I’ve been looking at laptops available with Linux pre-installed. Seeking a workaday laptop that’ll travel well and provide sufficient power for my normal workload. Don’t care about gaming as I have a travel Steamdeck. Since it’ll be running Linux the hardware doesn’t really need to be all that powerful. But, I do want to keep using it for years. Being overpowered for today or upgradeable can allow it to hit that longevity.

I definitely want USB C for power and lots of USB C ports for peripherals. A recentish CPU will provide plenty of compute power for my needs. 32 GB of RAM will provide plenty of head room even if some projects get memory hungry. I’m also a tab-hoarder, but convince myself I need memory for the projects :).

Solid state storage would be great. Most everything I’ve been considering has NVMe, which will be super-fast even with a fully-encrypted filesystem. For x86_64 systems I want AMD Ryzen and AMD Radeon combo.

While I’ll be installing Linux on my own, I want a company that supports Linux on their products. A laptop with Linux pre-installed provably works with Linux and should have good support. It’s also important to support the community.

Some companies are gone ( I still miss ZaReason ), but today there are several companies in the marketplace. Let’s walk through some of the options available for the US at the beginning of 2024. Prices seem lower than when I looked 6 months ago. Maybe I was just looking at fancier hardware then :).

This is an expansion on a recent thread on the Fediverse.

I also got some good feedback in a recent presentation about hardware for Linux. Thanks especially to @murph@gardenstate.social who has been rumored to have opinions and definitely has plenty of helpful experience.

Tuxedo Computers

Tuxedo Computers has both AMD and Intel laptops available with Linux pre-installed. Tuxedo Computers recently made a splash with a high powered all AMD gaming laptop. That’s a bit hefty for what I’m wanting to haul around.

The Pulse 14 AMD unit looks right for what I want. Tuxedo Computers laptops tend to be quite configurable. In the case of the Pulse 14 many of the items have only 1 option. Those defaults work for me, so it’s fine for my purposes.

They do have lots of keyboard choices. They use Tux on the Super key, which is fantastic. Lots of language choices, also ANSI and ISO options. They even have DVORAK for Engish and German. If you really want to customize your keyboard layout they let you specify the keycaps for an ISO layout for an extra 80 Euro.

The Pulse 14 ships with Tuxedo OS ( their fork of Ubuntu ) or LTS releases of 3 Ubuntu variants: Ubuntu, Kubuntu or Ubuntu Budgie. Each can be pre-installed as an encrypted drive.

It might seem funny to start with a European company for delivery in the US, but I had great experience with Tuxedo Computers delivering. I purchased a laptop from them for a specific purpose a couple years ago ( during the lockdown ). The site said to allow 2 weeks for build. With that and cross-continent delivery I was expecting at least 6 weeks for it to arrive. They had it to me within a week! Not saying that’s normal for them, but for my one purchase they were way faster than expected. Indeed, it sat in the box for a couple weeks until I had time for the project :).

My Tuxedo Computers laptop came with several extras in the box. Importantly that included a USB thumb drive with fully automated installer (FAI) for help with re-installs. More later.

After configuring the laptop for purchase I sighed and thought about the $100 ( at the time ) delivery charge to the US. Even with that, it was the laptop I wanted. When I checked out the price went down by $20 rather than going up by $100. As I reviewed the purchase page I saw that they’d dropped the price by $120 to remove the VAT. That’s even less expensive than free delivery, they paid me $20 to ship it to me :).

Tuxedo Computers sponsors many conferences in Europe, such as:

More options in subsequent posts.

Mastodon post for blog post.