Best laptops for NixOS

I’m considering buying a new laptop, and I obviously want to install NixOS on it. In the past, I’ve had various difficulties with different Linuxes (NixOS including) with almost all the laptops I’ve had. Which laptops do you use for NixOS? Have you had any problems? Which laptops would you consider to get along best with NixOS?

I think ThinkPad X1 Carbon gen 7/8 or X1 extreme gen 2 are good options. ThinkPad laptop has great Linux compatibility and those laptops have 50-60% discount (start at 890 USD).

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I’ve been using a ThinkPad X1 Carbon 7th Gen with NixOS for a couple of months now without any problems specific to NixOS. Actually, using NixOS made it easier (for me at least) to get around audio issues since it’s pretty straightforward to apply kernel patches and use pre-release packages.

https://github.com/NixOS/nixos-hardware may you give you an indication on what tweaks may be needed for specific machines, but that still doesn’t mean that these are exclusive to NixOS.

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I’ve used linux on 5 computers- t520, t420, t220 , vaio and a thinkcenter. My vaio experience was very bad, and I don’t recall any problem with any think machiene except 220 used to disconnect wlan. Otheriwse sleep hibernate etc all work well. I think think machines are your best bet. I suspect this is because intel uses thibkpads and they are the ones writing drivers. Same for maybe other big firms.

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x1 is nice but if you want to tweak the hardware I would recomment (non flat series like L or T)
I’m using L490 with Samsung 970 Pro (or EVO PLUS) and RAM from Kingston (dual)
and a ThinkStation analog

It works without problems with a tuxedo InfinityBook 14 (and it comes with linux preinstalled)

Thinkpad T460 working great here.

I’m typing from a t570 that solely runs NixOs, and the experience has been superb so far. Most of the stuff worked out of the box, so little to worry about. I’m surprised about the Vaio though… I’ve had a 2013 Vaio Svs Red for 7 years now running archlinux and that’s been my best linux on a machine experience so far. What problems did you have?

t480s and x250 here, both works well. :partying_face:

I’m also using a Thinkpad carbon x1 7th gen. All in all it works good, with the only exception being the sound crashing completely sometimes, so I have to reboot.

If I would buy a new laptop right now I would go for one of the more linux native ones for mainly 3 reasons:

  1. Most likely even better linux compatibility
  2. As a FOSS idealist I’d like to support companies which ship their products with Linux instead of delivering spyware into your home and take extra money for that
  3. Since you are not paying for useless software or FingerPrint-Readers which you won’t use, you will get a lot more bang for the buck in terms of hardware from these companies:

With tuxedo and KDE slimbook you can get notebooks with 64 GB RAM and 16 threads ryzen CPU For the same price you would pay at lenovo for 16 GB and 8 Threads.

Always be aware that the GHz number for CPUs in notebooks are a bold lie for very thin notebooks.
The lenovo carbon x1 for example is advertised with a 4,9 Ghz i7. In practice you can be very happy if it stays at a steady 3 GHz. The thermal design of such laptops is cannot keep up with 4,9 GHz more than a few seconds.

Apart from that, in general, extra display brightness, the ability to charge via USB-C and thunderbolt connectivity can be a factor to consider.

I couldn’t get hibernate/sleep to work and for me hibernate and sleep are a must…

What about Librem laptops from https://puri.sm/?

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I succesfully used NixOS on a ThinkPad x270 and X1C 6th Gen.

@SRGOM I had this problem on my X1C as well. I managed to fix it by setting the “Sleep State” to “Linux” the ThinkPad’s BIOS (https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Lenovo_ThinkPad_X1_Carbon_(Gen_6)#Suspend_issues).

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ThinkPad X1C 6th gen and 5th gen here, never had any problems that were not solved out of the box with nixos-hardware.

I have an X1 Extreme gen2 and I can’t say I’m particularly happy with it. The keyboard and battery life is nice but the nvidia card is a huge PITA. Since the HDMI port is hooked up to it you are pretty much forced to use the proprietary drivers and figure out some way to get the port to activate. I think some markets have the P1 gen2 with just the integrated graphics, which I think would make for a much nicer experience. If you get one make sure to put something between the screen and keyboard when folded to protect the screen from scratches.

That is not the case anymore. Newest Nvidia driver support reverse PRIME, which allow you to run on iGPU and also export to DP and HDMI port. If you are using NixOS, update your driver to version 450.57, enable nvidia offload features, then run this cmd:

xrandr --setprovideroutputsource NVIDIA-0 modesetting

The order of modesetting and NVIDIA-0 might be reverse, I don’t remember exactly. If your config is correct, xrandr should show eDP-1, DP-1-0, DP-1-1 and HDMI-1-0.Then you would see the output listed in xrandr. Final step is config your desktop using xrandr. You might also want to enable dynamic power management, currently it’s not supported in NixOS but easy to add (related issue). I’m able to run my X1E2 under 10W, with browser, Spotify, and some terminal open

Since the HDMI port is hooked up to it you are pretty much forced to use the proprietary drivers and figure out some way to get the port to activate.

Wait is it that bad? I have an older Thinkpad (bought used just for the ability to mount a second battery and get nice battery life), I aslo hate that Lenovo got the bright idea of connecting the main video outputs to nVidia (and dock video outputs to iGPU, come on, shouldn’t the non-dock outputs be the one allowing energy-efficient operations), but Nouveau with offload works just fine for running all the outputs without paying attention to video cards used.

(Also, funnily enough, there is an option in the BIOS to switch off the nVidia GPU, then iGPU gets to drive the video outputs on the side… — the same might hold for yours)

I am happy with Dell XPS 13 9380, I used and a thinkpad x250 which was also quite good. Dell provides full Linux support for this model, which also includes firmware updates via https://fwupd.org/. The touchpad is a lot better than my thinkpad one - I stopped missing my thinkpad nipple. It has a 4k screen and aluminum body instead of plastic. I only miss the longer battery life time of my x250, where I added bigger battery and occasionally more USB ports. It has 3 USB-C ports, nothing else.

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A good indication of what laptops are used by the community is to visit: https://github.com/NixOS/nixos-hardware

You can also check the README of individual models and check how many quirks are needed to get some hardware working.

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I am running it on

  1. ASUS Zenbook 14 (2018 model)
  2. HP Envy 13 (2019 model)
  3. Thinkpad T470p (with Nvidia GPU)

And everything worked out pretty nicely.