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    He’s not wrong, but a quarter of a page about how almost all laptops are worse than 2008-era thinkpads is a little bit low-information for the lobste.rs frontpage isn’t it?

    1. 14

      I think you’re right, it’s low information. But, if others here feel the same as the article, I’m optimistic it will promote conversation on what can be used (I’m hoping I am wrong about what’s out there). I’d love an alternative to the Dell stack I currently use.

      1. 11

        It is a good justification for me to mention (once again) that there are a lot of barely-touched second hand 10 year old thinkpads on ebay for, like, less than $100. So, you can get like a dozen good laptops for the price of a bad one.

      2. 19

        Maybe it’s not the most “technical” post, but I think the point / heart of it is that there is a change that many would like to see in future laptops. Instead of razor thin laptops with horrible keyboards, many people want something that just works.

        It’s an opinion piece, and I personally don’t see anything wrong with it being posted here (and the tags are correct).

        1. 7

          Sure. It’s just both an opinion piece & very short.

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            The only reason it’s on the front page is because drew wrote it. There’s zero doubt about this.

            This place loves to laud over him which annoys me specifically given I’ve seen him harass friends of mine because according to him, if you don’t use the “right software” (aka, software he believes is right), it makes you an absolute horrible person deserving of harrassment.

            Wish I could filter out domains…

            1. 8

              Mostly, I wish there was more consistency. I post ranty things with more substance than this & get downvoted to hell (here & HN) – and my rants are rarely less than a five minute read. (On top of that, I stay away from ad hominems when arguing with strangers on the internet, which is not nothing.) If lobste.rs was rant-friendly I’d post more of them here.

              Folks posting links to low-quality posts that are popular because people already agree with them is a much bigger part of the signal/noise ratio problem on lobste.rs than actual spammers, & because Drew is a name, he seems to get attention even when the same exact content in a comment would get one or two upvotes. (Like, this blog post is just a more severe version of comments I’ve literally made on this site.)

            2. 7

              I’d rather read this than yet another post about how Unix is so terrible because it’s based on plain text like that “Programmer’s critique of missing structure of operating systems” post, or some company talking about using AWS (literally nobody cares whether you use AWS), or yet another “I rewrote [unix standard command] in Rust” post.

              1. 5

                “Programmer’s critique of missing structure of operating systems” post,

                There was a lot more in that post than you’re giving it credit for, the AWS thing can be interesting from a “This is how switching works/is motivated”. The Rust stuff is what it is.

                This submission was basically a complaint about the state of consumer products without any relevant links or analysis/context (at least when I read it). It contains really inflammatory and frankly mean screeds like:

                If you work at any of these companies and you’re proud of the garbage you’re shipping, then I’m disappointed in you.

                On a factual basis, it’s a lot easier to get a multicore laptop right now with a better camera than it was 12 years ago. It is a lot easier to get one with USB 3. It is a lot easier to get one with a high-resolution screen. It is a lot easier to get one with a good graphics card. Drew is happy to ignore all of that progress because he finds them difficult to service and difficult to run Free as in Freedom software on, and so immediately condemns everything else as garbage.

                I’d rather read somebody talking about their attempt at making wordcount in Rust than such a shallow and negative and just obviously narrow-minded outburst.

                1. 1

                  Fair enough. I like that first category so long as it says something new (which it often does), but the other two are at least as spammy & low-effort as this.

            3. 19

              It’s correctly tagged as rant, and @cfenollosa can’t help that Drew is the darling child of lobsters who can say no wrong.

              EDIT (clarification, in case you don’t see the below): this is criticism of Lobsters, and defense of this blog post being posted, not criticism of any individuals.

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                In reality, there also seem to be a fair number of people on Lobsters who think I can say no right. I don’t post my own writing to Lobsters anymore because of issues ranging from valid concerns about spam to obnoxious toxicity.

                My take is, I write for myself, not for Lobsters. When a Lobster seems to think something I’ve written is worth discussing, then I leave it up to the community to vote on as they see fit. I’ll usually drop into the threads to answer questions, but I find it difficult to engage with Lobsters beyond this - and even that much is difficult. Because you know who I am and what I work on, it seems like any topic I weigh in on is interpreted as spam, be it via submissions or commenting in discussions, even if I go out of my way not to frame my comments in the context of anything I work on.

                I don’t really like this community anymore, but I reckon some Lobsters would argue that’s by design.

                1. 16

                  obnoxious toxicity

                  I’m not going to claim that Lobsters is perfect, but “obnoxious toxicity” doesn’t seem like an apt description either; at least not in my experience. How is it toxic, specifically?

                  1. 29

                    Obviously tone is mostly subjective, but I have noticed the same thing recently on some of Drew’s writings that get posted here. Even the comment by @mz could be seen as really negative

                    @cfenollosa can’t help that Drew is the darling child of lobsters who can say no wrong

                    I have a hard time not reading that with vitriol or almost malice (though as indicated by @mz this was supposed to be sarcastic). Saying, “hey I don’t think there isn’t a ton of technical information here” and not upvoting is one thing, but when Drew clearly didn’t post the article themselves and still gets comments that to me seem very unpleasant. It really would be hard to like a community.

                    EDIT: Again in this same thread, I’m just going to start collecting the comments that if I were reading about me that I’d consider to be disheartening and drive me away from this community.

                    I’ve seen much worse Drew Dewalt rants keep the top spot on lobste.rs for weeks tbh.

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                      Ya, that comment is clearly less-than-perfect, but I also wouldn’t describe it as “obnoxious toxicity” personally, but YMMV.

                      It’s not like Drew’s communication style is always … gentle. I mean, in this post he’s literally telling people they should die. Obviously I know it’s supposed to be a joke and intended to be hyperbolic, but sjeez man; that’s pretty harsh… Reasonably sure such a comment would be downvoted to hell on Lobsters or HN.

                      If you dish out harsh words, then don’t be surprised if people reply with harsh words, too.

                      1. 4

                        This is definitely a case of a missing /s or otherwise tone being lost in text form. Please see my clarification and comment follow-up.

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                          I really don’t mean this as a cut to you either, it is just how I read it tonally. Text communication is hard.

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                        In my experience the toxicity has various specific loci, and if you happen to avoid those in your interactions with the community then you’re fine.

                        Woe betide you however it you step on a hot button.

                        Still love the place. I donned my asbestos underwear for the first time long before at least some of you were born :)

                      3. 6

                        I absolutely know what you’re saying, and I commend you for writing for yourself rather than for clout or for internet points. I think a lot of the blog spam we see on lobsters is stuff trying to be topical enough to be unoffensive, but content-less enough to be spam.

                        I in no way meant this as a criticism of you @ddevault. I meant it as a criticism of lobsters, a community which seems to be very addicted to being polarized over your content.

                        I totally get why you don’t post your stuff here. In general, a blog post not being appropriate for lobsters is not a criticism of the blog post (to think otherwise is some serious tech elitism).

                        Thanks for engaging with the comment. It seems you interpreted it the way I intended it, as I had no intention of offense.

                        1. 7

                          Point of fact: you took advantage of us as a marketing channel.

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                            Here is my self-evaluation of my posting history. Green = unambiguously not spam. Blue = cool stuff I made, but which doesn’t make me money. Together these make up almost half of my posts. Pink = dubious, I could benefit indirectly from these, but would argue that they’re on topic and relevant. That covers all but 3 of my posts. Of the remainder, which are definitely more ads than not, one is the most highly upvoted story of all time in each of its tags.

                            I think that this balance was reasonable enough, but in the BSD submission there was some discussion about whether or not it was too spammy, so I curbed my posting on Lobsters. The vast majority of submissions from my blog are not submitted by me, but it seems like I’m being held accountable for all of them as spam.

                            In any case, I don’t post my stuff here anymore. Take it up with the rest of the community if you don’t like seeing my posts here.

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                              I’m sad and sorry that the community has responded this way to your posts, especially as you have stopped linking them yourself. You can’t control what other people do, yet you bear the brunt of their unhappiness.

                              I like seeing your posts here, as there is often good discussion that is prompted by them. Even if some think of them as “ads”, at least it’s for good, open source software (and not things much worse like Google and Facebook).

                              I’m glad you’re writing for yourself- I (and others) will continue to enjoy reading what you write.

                            2. 8

                              Drew’s content may not always be earth-shattering, but a typical post of his likely opens my eyes as anything else on the site. Lobsters is not a place that discourages people from posting their own content.

                              ☑️ I am the author of the story at this URL (or this text)

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                                The link doesn’t seem to prove the “took advantage of” part, or am I missing something?

                            3. 0

                              Fair enough! And yes, I’ve seen much worse Drew Dewalt rants keep the top spot on lobste.rs for weeks tbh. I guess I can’t argue with success.

                            4. 3

                              Yes, it could have been contained in a comment. But maybe that’s why the article gets upvoted a lot: It’s low-effort to read, everyone basically agrees, and it’s a relief that apparently everyone feels the same (and it’s not their fault for not being able to find a proper laptop).

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                                How’s it a quarter of a page? It’s an entire page on my fairly high-resolution screen (1440p with no scaling). How zoomed out is your web browser?

                                1. 1

                                  I have a portrait display & my zoom setting is only 100% – basically because I don’t want a ‘screenful’ to be thirty seconds of reading.

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                                I really can’t agree with this more. At work I was just upgraded to a top of the line 16” MacBook Pro and I hate it. It’s so bad that I’ve been looking for something to buy myself to replace it and I can’t find anything good. The XPS 13 is probably good enough, but I’d really like something better than that.

                                I’m probably even less demanding than Drew, I’m willing to deal with non-free device firmware blobs. But I need a high DPI screen, so I don’t even have the option of going with something old.

                                1. 7

                                  The new ThinkPads aren’t so bad; I have an x270 and it works well for me. It’s been working with Linux pretty much out of the box ever since I got it 2 years ago.

                                  I don’t like how the XPS integrates the click buttons on the touchpad (a lot of laptops do that), but other than that it’s pretty okay for the most part.

                                  1. 3

                                    Can you only get a 1366 x 768 display on the x270? I don’t think I could deal with that.

                                    The XPS is probably where I’ll end up. The just announced a new model with a 16:10 display. I’m going to wait to see what the linux compatibility with that is/see if that display comes to the Developer Edition models. And I actually prefer the click being integrated in the touch pad, so that’s not a worry of mine.

                                    1. 4

                                      I had work buy me an X260 without thinking about it, and they got me a 1366x768 one. It never even occurred to me that such a thing would be possible to buy, so I didn’t think to specify.

                                      But even if they had gotten me a higher-resolution one, the display is still 16:9; too small to be usable without an external display. It’s also very dim; completely useless outside. The only good thing about it is that it’s not glossy. I’m much happier on my X301, so most of the time I just SSH in from that machine.

                                      1. 3

                                        Nah, I have a 1920x1080. For a 12.1” screen that’s more than plenty. Pretty sure I could also configure a higher resolution one. I’m not even sure they’re even selling the x270 any more, since there’s the x280 and x390 now. I’d probably get the x390 if I had to buy a laptop now.

                                        “ThinkPad [model]” doesn’t necessarily say all that much, since they come in a gazillion build configurations. A lot of them are mass-produced for enterprises that buy 500 of them for their office workers and the like, and come with shitty screens like the one you saw. But you can get better for sure.

                                        The ThinkPad has both integrated click and buttons on top; it’s a great design IMHO (but in the end of course a matter of personal taste/preference).

                                        1. 2

                                          Good to know, I only found one build of the x270 on their website, and I can’t even find that again now, which had that screen & AFAICT, couldn’t be customized. Probably just need to do through their website more.

                                          The ThinkPad has both integrated click and buttons on top; it’s a great design IMHO (but in the end of course a matter of personal taste/preference).

                                          Ah, yeah, that definitely is best. I miss that from my old x220. I wish I would have never gotten rid of that.

                                      2. 2

                                        I’m still holding out on buying anything as long as my X300 keeps running, but I just a look at the x270 and seriously … how can they build a notebook with a touchpad that has the buttons on the wrong side?

                                        1. 3

                                          I think they’re more intended for the TrackPoint than the touchpad, so it makes sense from that perspective. My old T61 had buttons on the top and bottom. I find it works quite well for both though. Also: it has a middle click button! A rarity on laptops and a small feature that actually matters a lot to me.

                                          1. 1

                                            I think you’re using the touchpad wrong. x270 is design with the nipple pointer in mind and that’s why the buttons are on the top. Also I’ll just put it out there: buttons on the top of the trackpad should be standard to begin with ­— it’s much more ergonomic. You need to move your finger less and your wrist of the hand that is touching the buttons can rest on the laptop rather than outside surfice.

                                            1. 1

                                              Buttons at the top make it a pain to use gestures – if the laptop can’t be used without a mouse, why even bother with a touchpad?

                                              Maybe Lenovo should just sell me the device 2€ cheaper and put a real mouse in the package instead. (Same with keyboards these days. Those super-thin devices don’t look that practical anymore if I have to carry an additional, usable keyboard.)

                                          2. 2

                                            They aren’t so bad, but they’re clearly worse work tools.

                                            I ~recently switched from a T430 to a A485 (that’s a T480 but with AMD in it).

                                            No latch on the cover, meaning that after 5 years it will be opening itself in the backpack every day.

                                            No ultrabay, or however it was called, meaning I need to carry around either a sata-to-usb converter or an external dvd depending on what I need. Sure it’s slimmer now: but also less useful. That’s not what I wanted a thinkpad for.

                                            Two batteries instead of one. Battery life is as good/bad as it was on the T430, but now when the battery wears out I’ll need to replace two instead of one – and one of them is deep enough to require a full-on disassembly.

                                            The physical cover for a webcam is nice, but everything else is a straight downgrade. If anyone else made laptops with decent trackpoints I’m sure I’d never look at Lenovo again :/

                                            1. 3

                                              I’m using T430 privately, yet I’m thinking more and more about buying something new. T430 lacks power, 1080p x265 is too much for it. Putting SSD in it gave it second breathe at the time, but that’s about it. Working with ThinkPads spoiled me, I need trackpoint, touchpad is no go (I mean I use it only for scrolling, but can easily live w/o it at all), which limits me mostly to ThinkPads (there are few other non-Lenovo series that happen to have trackpoint equivalents, but there aren’t many of them).

                                              I’m not necessarily fond of what is presently offered in ThinkPad lineups. I would even overpay for some Extreme if it was 14” and having normal RJ45 ethernet port (instead of Lenovo’s proprietary mini-RJ45-crap forcing you to buy and use some adapter if you’re wire networks user). 15” is too much, I want to have some mobility. And honestly, I use wire networks rarely, but lack of normal RJ45 port irritates me immensely, possibly more than it should. Ultrabays are cool too, I have one right now with additional SSD there. But if I need, I can replace it and put DVD drive in it, or something else. It takes literally seconds. Lack of it in newer models also bothers me (but not as much as lack of RJ45). And having USB-C for charging maybe is nice and dandy, but for firmness and durability I think slim tip connector, like used in T470 (my work laptop), is what I prefer the most.

                                              They make laptops slimmer, but modularity and usability, are reduced because of that.

                                          3. 3

                                            What do you hate about the 16” MacBook Pro? I feel like I’ve been hearing generally positive things about it.

                                            1. 5

                                              It’s just super unreliable. Half the time when I connect it to my Thunderbolt 3 dock (which I bought from an apple store) it just sits there and flashes until it reboots. It also fairly often will end up rebooting while its suspended. Bluetooth devices slowly get juddery over time and half the time it won’t auto reconnect to them.

                                              I have more problems on top of that don’t help my impression of the system overall, those just come from Parallels being awful at what it does, but I need Linux to do my job.

                                              Edit: I should also mention, my last work-issued laptop was a 2015 Macbook, which as I understand it was the last “good” one before they started mucking things up. So, my expectations weren’t pre-set to be super low. Maybe that is why I’m relativity more disappointed with it than others that had used other newer models.

                                              1. 2

                                                I have more problems […] those just come from Parallels being awful at what it does […]

                                                I’m confused. Are most of your applications designed for macOS, Windows, Linux, or general Unix?

                                              2. 3

                                                I’m curious about the answer as well. I’ve been using a 16” for a few months now, and really like it. I’ll be disappointed(but not surprised) if the complaint is actually about the fact that it ships with Catalina.

                                              3. 2

                                                I have a hidpi x1 carbon v6 and it’s not bad. the v4 had better ergonomics though, and the fact that they backslid on that makes me sad. (specifically, the margins on the side of the keyboard are too small on the v6)

                                                1. 1

                                                  … I need a high DPI screen…

                                                  As do I…

                                                  … so I don’t even have the option of going with something old.

                                                  …which is why I’m still using 15 year old T42p’s with 1600x1200 screens…

                                                2. 13

                                                  There should be a a project to design new motherboards for old laptops. I’ve read that most of them are just copy-paste of standard designs (this is an oversimplification) so perhaps there could be “standard modules” that can be combined easily? There are some motherboards made in a chinese thinkpad forum (51nb.com) but I don’t think the designs are open and supply is really limited.

                                                  1. 9

                                                    Yeah, I really like the stuff 51NB is doing. (https://geoff.greer.fm/2017/07/16/thinkpad-x62/ if people aren’t familiar) I just wish there was a way to order one without using Facebook, learning Chinese, and internationally wiring large amounts of money to someone’s personal bank account.

                                                  2. 11

                                                    Curious why he stopped at the X200. The X220 is the paragon of laptops for me. I have it running FreeBSD and everything except the fingerprint reader and webcam works, and that’s more a BSD issue. Previously with Arch everything “just worked” and it could handle 1080p videos :)

                                                    My work laptop is a 6th gen X1 Carbon and it too has FreeBSD on it, working as well as one could expect. Battery life is 8+ hours if I turn the screen way down and only keep a minimum of apps open, which is how I usually run anyhow.

                                                    1. 17

                                                      Curious why he stopped at the X200

                                                      I think that’s the last model that works on 100% Free Software. I forgot what the exact issues are with newer models as I don’t really care about this personally, but it’s also the newest the FSF sells.

                                                      But yeah … After the x220 things went a bit downhill for a while, but they corrected a bunch of mistakes with the x260 (or x250?). I have a x270 and it’s not perfect, but find it works very well for me.

                                                      1. 10

                                                        The screen of the X200 is 10% larger than the X220, the X201 was the last model to have a 1440x900 display. After that they downgraded the resolution pretty significantly for many years.

                                                        I was using the X200 from 2009-2016 (for this exact reason) at which point I upgraded to an X301 which has a slightly slower clock speed but a 13-inch 1440x900 screen and a nicer palm rest. It also has a second battery bay, but you can’t buy non-exploding batteries for it any more.

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                                                          Not exactly … the X201 had 1280 x 800 display. The X201s had 1440x900 display.

                                                        2. 3

                                                          Does it have cast steel hinges & a latch? That’s what I miss the most about laptops.

                                                          1. 2

                                                            16:10 is much nicer than 16:9, and the X200 keyboard feels much nicer than the X220.

                                                          2. 11

                                                            That’s weird. My XPS 13 has been extremely well behaved - suspends / resumes flawlessly, wifi & bluetooth just work. Touchpad is fine. etc etc.

                                                            It’s kind of refreshing to not have to work round some random piece of hardware that just doesn’t work for obscure reasons.

                                                            Maybe it’s the dual GPU XPS laptops that are particularly bad? Or have they simply got worse again since I bought mine?

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                                                              An XPS 13 was the inspiration for this rant. I wasted 5 hours on it before washing my hands of the damn thing. Integrated GPU system.

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                                                                Which model? I have an XPS 13 9360 and haven’t had any problems running stock Fedora on it. Also curious what the problem is, I’m currently looking to buy a second laptop. My pinebook pro isn’t really working quite well enough to be that yet, and the XPS 13 is currently the top contender.

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                                                                  yikes.. any more info on this? i have an 8550 with win10 and I’ll be moving to Linux soon, but now is a good time to switch it if I’m gonna have issues

                                                                  1. 2

                                                                    I have the 9360 and an older 9343. I’ve had an ubuntu release on each since I received ’em. I think the 9343 had some functionality challenges out of the box, but there were BIOS fixes available to be applied by the time I purchased it.

                                                                    The integrated GPU is underpowered for games but otherwise I haven’t encountered any issues with it or anything else with the laptop, really.

                                                                    1. 3

                                                                      Currently I’m running a 9360 & used a 9343 at work before that. Both were / are perfectly well behaved.

                                                                      (I should have bought a 16Gb model though - 8Gb is a bit tight for dev work in the modern world sadly. Compiling anything involving LLVM is an exercise in patience.)

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        8Gb is a bit tight for dev work in the modern world sadly. Compiling anything involving LLVM is an exercise in patience.)

                                                                        Yeah, amen! My 9360 has 8GB and I use it for Chrome and gnome-terminal so I can remotely access a desktop with 32GB. I think I tried building clang+llvm once on the XPS, but never again.

                                                                        1. 4

                                                                          I think I tried building clang+llvm once on the XPS, but never again.

                                                                          It’s doable but you have to radially reduce the parallelism of the build, otherwise it eats all your memory & goes into swap hell. As a result it takes quite a while.

                                                                  2. 3

                                                                    How much of this was an issue with the hardware itself vs. trying to use linux on it?

                                                                    1. 5

                                                                      I have no idea. I only tried Linux and that should always be enough.

                                                                      1. 6

                                                                        Exactly, especially for a so called “developer” edition. You can’t say it’s a developer machine and then ignore about half the target audience. In the nineties/early naughts, I expected to be marginalized as a Linux user, but nowadays it’s the Windows developers that are often regarded as quaint (assuming web or mobile development; game or desktop development is a whole different ballpark of course).

                                                                  3. 5

                                                                    I only run Linux so I can’t vouch for BSD/Plan 9/Haiku compatibility but I’ve been using higher-end Dell laptops for the past couple of years (from the Latitude and now Precision lines) and have been mostly happy with them. My only real complaints revolve around they keyboards but nearly all laptop keyboards are awful in their own way.

                                                                    Some Lobsters have a seething hatred for all things Intel for whatever reason but when I spec a laptop, I look for one with an Intel CPU, Intel GPU (I do very little gaming), and Intel wifi because whatever their other faults, Intel is awesome at writing and maintaining Linux kernel drivers.

                                                                    I would like to check out some of the newer Thinkpad models but Lenovo’s website is such garbage that I can’t even tell which models they still sell these days.

                                                                    1. 4

                                                                      Intel is awesome at writing and maintaining Linux kernel drivers.

                                                                      It is very good, but not perfect. My dell precision was having random freezes for several due to a faulty intel GPU driver. This is a well-known bug in the driver that has been going for months, without an available solution yet. I had to switch on my nvidia graphics (which I had never used on my lab-issued laptop) because the intel GPU was unusable.

                                                                      1. 4

                                                                        I’ve solved a lot of flickering and other weirdness on my old Toshiba laptop by uninstalling the intel driver and letting the system fall back to a generic modesetting driver. Debian and others have made this the default since.

                                                                    2. 2

                                                                      That’s weird. My XPS 13 has been a bastard of a thing to deal with. Different USB-C ports seem to have different capabilities each time it resumes (or is that reboots?) and I never know if my external display is going to appear as DP-1 or DP-2. Admittedly, I have (mostly) working suspend/resume, don’t use bluetooth and never buy dual-GPU laptops to avoid that rats’ nest of trouble.

                                                                      1. 3

                                                                        The 9360 only has one USB-C port, so I didn’t have this problem :)

                                                                    3. 31

                                                                      The Dell XPS series has a firmware so bad that its engineers should be strung up in the town square for building it

                                                                      Perhaps this is nitpicking, but language like this really rubs me the wrong way. It’s short sighted because it assumes it’s all the engineers fault. It’s the kind of language I might expect from somebody with zero people skills and new in the industry, not from somebody who has been around for a while. There’s no place and time where suggesting we hang people because of their work should be acceptable.

                                                                      Setting that aside, I don’t understand what the point of this post is. It’s literally just a rant about laptops, but there’s no conclusion or anything. That’s of course fine for a personal blog, but I think such content does not belong on lobste.rs. I flagged the post for this reason.

                                                                      In terms of laptops, the X1 Carbon series is pretty good. Support is a bit iffy here and there (e.g. the microphone does not work until Linux 5.5), but this is true for pretty much any laptop that came out in the last two years or so. I had a X1 Carbon 3rd generation that worked perfectly, and recently replaced it with a Gen 7 since my Gen 3 was due for a replacement. They’re a bit expensive, but the X1 series is a good series.

                                                                      1. 5

                                                                        language like this really rubs me the wrong way

                                                                        Oh, please! This is obviously an over the top exaggeration used as a rhetorical device. Nobody is asking to kill anybody here. This is a common device in the English language, used often for fun, that even a non-native speaker as me was not confused about.

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                                                                          This is essentially the same as saying “It’s just a prank!”, which is about the worst excuse for anything.

                                                                          1. 5

                                                                            No. It is just colorful language, and perfectly appropriate for a personal, light-hearted, blog post.

                                                                            1. 3

                                                                              No. The 90s wants its Torvalds back. This is never appropriate. Even if you’re joking. It’s a personal attack whether it’s a joke or not. Imagine being on the receiving end of this. Imagine walking up to one of the XPS engineers and saying this to their face!

                                                                              This blog post isn’t light-hearted - it’s full of spite - and “personal” is at its limits when you’re a high-profile developer publishing something on the Internet. So, overall, no.

                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                No. The 50s wants its censure back. Fortunately, Monty Python showed us that it is ok to say “fuck” in TV, even on a funeral, and to mock religion. Regardless of whether some people is offended.

                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                  There is a huge difference between saying “fuck”, mocking religion, and suggesting that we hang people (and for laptops out of all things).

                                                                                  I’m also unsure where you see the censorship here. Nobody is telling Drew he can’t share his opinion. But just as Drew is free to share his opinion, so are others free to hold him accountable for that; especially when he suggests we physically attack a group of people.

                                                                                  This brings me to something important and often misunderstood: the right to free speech does not give you the right to say whatever you want without repercussions. Instead, it simply means the government can’t prosecute you for expressing an opinion within the boundaries of the law. I’m pretty sure that suggesting we hang people is not only tasteless, but potentially also outside of the boundaries of free speech.

                                                                              2. 1

                                                                                how is this blog post light-hearted, it’s called “fuck laptops”

                                                                                1. 6

                                                                                  how is this blog post light-hearted, it’s called “fuck laptops”

                                                                                  It is light-hearted precisely because it is titled “fuck laptops”. The profanity right at the title is a clear indicator that the content of the post is not going to be extremely serious, and it will use a certain amount of hyperbole. When you say that “you are dying to go to that restaurant” nobody in their right mind is going to call a suicide line. Likewise, if I say that you should be tarred and feathered for misunderstanding such an obvious joke, nobody is going to accuse me of hate crime, death threat or intimidation.

                                                                                  1. 6

                                                                                    Do you find it in the least bit strange that, in the face of multiple commenters disagreeing with your disagreement with one of the most upvoted comments on this post, your argument consists of statements like “Oh, please! This is obviously . . .”, “even a non-native speaker as me was not confused about”, “the title is a clear indicator that the content of the post is not going to be extremely serious”, and an analogy to “such an obvious joke”?

                                                                                    Doesn’t it seem like your argument that “it’s obvious” isn’t likely? If the case you’re stating was as obvious to others as it is to yourself, you wouldn’t have to make the case to so many different commenters as well as upvoters.

                                                                                    Just to be clear, I’m not saying that Drew should or should not use the rhetorical style that he did. I think he has a fair point when he says that he doesn’t post this kind of thing to lobsters and he’s just writing for himself. tptacek made a similar point about his writing on HN – he feels limited in what he can write since any random thought he posts to his blog will make it to HN.

                                                                                    1. 3

                                                                                      Isn’t it obvious in this case that your argument that “it’s obvious” cannot possibly be correct?

                                                                                      I guess everybody understood the joke, including some people who just wanted to make a fuss about it.

                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                      Swearing in a blog post is not a universally-understood signal that its contents are not supposed to be taken seriously.

                                                                              3. 4

                                                                                The point was also that the language was used to make engineers look bad without knowing the circumstances.

                                                                                Overall the tone in the post is unfriendly and offensive, a bit more than necessary for a rant.

                                                                              4. 3

                                                                                My 2016 or 2017 era XPS13 model 9360 no touchscreen is perfect.

                                                                                • kensington lock so i can take a pee at a conference without needing to carry my laptop in like a weirdo.
                                                                                • sleep on screen shut and resume wokrs and has done since day 1
                                                                                • 2 usb A ports & a usb c port that can drive external display and GB network
                                                                                • onsite repair warranty seriously this was amazing when they came round and replaced the keyboard -all day battery use while coding and sysadmin if i dont crank brightness to full -dreaded coil whine never bothered me
                                                                                • has gone completely in bios and video driver update
                                                                                • all of the above works on FreeBSD its my daily laptop except the SD card
                                                                                • i replaced whatever wifi it came with an intel 8265 which is adequate

                                                                                Pity the whiners are banging on Drew. Write your own display drivers then. Its his blog so whatever its hardly controversial and the exaggeration is not imo excessive.

                                                                                1. 2

                                                                                  Perhaps this is nitpicking, but language like this really rubs me the wrong way. It’s short sighted because it assumes it’s all the engineers fault. It’s the kind of language I might expect from somebody with zero people skills and new in the industry, not from somebody who has been around for a while. There’s no place and time where suggesting we hang people because of their work should be acceptable.

                                                                                  This. For what it’s worth I agree.

                                                                                2. 9

                                                                                  isn’t it a bit unfair to compare pine64 with the other ones?

                                                                                  they at least try to be better :) https://forum.pine64.org/showthread.php?tid=8884&pid=57753#pid57753

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                                                                                    I’m very happy with Pine64 and I think they’re trying to be better. But, the fact remains: they’re not there yet.

                                                                                    1. 4

                                                                                      Mostly as a factor of ARM devices being horrible booters. I wonder how RISC-V intends to boot, or if the walled bioses of X86 really are our best.

                                                                                      1. 8

                                                                                        The RISC-V boot process varies but generally goes like

                                                                                        1. On-chip ROM reads next stage from flash (or sets up XIP)
                                                                                        2. OpenSBI (or BBL) switches to S-Mode and jumps to the next stage (usually loaded by the previous stage along with OpenSBI)
                                                                                        3. This can be Linux itself, but is usually a bootloader like U-Boot or Coreboot. We may still be running with XIP, but after this everything runs from ram.
                                                                                        4. OS proper

                                                                                        The SBI handles some functionality which can only be done from M-mode. This lets the OS run in S-mode and not care about if it’s being virtualized or not. Steps 2 and 3 can also be swapped, depending on the platform.

                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                          If core boot can be a single binary that can be distributed to non homogeneous fleets, then it seems to be as convenient as x86

                                                                                          1. 4

                                                                                            If coreboot uses the SBI as a baseline that could be possible. However, the current plan has it running in M-mode, so you would likely need a different coreboot for each board.

                                                                                  2. 8

                                                                                    I guess most people would agree, the question is how this happened? It makes little sense to claim all laptop vendors sat together somewhere around 2009 and said “we’re going to collaborate on making laptops worse”.

                                                                                    1. 12

                                                                                      Oh, that’s easy. Apple was making loads and loads of money by making the thinnest thing possible and disregarding every functional concern, so everyone else decided they wanted in on that.

                                                                                      1. 5

                                                                                        This actually makes the most sense, but is at the same time sad. Is there really no interest in slightly chubby laptops that aren’t “gaming laptops” anymore?

                                                                                        1. 9

                                                                                          Nope; sadly there is no middle ground between “paper thin, glued shut, feels like typing on glass” and “extremely chonky, mechanical key switches, hand-assembled by a shadowy hacker collective in Berlin”: https://www.crowdsupply.com/mnt/reform/updates/re-introducing-reform

                                                                                      2. 11

                                                                                        You see the same on the smartphone market, where it’s actually even worse IMHO.

                                                                                        I can’t be sure, but I think it’s because big companies tend to build products that appeal to the majority market, and tend to ignore the long tail of “niche” users (a long tail which may be as high as 50%, but everyone in that 50% wants something different). There’s nothing wrong with that as such, but for laptops and smartphones the tech is sufficiently complex and requires such high investments that it’s not so easy to enter the market as a new player.

                                                                                        Starting a craft beer brewery in your garage is easy. Manufacturing laptops in your garage isn’t.

                                                                                        There are probably other factors as well, but I think this is probably a major one.

                                                                                        1. 5

                                                                                          I can’t be sure, but I think it’s because big companies tend to build products that appeal to the majority market, and tend to ignore the long tail of “niche” users (a long tail which may be as high as 50%, but everyone in that 50% wants something different).

                                                                                          Ok, but why the decrease in quality over the last decade? Were companies overestimating what people would accept? Sure, there were bad laptops back then, but as you say, there must have been a market for well built, usable laptops. Did that just disappear?

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            What do you mean with “decrease in quality” specifically? In my experience there are plenty of good laptops.

                                                                                            Of course, it’s a “you get what you pay for” scenario. I have a HP 14s as well that I bought in a bind, and the most polite way I can describe the build quality is “shit”. But I also paid like €200 for it, so what do you expect?

                                                                                            In my experience the quality of more expensive laptops is just fine. That was the price you were paying for quality way back when, and it still is.

                                                                                            Aside from that, there’s also a few trends that I don’t like (like many modern mousepads), but that’s a question of personal taste and not “quality”.

                                                                                        2. 8

                                                                                          Perhaps more and more standardization on the same Intel crap? I mean, most laptops are identical nowadays, motherboard-wise. It’s just the packaging that’s different (to be fair, having user servicable parts still makes a big big difference).

                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                            I’m not even just talking about internals (although that is very important too). Just the quality of the use-facing hardware seems to have decreased, or am I mistaken?

                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                              I think it’s something they do to get the devices thinner and lighter. That means shittier keyboards, as keys that travel further upon pressing them must by definition be thicker, less user-servicable parts (everything has to fit snugly) and requiring stupid dongles or weird click-open constructions for certain ports that are too large (ethernet, for example).

                                                                                              But with the macbook’s popularity you also notice the materials that are being used for the housing are often better nowadays. Less cheap plastic (at least, in the high end segment).

                                                                                        3. 7

                                                                                          You didn’t even mention the raging tire fire that are modern Apple Mac laptops :)

                                                                                          Or that laptop speakers used to be awesome and are now pretty much universally tinny and awful sounding :)

                                                                                          One bit surprised me though:

                                                                                          Pine64 requires nonfree blobs, patched kernels, and booting up ARM devices is a fucking nightmare

                                                                                          I mean, just about every device out there requires proprietary blobs. Is it actually a realistic thing to demand total open source transparency in every component of a modern laptop device?

                                                                                          I also don’t understand what you mean about booting up ARM devices being a nightmare.

                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                            Now that laptops regularly reach $2k at the same time $40 arm boards provide enough power for many uses, I am hoping something comes out the “cyberdeck” camp (try an image search). Something that uses a 3d printed case, an existing laptop keyboard and screen, that people inclined to modify and upgrade their laptops the way they do their desktops might be possible.

                                                                                            1. 5

                                                                                              I’m glad this is receiving so much support, it’s really validating my frustration with laptops recently. I asked on the lobsters IRC if anyone had recommendations after the hardware on my XPS failed and people said it was the best around which blew my mind. I might give up on using a laptop and just buy a NUC for the office to drive some displays.

                                                                                              1. 4

                                                                                                Agreed. I prefer desktops but having a nice 12” laptop for travel is great to have. Problem is there isn’t a worthy 12” in the market at the moment and hasn’t been for a long time.

                                                                                                Question- Why not use a desktop?

                                                                                                1. 5

                                                                                                  My daily driver is a desktop.

                                                                                                  1. 4

                                                                                                    Depending on workload, an x201 in 2020 may still be viable, I use an x201 as my daily driver and honestly it’s perfect, the only downside is youtube, which eats processor and causes the fan to come on. But I mean the computer cost me £100, can’t exactly complain!

                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                      For me personally, desktops just don’t offer enough advantages to outweigh the fact that they don’t really fit the way I work.

                                                                                                      I’m hoping that the next computer I buy will be some descendant of the Pinebook; portability and battery beat power (almost) every time.

                                                                                                    2. 4

                                                                                                      Huewei laptops are shameless Macbook ripoffs with the same shitty keyboards

                                                                                                      A colleague of mine uses a Matebook since a few weeks at work and he really likes it. The build quality is not as impressive as what Apple can do but he does not complain about the keyboard so far. It runs Linux without any issues. Personally I’m not a big supporter of Huawei but I wouldn’t call this nice laptop a “ripoff”.

                                                                                                      (We’re not in the US and Huawei products are not banned from our country)

                                                                                                      1. 4

                                                                                                        So fucking true and sad at the same time … there are not usable/true laptops anymore, just some tablet wannabe shit with island bullshit keyboards …

                                                                                                        About that T520 battery time … its definitely too low.

                                                                                                        You have written about several operating systems but if you are speaking about FreeBSD, then I got about 4-5 hours of battery time on T520 with Intel graphics, details of settings described here: https://vermaden.wordpress.com/2018/11/28/the-power-to-serve-freebsd-power-management/

                                                                                                        I currently use W520 with FreeBSD and with largest battery I gout about 4-5 hours of battery time with Nvidia disabled in BIOS and using Intel graphics only.

                                                                                                        Hope that helps.

                                                                                                        BTW. You can also can get T520 with only Intel graphics.


                                                                                                        1. 3

                                                                                                          The new Thinkpads are fairly good. I snagged a T25 and was about to update to Frankenpad status by following this guy’s example. https://kitsunyan.github.io/blog/frankenpad-story.html.

                                                                                                          1. 3

                                                                                                            I have mostly switched back to desktops, since you have everything from NUCs (lot’s of bang for the buck) to high-end workstations that are easily expandable.

                                                                                                            On the go, I use a MacBook. I have my qualms with the keyboard – I do like the butterfly keyboards in principle, but hate ‘death by speck of dust’, though it has gotten better since they have added seals. I heavily dislike the Touch Bar (my wife’s newer MacBook Air is nicer, it has Touch ID, but normal escape/function keys). But the battery life is really great, which is nice for travelling. And it’s good to have a Mac for applications for which I do not have a good replacement on Linux (e.g. OmniGraffle), compatibility (work uses Office documents, and LibreOffice is not compatible enough), and to be able to test if my software build/works on a Mac. Also, noise cancellation is much better than in Linux, so it’s nice for calls, which I do regularly, since I am currently working remotely.

                                                                                                            There may not be a great Linux laptop, but the MacBook is still a great Unix laptop. And if they fix up the Catalina mess and reintroduce the scissor keyboard across the line, it’s as great as it ever was.

                                                                                                            1. 2

                                                                                                              I’ve been on a desktop machine that cost about $1500 usd for a year or so now. The performance is incredible.

                                                                                                              I do occasionally miss the mobility, though. Thinking of picking up a cheap chromebook soon, and setting up vscode-remote on the desktop so I can access it on the go.

                                                                                                            2. 3

                                                                                                              I switched employers recently and they let me choose my own hardware with basically no limit. At the time, I thought that part of my job might be iOS development, so I’d need a Mac. I asked for a 16” MacBook Pro, since they have supposedly fixed the keyboards.

                                                                                                              The MacBook Pro is, three weeks later, going to a designer colleague. I have replaced it with a ThinkPad T450s which is faster than I need it to be and was less than 10% of the price.

                                                                                                              After buying the laptop used and picking it up, I ordered a brand new keyboard and trackpad on ebay for less money than two days worth of lunch out. I love this machine, and it feels like new thanks to the keyboard and trackpad replacement.

                                                                                                              1. 3

                                                                                                                I’ve used an X61s as my daily driver till 2018. I briefly used an X230 but couldn’t stand its keyboard, so quickly downgraded to an X201, until my “X210“ arrived. That’s a modded X201 with a better screen, NVME-SSD support an an i7 processor from 2018, and o out 32GB of RAM into it. I love it, and plan to use it till at least 2028!

                                                                                                                I’ve just ordered an “X2100”, which is similar to the “X210” but with a larger screen (higher resolution. smaller bezels [so small they had to remove the webcam… Yay!] and a 3:2 ratio!) and a gen10 CPU from 2019. That should be good enough till 2030 for me.

                                                                                                                I can only recommend that you buy one yourself as long as they’re still available. It involves wiring money to China to “some guy” who then ships you the laptop a couple of months later. It’s so much worth it, and I wouldn’t buy any other laptop. I completely agree with you, every laptop today sucks, and even Lenovo’s X-series went downhill (started with the X230 keyboard, but become complete shit with lady year’s refresh making the X series basically an X1 clone with soldered RAM and battery and crap like that. No thanks!)

                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                  Holy shit, a 3:2 ratio? Sounds too good to be true.

                                                                                                                  Edit: apparently it has a glossy screen, so yeah; too good to be true. what a tragedy.

                                                                                                                  What do you do about the battery?

                                                                                                                  1. 1

                                                                                                                    Right, it’s glossy :-/ I’ll see whether I’ll use the X210 or the X2100 more (the other is a backup in case the main one breaks).

                                                                                                                    Battery is no problem, you can buy some pretty good used ones. With “used” I mean lightly used with still >80% capacity which is good for at least 6h. That’s not much by today’s standards, but I’ve never needed more than 4h without power supply available.

                                                                                                                    Why used? Because “new” ones are often crappy fakes.

                                                                                                                    1. 1

                                                                                                                      Huh; I assumed since it’s no longer possible to get batteries for the X300 that the same would be true of the X210, but I guess the downside of the X300 being the premium line was that a lot fewer were produced.

                                                                                                                2. 4

                                                                                                                  “I have a laptop. I like it. I saw other 3 models, and I hate them. From this I imply laptop segment is in atrocious state.” => this is worth 60 votes?

                                                                                                                  I wish there was an auto-hide mechanism on Lobste.rs based on hostname. Just look at how many people are hiding Drew’s blog posts, every time.

                                                                                                                  Btw, ThinkPad isn’t the only good model. I like EliteBooks, later ZBooks.

                                                                                                                  1. 2

                                                                                                                    This is why I own six thinkpad x230, my family uses them and I fix theirs when they break.

                                                                                                                    1. 2

                                                                                                                      Hah! My family fleet is a W541 (for me) and three X250s for the kids. Family rule is when you turn three, you upgrade to a big boys/girls bed, and get your first Thinkpad.

                                                                                                                      My wife is the lone holdout, running Windows on an XPS13 (which cost more than the entire Thinkpad fleet).

                                                                                                                    2. 1

                                                                                                                      I think a good option is to buy an X220 that has been retrofitted with a better screen. These go for ~£500 on eBay and can decode 1080p YouTube vids.

                                                                                                                      Won’t meet Drew’s standards because it has blobs and maybe they want a 16:10 screen.

                                                                                                                      1. 1

                                                                                                                        Talking about battery, I’ve recently purchased an used x230 and it came with a busted battery. I went back to the used computer fair next week and managed to get it replaced with a battery that was better but still sucked, I had about 1 hour or 1h30 hours. Then I found out that Duracell makes laptop batteries and they ship new Duracell-made batteries for the x220 and up. I got a 6-cell one for 40 pounds and it is lasting between 4 and 5 hours. I’m quite happy and recommend people using old thinkpads to check it out.

                                                                                                                        1. 1

                                                                                                                          I’m sad that the System76 laptops are also bad. Isn’t their whole purpose to provide good quality Linux machines?

                                                                                                                          1. 6

                                                                                                                            I don’t know about bad per se. He only states they’re bulky and overpriced. I would love to read a comparing review between, say, the latest System 76, Purism and XPS laptops.

                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                              I bought a Librem 15 v2, I believe (maybe a v3? can’t remember) and switched to a System76 Oryx Pro (oryp4) machine. I’ve talked about why in a number of places, e.g. the Purism forums and on Lobsters, but the summary is that Purism did a really bad job of supporting their existing customers (i.e. me). I also found that the Oryx Pro just felt like it had much, much higher build quality. It was apparent within seconds of pulling the machine out of the box.

                                                                                                                              For my Librem, for example, I used to carry around a set of screwdrivers because if the bottom of the case was screwed on too tightly, parts of the keyboard would be really stiff to the point where it was borderline impossible to type a key. So I’d be adjusting the screw pressure all the time. I’m not sure how to explain it but generally holding the Librem in your hand it felt like the whole thing was just kinda slapped together in a not-so-solid way. Never had that problem with my Oryx Pro. It feels solidly put together and I can screw all the screws in tightly. Maybe they’ve fixed this in newer revisions; I don’t know.

                                                                                                                              The battery life on my Oryx Pro is somewhat disappointing, although the newer revision is supposed to be better. I could try to compare if you really want, but a) it’s late and I’m tired and b) it would be extremely difficult to make a fair comparison since I run Qubes OS on my Oryx Pro, and Qubes is WAY more power-hungry than Debian, which I ran on my Librem. The thermals aren’t great on the Oryx Pro, but it might be that I’m noticing that more because of Qubes. I vaguely recall seeing (very) roughly the same fan time on on the Librem as I do when booting my Pop_OS! partition. But it was a while ago, so who knows.

                                                                                                                              YMMV, of course, depending on which System76 laptop you get. The Oryx Pro is on the higher end; when I bought it I was basically looking for the most powerful laptop I could find. I didn’t buy the even beefier models primarily because carrying the weight around would have been miserable. With the benefit of hindsight I think I couldn’t gotten away with a little less power, and I should’ve considered the battery more, so if I was to buy again I’d probably consider e.g. the Darter Pro as a stronger contender. (System76 has refreshed a few of their models since I last made a serious comparison, though.)

                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                Thanks for taking the time to make the comparison! It’s unfortunate there are no shops carrying these devices, so you can’t at least do a quick comparison of the build quality.

                                                                                                                          2. 1

                                                                                                                            Have you tried Lenovo X1 Carbon? I installed Linux successfully on it and it’s working very well!

                                                                                                                            1. 1

                                                                                                                              I use an X1C5 since it came out in late 2017 and, even though wifi worked out of the box, it was a lot of trouble. The trackpoint stops working randomly after a suspend (https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1560723#c9), an issue that is still unfixed¹. The ethernet port on the Thunderbolt3 docking station caused the whole system to freeze after some random amount of time (this seems to be fixed now). In general, external displays are often not detected after waking up from suspend when connected to the docking station. I can absolutely understand why people are frustrated with running Linux on a laptop.

                                                                                                                              Positive sides of the device are its form factor, battery life and display, both are top-notch and the support for firmware upgrades via fwupd.

                                                                                                                              Still, I would never go back to a crappy X230/X220, let alone an X200. I owned both and their build quality was a joke (the amount of flex on the bar with the ThinkVantage button). Especially their displays, my god, what was Lenovo smoking when they thought that anybody would love to work with this.

                                                                                                                              Update: formatting.

                                                                                                                              ¹ A workaround is executing this: $ sudo sh -c ‘echo -n none > /sys/devices/platform/i8042/serio1/drvctl && sleep 5 && echo -n reconnect > /sys/devices/platform/i8042/serio1/drvctl’

                                                                                                                            2. 1

                                                                                                                              There will never be consensus on this, I guess. I got my first ThinkPad in 2010 (had used them on and off before) and I actually prefer the newer keys, so I’d take an x230 over an x200 every day.

                                                                                                                              Now you could still argue that it’s an old laptop from 2013, but it’s at least 5 years newer. And I’m not really unhappy with either a T460p or a T470p in any way compared to the x230. I’m unhappy if it’s an i5 and only has 16GB RAM…

                                                                                                                              1. 1

                                                                                                                                Speaking of Macbooks, even Apple fanboys are fed up with them these days

                                                                                                                                Yes! I still have the latest non-retina MacBook Air model. It’s the best MacBook ever, and if Apple continues down the road they seem to have chosen, that will never change.

                                                                                                                                The retina models overheat and cannot get a decent framerate for the UI of the operating system they ship with it. It feels old and outdated right out of the box. Meanwhile my non-retina Air happily runs the newest version of MacOS without any complaining.

                                                                                                                                1. 1

                                                                                                                                  I’ve replaced the battery and HD on a 2011 macbook air. All this talk of replaceable parts… why not replace the battery?

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