Linux has become a perfectly capable and easy-to-use operating system, but where can you actually buy a Linux laptop? You won't find them in large physical stores other than Chromebooks. Fortunately, this is less of a problem as more of us shop online. Now all you have to do is know where to look and what to look for.
Here is a list of large corporations, smaller businesses, and resellers who are happy to sell you a laptop with Linux preinstalled.
Image source: Dell / Dell
Dell was one of the first major manufacturers to deliver desktop Linux preinstalled on a laptop. In the past these machines were hidden, but the company has made them a lot easier to find ever since. You can now buy XPS, Precision, and Latitude laptops that come with Ubuntu.
As you may have noticed, these are business-oriented devices from Dell. You do not have the option of choosing other Dell lines such as Inspiron or Alienware and swapping the operating system.
Image source: Lenovo / Lenovo
Are you looking for a more diverse offer? Lenovo delivers. The multinational group offers numerous ThinkPads on which Linux is preinstalled. There are the standard ThinkPads known for their ruggedness, or you can try the X1 Carbon or the X1 Yoga 2-in-1.
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Lenovo offers Ubuntu, but the options don't stop there. The company worked with Red Hat to certify these devices for the latest version of Red Hat Enterprise Linux, and some models even ship with Fedora as a pre-installed option.
System76 is a US-based company that makes a variety of Linux laptops that range from 14 to 17 inches. Much of the hardware is being rebranded to plastic Clevo machines, but the company has invested in developing its own hardware, as is the case with Thelio's desktop PCs.
System76 produces Pop! _OS, a Linux distribution that is pre-installed but is also available for anyone to download for free and use on their own non-System76 computers. Pop! _OS has become one of the most popular Linux distributions due to its ease of use.
Purism, also based in the United States, makes computers with privacy and security in mind. The company's laptops are bespoke and have minimal branding, although they come with a relatively high price tag. Privacy switches are less new these days, but they were original when Purism first introduced them on its Librem laptops.
Purism devices all run on PureOS, a Free Software Foundation-approved derivative of Debian. Rather than trying to differentiate PureOS from other distributions, Purism invests directly in improving the community-provided software on which PureOS depends.
The work of making GNOME more adaptable, for example to run on a Librem 5 smartphone, has benefited the entire GNOME community on desktops and mobile devices alike. The purchase of a computer from Purism supports this work.
Image source: Starlabs / StarLabs
StarLabs is a UK-based manufacturer of Linux PCs. The company is made up of a team of passionate Linux enthusiasts who make hardware to support the community and other Linux lovers.
While the company once shipped out renamed Clevo machines, the various models that are now available are custom machines. The Star Lite in particular is relatively unique as an 11-inch aluminum laptop that is reminiscent of the days of the netbook.
Instead of creating your own distribution, Star Labs offers a choice of several to choose from. Depending on which you choose, part of your purchase may go back to the distribution manufacturers.
Image source: Slimbook / Slimbook
Slimbook is a Spanish company that specializes in the manufacture of Linux computers and offers you the choice of numerous distributions and the option of preinstalling Windows. Slimbook offers a wide range of laptops, all with a premium look and feel. You can even buy some with Tux on the keyboard.
Slimbook worked with the KDE community to create the KDE Slimbook, a laptop with a pre-installed plasma desktop and KDE branding on the back and the Super Key. While there are other ways to buy a plasma equipped computer, this is perhaps the coolest.
Pine64 has quickly become one of the most recognizable names in Linux hardware. Pine64 made headlines when it first launched an ARM-based laptop for $ 89 with Linux.
The Pinebook Pro later followed suit with more power under the hood, priced at $ 199. These machines aren't powerful, but if you have a sufficiently light workflow and realistic expectations, the Pro can serve as your main device.
Pine64 has a webshop, but orders often come out in batches and sell out quickly. So if you want to get your hands on this hardware then you should follow Pine's blog or other channels.
ThinkPenguin is a Linux vendor supported by the Free Software Foundation. Unlike most of the other companies on this list, it will not only sell you a computer with a Linux distribution of your choice preinstalled, but also provide hardware that you can run without proprietary drivers, even in the kernel.
ThinkPenguin doesn't just deliver machines. It has a long list of peripherals that are guaranteed to work with your Linux computers. Even if you already have a PC running Linux, ThinkPenguin can be a handy resource for finding anything from a printer to a completely open source router. And if you want to decorate your workplace with stickers or fancy mouse pads, these are also available.
Did you find your new Linux laptop?
If not, you might be surprised that these aren't the only options. Whether you're looking for a gaming rig or an old ThinkPad with all of its proprietary parts removed, there is someone out there who'll be tailored for your particular niche.
Since Linux is now too easy to install, it's worth pointing out the option of searching eBay or other second-hand source and buying a machine from a few years ago. Linux works great on older hardware and this approach saves you money and keeps machines out of landfills too.
6 reasons to buy used computers instead of new ones
Are you thinking of buying a new computer? Because of this, a used, refurbished, or used PC may be a better option for you.
About the author
(339 published articles)
Bertel is a digital minimalist who works with GNOME on a handy laptop and carries a Light Phone II with him. He enjoys helping others decide which technology to bring into their lives … and which to forego.
From Bertel King
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