Linux Compatibility? What are the best current laptops to choose from? Any experience? I'm thinking Novatech for a new laptop, I won't use Windows anyway

I was thinking of getting the Novatech Elite N1761. Does anyone have any experience installing Linux for this laptop?

I have no interest in using Windows again, Novatech offers an option without an OS, that’s why I’m considering it

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Hi bk1,

Our machines are not specifically designed for Linux, nor have the units been tested in any way with Linux by us. Specific drivers for that operating system are not developed. Accordingly, if you were to install a version of Linux to your machine, you would do so entirely at your own risk – and, we would not be able to support you with doing so, as our technical support department is trained in and qualified to work with Microsoft Windows only.

That said, you may find other users have had success with your choice of OS. You might find luck by searching online for W670RCQ which is the Clevo chassis model that this unit is based on.

Apologies that we could not be more helpful on this one,

Ryan

Thanks for the reply.

I’ll look around on forums.

It might be worth the companies time to test out every laptop once (even in the latest version of Ubuntu, or Arch) and confirm that it does work, on a certain version of the OS, with the hardware. It’s quite difficult (near impossible) to find a laptop for certain specifications which doesn’t have an OS. I don’t use Windows, no interest in paying a fee for something I’ll never use. The no OS option is why I found Novatech in the first place

We have looked at this before and normally every single time we do the test, the hardware is so new that something in the unit does not work or the Linux distro will not install at all. This issue does resolve itself in time to varying degrees as new versions of the Linux distro are released with updated kernels. However for brand new to the market kit we have seen issues that require some work around to get working or simply waiting for the updated distro to be released.
The other issue we have seen certainly with laptops is that some unique features like some of the chassis hotkeys and things like fan control and lighting effects become non functional cause we have no Linux software that is able to control these functions and so these would be lost to the end user.
So certainly for new technology to the market we would have to advise limitations and loss of functions that may or may not be supported in the future depending on if the required fixes come through for the Linux distro you are using.

Generally speaking however, once kit has been on the market for a few months the support for the major functions is normally sorted and ok. But to tell customers this we would need to keep going back and checking to see if the fixes are now in.

It might be something we look at again in the future but unless we could get the unit up to 100% working with all functions then we may not list support for it and by the time it actually gets to full working situation it might have already been replaced by a newer model depending on time it takes so it could be an issue.

Thanks for the feedback however and we will consider it for the future.

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To add to this, to be able to say a system is “Ubuntu Certified” for example, requires sending one of every unit to Canonical for them to run tests and ensure everything works 100%. Every time we have looked into it the admin & costs involved is onerously high unfortunately :disappointed:

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i have an nspire n1727 now about 3 years old, and i run fedora and windows 10 dual boot on that, the only problem I have is the mousepad wont work on Fedora, my older laptop works fine, but I don’t use touchpads at all if it is possible , too much resting my hands on them. If you know linux then you can work around/find solutions for most problems.
hope you find a solution

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I remember asking almost the exact same question about 5 years ago and I think the response was almost exactly the same. It’s just too costly.

There’s a relevant Hacker News discussion going on now (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13698589) about the lack of Linux on the desktop and the one thing missing which is being able to buy pre-installed Linux machines.

It’s a real shame that you guys can’t do it. You’re basically on the frontier of being able to offer it. Until companies like you (i.e. companies who love building PCs but aren’t wedded to Windows) can find a way, then Linux will forever remain in the desktop shadows.

Not fair to Novatech, there are too many Linux variants indeed too many Microsoft ones too. I have used Linux on Novatech kit for about 8 years , the only time I had to contact support was when Windows 10 beta / preview came out and they posted the W8 compatabie bios within 20 minutes.The real problem is that the component manufacturers wont support / deliver Linux . [quote=“icc97, post:7, topic:621, full:true”]
I remember asking almost the exact same question about 5 years ago and I think the response was almost exactly the same. It’s just too costly.

There’s a relevant Hacker News discussion going on now (https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=13698589) about the lack of Linux on the desktop and the one thing missing which is being able to buy pre-installed Linux machines.

It’s a real shame that you guys can’t do it. You’re basically on the frontier of being able to offer it. Until companies like you (i.e. companies who love building PCs but aren’t wedded to Windows) can find a way, then Linux will forever remain in the desktop shadows.
[/quote]

I don’t mean to be unfair, I mean utmost respect for Novatech - they do more than almost all other PC sellers.

I accept everything they say, and what you say. It’s a real support headache to offer it.

As @codemonkey says even Ubuntu certification is too costly and that’s about the only possibility for a first Linux distribution to sell.

To my knowledge, the only mainstream supplier of a Linux pre-installed machine is the one XPS 13/15 that Dell offer with Ubuntu. That’s basically it.

@COOPS suggestion is great, just letting people know what features would be missing if Ubuntu would be installed is a massive help. It removes a lot of the fear of purchasing a computer you want to put Linux onto.

One of the problems I suspect is that there just isn’t that much demand still. Given there’s about 6 questions that come up when you search in the forum for ‘linux’ and this is probably the second time in 5 years that this question has been asked.

Hear what you say but I prefer Fedora , my friend prefers Mint , I fell out with Ubuntu before testing Fedora, I am surprised that , bearing in mind that Novatech offer bare machines sans O/S ,so few people install Linux or perhaps using Linux means most people use the Linux forums(often very unfriendly:-) IYSWIM)
Perhaps Novatech should at least employ/encourage their TS guys to least have a knowledge of *x

Yeah. I’m using Fedora too. I only say Ubuntu as that is the most mainstream Linux distro and it’s easier to follow in the path of others such as Dell. Perhaps it’s not - ultimately though I don’t mind. Which ever distro works the best on Novatech machines is the best one to start with. So if Fedora has the best chance of working then go with that.

Debian are actually pretty good, They actually test installing Debian themselves on various machines and then post the results e.g. https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/Thinkpad/T430u/wheezy, unfortunately Novatech aren’t on their radar yet.

Edit: Actually I’m wrong, it’s not ‘Debian’ doing anthing, they’re just giving a standard check list for any one to test on their system (https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/HowToContribute).

Many of our team are Microsoft Certified Professionals of varying levels, and some members of the consumer technical support team are indeed familiar with Linux variants and are casual users of these types of OS at home, and indeed keeping up-to-date with all relevant and further aspects of IT is always encouraged and essentially a requirement for being able to support an ever changing range of products.

Furthermore, if you were to call today and state that you were using a Linux variant - it wouldn’t be a straight off “nope, install Windows” it would in fact be a “under Windows you would need to do X, so we believe that it would be worth looking into how to X under your choice of OS” but sometimes it can be a “XYZ feature only works when you have the Windows driver pack installed, so for that reason it is unlikely that XYZ feature will work on your choice of OS.”.

There is a massive difference between having some members of the team being familiar with how to use an operating system, and being able to offer technical advice and troubleshooting for that OS to an acceptable standard for the market - let alone being able to offer a comparable level of support to the much higher standard which we have always offered free for compatible Windows systems manufactured by Novatech.

For those reasons and more, I suspect that if at any point in the future our machines were to become certified for Linux, units installed with that OS would be offered with “hardware only” technical support (which is essentially what is already offered - as explained above).

I hope this helps explain,

Ryan

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I’m just posting this in case any one does come looking. Obviously disclaimers apply that I’ve never tried with this system. Plus of course Novatech don’t sell this laptop any more.

tl;dr: I reckon there’s a good chance that Linux will work on this machine.

Googling comes up with this page (http://www.clevo-europe.com/default_zone/fr/html/Prod_Notebook_Ymax5RC_Details.php) from what appears to be the European distrubitor of the Clevo W670RCQ (1). It’s all in French, but they do claim:

Compatible Windows et Linux

Now this is for the W670RCQ1 rather than the W670RCQ. But I did some checking on the main Clevo site and I couldn’t find a difference between the two.

Clevo Europe actually make some quite stong claims about Linux compatibility of the W670RCQ1, you can actually order the computer with a Linux distribution (translated text):

For those who wish, the operating system is offered as an option on each of our models and is not the subject of any tied selling. Our computers are certified compatible with the latest Windows operating systems and we only offer drivers for these operating systems. On the other hand, whenever we can, we select our components to ensure maximum compatibility with Linux without guaranteeing that everything works perfectly under this operating system. You can opt for a computer that is delivered without an operating system (loads you to install the OS of your choice) or a computer pre-installed by us with Windows, Linux or a multiboot Linux - Windows.

Wifi is usually my biggest issue when installing Linux. The laptop does seem to use fairly sensible components. If you google for ‘linux WiFi Intel 8260AC’ then you get the Linux* Support for Intel® Wireless Adapters page - which lists both the Intel Wifi adapters that the Clevo-Europe site offers.

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I run Ubuntu on an Nfinity N1402 and apart from a hack to get the touchpad working it works better than Windows 7. I’ve never got the internal keyboard and touchpad working under Windows 7 though even using drivers supplied by Novatech. I’m not sure why, so I just plug in a keyboard and mouse to use Windows. I’m hoping that upgrading to Windows 10 may get them working.

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Hi Leon,

Looking at the details for that your circa 2012 N1402 uses the X300 Ultrabook chassis which is now EoL. I wouldn’t recommend upgrading to Windows 10 as that’s not supported on that model.

With regard to the keyboard and touchpad not working in Windows 7, that seems unusual and not an issue I’ve heard of before with that unit. Firstly I would suggest downloading the drivers from this link; Laptop drivers for legacy chassis but failing that it suggests that the ribbon cable that physically connects the keyboard and touchpad may have become disconnected, if it works in neither of your OSes.

I would suggest booking the unit in with us, to be looked at under our diagnosis service, so that we can advise further. For further information on that please contact our team on 02392 322 500.

Best regards,
Ryan

Agreed if keyboard does not work say in the BIOS, then this is not a software issue but a hardware problem that needs investigation to find cause.

As a follow up to some of my previous comments, there appears to be promising noises coming from Ubuntu.

There was a public request for comments on Hacker News for their next Ubuntu 17 release.

A few people (me included) commented along the desire for getting Ubuntu pre-installed.

This is the response from the Ubuntu product manager:

Official hardware that just-works, Nexus-of-Ubuntu (130 weight)

This is perhaps my personal favorite suggestion of this entire thread – for us to declare a “Nexus-of-each-Ubuntu-release”, much like Google does for each major Android release. Hypothetically, this would be an easily accessible, available, affordable hardware platform, perhaps designed in conjunction with an OEM, to work perfectly with Ubuntu out of the box. That’s a new concept. We do have the Ubuntu Hardware Certification Programme, where we clearly list all hardware that’s tested and known to work well with Ubuntu. And we do work with major manufacturers on some fantastic desktops and laptops – the Dell XPS and System76 both immediately come to mind. But this suggestion is a step beyond that. I’m set to speak to a few trusted partners about this idea in the coming weeks.

Again - please, I don’t want to imply any pressure on the support staff here. I just think it is a positive message that Ubuntu are sending that they are willing to push the boundary on getting compatible hardware for Linux.

Okay, i thought about starting a new topic specifically for my latest purchase, but decided to tag a reply onto the end of this so as to keep all the “Linux Compatibility” in one place.

DISCLAIMER: Just in case i say something that sounds “odd”, I really want to point out that (as a first time poster) that I am in no way against how Novatech chooses to run their business. Novatech, and the staff therein have always been nice to me, and very accommodating of my various requests.

So, this Linux business is really not as difficult as some people make out. While it is true that sometimes a person needs patience for certain hardware to find support within the Linux Kernel, ofttimes unless you’re running something brand-spanking-new or just plain ‘out there’, it’ll install and run just fine. At times, you do need to be willing to do research. At other times, you do need to be able to compromise or plain do without, until you find the support you need for the hardware you want.

I have plenty of experience with this; I’ve been running Linux as my only OS since 1996. I remember having to buy external modems (no drivers necessary) when all the internal (win)modems relied on Windows drivers. Nvidia over Radeon… etc… Nowadays, it tends to be far simpler.

I ask myself regularly “Am I just one of those people that Linux always works for?”. Indeed, I have plenty of friends that have tried, and failed, to run various strains of GNU/Linux. I do understand, really I do. Linux, depending on the Distro, is not for the faint-hearted… but the rewards are great!

That Novatech do not want to state in any way shape or form that their stock will support Linux (knowing full well that Intel compatibility has been very good for a very long time… knowing that Nvidia compatibility has been very good for a very long time, etc…) is understandable because as soon as they say “Hey, guess what!?..” it opens them up to all sorts of hassle that they, as a business, don’t want/need (I respect that and I’ve never burdened them with my personal prefs). But that doesn’t mean that their gear is useless to us that travel a different OS road.

As I need to go to bed, here’s the bit that is important:

I needed a new laptop so, yesterday, I purchased the N1639. Everything works:
Keyboard, track pad, network (wired and wireless), Bluetooth, sound, suspend and all-but-one Fn combo (the F1 Fn 'track-pad on/off doesn’t doesn’t work).
UEFI’d Ubuntu 17.04, clean installed on the (changed in BIOS from 2nd drive to 1st) M.2 SSD. 500mb HDD as storage. Full disk encryption. No hassle and all done in the time it took me to make and drink a cuppa.

Ya’see, it’s all Intel… Why on Earth would anybody think that it wouldn’t work? :rofl:

I’ve been doing this for years and (with a healthy dose of #ymmv) go purchase and have fun!

p.s. Just like Novatech, I offer no promises or support :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:

edit: 1st updated of the ‘what works’ info

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So is there any way to get a full hardware breakdown so we can check compatibility ourselves? I’m looking at the Novatech Elite N1773 specifically. We could fill in the gaps ourselves :wink:

Hello,

For this you’ll need to contact our telesales team for a discussion and request the chassis model number. You can call them on 02392 322 500 option 1.

Obviously irrespective of what you find online regarding the particular model, our position on this topic won’t change from the above.

I hope this helps,

Ryan