Lifebook 420D Notebook Computer

It is neither fancy nor overly innovative in its design (interior or exterior), but so far it appears to be a solid, stable machine, difficult to beat at its price point.
The Bottom Line

The Fujitsu Lifebook 420D is a solid, dependable (so far), and above all affordable notebook computer. While not endowed with all the latest gadgetry or the fastest hardware, it has more than enough power to run Linux well, in large part because Linux takes such good and efficient advantage of the hardware. While not designed for very high speed or for very great range, it's an excellent and inexpensive selection.

The only thing that prevents me from giving this product a complete endorsement is the NeoMagic chip issue. I have politely expressed my opinion of their proprietary attitude to both Fujitsu and NeoMagic. I can only hope that some heed of the Linux market is taken by either or, preferably, both companies.

If this particular issue doesn't bother you or if, like me, you're willing to work around these problems if it means you can have a portable computer without taking out a second mortgage, then by all means check out this product. If, on the other hand, you decide against the Fujitsu 420D specifically because of the NeoMagic issue, then I suggest you express that decision in a politely worded letter to both Fujitsu and NeoMagic. It's a market-driven world; the only chance we have of getting respect is to demonstrate that we are a market worth considering.

Michael Scott Shappe is a senior programmer for AetherWorks Corporation, a technology startup in St. Paul, MN. He's spent the last 10 years hammering on Unix systems of various stripes and addicting the unsuspecting to the Internet. You can peruse his personal web at or send him e-mail at