Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Hello Libreboot Thinkpad X200

 Libreboot logo
When it comes down to it, laptop hardware basically hasn't improved for normal research use since at least 2009. A 2009 Thinkpad X200 has a 2.4GHz dual-core processor (Core 2 Duo) and 4GB of RAM.  The GMA X4500 HD graphics is also fine for most research purposes. The 13-inch screen is 1280x1024 pixels, which is fine. Not quite as beautiful as a Mac Retina screen, but very usable. And a docking station, gives you a DisplayPort to connect an external monitor for desktop use.

And, my god, these X200s are cheap - less than £100 used. And parts are readily available and easily replaced. I bought one in great condition for £80 including a charger, added a new 9-cell battery for £40, and an SSD for £50, and it runs Linux just as well as my 2-year old Macbook Pro (before it was bricked by a criminal).

But, the very best thing about them, is that you can add Libreboot - a fully free and open-source BIOS that disables the worrying Intel Management engine on all recent Intel machines and allows for a fully encrypted hard drive (including /boot). So, basically, much more secure, as well as free as in freedom.

Although, I'm now thinking that I might go even further, and build my own laptop, possibly something based around Novena.

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