I was in the market for a new Linux notebook. Something with enough horsepower to use as an every day machine, but small and light enough to carry around everywhere. I found that dollar-for-dollar, pound-for-pound the Macbook Air is best out there . I’m also a long-time Apple user, so the decision wasn’t too difficult. That said, getting Linux to run on this machine smoothly has been a challenge.
First on my list was to get Linux running. I repartitioned the flash, installed rEFIt, then installed Ubuntu 11.04 from a USB drive. Once Ubuntu was installed I learned I was stuck at 1024×768 resolution. There is an issue with the integrated HD graphics on Sandy Bridge Intel chips and/or the physical display. There are a number of forums tracking progress on this issue. So far, a fix has not emerged.
Until driver support comes along, I’ve been using virtualization to run Linux. That’s been a bumpy road as well.
I then tried vmWare Fusion. It does not support OpenGL on Linux, so the new Unity desktop doesn’t work. There are ways to avoid the issue, but I’d rather have the OS work out of the box than have to tinker.
Finally I tried Parallels Desktop 6. Out of the box USB appeared to not work. Thanks to a KB article on the Parallels forum everything seems to be working . I’ve been running stable without a crash and with OpenGL support. Both Fusion and Parallels strongly cater to Windows users, but the fact that Parallels also supports Ubuntu well makes me a happy customer.
 There are cheaper and more powerful notebooks, but (in my opinion) they are bulkier, more power hungry, and not as feature-rich as the Macbook Air. The closest I found was the Lenovo Thinkpad X1. Configuring it as closely as possible to the Macbook Air, it priced in at $1824 with only 160G flash compared to 256G.
 After patching the plist I ran into very similar USB issues and discovered that a VirtualBox VM was “stealing” the USB device. I have not gone back to unpatch the plist and try again, but USB may work out of the box without the plist tweak so long as something else is not claiming the USB device.