might be aware of a special computer dedicated to linux with full compatibility, but on mine I usually just implement some steps to manage the fan speed and monitor temperatures.

Anyhow, perhaps I am the wrong person to make recommendations. I am starting to think I do not understand the exact question unfortunately. The need for a NVidia or AMD GPU is what confuses me. These merely add more heat. So more fan noise. Which is needed for Gaming, but the desired laptop is not for gaming I thought.
My apologies if I misinterpreted anything.
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