I'm looking for a small notebook for 9 year old to run Linux powerfully enough for programming and runing Minecraft to buy my son for this Christmas. I'm based in the UK.

  • Small enough to suit a 10 year old, a 13" screen would be fine
  • Not too heavy, he will only be using it at home but I want it to be easy for him to move around the house.
  • He wants to learn basic programming
  • He also wants to play Minecraft
  • For these reasons, and because it requires less resources then Windows, I want to install Linux, preferably Ubuntu.
  • Would better if it came installed with Linux, not Windows.
  • It doesn't need to be super powerful, but at the same time it should be powerful enough to do the tasks mentioned above.
  • A matte screen would be a bonus
  • An SSD would be a bonus

To be clear, I do want a proper computer with a hard drive, not a Chromebook

Ive had a look at Acer, Asus and Lenovo - I think there might be a solution there, but I'm struggling to understand the range, nor can I see anything without Windows installed.

I'm looking to spend about £300.

  • 1
    @PaulTaylor, check the answer written by Rhipps: hardwarerecs.stackexchange.com/a/696/54. Lenovo X220 seems to be quite nice for you. Don't care too much about the OS. You can buy it without an HDD/SSD - this approach is much cheaper and you don't have to pay for the license & (mostly) overpriced SSD. Commented Dec 1, 2015 at 19:45
  • @belford Lenovo X220 certainly looks an option , it never occurred to me to go 2nd hand as normally Im going for something fast and recent Commented Dec 2, 2015 at 10:18
  • I'd recommend Lubuntu or LXDE WattOS on the software side. Just makes it slightly less resource intensive; Unity, the DE bundled on the default Ubuntu install is actually quite resource intensive.
    – timuzhti
    Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 11:38
  • Ah yes I meant to say Xubuntu Commented Dec 3, 2015 at 21:01
  • @belford so Ive order a Lenovo X220, should get next week Commented Dec 10, 2015 at 16:45

3 Answers 3


As Paul Taylor already mentioned, Lenovo X220 was chosen.

According to the OP's requirements:

☑ Dislay: 12.5" (1366x768, LED backlight, wideview, anti-glare, anti-reflective)

☑ Weight: 3.5 pounds with 6-cell battery (~1.6 kg)

☑ X220 will handle popular Linux distros with ease (Source 1, Source 2).

☒ Most often X220 has Windows on the board but it can be also (in specific cases) available without an operating system (related link).

☑ Powerful enough to learn programming and play simple games

☑ SSD is available in some builds (up to 160 GB - datasheet).

☑ It's in your budget

Some of the people don't really like the gritty touchpad but you can replace it on your own for ~$13.

This topic may be useful.

I have found a very perfect solution for the ones that do not like the touchpads on newer Thinkpads. On my Thinkpad T400s i just peeled of the old surface, which is just a sticker, cleaned of the glue by rubbbing it off with my finger, and then put on a new smooth touchpadsurface from the company skinstyler


I recently replaced the worn gritty touchpad on my Lenovo T420S.

For those wondering around this I have attached a pic. http://1drv.ms/1pacMv8

Process was easy, and removing the existing skin remarkably easy. My pad was pre-cut according to T420S size. I would recommend doing it - the old worn pads do look tacky.

Protection skin mentioned in the topic is available here.

Related video

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I was using the "HP Pavillion DM1 4000-SG" for a while now until I got a Desktop PC and...

  • I was able to play Minecraft with around 50 FPS (Optifine installed)
  • programm in Java using eclipse
  • It has a 13,1 inch-display (I think) and is just as large as a normal DIN A4-Paper

I discovered just two downsides regarding the Laptop:

  • the CPU-Cooler has a high rotation speed resulting in the keyboard not responding after around 12 hours of non-stop usage
  • the Pavillion-Series from HP goes for good Hardware but after around one year of usage, you may need to adjust some screws below the display, the rest is fine

The only downside regarding your requirements is, that it comes with Windows Pre-Installed and a standard HDD.


I would get a chromebook. Most of them are cheap, and they all have a local disk. There might not be a very big disk, especially if it's an SSD, but that shouldn't be a problem, considering your applications.

The reason I recommend a chromebook is that ChromeOS is basically Linux with a different UI.

Just like any other computer, you can boot INSERT FAVOURITE DISTRO HERE from a usb, and install it on the disk.

If you want to have GNU+Linux installed by default, you could try something like this.


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