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Mostly driver-wise, I'd really like Linux or freeBSD running in dualboot.

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Get anything and use Ubuntu. If you have an internet connection, you could get anything easily from their repo!! –  vpram86 Mar 6 '10 at 15:08
    
@Aviator This is not true. I have toshiba satellite u400 currently and hardware is supported pretty badly. (Intell graphics, harware buttons, power saving options) –  Kugel Mar 6 '10 at 15:22
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I have had good luck with my thinkpad. I would say it partly comes down to the addon cards. Like my wireless is the intel wireless board. The Nvidia GPUs have fairly good linux support. I think if you went with a business class, middle of the road laptop from most manufacturers it would be fairly painless to get linux of freeBSD working. I would shy away from the ones with the coolest newest features as not enough of them have made it into the hands of the kernel+drivers people if the manufacturer doesn't do it themselves.

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It's more a question of hardware rather than specific vendor/manufacturer. I've never had a problem with laptops with Intel graphics and Intel wireless chipsets (less so with RaLink). My experience with Nvidia GPUs has always been good as well. If you're happy using proprietary drivers (which are easily enabled in Ubuntu) then that should be fine.

Other hardware component manufacturers are not always detailed in specs i.e. webcam, touchpad and can change between the same models. If you're having an issue with these then there are nearly always workarounds if you're happy committing some time after purchase. I'd avoid any model with lots of extra hardware buttons that you may struggle to get working out the box.

In summary: no vendor can be said to be better than another. It comes down to the hardware in the laptop. Most hardware is well supported, some may require a search to get a solution. Assuming you've limited experience with GNU Linux/FreeBSD, I'd stick to a flavour of Ubuntu as your OS which should make finding any solutions easier (it is probably the mostly widely used). Pick the laptop you want then do a quick search, you'll soon find out if any components are going to be headache to get working.

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The Toshiba U400 looks well supported after doing a search so I'm not sure what problems you're referring to except maybe 'special keys'. I'd always advise using the latest distro as well to maximise the likelihood of full support in the latest kernel. –  archery1234 Jul 25 '13 at 18:46
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Dell sells notebooks with Ubuntu on them, so getting one of those models should have pretty good Linux support for any distro.

Lenovo shipped the T series of laptop with Suse for a few years (though I believe this is discontinued), but those all have Linux driver support as well.

Finally, Linux Preloaded has a selection of smaller manufacturers that ship their notebooks with Linux on them and guarentee compatibility.

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