Dell has offered a Linux (Ubuntu) option on some laptops (and servers) for a few years now. Considering my general love for all things Linux, combined with my (often) overpowering desire to play with new hardware, it's rather odd that I've never gotten my hands on a Linux-powered Dell laptop.
That rather egregious offense has now been remedied.
Right in front of me sits the Dell M3800 Mobile Workstation – a 15.6-inch laptop that doubles as a Linux-powered desktop replacement.
No. "Desktop Replacement" doesn't really do this rig justice. This beast of a machine is a desktop destroyer.
On 16th February 2015, Clemens Toennies has announced the release of Netrunner 15, a desktop Linux distribution based on Kubuntu 14.10 and featuring the new KDE Plasma 5.2.0 desktop: "We are proud to announce the official release of Netrunner 15 'Prometheus'. Netrunner 15 is revised from the ground up - as the first distribution, it officially ships the new KDE Plasma Desktop 5.2. Therefore, an upgrade from previous Netrunner series with KDE 4.x is neither officially available nor really recommended. This release is 64-bit only. What's new? This release features the brand new KDE Plasma Desktop 5.2, packed together with the freshly released KDE Frameworks 5.7 and Qt 5.4. It takes a great deal of Oxygen and a little of Breeze and mixes them into a blend of tradition and modern. All previous settings and add-ons have been carefully restored to work in this new environment. With Netrunner 15 we took the chance to ship a finely revised set of applications."
The developers behind LibreOffice, the free and open source productivity suite forked from OpenOffice, have sweated and bled to advance the toolkit over the past couple of years. The effort has paid off: It’s a no-brainer to recommend LibreOffice over OpenOffice, thanks to Libre’s consistent release schedule and the increasingly polished quality of the product.
Now for the bigger question: Can you recommend LibreOffice in the same breath as Microsoft Office? The short answer: Maybe. To its credit, LibreOffice 4.4 handles old- and new-school Microsoft Office documents better than ever before -- no small feat considering how prohibitively complex such documents can be. If you plan on using LibreOffice as a drop-in replacement for Microsoft Office, know that document compatibility is still a roll of the dice -- but with each revision LibreOffice is improving the odds.
Sabayon offers four editions of the distribution -- GNOME, KDE, Xfce and Minimal. Each edition is available for 64-bit x86 machines exclusively. I opted to download the KDE image which is 2.2GB in size. Booting from the live media brings up a boot menu where we can choose to launch a live desktop environment, run the system installer, install a media centre edition of the distribution or install Steam Big Picture. We can also choose to launch a console only mode, handy for trouble-shooting problems. I will come back to the media centre and Steam interfaces a little later.
The Korora distribution is available in four editions -- Cinnamon, GNOME, KDE and Xfce. There was previously a MATE edition, but at the time of writing that flavour of Korora appears to have been discontinued. Each edition of Korora is available for 32-bit and 64-bit x86 machines. Since I tried the default GNOME edition of Fedora a few months ago I decided to get some variety by installing Korora's KDE edition. The download for Korora's KDE flavour is 2.5GB in size.
Chromebooks are cheap. They work best that way. It’s rare to find one north of $400, and the sweet spot is between $200 and $300. While they've got shortcomings, the cost is reasonable for what you get. In some cases, the limitations are even desirable.
Only one Chromebook has truly gone against that grain—the Chromebook Pixel. It was the polar opposite of every other device bearing the name. The Pixel was high-quality hardware where others are low-rent, but even though it cost five times what you could pay for a regular Chromebook it didn't really do much more. It's a laptop as nice as it is niche.