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I'm a Linux developer in the market for a laptop. 90% of my time is spent in Emacs, the terminal, and Google Chrome, and I want to use them within the excellent Xmonad tiling windows manager. Given these constraints, I can only see two options:

  1. Run Linux on a laptop

  2. Run Windows on the laptop, and spend all of my time working within a Linux VM.

Years of experience suggest that the first option will take many frustrating hours and probably be suboptimal w.r.t. battery life, wifi, and fn keys like screen brightness or audio adjustment.

For the second option, what would be the ideal setup? I've had a lot of luck with Cooperative Linux on my Samsung NC-10 netbook (Windows XP), but I would have to setup the X11 server myself. What about using VirtualBox (which includes the guest VM's GUI)? Has anyone tried this?

Hardware-wise, I'm looking for something in the "Macbook Air killer" category; Samsung Series 9 laptop, Lenovo IdeaPad U300s, &c. (i.e., matte screen, 5h+ battery life, 3ish pound weight). Price is not a consideration; any suggestions?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Bobby, Tog, Olli, Kevin Panko, Scott Feb 3 at 23:22

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

    
Why not Dual Boot both Windows and Linux? That is what I do. Forget running one in a slow VM. –  Robert Massaioli Oct 17 '11 at 9:11
    
Because then either way I boot will be suboptimal; I'll either be in Windows (and get no work done) or be on bare metal linux (which will kernel panic when I connect to wifi, if my battery doesn't drain first). –  Kevin L. Oct 17 '11 at 20:38
    
Kevin: I believe that you have a rather pessimistic view of Linux. I can honestly say that I have only ever seen one Linux Kernel Panic and that was because some hardware broke. And the VM will probably drain your battery faster than just bare metal linux; that is probably worth testing first. –  Robert Massaioli Oct 18 '11 at 2:07
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2 Answers

How long has it been since you've experienced Linux?? Lenovo/IBM, System76, ZaReason, (and many HP laptops) work beautifully with any recent Linux distro, even a low Acer Netbook runs Ubuntu decently.

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I'm sure I can get a console running on any laptop; it's the sound, screen brightness, battery life, and wifi I worry about. This thread on running Ubuntu on the Samsung Series 9 seems to confirm that many people are still having trouble –  Kevin L. Oct 16 '11 at 23:32
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An AutoHotkey script called "bug.n" implements a DWM-like window handling in Windows. As Xmonad is kind of derived from dwm, I'd go for this.

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