Linux laptop

May 10, 2020

I'm looking for a good Linux laptop. I've hunted around (probably not in the right places) and found a few I like, but then I go to buy them and they all come with Windows. I've had several bad experiences with trying to install Linux, flashing boot roms, plugging in USB drives, etc, etc. I just want to buy a laptop that already has Linux. Is this possible? I want a very small and light weight laptop, but I want it to run real Linux, not a silly Chrome book or the like.

Does such a thing exist? I was pointed to System76 but the laptop looks very bulky. I want something smaller.

P.S. I don't know if it's still true, but there was a time when it cost retailers more (due to MS contracts) the ship a computer WITHOUT Windows than with.

UPDATE: I'm getting a Dell XPS 13. Thanks for all your feedback.

crank May 11, 2020
Did you look at the Lemur Pro? Doesn't seem bulky to me. Maybe you could find an Asus Eee PC, those are tiny and come with linux preinstalled.

Ron Gilbert May 11, 2020
The Lemur Pro was the one I looked at on System76, it seems very bulky (from the pictures).

Federico May 11, 2020
Thinkpads are known to have a very good Linux support. I don't know about what kind of hardware are you looking for specifically. Dell has its developer edition that comes with Ubuntu. Lenovo is going to start shipping some with Fedora, but I don't know when is that happening.

Menis May 11, 2020
You can check for Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (Comes with Ubuntu pre installed)

Ron Gilbert May 11, 2020
I just want thin-thin-thin-thin and very light.  I don't care about performance. My favorite laptop is my 2010 MacbookAir.  I want that, but something that comes with Linux.

I like the Dell XPS 13, but I can't find a place to buy it that doesn't come with Windows.  Maybe I'm just missing the obvious.  If you have a direct link, please share.

Menis May 11, 2020
Check here, it's say:

Operating System
With Windows 10 or Ubuntu 18.04 LTS – for a smooth, versatile PC experience.

Mauricio E. Silva May 11, 2020
When you say: "thin-thin-thin-thin and very light" you mean "hot-hot-hot-hot very hot"?.

The Lemur Pro is not really big: 12.64″ × 8.5″ × 0.61″ (32.1 × 21.6 × 1.55 cm).

Manuel May 11, 2020
Hi Ron, I've been running latest Ubuntu and Linux Mint on my Asus ZenBook UX13A. It's a 13.3" laptop. Originally it came with Windows, but it turned out to support LInux very well. All hardware was detected correctly and runs for more than 2 years without Windows.

Lasse May 11, 2020
Yeah, the System 76 Linux laptops are powerful and high quality but they do have that fairly bulky form factor  and if power isn't the main thing then I'd look elsewhere.

What about the Librem 13?  :
I have heard a lot of positive talk about those.  It is quite expensive for the specs though and their main selling point seems to be security..

XPS 13 Developer Edition probably is a good choice.

Name(required) May 11, 2020
All Dell laptops that come with Linux can be found here:

yrgrasil May 11, 2020
There's some german company which only builds linux workstations/laptops. Shipping costs could be an issue, but the quality/support etc. is quite decent imho.

Dipper_Berlin May 11, 2020
Hi there,
Starlabs is a UK-based company that offers  two laptop sizes which come with a Linux distro of your choice (Manjaro, Mint, Ubuntu...), if I'm not wrong.
Maybe have a look at those. Fair prices as well, read about them in some Linux magazine I cannot recall. I'm running Mint 19.3 on a Thinkpad at the moment and I am quite fond of it.

Mario May 11, 2020
Hi Ron. I'd buy a Windows one and use:
to install Ubuntu.

If run into problems:

1. Disable UEFI in BIOS.
2. Boot in live-distro mode.
3. Delete all GPT disk info (using fixparts and gdisk commands).
4. Install Ubuntu from scratch.

Always works for me.

Ron Gilbert May 11, 2020
I have to idea what the first 3 of those things even are.  This is exactly why I want it pre-installed.

Bobe May 11, 2020
Ron, my dude, the lightest MacBook Air is 11" and 2.38 lbs. The Lemur Pro is  14" and 2.2 lbs.

Milo Casagrande May 11, 2020
I'd go with the Dell option: have used it for work (although not the latest one), and my colleagues are using it (latest version). It's a solid laptop, nice design, light, and has a really well done Ubuntu installation/integration. Those Dell laptops have become better and better over the years.

Troy Ready May 11, 2020
Agree with Bobe - checkout a system76 lemur pro 14 video on youtube; I get the impression that it's pretty solidly in the ultrabook category, and not as bulky as some of the site photos (I think the worst one might actually even be of a different model) make it seem.

Another option would be the Purism Librem 13. It's a _little_ too privacy focused for my tastes (I'd give up some of the hardware kill switches for usb-c charging), but neat for what it is.

(For me, I prefer Thinkpads still and find installing Ubuntu on them is totally plug & play, no fiddling as described above required)

Serandel May 11, 2020
+1 to the Dell XPS 13 Dev edition. Works perfectly fine.

Alberto Milone May 11, 2020
If you  get on this page and tick the "Ubuntu" checkbox under "Operating systems" (in the Configurations tab), you will get what you're looking for (it's all pre-installed):

If you need any help, I am an Ubuntu (Linux) developer.

Markus May 11, 2020
Hi Ron, if you are not in a hurry, you could wait until the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 becomes available with Fedora pre-installed:

Lars Ivar Igesund May 11, 2020
I currently use the Dell Precision with Linux, a really powerful laptop (possible to run newer games on), but 15 inch, so maybe too large. I had a XPS 13" before that. Fantastic laptop in my opinion, but I like the bigger screen of the Precision, so now my son uses the XPS.

Giovanni May 11, 2020
+1 for the Dell XPS 13 Dev edition. Maybe not the 4K screen.

Lachlan Kingsford May 11, 2020
FWIW - I'd love a Dev edition XPS 13, but they're not available in every country. For instance, can't actually get them in Australia without ordering from US - which equals screwing around if anything goes wrong.

Enno May 12, 2020
Getting a Linux laptop, it's best to buy one that ships with Linux installed, and with manufacturer support for the hardware, not for onto a Windows machine. I had Dell and Thinkpad models before I realized the truth in that.

Most rece fly, I got the System76 Galago Pro to replace my MacBook, and I'm very happy with it. It is probably the least bulky and most.powerful laptop I've ever owned.

I have a friend who recommended the Think Penguin laptops.

Ivo Limmen May 12, 2020
I am running Linux on a DELL XPS 15. Only problem I encounter; when running certain games under Linux I overheads because it was designed to run Windows. But for gaming I have a desktop...

Gore May 12, 2020

Winfried Maus May 12, 2020
+1 for the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition.

Michael EL BAKI May 12, 2020
What Linux distro do you try to install?

I hadn't installed a Linux for quite some time and stuff has really changed. I have an old Ultrabook given to me by Intel during one of their developer events. The laptop is from 2012, so quite old. It has a multi point touch screen. I tried to install a Debian, it miserably failed with installing network.
I then went for Ubuntu 18. Believe it or not, I made a bootable USB stick with an iso file. Rebooted the laptop, it seemed I was installing Windows. I just had to click on "Next" here and there and EVERYTHING just installed all by itself. Trackpad with multi point support, touch screen multi point, network, bluetooth, ... I did not have to install any driver or anything, it was an awesome experience :) Only the accelerometer and rotation screen seem to be missing but I just don't care...
If installing on such a weird, custom and old hardware was a breeze, I suspect you can install Ubuntu on pretty any commercial laptop!

rusty_dragon May 12, 2020
I know you've said pre-installed. But I advice you to consider used Thinkpad x230.
It's a super machine for productivity. Plus IPS screen out of the box and Wacom tablet for a screen.
You can also install original 7 row IBM keyboard here.

If you don't want to mess with it yourself, there are people who would built a Thinkpad for you, including pre-installing your linux distro of choice.

rusty_dragon May 12, 2020
Ah, my bad.
IPS screen and Wacom tablet for screen is x230t, not x230.

Jens Finkhaeuser May 12, 2020
I've been running nothing but Linux on laptops for decades now. They're pricey, but I swear by the Lenovo ThinkPad t4x(X) series, especially with the p postfix. My current is the t470p, and I couldn't be happier. My previous was not T series, but the also excellent w520 - but that was too bulky. And still I used it as my main machine for about six years, because the alternatives weren't really better.

That's what keeps me with these laptops - if you upgrade the CPU and memory, they approach Apple price hell, but unlike the bitten fruit, they last well past their depreciation period.

aggsol May 12, 2020
Tuxedo Computers has a nice selection.

Frank May 12, 2020
Hello Ron, perhaps this black Macbook look-a-like notebook comes in handy for you. Preinstalled with a linux distribution of your choice:


Martijn May 12, 2020
Lenovo just announced it will start selling laptops with Linux pre-installed, including its top of the line thin-and-light X1.

rusty_dragon May 12, 2020
For the note: Thinkpads have official linux driver support for years, dating back to IBM times.
As well as being supported by community.
Working fine with any GNU/Linux distro out of the box.

As for new Thinkpads - they resemble no qualities of the old one. It's just another brand now.

Joe Arax May 12, 2020
Hi Ron,
I have a friend at Stanford named Gregory Weaver who can build you a system that has Linux only and runs on a laptop. Would you like his contact info?


Pat Rick May 12, 2020
all the cool computer scientists at my university use Lenovo ThinkPads with Ubuntu

Richard May 13, 2020
Another +1 for the XPS 13 Developer edition. Absolutely wonderful.

I am rubber, you are glue. May 13, 2020
Hi Ron! I'm late :D

I have a Dell Precision 5520 15" (aesthetically it's like an XPS) and I'm very happy with it.

I actually bought it after some years working with a 13". I just would like you to say to double check if a 13" is ok for you. For me it has been pretty frustrating. I have said my self I would never bought a so small working equipment again.

Thank you (and all the team) for Delores!

I also chosen the non-glossy LCD

TT May 15, 2020
Dell XPS 17 with UHD display.
Replace SSD with Intel Optane Gen 2 SSD that is coming out in a few months for lowest latency.
XPS 17 has superior cooling to XPS 13 and XPS 15 which heat up and start thermal throttling.
Speaker quality is also better on XPS 17 than on smaller XPS models.
Dimensions are smaller than most 15-inch notebooks.
Ubuntu is easiest to install, but Debian (which Ubuntu is based on) is about 10% faster.

Xabi May 15, 2020
I love Lenovo Thinkpads and some will come with Fedora preinstalled. But they aren't available yet. X1 is very lovable. And all hardware will be supported and open source.

Sebastian May 17, 2020
Interested to know if you're happy with the XPS 13. I've made some bad experience with Dell laptops being very noisy, both the fan and the power adapter, which would make a very annoying high pitched noise.

Phil May 18, 2020
You may try a is a Spanish brand and you can pretty much choose any distro.

chovy Nov 06, 2020
Dude, don't waste your money on a Dell XPS 9300. I got one, $2200 and its a piece of shit. After only 6 months I've had to replace the keyboard twice and the motherboard once.

I had an ASUS Zenbook which worked well but the trackpad driver was a little glitchy. I'm trying the librem next.

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