What is the best laptop for Linux?

Q Which 'notebooks' (the things that used to be called laptops) are best suited for running Linux? I'm looking to buy a machine and will only be able to afford a one-off, so it will have to be a little forward-looking in terms of hardware, even if the software has some catching up to do. I know that I want a 64-bit processor and systems, but I also know that I must be able to afford it! I also need to know if there are any worthwhile speech recognition programs in Linux - I had a stroke recently and am getting tired of one-finger typing!

A Until you mentioned 64-bit, I was going to recommend an IBM ThinkPad. IBM notebooks are built to last and have good Linux compatibility. However, they all currently use the Intel Mobile Celeron processor range. The difficulty with recommending a specific computer is that it is the individual components that are the source of compatibility frustrations. I could tell you to buy a Milliard Gargantuan, only to find that Milliard Inc have changed the wireless networking chip to one that doesn't have a Linux driver. Your best option is to try out various notebooks with a Live CS distro.

As you are looking for a 64-bit computer, I would recommend either Ubuntu or Kubuntu, depending on whether you prefer Gnome or KDE. They both have 64-bit versions and you can download them from www.ubuntulinux.org. Trying the computer out is doubly important inview of your physical restrictions. There appears to be very little available in the way of usable voice recognition software for Linux. IBM discontinued ViaVoice a few years ago, the last version was bundled with Mandrake 8.1. There are some other projects, but none of them are really ready for the end-user's desktop yet. CVoiceControl (www.kiecza.net/daniel/linux) will allow you to control your computer with commands, but text input is not currently practical. You could cut down on your typing by using a keyboard with plenty of extra keys and using KHotkeys or Xbindkeys to assign commonly used commands or phrases to these keys. Most distros support using a second keyboard with a laptop.

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