Can we talk about hardware on notebooks?

I am researching getting an MS Surface type tablet (not necessarily MS) that I can put Linux on and have the note-taking ability in Xournal with a pen.

I have always owned Intel devices and wondering about AMD. What is the difference in performance, etc.?

I have read some discussions here about System 76, Framework, Purism, and have never even heard of them. One discussion talked about a BIOS flaw that bricks them when system no longer will recognize a battery, so no more charging. So not sure, but insight would be helpful.

I need the portability of a small notebook like Surface Pro or Lenovo Flex. The Flex has both AMD & Intel offerings, though it appears the Intel unit is cheaper.

Just looking for input on my options and getting the best hardware that will work on Linux. The touchscreen is nice, but not a must for me as I use the pen for notetaking & always have a BT keyboard & mouse available.


I have seen videos of people installing Linux on Surface but have no first-hand experience.

Considering Microsoft’s history, I would prefer a Lenovo device over Surface. But that’s my personal opinion, not an advice.


I’ve seen people successfully getting arm64 (i.e. not x86_64) one one of Lenovo’s ARM based tablets… The main reason that ARM is often use instead of Intel / AMD - is that it’s much better for low power usage (i.e. will go further, and longer, for less).

I’ve used Xubuntu on a Lenovo “hybrid” Thinkpad - i.e. pen enabled device. It worked quite well… I think it was a Lenovo Thinkpad X221 (they looke like a regular thinkpad, but have pen and touch) - these are pretty old…

I wouldn’t have a clue about handwriting recognition, haven’t tried that on computing device since I had a Palm Pilot (was actually a Sony CLIÉ running Palm OS)… I’m mostly interested in pen computing for drawing… I’ve had Galaxy Notes before, and only ever used the stylus for drawing…

And per @abhishek 's advice - it should be reasonably easy to get Linux installed onto a Surface Pro - you could probably get one at a reasonable price 2nd had off the likes of ebay…

As for AMD? I just prefer it over Intel, my desktop and my Thinkpad are both AMD Ryzen, you tend to get more bang for your buck (and more cores / threads per your CPU die) with AMD - but that’s just anecdotal, I don’t have any evidence to justify my preference.


I love me some Lenovo product. I have a Lenovo machine here that’s been rock solid for a number of years now, and I’ll recommend them to anyone that’s looking for a relatively inexpensive machine with nice features.


I have a Surface Pro 4 and have tried multiple Linux flavors on it. You do not get a top quality experience. I ended up putting Windows 10 back on it because the hardware just works so much better (touch screen, sleep, scaling, camera, etc.)

I wonder if the same is true with Surface Pro 7. I currently have one I use, but only 4 gb RAM is crazy slow.

That’s how I am leaning and currently bidding on a used one on eBay for $160 for Lenovo IdeaPad Flex 5, HD Touchscreen, 14’’ (Ryzen 7, 512GB SSD and 16 GB RAM). I could buy new, but around $700. The downside is it weighs twice as much as the Surface.



@abhishek I feel the same way regarding MS. I guess I just assumed most of these tablet/notebooks/2-in-1s would allow for Linux. But as @Snapdragon implied, with all my research on the Surface Pro, it is a consistent nightmare with non-working parts under Linux. But after several days of research and trying hard to get the best Lenovo I can find, even the newer of these apparently has issues.

Lenovo Flex 5 14" Touchscreen 2-in-1 Laptop - AMD Ryzen 7 7730U - 1200p - Windows 11

Lots of reviews on W11 bloatware, etc. but one reviewer bought it to use Linux and was not successful.

See the review excerpt below and maybe expound on the new kernel and if that would be an option for now. Obviously I need wifi, Bluetooth & touchscreen for using the pen.

I did want to run Linux on this device but that was completely frustrating. I tried Ubuntu, Debian, Manjaro, OpenSuse Leap and Tumbleweed. The touchscreen and touchpad are not supported outside of Linux Kernel 5.14 and the wifi not supported until Kernal 6.2 so you either have Wifi but no touchpad and touch screen or no wifi and touch screen/pad or maybe all three don't work between those versions. It also just had issues with sleep/hibernation mode. So that's why I ended back up on Windows.

I am in no hurry, but did not expect it to be so difficult to get Linux on a touchscreen 2-in-1.


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They are all mainstream. Try Solus. It is a specialist home computer distro and I know it does onscreen keyboards etc.
It is rolling release, it will have uptodate drivers.


Back in 2019, I brought a Lenovo X220 PC-Tablet Laptop. I had a problem with the touch screen and Linux Mint. When I booted LM, the cursor would jump randomly around on the screen. I found a fix to stop the cursor from jumping, but it also disable the touch screen. I didn’t use the touch screen so it did not bother me that it was disable.

Later I got a another Lenovo Laptop T440. No touch screen, just plain laptop, No problem with Linux Mint at all.

I do not know if LM has solved the jumping cursor problem on a touch screen PC. You can read one of my posts on the jumping cursor here.


@nevj I haven’t looked at Solus but I guess my concern is buying the thing that even Windows users said they couldn’t believe was so restrictive, they could not even update it without signing into a Windows account, couldn’t remove the bloatware, etc. and then not being able to use Linux. I definitely need the pen/touch input on the screen as I do drawings for estimates in my business. It’s also why I want as small a device as possible as I don’t want to walk around properties and carry something too heavy or awkward to use in my hands alone. If I can find a used one with maybe an older Ryzen 7 I may do it just to see if I can make it work. The one above that I listed has the latest AMD 7 processor.


@easyt50, I think based on the reviewer and what @nevj said, none of the mainstream distros will work on touchscreen. I have followed Ubuntu Touch for years and they don’t appear to be working on tablets much, mostly phones. I was looking at Lenovo over MS as it seems they definitely have issues with the touchscreen & Linux.

I will keep looking, but if I can find an older Lenovo (the one I wanted had the latest/greatest Ryzen 7) used, I may buy it just to test out any version of Linux.


I thought students had that sort of thing for notetaking in lectures. It must be available somewhere, at least with Windows or Apple.

@nevj It is available if you want Surface Pro and all of these I mentioned looking at have it in Windows. The trick is: I want Linux. And people are saying it’s the touch screen/pen input that isn’t working in Linux. But if I find one, I could try your suggestion of Solus.

I will keep everyone updated as I continue my search.


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Now I mentioned looking at older AMD units and I found this:

Lenovo Flex 5 14 2-in-1 Laptop, 14.0" FHD Touch Display, AMD Ryzen 5 4500U, 16GB RAM, 256GB Storage, AMD Radeon Graphics, Digital Pen Included, Win 10

A reviewer said the first thing he did was install Linux:

Other OS Support: Linux support on this laptop is amazing, 
as long as you are running kernel 5.9 or newer. 

The laptop does not work properly at all in kernels 5.6 or older. 
Distros that I know include a new enough kernel and are for 
normal desktop usage are Ubuntu 21.04 (no stable release as of this review), Debian Bullseye (also not released yet), and basically 
all Arch Linux derivatives (Manjaro Linux is highly recommended 
by me, especially for this laptop). 

If you are going to boot Linux, make sure you are on the newest 
BIOS as older BIOSs have issues suspending. I highly recommend checking out this page if you want to tinker with this laptop on Linux
(I did not have any of the mentioned issues that are on this page).

FreeBSD based OSs boot, however are currently missing drivers
in 12.x such as for the touchscreen, touchpad and WiFi/BT.

Not sure I understand FreeBSD-based OS but he seems to have installed Arch? Manjaro? Linux. That might require bumping up my Arch knowledge as I know very little about it. But, hey, I am all for learning a new Linux.

Still researching but hopefully getting closer to the 2n1 I can put Linux on and still use pen/touch.


He means either FreeBSD itself, or derivatives like GhostBSD.
Just like Debian or derivatives of Debian.


Well, after going down to Best Buy and handling the various models, I ordered:

Lenovo - Yoga 6 2-in-1 13.3" WUXGA (1920 x 1200) Touch Laptop -Ryzen 7 7730U with 16GB Memory - 512GB SSD

which is a 2-in-1 like the Surface and I did read some reviews that said they used it with various Linux distros (a LOT of ArchLinux) but a few mentioned PopOS so it should be here Fri and I am going to first update the BIOS as I saw a few mentions that you needed to do that before installing Linux.

Then I may run a live session. I assume that any hardware incompatibilities would show up there? Or would I need to update everything during the live session from the flash drive? Don’t think I have ever done more than explore on live version or use it to install.

Will keep you posted.



Hi Shiela,
It sometimes happens that a live session works perfectly, but then when you install it some driver is missing .
That happens because the installer does not detect the hardware and so does not install the driver.
It is easily fixed… you identify the driver, see if its package has been installed, test adding its module to the kernel with modprobe, then add it permanantly with an entry in /etc/modprobe.d.

So, if it passes the live session test, you will get there, but you may have to fiddle.


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@nevj okay. When you say “identify the driver” are you talking about video drivers (say AMD’s) or are there other drivers and how would I know? I’ve never had a driver issue before.

What I mean is, let’s say after installation the touch screen is the only thing not working. Do I just go on Lenovo and find the Linux driver for touch screen? I saw a lot on Lenovo about Linux as they do support it. So hopefully they actually provide drivers for most distros.

As for adding it to the kernel? I have never done that either and am guessing I am going to learn about another sys file I have yet to modify: modprobe.d. But sure I can figure it out.

Once I get it installed, if I have any trouble, I will definitely be asking here. Otherwise, I hope to post that ALL is well ::


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No, if the live session works, the drivers will be there on the install iso. You dont need to look elsewhere. You just need to convince linux to attach the driver to the kernel.

Linux kernel has what are called modules… bits of code that you can add to it… like plugins in a browser. Most of these modules are drivers for various pieces of hardware.
You mostly dont have to worry about them because the installer automatically puts in the ones that your machine needs. Occasionally the installer fails to do this properly.
Then you have to fix it , by hand adding the required modele(s).

Lets see if your live session works first. If that fails you have a bigger problem

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