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Three Awesome Linux Laptops You Can Buy Right Now

Three Awesome Linux Laptops You Can Buy Right Now
Linux is amazing, unless it won’t install. Then it just hurts. Fortunately, a number of laptop makers build machines specifically for Linux. A handful of others, such as Hewlett-Packard, design their products with Linux in mind. But how many of these offer good performance?
This article covers three manufacturers who make Linux-equipped laptops and a few of their wares.

Three Laptop Companies

Unfortunately, purpose-built Linux laptops cost slightly more on average than those with Windows. Even low-end laptops, oftentimes with Intel Celeron processors, come with a premium, provided they include a Linux distribution. I’m not sure why this is, as Linux lacks licensing fees. It could be that Linux laptops target a niche market, willing to pay more, and the companies operate on smaller production runs.
Three companies offer high-end, purpose-built Linux-flavored laptops: System76, ZaReason and Dell. Other companies offer repackaged systems from Dell, HP, ASUS and Lenovo that include Linux distributions optimized for that particular laptop. Ubuntu keeps a list of Linux certified machines, but I’ve found that these are generally greatly inflated. You can, for the most part, purchase the laptops separately and install Ubuntu on your own.

System76

System76 builds a variety of configurable, Ubuntu-equipped devices. It also offers excellent, high-end laptops with beautifully designed chassis (we’ve reviewed their Gazelle laptop). They also make Ultrabook-form factor-like models, although their cases are built from brushed, faux-aluminum, instead of metal. Their designs include the latest Haswell CPUs, in five basic models. The five models range in price from $749 to 1,549. Unlike many Windows laptops, System76 offers matte screens as an option, instead of forcing the ubiquitous glossy models on customers.
bonobo   Three Awesome Linux Laptops You Can Buy Right Now
Bonobo Extreme
  • Starting price: $1,549.99
  • CPU: Either Core i5-4500U or Core i7-4500U (both are dual core Haswell CPUs)
  • GPU: GTX 765M or GTX 780M
  • RAM: 8GB to 32GB
  • Hard drive: 500GB HDD to 1TB SSD
  • Linux version: Ubuntu 13.10
  • Screen size: 13.3″ 1920×1080 IPS, 165 PPI touchscreen
The Bonobo edition also includes room for two mSATA devices, two 2.5″ drives and can optionally replace its optical bay drive with either an HDD or SSD. This means it’s possible to have a five-drive laptop. However the price, with all features packed onto it, can run up to $6,765.

ZaReason

ZaReason offers customizeable desktops and laptops outfitted with your favorite Linux distribution. Its older series of Ivy Bridge (2012) laptops (and an Ultrabook-like model) includes the Alto 4335 ( starting at $699) and the UltraLap 430 ($899). ZaReason’s most expensive model, the Verix 530, costs $999. Its newest model, the Strata 7440, starts at $749. Unfortunately, most of its builds are currently out of stock (although that will change soon). Their newest model offers really good specifications at an excellent price-point.
Strata 7440
  • Starting price: $749.99
  • CPU: Large range of CPUs, ranging from Haswell Core i5-4200M (dual) to i7-4900MQ (quad)
  • RAM: 4 to 16GB
  • Hard drive: 500GB HDD to 800GB SSD
  • Linux version: Any version of Linux
  • Screen size: 13.3″ 1920×1080 IPS, 165 PPI
  • Battery life: around 4 hours
strata 7440   Three Awesome Linux Laptops You Can Buy Right Now

Dell XPS 13, Developer Edition (AKA “Sputnik 3″)

The Dell XPS 13, Developer Edition laptop uses a combination of aluminum, magnesium and carbon fiber in its clamshell design. The combination of high durability, low-weight materials allows the XPS to weigh in at a very low 3.03 pounds. It also cold-boots in 12-seconds. It includes Ubuntu Linux 12.04, LTS (long-term support). But all these features don’t come cheap: The lower end XPS costs $1,249.99. The Core i7 version costs $1,549.99.
  • Starting price: $1,249.99
  • CPU: Either Core i5-4500U or Core i7-4500U (both are dual core Haswell CPUs)
  • RAM: 8GB
  • Hard drive: 128GB or 256GB mSATA SSD
  • Linux version: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
  • Screen size: 13.3″ 1920×1080 IPS, 165 PPI
  • Battery life: Reported to be between 3 and 5 1/2 hours
dell xps 13   Three Awesome Linux Laptops You Can Buy Right Now

Other Companies

Several companies sell laptops from ASUS, HP, Dell and Lenovo (and some from Acer), which come pre-installed with various Linux flavors.
  • EmperorLinux: EmperorLinux offers a very wide selection of Linux-equipped products including laptops, desktops and server gear. Additionally, EmperorLinux includes its own special variant on the Linux kernel, which includes additional features of use to the average laptop user, such as throttling.
  • Best Buy: Best Buy, believe it or not, sells a variety of Linux-equipped laptops. These are mostly older, Celeron 847-equipped builds, with the same or similar specs to Chromebooks.
  • The Linux Laptop: The Linux Laptop sells three models of Dell Inspiron with Linux pre-installed.
  • ThinkPenguin: Specializes in selling Thinkpads with Linux installed.
  • LinuxCertified: Sells a range of products, and at least one custom laptop, designed for Linux.

Conclusion

For Linux users, there’s a large number of laptops that come with your favorite operating system pre-installed. This means no more hunting for drivers or tweaking your settings. However, for those of you who feel like installing Linux on your own, you can always buy a Ubuntu-certified laptop. Ubuntu keeps a list of all equipment, including laptops, that received a “Ubuntu Certified” credential, meaning they work with Linux out-the-box.
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