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Old 05-11-2013, 06:00 PM   #1
oldhouse
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Default Laptop recommendations

Hi all,

Been reading threads for a while and just decided to join - so forgive me if this should be in a different section.

Anyway, I'm looking to buy a new laptop. I primarily need it for word processing and not processing intensive programs. I do not know much about computers, so I will list my needs and hopefully you can give me some recommendations.

Uses:
Word processing
Sequence alignment programs - geneious MEGA etc
Command line terminal - i use terminal on macs exclusively on the lab so if something similar would be helpful

Questions:
I have access to large servers and any large scale next gen data analysis will be done by ssh-ing to the servers. So what is a good RAM size if ill just be doing that.

Im a pc person typically, but use macs exclusively in my lab. Can a windows laptop work well for me?

Basically I want to be able to use microsoft word, align sequences and use terminal to login to remote places. Ive looked at asus linux laptops with the ubuntu OS but I really dont know what works. A macbook makes sense, but on my limited budget Id prefer something cheaper.

THank you!!!
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Old 05-13-2013, 08:34 AM   #2
kbradnam
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Remember that Macs can run Windows (either as a dual-boot system using 'Boot Camp' or via virtualization). You can usually get a good deal on a slightly older Mac from Apple's refurbished store. E.g.

http://store.apple.com/us/browse/hom...ac/macbook_air

But if price is your main consideration, then there will always be cheaper options than a Mac.
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Old 05-13-2013, 07:24 PM   #3
Jeremy
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If you just ssh into a high performance cluster running linux then you can get away with pretty much any laptop and any operating system. But, the more RAM you have the more you can do on the laptop if the cluster is busy or down or whatever.
I use a windows laptop and ssh into a linux cluster with no problems.

Last edited by Jeremy; 05-13-2013 at 07:26 PM.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:15 PM   #4
Khen
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For what its worth, I love my mac. I spent $1000 dollars on it almost 3 years ago and I wouldn't ditch it for anything but another apple product. IMHO, as far as laptops go, apple does a really good job with hardware and I could easily survive with my macbook for a few more years.
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:05 PM   #5
sisch
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I'd say, be aware of your budget (I would not spent more than 400 Euro) and try to find within the budget
a) the largest harddisk you can get (data accumulates very fast)
b) the largest RAM you can get (probably 8GB)
c) quad better than dual better than single core (speeds things up a bit, but is optional)
d) ignore all the rest (except for battery life maybe)

In general windows is fine. If you need unix liek structure you can either install cygwin on windows or a linux distro in a virtualbox.

This is how I find my in-budget laptops
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Old 05-15-2013, 11:18 PM   #6
Wallysb01
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Without price range and portability desires its kinda hard to make a recommendation.

If you have the money, I'd definitely go apple thanks to UNIX plus being about to install more software, ie Office.

If you don't, go Windows and use Ubuntu in a VM. Personally, I hate those windows SSH clients and find dual booting a pain.
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Old 05-16-2013, 02:45 AM   #7
sklages
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I am running Ubuntu on a Dell XPS 15z (standard 8G RAM) and I don't wanna miss my SSD (the system behaves considerably faster) and full HD display.

Use whatever OS you like, depending on the software you'd like to use.
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Old 05-28-2013, 07:52 AM   #8
-yl-
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it seems impossible to run metagenomics data using laptop even it is quad core with 16GB RAM?
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Old 05-28-2013, 08:25 AM   #9
Richard Finney
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http://zareason.com/shop/Verix-530.html Linux, i7, 8GB ram. 1TB hd.

$2.6 K , loaded

I can't afford it.
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:14 AM   #10
sdriscoll
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Linux is fine but its not totally ready for prime time. I propose that you need to be a tinkerer to get away with using Linux full time as a primary OS. I have a Mac Air and a MacBook Pro but mostly I ssh into the lab and use my systems there for running analysis. The Air is totally sufficient as a development computer. I run light analysis on it as I develop analysis programs but I wouldn't use it to align a typical RNA seq sample to a genome. The Pro could do that just fine but I'd rather use the systems at the lab for that stuff.

If I can get away with an Air for most everything I do I suspect you can get away with something that's similarly powered. It has 4 GB of Ram and only a 1.3 Ghz core i5. The SSD makes it seem much faster than it is, however.

If you go with windows you can install Cygwin which gives you a *nix terminal with all of the commands you're used to using at a Mac command line. That's what I use on my windows systems to keep me from losing my mind.

My last bit of advice is to consider the number of years you hope to use this computer for. They aren't all created equally. Some will beg to be replaced in a year while others will still be going strong after 5 years. If it costs double up front to gain more than double the life span then it may be worth it. If you plan to replace this computer in only a couple years then you can spend less.
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:38 AM   #11
JackieBadger
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I would never go back to PC laptop after having a MacBook
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:42 AM   #12
rhinoceros
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sdriscoll View Post
Linux is fine but its not totally ready for prime time. I propose that you need to be a tinkerer to get away with using Linux full time as a primary OS.
I disagree. I would say that most things bioninfo are far easier to do on Linux than any other platform..
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Old 07-24-2013, 01:55 AM   #13
JackieBadger
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rhinoceros View Post
I disagree. I would say that most things bioninfo are far easier to do on Linux than any other platform..
Agreed. When i first got into this kind of analyses I was always looking for packaged PC programs with a GUI. The more you get into it you realise how limited and difficult they are to use in comparison to powerful Linux and R approaches.

I now have done a u-turn and generally try to avoid clunky PC windows interfaces. A lot of Java programs (which for some reason seem to be good a lot of the time and are an exception in my view) work on any operating system.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:25 AM   #14
Richard Finney
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Linux is fine but its not totally ready for prime time

Really? I think it's the only sane thing out there. Apple, Microsoft and Google products have turned into expensive, un-configureable, bloated, spy dens. If you're okay with a sandbox attached to the panopticon, then by all means, go with the big 3.

If you're doing real work, log on to a linux box and get familiar with the tools.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:33 AM   #15
sdriscoll
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i wouldn't exactly call what we're doing "prime time". within the lab of PhD toating biologists I work with I don't think any of them would be comfortable using Linux. If you're a programmer/scripter/IT anything person then yes. But our "prime time" is like 2% of user base. The other 98% will have a hard time especially when weird problems come up.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:36 AM   #16
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The last time I exclusively used Linux, I ran an Ubuntu LTS 12.04 on a Dell laptop and had terrible overheating issues whenever I ran something computationally intensive, which kind of turned me away from Linux. It might have to do with the hardware not being totally optimized for the OS. Otherwise the freedom for a developer with Linux is really special.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:41 AM   #17
Wallysb01
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I work on a linux box and love it, the problem is when it comes to grant/paper writing you really have to have a highly functional equivalent of word and adobe. While LibreOffice is a nice substitue for something, if it has to be perfect and highly sharable, it a total PITA.

This is why for a LAPTOP I would essepcially recommend somesort of VM solution with Ubuntu/Windows or just a Mac. If the poster was here asking about desktop/workstation/minicluster, I'd have different recommendations.

You aren't going to be doing your hardcore computational work on the laptop anyway, so all the advantages when it comes to linux for bioinformatics are lessened or completely disappear. On a laptop you're much more likely to be SSHed to a cluster/workstation for real work anyway (wether it has linux, OSX or windows), plus editing grants/papers/presentations. While I'd love linux distros to do those things better, and not have to rely on Microsoft/Adobe/Apple, its just the easiest way to get work done for those kinds of things. And that's the point. What gets work done the fastest?
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:44 AM   #18
Wallysb01
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Quote:
Originally Posted by vivek_ View Post
The last time I exclusively used Linux, I ran an Ubuntu LTS 12.04 on a Dell laptop and had terrible overheating issues whenever I ran something computationally intensive, which kind of turned me away from Linux. It might have to do with the hardware not being totally optimized for the OS. Otherwise the freedom for a developer with Linux is really special.
Sounds more hardware than software. Most laptops will get hot when the CPU is being heavily utilized. On my 15" MBP, I certainly wouldn't want it on my lap after its been pegging all its cores for 5 minutes or more. That doesn't mean its overheating though. Its just not comfortable to touch. in certain spots. Also, its loud as hell when all the fans hit 100%.
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Old 07-24-2013, 11:53 AM   #19
Richard Finney
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I know that Apple and Microsoft are big on "secure boot", but it may still be possible to dual boot (I'm not sure what current situation is). I keep and old laptop around that can dual boot so that 2 or 3 times a year I need commercial software or have a guest that wants to run a game, I just boot to Windows and pray I can upgrade faster than I can get infected.
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Old 07-24-2013, 12:02 PM   #20
Wallysb01
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You can dual boot Windows/Ubuntu very easily, but personally I'd rather just use a virtual machine because I often want to be in both at the same time. Its a bit of hack to get Macs to boot to anything other than OSX, but it is possible. I had a Mac Pro running Ubuntu for a while, but that is kinda silly since OSX can do almost everything Linux can.
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