It's been over a year since my last request for comments on a new laptop. I had a scare using my almost 7-year-old Thinkpad a20p today while teaching a private class. I wanted to run VMware Server using a VM configured to need 192 MB RAM. The laptop has 512 MB of physical RAM. When I started the VM, VMware Server complained it didn't have sufficient free RAM. Puzzled, I checked my Windows hardware properties and saw only 256 MB RAM reported! Oh oh.
I guessed that maybe one of the two 256 MB RAM sticks in my laptop had been loosened on the trip to the class site. Using a grounding wrist band thoughtfully provided by my class, I removed my laptop's RAM and reseated it. After booting, I saw all 512 MB again. Whew.<
This experience made me again consider buying a new laptop. I am going to buy a Thinkpad, probably something in the T series like a T60p. However, I'm considering a new OS strategy. Currently I dual boot Windows 2000 Professional and FreeBSD 6.x. For my next laptop, I'm thinking of installing an OS fully supported by VMware Server, like Ubuntu, with VMware Server over it. I won't install anything else in Ubuntu. I'll do all my work inside VMware, with one VM running FreeBSD for daily work and another running some version of Windows for Office-like tasks.
I've avoided relying on VMware in the past as a primary work environment because I thought I would regularly need hardware-level access to run wireless assessment tools. This hasn't turned out to be a real need, and I think I would just turn to a live CD like BackTrack that has figured out all the Linux kernel voodoo needed for the cooler wireless tools.
Is anyone else doing this? What has been your experience?