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I'm looking for a cheap, portable and durable Laptop to run Linux on. I have been searching quite a bit and found the Lenovo Thinkpad x220. I know Thinkpads are supposed to be great with Linux and really durable. It's 12.5 Inches which is a good size. I would buy it here for 199€ and then I would buy a 120gb SSD from amazon for about 45€. But for the same money I would also get a Chromebook, which is lighter and has better battery life. I just don't know how well it would behave under Linux for the things I want to do.

The things I want to do:

  • Put Arch Linux on it with i3wm
  • Web browsing including streaming video from YouTube, Netflix...
  • basic Java programming (but nothing intense)
  • HTML, CSS editing and stuff like that
  • Libre Office
  • Thunderbird for email
  • maybe play some unintense steam indie games or emulate Nintendo DS games

Should I go with a used Thinkpad or get a new Chromebook? Which Chromebooks are a good alternative here?

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    Just curious as to what research you have done on the systems you are looking at. Archwiki seems to have good information on system compatibility, especially where it comes to chrome OS devices, and their upgrade-ability: Archwiki Chrome OS Generation 1 devices information and Archwiki Chrome OS main page. – NZKshatriya Jan 8 '17 at 17:20
  • Yeah I did some Research but I Heard of Problems like Audio not working and the possibility of Bricking the chromebook – Tanonic Jan 9 '17 at 10:23
  • Personally, I'm not a fan of used computer equipment. I think you should be safe if you can verify that your chromebook of choice is able to run Arch Linux. – 0-60FPS Jan 10 '17 at 4:24
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    At the moment Im gravitating more towards the thinkpad just because of the higher performance I get for the price, als I have concerns with the storage options on chromebooks. I found some options on ebay for thinkpad x220 with ssd around 170€ which is a pretty good deal. – Tanonic Jan 10 '17 at 19:34
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    The Thinkpad T and X series are known to work (almost) perfectly with Linux. However, it really depends on the distro how far you will get “out of the box”. – lxg Jan 12 '17 at 21:36
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Here in the USA you can buy a ThinkPad x200 with no HDD for well under $100 on eBay. Boost the memory to 8GB or better and add an mstata SSD and you'll be working with a fast machine. Install the Chromium browser and you can make use of all the Google apps and extensions just like you would on the Chromebook. Battery life is fantastic, just get a used 9 cell and install TLP, tp-smapi and acpi-call.

On the other hand, Chromebooks are amazing, and you can easily run Arch on an SD Card through crouton. With the Asus C202 you'll have the same durability as you would with the ThinkPad. The downside is that you'll have far less memory than you would on the x220.

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The X220 (unsure about X220s) can take 16GB RAM, and has a slot you can use for an mSATA harddisk, in addition to a standard 2.5" disk. It has superior cooling (large copper heatsinks), and mine never gets too hot. You can extend it with a dock or ultrabase, and give it additional drives and batteries. A 9-cell will give you 10-12 hours on spartan settings. USB3 is available with an expresscard (at a nominal 2.5Gb/s), so it's not lacking, it just requires an ebay purchase. I've used mine for years, and it doesn't even show signs of wear and tear.

You can repair an X220 forever; if a part fails, you can get a new one. None of mine have failed, but I wouldn't have to spend much to buy a defective X220 for a bucketload of spare parts.

Chromebooks... are funny. They are light, at least. The X220 weighs 1.6kg with a 6-cell battery. Stick it in your bag, and you won't notice the weight. If you have absolutely no muscles, perhaps a chromebook is the best option. Girls also seem to favour macbooks and chromebooks because they're pretty like flowers, so there's that.

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A not so recent model of a Chromebook where audio is working would be nice, you can use this table to find suitable models. A model like the N22 with 4GB would be able to do the tasks you listed and match the Thinkpad in resolution and size while being slimmer and lighter, but the Thinkpad takes the lead in performance, durability and repair-ability. In this price range I would, like you, gravitate towards the Thinkpad and try to make the most out of it.

Models like the Asus C302 were released for twice the amount of money you want to spend when you posted your question. I have it and it's a fantastic device if you can get your hands on it. It is very slim size and has a 1080p touch screen which makes sense with the recently released Playstore for Chrome OS in stable. The Thinkpad still takes the lead in durability and Linux compatibility though and its CPU is probably still faster than the passive cooled low-power counterparts, non-replaceable memory and slow eMMC storage.

Where Chromebooks win due to slimmer chassis and drawing less power a used x220 makes up for it in performance and reliability. If size and weight is not an issue then you should get the Thinkpad and probably a second battery.

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