So I have been looking through some online stuff and I noticed companies like System76 and Dell sell really high end Linux machines. Is this more of the premium PC market that Paul talks about? What is the advantages of these machines over others. Spend all that money when you can just run Linux as VM.

Comments (11)

11 responses to “laptops”

  1. simont

    Yes, this would be more of the niche premium market that Paul talks about. You can run Linux in a VM but running it as the native OS will still be faster compared to a VM. And there are some people who just don't want to spend any money on Microsoft products.

  2. justme

    It is a niche market, of the things Linux PCs have suffered with over the years was that there were very few premium PCs available with Linux installed out of the box. VM's of course were always there, and if you were willing to hunt for drivers and play confabulationtronix, you could get older PCs to run Linux. System76 and Dell are changing that equation, and to a smaller extent so are MintBox PCs. System76 is all-in on Linux, meaning you will have far less hassle getting your PC to run LInux because it is designed for it. You are less likely to be searching for kernel patches and have a much better OOB experience as you might be for some PCs. Linux runs faster (as you would expect) on bare metal vice a VM. And these days, going from Windows 7-8-10, many people have "spare" Windows licenses they can run WINDOWS in a VM to pick up the bits that are missing.

  3. wright_is

    If you are a Linux user, you don't want to run it as a VM...

    Linux users aren't just cheapskates, some are professional users and they want high end, professional hardware, they just don't need a Windows license. It is the same a high-end Chromebooks, why would you pay $1,000 - $2,000 for a browser? Because it is nice hardware and ChromeOS is all they need.

  4. hrlngrv

    If you're not going to run any Windows applications (OK, other than the VM base), why run Windows at all?

    That said, if it's cheaper to buy a machine with Windows pre-installed, maybe also an external drive onto which to dd the original Windows partitions for archive, then delete the Windows partitions and install Linux, why not save money?

  5. jimchamplin

    Why would I want to run Linux in a VM? If I'm looking to run Linux because the tools I need are there, I'm going to want to run it on a dedicated system, or at least dual-boot.

    This makes it dead-simple for a pro user to fire it up and KNOW it's going to work. And continue working, as there's an OEM behind it. When you need it to work, you can be certain that it will work every time.

  6. waethorn

    You can get a number of Linux systems from major manufacturers. You can get thin client Linux machines with small drives and low memory that are perfectly upgradeable for extra storage if you're looking for something on the cheap too. These may come with some lightweight Linux with thin client software, but are certified for it, meaning you could load a full Ubuntu or RHEL/Fedora image on them and get standard hardware compatibility with the Linux kernel. If you're looking at Lenovo, Dell, or HP business machines, the vast majority of them ship with chipsets and wireless controllers that are compatible with bundled Linux drivers and firmware without needing to load proprietary drivers. This is also why you'll find many of them are Intel-only and/or ship with Intel wireless controllers (even on AMD processor systems), and also often lack hybrid graphics options.

    The premium market for Linux is geared primarily towards developers. Linux sysadmins not doing programming rarely need anything more than a Raspberry Pi because they'll mostly just use SSH.

    There really isn't any OEM marketing Linux machines as being made for general-purposes, even the specialty makers. Pop!_OS is made for developers. Purism makes products designed for security aficionados. The KDE Slimbook is, well, based on KDE, which was always a niche developer platform. And Pine64 products are made for tinkerers. None of it is built for, nor targeted towards average consumers.

    If you want to just buy a consumer PC and try playing around in Linux, use WSL2. Hardware compatibility on a consumer PC is going to be better on Windows than on Linux because everything has drivers for Windows without following some morally-restrictive stance on closed-source proprietary drivers or firmware interfaces, and consumer PC's include whatever cheap controllers the manufacturer can include.

    • waethorn

      In reply to Waethorn:

      Or you can buy a Mac and run every OS on it.

      If you want Parallels Desktop for cheap for the first year, download the App Store version. You have to use a credit card to activate it for a 14 day trial that automatically converts to a paid version. Here's the thing: the App Store version is $20 cheaper than the DMG version available directly from Parallels because it lacks the Coherence Mode options (due to App Store app sandboxing - a shame really because Coherence Mode is awesome). So they have an upgrade available to step up from the App Store version to the Full Version with Coherence Mode. You can buy the step-up (which is actually only ~$15), and cancel the "renewal" of the App Store version license before the initial trial runs out.

      $100 software for ~$15.

      You're on your own for a Windows 10 license though.

  7. hrlngrv

    Dell and Lenovo have had high-end lines for a long time. They don't sell less than 1 million units annually, so no one pays much attention when companies sell in the tens of millions annually.

    As for Dell Precisions, many are decidedly NOT ultrabooks. Thank God! Some of us want some expandibility in our laptops.

    As for cost, if one already has a legal Windows VM and prefers Linux as host OS, when would one ever again need to buy a Windows license?

    Less snarky, if one doesn't run MS Office, Visual Studio or Adobe software, does one need Windows? FWIW, ALL major stats and math software is available for Linux. Nearly all database software. Nearly all electronics circuit simulation software. Tons of scientific software. There are better LyX/TeX/LaTeX configurations for technical writing for Linux. With Steam, there's now some gaming software for Linux, but that's not something for which I have any 1st or 2nd hand info. And just a few software development alternatives to Visual Studio, but also Visual Studio Code.