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Thelio – System76 (system76.com)
684 points by secure 46 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 220 comments



The exciting part is not the case, nor the specs, nor the OS. The exciting part is that they are attempting to use open hardware and firmware to the greatest extent they can practically achieve.

They have created an open source "daughter board" for this purpose.


I strongly believe that being able to hire a top-notch industrial designer can change the entire course of the company. With Apple, it was Jony Ive and for Braun it was Dieter Rams. With IBM, they were the executives that had an impeccable taste in design which propagated from top-down. System76 is well positioned to be in this space to shall I dare to say - compete with Apple? Only if they invest in design. It sounds like a stupid non essential thing but design sells. When it sells, boy it sells; it makes the backbone of a company.

As it stands, System76 has mediocre branding and design in my personal opinion. Not great, but also not bad. I am not excited about the wooden trim approach integrated in the PC case. But, these things are subjective. If they nail ID, I believe they have a really bright future. When I say, hire a top notch designer - I mean, someone who can change the world type; not someone that they can just hire by posting a job ad. But, it has to start from the owners of the company. If they think Design as a cost center in marketing, forget about it.


I like the wood, I think it is nice to see someone go a different route than copying Apple’s all metal, clean look. It’s a warm and organic look which feels fresh. I also suspect that the wood might help the machine dampen noise which would be welcome.

They also copied a page from Apple’s eco playbook and will plant a tree for every machine sold which is nice to see. A solid move given the company’s size and reach. I wish more IT companies would use that as a marketing move, it has good signaling value and helps drive change.

I’d like them to do even more with the wooden look and feel, but their cases are still not far removed from a typical desktop. I think it would be great to see them do something really small, in the Mac Mini style, but with that warm wood look. That would look great on any desk.

I’d also like to see someone Hackintosh those machines just for fun.


> I like the wood, I think it is nice to see someone go a different route than copying Apple’s all metal, clean look. It’s a warm and organic look which feels fresh. I also suspect that the wood might help the machine dampen noise which would be welcome.

I disagree with the idea of creating "fresh" and "trendy" design. In all cases, except say Fashion, it creates substandard design to cater to originality & staying trendy. Timelessness cannot be realized if your design philosophy is to try to stay "fresh".

What is fundamentally wrong with metal & clean design? The answer shouldn't come from the fact that "Oh shit, someone is already doing that, let's do something different. May be wood?". The answer should come from fundamental understanding of materials, their use, durability, haptics & touch, engineering needs (bend radius, coefficient of thermal conductivity, flextural ridigity, etc.) and DFM aspects. Everything else is decoration, not design.

As Paul Rand said, "Don't try to be original. Just try to be good."


I can appreciate that view generally, but desktop cases have always been a veneer, provided they provide a decent amount of circulation. So why not spend some time to make it look attractive?

And although this isn't strictly the point you were making, wood is an excellent material to house electronics - it absorbs moisture and heat well, is extremely durable, it is a renewable resource, and while it goes in and out of fashion through the decades, its consistently attractive when used judiciously. This desktop case probably just has a sliver of wood panel which exempts it from these benefits, but I hope in the future we will be able to use natural materials more effectively, perhaps even to make the computer hardware itself.


Given that the modern trend in desktop cases is slapping a piece of plexiglass on the side, I don't think materials engineering has much to do with this field. Anyways, they're trying to market to hip companies looking to buy workstations, for which this is a good design.


I was just trying to make a general point in terms of the ID thought process that you start from functional/engineering needs and work outwards from it.

In the case of System76, they had to bend wood vaneer (poor bend radius) which probably added additional expense to the manufacturing process.


System76 Engineer here, who did a lot of work on the ID for Thelio. The veneer actually has a pretty superb minimum radius, depending on which direction you bend it. Bending with the grain for our particular veneer lets you bend around a 1/8" radius (about 3mm) pretty reliably. That's reduced a bit in our case since the finish is applied first (part of a cost-reduction), which limits it a bit, but Thelio uses corners that are pretty close to a 20mm radius, so that's not really a limiting factor here.

You can actually cut the stuff with a normal pair of paper scissors. It's pretty wild stuff.


a convincing argument is that it sells, and with the profits they continue to make good machines. I agree that the machine should function first - and clearly they accomplished that - but it's not exclusive to the human needs as well.


Convincing argument would be long-term customer loyalty by delivering value year after year after year in presence of strong competitive pressure. I wish System76 the very best. They're trying and that's worthy of a huge applause.


>What is fundamentally wrong with metal & clean design? >The answer shouldn't come from the fact that "Oh shit, someone is already doing that, let's do something different. May be wood?".

Nothing is "fundamentally" wrong with it. In fact we have gotten to a point that laptop chips can function just fine for many tasks in suboptimal chassis because they are fairly efficient, let alone desktops. The reasons to choose a different design as a customer at least are personal. In my opinion the minimalist industrial design is overused and interacts poorly with my brain. In the absence of any design elements on it I find the products bland and with little character. I have a hard time remembering another glass/metal phone or another bland-painted building with aluminum stairs. Apple knew that years ago and imo it's probably why they stuck with the iphone 6 design for so long, so the market floods with it and thus it becomes memorable. The iphone 10 has more glass and the notch, so in a way it's scaling back the minimalism, closer to the iphone 4/5 era when the phone had a few more geometric elements on it.

In my opinion what is missing from every modern design, be it the applesque industrial or google's kitsch "throw all the colors that don't mix together, remove all textures" material design are little things that make the product memorable. Ideally these come from quirks that add usability or from the materials used. In a different era with a more limited materials available choosing the right thing for the job meant more diverse products. A macbook today is not more memorable than a razer blade or some other copycat. The same goes for chinese phones and iphones. I've confused an iphone with a cheap android replica so many times. Industrial design works when you are the only player doing it. But apple is not.

Product design is a relatively new thing and it is going through the same phase that architecture did with modernism and brutalism( and post modernism probably too). But this endless streamlining and simplifying of devices is not as positive as designers want us to believe. At some point they'll run out of stuff to simplify that people will buy and will try to differentiate by going to the opposite direction or just stick with brand recognition. So while I don't think a wooden pc case is the end all be all of design I'm glad s76 is doing something different. And this kind of change always comes from the "alternative" underdog.


Timelessness cannot be realized if your design philosophy is to try to stay "fresh".

And has anyone achieved timelessness? Ever? I cannot immediately think of any industrial design which does not feel either "current" or "dated".


Craftsman homes, in my opinion are timelessly beautiful.


The problem is not the wood. The wood may be a good idea (or not).

Imho, it's just that the case does not feel nice. While reading the specs, you have the impression that they have good engineers, that they carefully select components and design the air flow... but the whole case is still not there. As if someone made a draft and stopped there, carrying a "good-enough" tag.

I agree with the GP: They would benefit from an outstanding designer, and that comes with CEO blessing and will.


> I’d also like to see someone Hackintosh those machines just for fun.

In fact, not sound as bad. Is necessary to get more details of the hardware to check compatibility, but could be a great option


I was looking to build a computer recently and was disappointed to see that virtually every cabinet looked like a cabinet

Not that there is anything wrong with it, but there has been so little innovation in PC design for so many years. Everything is still dominated by LEDs and sharp edges and some desire to appear "techy"

It's like we're still living in an era where computers are a novelty, not just another thing in the house


Agreed, I've always preferred the plain box approach to PC building but it's getting harder to just find one.

Coolermaster served that role for years but seem to have vanished.

Recently I ended up putting nearly £2K worth of equipment into one of these.

https://www.corsair.com/uk/en/Categories/Products/Cases/Carb...

It's quiet, neat and doesn't have a glow in the dark multi colored LED anything anywhere.


When I was shopping for a computer I was actually disturbed by all the LED-enabled boxes with pseudo-scifi-militaristic bulging edges with a "spaceship" look and especially that window on the side. Of course, some people like that kind of stuff, this is why they sell such things. And why not, it is a matter of aestethics, but it is just not for me.

Eventually I decided on Fractal Design's Define series, they have variants with and without the windows. Now I have a Define RS 5 Black (without the window!) and it is a great quiet case with many details, such as keeping dust out with meshes and vacuumable mesh filters.

The System76 case looks nice, my initial impression was that it looked almost like a quality speaker with a kind of walnut finish. On further examination, it did not look so great, unfortunately. I'd like to see that tree part replaced with a dark metal-bluegrayish matte metal or something.


There are quite some Lian Li cases which don't have a plethora of LEDs. Mine has, I believe two: one for power, one for HDD. Neither of these are connected. The front panel lid can be closed. You end up with a case which has dust filters and can fit many HDDs. Not that it has many HDDs (it has one SSD and one HDD); I have a NAS instead.


I ended up buying a Lian-Li PC a79 (http://www.lian-li.com/pc-a79/) because it was basically the only case available on the market into which I could fit at least 3 IcyBox disk encloures - basically all other cases nowadays have fancy stuff at the front which prevents the installation of disk enclosures :(

(another good one was Sharkoon REX8 or its predecessor T6 Value but both aren't apparently produced anymore, bah)


Lian-Li is one of very few case ODMs that still make sensible looking cases. They supplied all of our (System76) cases until Thelio, and there's a bit of inspiration from them in the design.


Antec has cases in this similar style, sleek plain black with good tech inside. Like the P110: https://antec.com/product/case/p110s.php


You might be interested to learn that there is a community of people creating unconventional cabinets. What they do is known as “case modding”.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Case_modding

As for why most cabinets look so similar outside of that, I’d say it is probably at least in part thanks to such designs being the best we have in terms of airflow and ease of access to components within.



This is perfect. Exactly what I envision modern PCs to look like


I want the old IBM PC that was sitting on the side with the monitor on top. Ideally in the old colors with ports and a hotpluggable 3.5 inch drive in front. But I would take it with wood as well.


As much as Jony Ive did for Apple, some of the things that I absolutely hate about where Apple is currently is all from how much control Ive has been given. The as it exists "current" MacPro. Current in quotes as it has not been updated in 5+ years. It is Ive's "revolutionary" design of the system that has trapped them into this state. The fact they did a mea culpa on it was quite shocking from Apple. Also, the current state of the MacBook Pro series. Yes, thin/light is a nice aspect in a laptop, but I personally feel they are making them too thing. Add a couple of extra millimeters to the thickness of the case, but keep the mainboard at it's current size. That now allows space for ports like an SD card reader or USB-A type plugs. In the extra space, add some extra battery space and/or allow for better cooling.


As a long time Mac user I agree. My 2011 MacBook Pro is nearing the end of its life, even after ssd and RAM upgrades. This month I’m buying a System76 Gazelle to replace it. Been waiting years for Apple to deliver a laptop that meets my needs but they’ve gone the opposite direction I wish they would.


>System76 is well positioned to be in this space to shall I dare to say - compete with Apple? Only if they invest in design. It sounds like a stupid non essential thing but design sells.

Going into an organic artsy & crafty direction vs. high-end industrial design like Apple is a good choice if you support the DIY spirit (e.g. Linux & open source), it's more authentic in that context, and you won't be compared to Apple or perceived as imitation of them.

It's also a good alternative to the cyber futurist gamer look that dominates the PC industry.


> As it stands, System76 has mediocre branding and design in my personal opinion

I don't know, it's looking better now than some generic boxes you see from big name companies.


Many of Ive's early iconic designs were straight lifts from Dieter Rams. Ive wasn't even subtle about it.

https://www.cultofmac.com/188753/the-braun-products-that-ins...


I agree, and it should be doable even for relatively small manufacturers.

Just to quote two examples:

https://streacom.com/products/db4-fanless-chassis/

https://www.cirrus7.com/produkte/cirrus7-nimbini-v2/overview


I'm currently waiting for their first kickstarter batch to ship in the upcoming weeks.

http://www.louqe.com/


looks good but the grate at the top... doesnt all the dust just fall in ? More so than on side grates


Not really, I've got my water cooler fan on the top grill of my case so the hot air flows up. What happens is the top gate gets covered in dust because it's blowing up and out of the case. I have to clean the top more often than anything else on my system.


Maybe because i'm a woodworker, but I LOVE the wood trim :D


I'm not a fan of the dark wood; it makes me think of every piece of consumer electronics made in the 1970's.

But I like the lighter wood. It feels almost midcentury modern.

More importantly, someone's made a tower computer that doesn't look like something from a 10-year-old's comic book collection, or every Wintel box made since 1993.


sooo, the maple option?


Yes, it's the first desktop PC I've seen in years that I wouldn't want to hide away in a cabinet.


That was quite literally the goal from the beginning. Make a computer that one would feel ashamed to hide in a cabinet.


Ive had quite a few of their laptops, still have two Gazelles. The physicality of these cleo oem boxes is really really bad.

But the value of the compute power for the buck was top notch. Also, their support was always stellar. Ill certainly buy form them going forward, just wish the gazelles had more physically sound chassis.

So, i would just want to get my hands on a thelio to test out. If System76 is listening, how bout getting a base model to me to review here on HN. :-)


strongly agree.

i am looking at this laptop:

https://system76.com/laptops/galago

it's obvious these guys took their design cues from apple's laptops, but they've paid about a tenth as much attention to the details as apple would. unnecessary bumps and blemishes, odd discolorations here and there, couldn't be bothered to do anything about that hideous rectangle at the top of the screen where the camera is located, etc.

i am contemplating a career move (no more ios development) that would mean i am free to leave apple's ecosystem. if some other company could make laptops as beautiful as apple's, without duplicating the mistakes apple has been making over the last few years, it would really grease the skids for me.


There are excellent laptops that aren't made by Apple. I feel that Apple's advantage there was lost at least a couple years ago.

At the top of that list I would probably put the Dell XPS 13 , and it can be bought with Linux. HP (Envy/Spectre) and Lenovo (x1 carbon) have laptops that look to be very high quality, but I don't have personal experience with them and they don't ship Linux.


System76 does not even design any of their laptops, they are all (currently) rebadges of Clevo machines. They do plan on releasing original designs with in house manufacturing at some point.


My understanding is they work with Clevo to design new machines and then both companies sell them.


They don't, at least based on their community manager's response to a comment of mine on reddit. They are the biggest clevo client so they get a say on putting linux-friendly parts in the mainboard but that's it. My understanding is that clevo machines are linux friendly mainly because of s76's influence on them.


The thing there is, a smaller company can't really afford to build things the way Apple does. The economies of scale just aren't there, so they often have to stick to cheaper ways of doing things.


ID is one path to one kind of success. I dare say System76 is charting a very different path.


I find this thought process unsettling.

For one, ID is not a mutually exclusive endeavor. If a company has A, B, C and D. Adding E, in this case - ID, only adds to the value of the company. Good ID never diminishes it.

I am comparing System76 with 70's IBM, Apple and Braun in my original comment. If IBM didn't pay attention to design - sure, they'd be successful probably. But ID has only added to their goodwill and brand name. Unfortunately, it is no longer true with IBM today. :-(

Executives that pay attention to ID and its value create a direct unspoken visual link with their customers. Customers notice the smallest details, perfection in every aspect of the product and they realize & get the impression about company's dedication towards other non-ID related things. Stripe does this really well. It is even more critical for a physical product that you touch and feel. ID is sort of like a short-cut of communicating the abstract concept of quality to customers. It works brilliantly as a marketing tool as well as a tool to deliver actual measurable benefits to the customer (ease of use, clarity in operation, aesthetic appeal, etc.)


Sigh. I guess I wasn't explicit enough.

It turns out, if you are manufacturing original products for mass production, you are doing ID. So yes, there is no path to success manufacturing original products without doing ID. I wasn't implying one needn't have ID any more than your comment implies one needn't have engineering.

What I was referring to your comment about "hire a top-notch industrial designer" to produce distinctive designs of impeccable taste.

Yes, products with exceptional ID will sell in major ways.

It turns out, that products that are exceptional in a lot of dimensions sell in major ways. Products that are exceptionally inexpensive sell in major ways. Products that are exceptionally marketed sell in major ways. Products that are exceptionally well engineered sell in major ways.

...and if everyone is employing exceptional ID, then doing so yourself doesn't actually make your product exceptional.

And no, customers don't "notice the smallest details, perfection in every aspect of the product". There are some products that certain customers fetishize and absolutely do notice this stuff, but the vast majority of products people interact with on a daily basis barely register.

I agree that ID is a short cut for communicating quality to customers. Sometimes you shouldn't take the shortcut. Sometimes it's better to take the long way around.

Great ID can work brilliantly as a marketing tool as well as a tool to deliver actual measurable benefits to the consumer. Great engineering can do the same. Having a unique value proposition (which I'd argue is System76's case) can do the same.

There's more than one kind of market success and more than one path to market success.


I think you have some valid points. There is a lot of crap out there today that doesn't have good ID and it sounds weird to say but doesn't need ID. If you're selling utilitarian objects, for example, construction materials: Nuts & Bolts, Screws, I-Beams, Dry wall, etc. None of that stuff needs any ID - as you said it would be all about whether the object functions or not. Good engineering is what it needs, I agree with you there.

Don't you feel that there are a lot of products out there that are not designed well? They're just slapped together, molded shut and ready to mass market? ID would just be a one time NRE cost if they don't use expensive materials.

If you get a chance, do catch the "Dieter Rams" documentary by Gary Hustwit. I thought it was amazing and you'd I think enjoy it.


"Don't you feel that there are a lot of products out there that are not designed well?"

I do, but I feel the same way about engineering. Curse of high expectations.


Minimalist ID is by far the cheapest way to achieve good details. Mixing 2 or 3 materials together and getting them right is even harder. ID has been done to death and has stopped amusing me for years now. This is why I think the direction s76 is going is much, much more interesting. Wood on a desktop computer is a good idea( ignoring the execution), but a laptop with 2 or 3 materials mixing would be even better.


Industrial Design is the discipline within the design field that deals with the physical design of products/hardware. It's not a genre of design itself.


Yes.


As far as I can tell, the open source parts are simply the case design and this "IO daughterboard" which looks like an AVR that talks USB to the mainboard for interfacing with the fans/lights/switches with a couple of extra SAS ports thrown in.

Don't get me wrong, I think it's great they made a cool looking case and threw an AVR in there for controlling the fans, and if I wanted to buy a new desktop, I'd seriously consider one of these...

...but open source hardware it is not... and the claim about it being manufactured in Colorado seems a bit specious. Maybe they're milling the cases in Colorado and installing the parts? The real parts that do the computer part seem to be the same as the real parts in any PC.


> ...but open source hardware it is not... and the claim about it being manufactured in Colorado seems a bit specious. Maybe they're milling the cases in Colorado and installing the parts? The real parts that do the computer part seem to be the same as the real parts in any PC.

They tell you exactly what they mean in that paragraph:

> US-sourced wood and aluminum are formed, finished, etched, and built by artisans in our Denver, Colorado factory. Premium components from around the world are then assembled to your final specifications. And to offset environmental impact, every Thelio sold plants a tree with the National Forest Foundation.

So yes, they make the case in the US and assemble the parts in the US.


>...but open source hardware it is not...

They mentioned multiple times that their intentions are to make the hardware as open as possible with each generation. They never claimed that this hardware is 100% open. My guess is that it has to do with how many parts they can order from mobo manufacturers so they slowly release more and more pieces.

>and the claim about it being manufactured in Colorado seems a bit specious. Maybe they're milling the cases in Colorado and installing the parts? The real parts that do the computer part seem to be the same as the real parts in any PC.

That's correct. But coolermaster or corsair cases aren't necessarily made in the USA while these are. Basically what they are saying is that everything they do themselves, including the value-adding steps is done in the USA.


This is nice and everything, but I still remember the story about them from half a year ago where they basically rolled their own proprietary firmware updater instead of going with LVFS, which even a big player like dell managed to do. This is just bullshit and pretty much working in the opposite direction. Wasn't really impressed with them there.

https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=17037845


That article was incredibly misleading (arguably just outright false) in a number of ways. I would point you to Cassidy Blaede's response: https://plus.google.com/+CassidyJames/posts/RDKMJtGoX62


Not sure one mistake disqualifies all a company’s products, especially since none of them have a perfect track record.


"Tinker to your heart’s desire"

I so wish they had put this bang in the middle of their home page.


From one of the reddit threads where someone from System76 was active, the cool thing to me is how they are aiming to slowly offload functions from the motherboard onto foss hardware. That has started just with the fan controllers and sata backplanes, but it sure to progress further and further, and that in particular is what I like about where they are headed.

I think open hardware is the future, and those who are able to get there first are going to see increasing gains as time goes on. Of course my engineer friends always talk about how you can never verify down to the chip level, but I think there are ways it can be done, the market just hasn't been pressured to do it... yet.

Now if we can just start by getting Amd PSP and Intel ME removed! The first CPU manufacturer to do this is going to gain huge marketshare. (hint hint AMD!)


Intel sells 100,000,000 chips a year. The percentage of those chips going to people who care about ME, or for that matter have even _heard_ of it, is so astronomically small as to be irrelevant.


I disagree. Enterprises make up a huge part of that market share, and with an increase in cpu sidechannels, they could easily start upping the pressure by asking for non-ME/PSP systems. Of course theyll get told no, but somewhere that metric will grow until it gets the attention it deserves.

Even if a battle is uphill it doesnt mean its not worth the fight.


The reason ME is there is for enterprises. So indeed, they do have clout.


Intel was also a partner of NSA in Trusted Computing and other alliances. It being optional add-on would make sense for enterprise targeting. It being mandatory in everything with no alternatives makes me think they're getting paid by NSA and/or defense contracts to keep it there. The lesks said they paid $100 million to ISP's for adding taps. No way they'd pass up on Intel/AMD/IBM if they already had a good excuse (i.e. cover) for putting it there.


Its worth remembering Bill Hamilton says they were doing it at the low level chip manufacturer level a long time ago. (I first saw his claims in the comment section of Bruce Schneiers blog).

Danny Casalaro, PROMIS, and the octopus, and all that... the point being this is nothing new, just newly pervasive.


Exactly, end users do not care but people making their purchasing decisions might.


> people making their purchasing decisions might

Board members and shareholders might (some day -- hopefully) care, too.


Part of the problem is that there's not many real alternatives for now. Maybe power9 can help - but really, if you want a laptop today, it'll be with Intel backdoor hw or arm backdoor hw.


>Now if we can just start by getting Amd PSP and Intel ME removed! The first CPU manufacturer to do this is going to gain huge marketshare. (hint hint AMD!)

This is impossible. The ME/PSP are instrumental in the boot process; modern multi-core CPUs are complicated to initialise and these chips generally need substantial initialisation before the main cores are ready to execute instructions. This role is not something put in there gratuitously out of malice to stop people removing it.

The problem is not with having the ME/PSP as an auxillary core per se, but that it only executes closed-source vendor provided blobs (nor is documentation available to allow an alternative to be made), and more critically that it only executes vendor-signed code, precluding owner control.

The ME/PSP are also used to implement DRM, so Intel and AMD are not only not unlikely to ever enable owner control of the ME/PSP, it is likely they are contractually prohibited from doing so. I've previously explained this: https://www.devever.net/~hl/intelme


"The ME/PSP are instrumental in the boot process; modern multi-core CPUs are complicated to initialise and these chips generally need substantial initialisation before the main cores are ready to execute instructions. This role is not something put in there gratuitously out of malice to stop people removing it."

Then they need to put something in that does that instead of always-on, networked backdoor you cant disable. There's a huge gap between what you described and what they're doing. They also used to build complex, custom CPU's without it. So, we know it's unnecessary from their prior products.

I'd rather use the space for an extra core, a low-latency GC, TCP/IP offlad, etc. A lot of stuff people or companies might pay for who didnt want or use ME. The enterprises that want ME can buy chips with it.


> Of course my engineer friends always talk about how you can never verify down to the chip level

Well, I don't think that is the general case for software, that people will manually assamble a bootstrap assembler from machine code (and how would you verify your editor? Maybe write to floppy and verify the bit pattern via electron microscope?) - and build up from there.

Proving an entiresystem secure would be very hard.

But to have parts that you can say "if I trust this, then it follows that I can trust all of these things that follow" is very useful.

And so it is with hardware, too.

Not to mention how useful it is to have a well documented, open platform (even if it's not libre), like eg the commodore Amiga 2000 that came with full schematics of the motherboard, along with measuring points, so it was feasible to find and replace faulty components, write drivers and build third party add-ons.


If System76 starts to be successful why can't I just spin up a competitor and copy everything they do? I don't even need to do the work to copy them, I can just use their open-source designs and software. With zero overhead I can sell everything they make cheaper.

How are they not doomed to go out of business?


Just like RedHat didn't go out of business despite basically giving away RHEL as Centos for free to everyone.

People, especially the professionals, want the complete experience, from hardware to support and everything in between. Can you provide the level of support they provide while being cheaper than them?

> With zero overhead I can sell everything they make cheaper.

Chinese brands do this all the time with Apple. They copy the Apple iPhone designs wholesale including the UI themes, make it cheaper, and yet Apple makes more money than all of them combined.


And the people who know the product best are the ones employed by the company who actually built it, so they have a built in advantage in consulting/support.


That isn’t the same though because a cheap off-brand iPhone clone still isn’t an iPhone by a long shot.


Although it exists in a different market, why don't fashion designers go out of business? There's nothing stopping people from producing cheap knock-offs.

Some people want the "real deal". In fashion, that's because some consumers are superficial and vain and want to signal their wealth by getting the official stuff instead of using their wealth for something worthwhile. But for a case like System76, some consumers might care about funding the company that is doing the innovation that they appreciate…

At any rate, your question applies to all open-source software — how is it not doomed to be unfunded or go out of business? It's much easier to distribute software than to compete with a hardware company!


Maybe I'm wrong here, but isn't the whole idea to be pushing forward? If you're only copying their designs, you'll always be one step behind.

I'd rather buy from the company pushing the envelope rather than some obvious company just trying to make a quick buck.


The clones tend to be low effort and shit quality. The clones usually have shit support when things go wrong and don't have a big name standing behind them.

The Pursa i3 is a fully open source 3d printer with countless clones available but still the creators company is the most popular source to get it from.


Are you sure you can sell it cheaper ?

It takes a lot of knowledge + time + connections to make the whole products worth it. And remember that they will always have the advantage that the knowledge of hardware and firmware is in house, while you rely on their updates


That issue exists in all of manufacturing; its not difficult to copy a bed or a shoe (ignoring high fashion/concept). Branding, trust, convenience, etc play a large role in your decision to buy nike over a cheaper chinese clone


A nice change from the LED lighted boxes you often see for high end machines.

I’m hoping they do a nice laptop. HN will need to put their money where there mouth is if System76 comes up with a thick laptop with replaceable battery, upgradeable RAM, lots of non USB-C ports and a keyboard with some travel. A niche System76 could really fit into.


You mean like the Serval? Or the Gazelle, if you want a slimmer version of the same thing? Both have upgradeable RAM, lots of non USB-C ports, and replaceable batteries. Both are quite handy systems.


The Galage Pro, is that really that expandable and that light. i7, 32GB ram, 6TB SSD.

Found the compromise, the battery is tiny.


Yes, the Serval and Gazelle with a modern Thelio look. They really looked dated as they are.


Serval is very dated, but the Gazelle is darn "close" to a nice modern look & feel... for a Linux laptop it's about as close to MBA as you're gonna get. But overall I'd agree an "across the board" update would be most welcome. S76 makes great hardware and their design aesthetics have been steadily improving, I'd keep an eye out here, don't discount them.


This is the Gazelle you are talking about? https://system76.com/laptops/gazelle

With the circa-2009 Acer plastic look? Big plastic air fins, feet that stick out the bottom to stop it sliding into t bad properly, huge (huge) bezel around the screen?

The Oryx looks much more modern - are you sure you aren't talking about that? https://system76.com/laptops/oryx


I think they must have rev’d the Oryx (or I forgot) but yeah, that’s the more modern looking model.


You mean a pre-2015 Thinkpad?


Thanks for mentioning those. The Kudu is pretty nice too: https://system76.com/laptops/kudu


Ick. Looks like the $199 HP laptop I bought at an office supply store on Black Friday a few years back.

Every laptop either looks like this, or a MacBook clone.

I'll buy one anyway, simply because it's supposed to be made in America. But I can't find anywhere on the web site where they're made.


Currently they laptops are based on clevo devices with lots of work added on top. But they stated that laptops will be the next step after desktops. Just don't hold your breath as it gets a lot harder at that form factor


Instead I hope they'll build an iMac competitor. I would love to have one on my desk.


That is exactly what I want.


Would a small format desktop with a vesa mount for the back of your monitor, like a NUC, be an acceptable compromise?

The main problem I've seen eith that sort of thing is that there still aren’t many 5k monitors on the market and I’m not sure the LG one will work with Linux over USB-C. (Would love to be wrong on that if anyone knows better).


> A nice change

The wood finish? Really? A desktop that looks like a trash can, and now this?


Yeah. It's a nice change from anything out there that isn't a fully custom build. Black, beige, white, gray boxes, often with lots of LEDs or plexiglass windows.


Maybe because for every one purchased they plant a tree?


My thoughts exactly. A plain black box without any windows or lights is a refreshing change of pace. Wood grain just seems like kind of a joke on a PC.


I disagree but I recognize this is a subjective thing.


The Fractal cases (apart from the Meshify C) are already like that, in fact, there is a whole design trend providing elegant black boxes without gamery LED stuff. Look at the Define C for example, or the Thermaltake Suppressor F51 as one of the clones.


It's really hard to compete in the desktop segment with enthusiast customers as they are more likely to build their own desktop at a better price. Never the less it presents a great option for people who want open source(freedom) hardware in a complete package.

I really hope they continue their open source aspirations with their laptop line as it well be a compelling alternative to the typically macbook dev machine.


I don't think they are competing for the same market, they compete for those who don't care about building a PC but still want FOSS software as well as for some business customers.

There are plenty of people that are developers or Linux users (e.g. data science) that don't know anything about hardware nor do they care to know anything about it they just want something that works, sure they can spend time "researching" it but why bother? famously even Linus said he doesn't install his own linux distro not that he couldn't but even he would actually need to do some research if he would want to build one completely from scratch.

So their target market is essentially the person who would buy a Mac Pro or a dell workstation and if they have good support for theirs both in terms of FOSS software and post purchase hardware support they have a market to sell too.

I know people that spend 5-10K on a Dell workstation just to have "official" Linux support and decent onsite service, if these would sell outside of the US they would likely to switch.


This. I bought an expensive machine from Boxx.

I could have built it myself. But I didn't for three reasons:

1) I have other work to do. Spending a day tinkering with components instead of writing papers, getting grants, or working on code is not a good use of my time.

2) Ordering a machine is easier in terms of working through university purchasing than ordering parts.

3) If something's broken, I can call someone.

All of these have value.


I'd add to this point, that it's just not interesting to me anymore. I'd get some joy from the act of shopping, and a little from the anticipation of putting things together. Overall, it'd be kinda like doing the dishes though. Ultimately, it'd come down to the cost. If I could save $200-500, forget about it; less and I'd have no problem paying for something high quality.


Also that. I've built enough computers in my lifetime. Planning what I want, and the cool things that I'll do with it? Sure.

Clearing a day of meetings and writing so I can deal with cable management? Meh.


In most cases today you won’t even save money if you want to build a one to one clone, sure you can build a comparable machine to the Mac Pro for cheaper but an identical one would actually cost you more.


I've been using my System76 Oryx Pro for two years and I love it. It's a powerful laptop and every piece of it is well supported by Linux. I run Arch, since I'm not a fan of their Pop! OS, but it's a great piece of hardware for a Linux user. However, I've been really craving something more powerful, for gaming, rendering, and compiling, which still has the Linux-by-design support and quality build.

It looks like System76 has delivered precisely that series... and at a reasonable price. Thank you guys!


How is the battery life on the oryx?


I have this year oryx pro from this year. The battery life is ok to poor and honestly is one of the weaker attributes of the machine. (You have to switch to intel graphics, with nvidia on be plugged in). right now I'm at 40% battery and it says I have 2:20 minutes left, but honestly I'm browsing the web.. under load I think I get 2-3 hours with a full charge.

That being said I really like the machine.


Got a 17" Oryx pro last week. So using it with integrated Intel graphics, power saving on and screen brightness low, it's about 4.5 hours. I noticed if I adjust the screen brightness like even 10% it can add an extra 30 minutes. I'd assume it might be even longer for the smaller screen oryx versions. Now im wondering if there are a few other kernel governing tweaks that'd increase the time.


I leave it plugged in almost all day, so I can't answer that.


Those computer seems actually reasonably priced. You can get a better deal building them yourself but as a hassle free solution it seems pretty good. Event if you end up installing windows on it. I am quite impressed.


Their markup supports their considerable efforts to provide and support open systems. In previous threads I’ve read they have staff dedicated to making sure their hardware works 100% with Linux. Not sure of the extent beyond that, but you’re buying that with the hardware. If you just want hardware you’ll wind up doing all of that yourself on your time.


Me too. These look incredible. Does anyone know if you could also turn them into Hackintosh or run Windows 10 on them for gaming? If so, I'd pick one up in a heartbeat.

I'm a little concerned that the custom I/O daughterboard might make them only compatible with Linux or the PopOS (custom Ubuntu) that System76 offers.


Dunno, they seem pretty huge. The smallest is 14 liters and limits you to 32GB ram? What is this.. an Apple?

Seems pretty insane to charge prices like this ($2,500 for a modest i7, 32G ram, and 256GB SSD) and not make it expandable enough to handle the more challenging uses.


There are different versions. Thelio Major and Massive. Major is up to 128. Massive up to 768.


Yeah, but there is a hole between those categories. A Ryzen processor happily supports 64GB ram with a 4-slot board, and that is something they do not support. If you take the Major version you are bound to get a more expensive Threadripper processor.

But my current default build would be much cheaper and support up to 64GB ram, see https://www.pc-kombo.com/share/mORbPdR4. And that's also in a small case.


The small one only has 2 DIMM slots, hence a limit of 32GB (which has a base price of $1k). The more expensive ones you just mentioned have a maximum of 128GB and 768GB.


Related discussion from the other day: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=18342744

Personally I find this industrial design to be a refreshing change from other PCs but I'm sure the wood grain will be divisive.


That discussion was pre-release though, so pretty scant on actual details.


The wood finish is not "industrial design."


You are thinking about “industrial style” that looks like “industry.” Industrial design is the art and science of designing products — it has nothing to do with a specific look or style.



> "I like your computer," she said. "It looks like it was made by Indians or something."

> Chia looked down at her sandbenders. Turned off the red switch. "Coral," she said. "These are turquoise. The ones that look like ivory are the inside of a kind of nut. Renewable."

> "The rest is silver?"

> "Aluminum," Chia said. "They melt old cans they dig up on the beach cast it in sand molds. These panels are micarta. That's linen with this resin in it."

For the twenty years of Idoru they could have sown some discrete references to Gibson :).


This is exactly what I was thinking about. :D

It’s been a while since I read it but I seem to remember Chia was able upgrade her system. It would be nice to see a System 76 offer logic board upgrades for the case too.

I mean you can get motherboards from anyone but if you get them from System 76 you know it’s got good Linux support.


This looks cool. But why do they keep marketing Pop!_OS as a different operating system? This is confusing to people who don't realize that it's literally just a customized Ubuntu.


> But why do they keep marketing Pop!_OS as a different operating system? This is confusing to people who don't realize that it's literally just a customized Ubuntu.

Why do they keep marketing Ubuntu as a different OS? The is confusing to people who don't realize that it's literally just a customized Debian.


> Why do they keep marketing Ubuntu as a different OS? The is confusing to people who don't realize that it's literally just a customized Debian.

Why do they keep marketing Debian as a different OS? It is literally just Linux and some GNU system components cobbled together.


Indeed, why don't they actually put Linux front and centre, since by this point in time it should be a fairly well recognised name. They could then say something about Pop_OS in term of their own customisation if they like, but I find the down-playing of Linux a bit odd, especially as they do note the case design as including "the solar system at the time of the Unix Epoch", which is a nice Vingian touch.


Linux is a fairly well-recognized name by this point, but what recognition it does have tends to have "technical" associations.

If I suggest running Linux to some of my friends, they'll immediately disregard it as something they wouldn't be able to use, possibly because they know I run it and associate it with being a techie. I suspect I would get a very different reaction if I showed them something like elementary OS without even mentioning the word Linux.


Perhaps. But what if you mention "Pop" "<bang>" "<underscore>" "OS"?


Let's be honest here. Everybody familiar with System76 (slight exaggeration, but mostly correct) is somebody looking outside the box. There's a good chance they already use Linux and understand Pop is just a customized distro. These systems are largely marketed to the power user who doesn't want to build their own PC. In other words, someone who wants to pay a fair price for a good Linux laptop with functioning hardware and a company to support it. They know it won't have bleeding edge performance, but should have good performance. They are comfortable with computers and probably know Windows and a few Linux distros like Ubuntu, RHEL, Arch...etc.


I still think Pop!_OS is not a household name even among the smaller set of people you refer to.


Yea, but I clicked around and did a quick Google to find out it's a custom distro. Not too hard, but I guess they could make that easier.


I am their target customer (I recently bought a very similar machine to these from Boxx), and I have no idea what Pop!_OS is. I can guess, based on the 18.something LTS that it's a Ubuntu derivative, but I don't know what that involves.


I'm pretty sure it's an add-on repo to Ubuntu which contains customisation of GNOME Shell and some System76-specific firmware stuff. (I have a System76 desktop from a few years back, but haven't run Ubuntu or System76's custom repo for some time on it, so I'm not 100% certain.)


Yeah, as far as I can tell, that's what it seems to be. But there's some breathless hype stuff about it that's obfuscating stuff on their site even though I'm their target audience.


APT and dpkg really makes it different. Changes the whole character vs say redhat and their RPMs.


Every single binary that works on Ubuntu will work without modification on Pop!_OS.

That is not true for Debian. Some packages (like the .deb file for Chrome or VSCode) should work on any distribution that supports dpkg, but there are many packages that break compatibility between Ubuntu and Debian. Thus Ubuntu isn't just a customized Debian; it's a customization that creates a distinct operating system.


Yeah, they need to re-arrange their Pop page (https://system76.com/pop). Put the "workflow streamlined" and the "apps" graphics at the top. Put the scary matrix movie command line and CUDA + Tensorflow to the bottom.


I think the idea of Pop is that it's for people like scientists and engineers who need to use their machine as a tool for computation, but may have no knowledge or interest in system administration. Likely quite comfortable on the command line, but also likely couldn't tell you what systemd is or how to use iptables.

For many people in that audience "Linux Distro where the latest CUDA just works" is a huge selling point. That is unfortunately not guaranteed to be true of Ubuntu, necessarily, although things have gotten better.

I just switched to it recently and am very happy, it feels like it was perfectly designed for how I use the computer.


...You may have just sold me on it.


Me too, tested it today and I like what I see.

It seems to work very well on my laptop. I would say it is the first real innovation in distros in years.


So it seems to be working well on what I assume is not a System76 system? Because that's another thing I was wondering. I don't want the issues of a Hackintosh (OS targeted for a small number of builds) but for Linux.


It is a shame they don't offer ECC memory for the Ryzen and Threadripper based systems.

I built myself a Threadripper 2990WX based system a few months ago, and the hardest part of the built was ECC support. In particular:

1) confirming ECC support on the mobo was not disabled by the mobo vendor

2) finding "reasonable" speed ECC UDIMMs (ended up w/2666) in a high enough density to reach at least 64GB.

I would have been happy to pay a premium to a company like system 76 in order to save days of research into different parts.


Want to share what motherboard and memory you ended up with and where you got them from?


I have the older ASRock X399 Taichi. The BIOS is this odd mashup of glitzy OC features I'll never use combined with stuff they took directly from AMD without touching. There is even mention of the AMD XGBE SOC NICs in the BIOS (and they are not wired up). The worst thing about the BIOS is that I have some Micron U.2 NVMe drives whose option ROM causes the BIOS to hang about 9/10 times. If I disable legacy option ROMs, all is good until the next time the board loses power, when that setting is lost. Asrock's answer was 'reinstall windows' (which would be nice, but I have FreeBSD installed).

I ended up getting Crucial CT16G4WFD8266 dimms. Crucial was painful to deal with, and kept cancelling my order because they "could not verify key information". I finally just ordered the mempory from provantage.com, for slightly less. The underlying micron part number from dmidecode is: 18ASF2G72AZ-2G6D1

If I was doing this today, I might wait for 2933 or even 3200 memory..


My only hope is that they would ship things from within Europe, so we could avoid the hefty (20+%) customs...


Really well done. I like the design, the wood finish the look, configurability. Up to 40TB storage, 4 GPUs (I tried to configure a Thelio Major), lots of RAM.


Sweet! Pricing seems competitive for what they are offering. But what's up with the 2.5 SATA drives? I was looking to replace my Z620 which has existing 3.5" drives - looks like I can't repurpose those. 2.5" drives are also considerably costlier than their 3.5" counterparts - never mind they also handle heat better.


I thought that was only on the smallest machine, but I checked and they all have 2.5" drives. I'm not sure why in desktop they would choose to go that route.


SSDs are either m.2 or 2.5" form factor. There's no need for a spinny drive.


You can build one with spinning 2.5 drives that are costlier than the 3.5 ones. So it's not about not needing spinning drives - for lots of redundant storage 3.5" drives are still the most economical choice.


I think this is them being forward looking, realizing that 3.5" drives are quickly becoming a relic of the past.


If you really wanted a blob-free desktop wouldn't you just spend a bit more and get a Talos II Lite? System76 is marketing an aspiration towards a goal Raptor CS has already largely delivered on:

https://www.techrepublic.com/article/raptors-talos-ii-lite-b...


Maxing out configurators is always fun...

Configuration total $76,783


It’s $82,893. You selected the 40 TB HDD storage instead of the 32 TB SSD.


I hope it comes with a mortgage.


"Pay as low as $2580/month".


That's more than Raptor Engineering's Talos II POWER9 workstation max-out! :^O

Talos is a fully open hardware platform too.


Neither Talos nor this machine are anywhere near fully open.


https://wiki.raptorcs.com/wiki/OpenPOWER_Firmware

Talos has fully open source firmware, down to the very first POWER instructions that are executed from efuses. That's pretty damn open.


While I don't have a use for their desktop systems, I've very much been enjoying my System76 laptop; I just bought a Meerkat (mini PC) for my new home-theater system. I've had good support experiences and in general with S76 everything "just works", which is really nice for a Linux distro/system. I'm running Ubuntu 16.04 but the new Meerkat will be 18.04 and I'll probably upgrade my laptop to that soon.


I think they really missed an opportunity by exclusively supporting AMD/Intel here. Would have been nice to have a competitive and relatively affordable POWER system- open hardware and firmware is nice but kind of mooted by having a mysterious minix black box running at all times in ring -3 (Intel ME/AMD PSP). I guess TALOS is still the only option there.


Wait for the Raptor Blackbird. They're apparently trying for a very competitively priced POWER9 system with that one, as in sub-$1k.


Aren't the lowest core power9 still intended for servers? I wasn't aware they had desktop processors.


They look nice, are pretty large. Very few specs, I couldn't for instance find anything mentioning the size of the fan.

From what I can tell it's a bog standard system, a thin piece of wood (or is it a veneer?), and a custom fan controller on a small daughter card.

The integration is pretty nice, presumably all the driver related integration "just works", although I generally get that with dell desktops or newegg systems built from parts.

They don't mention much about the actual quality though. How efficient is the power supply? How many fans does it have? Any sound insulation inside? Maybe a aluminum/plastic/aluminum sandwich for sound dampening?

Why is the rear fan so far from the rear of the case?

Why is the motherboard horizontal which makes the case very wide, especially for a machine with a max of 32GB ram.

For $2,500 for a modest i7 system with 32GB ram, gtx-1070, and a 256GB SSD I was expecting more than a custom fan controller and limited ram.


"They don't mention much about the actual quality though. How efficient is the power supply? How many fans does it have? Any sound insulation inside? Maybe a aluminum/plastic/aluminum sandwich for sound dampening?"

You get that this is open hardware right? You can go to https://github.com/system76/thelio/ and see the whole story (there are separate projects for Thelio Io and the specifics for each model, but you get the idea). They even have a BOM: https://github.com/system76/thelio/blob/master/Thelio%20Comm...

Here, for example, is all the detail you could hope for on the PSU for Thelio Main: https://github.com/system76/thelio/tree/master/Thelio%20Main...


https://www.tomshardware.com/reviews/fsp-dagger-600w-sfx-psu... is a review of SFX the psu used, I assume in the smaller case. Quiet, but not the best. The other psus in the BOM list are excellent EVGA units, oversized, and they picked the older G2 model - which is good, the G3 has (or had?) issues with the fan curve and can be loud. The G2 is reasonable quiet as well.

The Arctic case fans are not the very best but very good for their price, reasonable choice as well. I use them myself, in my very quiet PC.

I don't see sound insulation in the BOM, I might miss it. But the regular customer hardware used there I can judge seems very reasonable picked. Not the usual bad cost optimization you see in regular pre-builts.


I'm not seeing the schematics for the PSU here. There's plenty of detail I could hope for that's not there.


And if the schematics were there, you'd hope for a complete metallurgical breakdown of each of the wires inside. ;-)

If went out and bought the PSU yourself, you wouldn't have any more information. I think that's a reasonable standard to hope for.


Er, no I wouldn't. Nobody is claiming that that forms part of an open hardware definition.

And yes, PSU vendors aren't advertising their products as open hardware. I'm aware of this. So people shouldn't be making out that this PSU is open hardware. It isn't. Whether or not people are fine with that is up to them. Personally PSUs are on the bottom of my list for things to care about the openness of.


The rear fan appears to be shared with the CPU fan. This is actually not a bad design in my opinion, many Dell OptiPlexes from around 2002-2009 were built with a similar design. By putting the fan farther from the grille, they can reduce the effects of noise from the blades passing by the stationary grill.

The fan appears to point inwards, which seems to make more sense for BTX Dells with the fan at the bottom than this with the fan on top.

The site mentions the power supplies are 80plus certified or something with (iirc) 90% efficiency or so.

Quality of the case wise it does look like quite some effort was put into it, given the top appears to be one piece and it certainly looks harder to manufacture than a standard PC case.

With that said, as much as it is nice, I think it's just more of a standard PC with a nice case.


I'm curious about how much fan noise there really is. They talk about the Thelio looking nice enough to live on the desktop, but IMO the reason people put their Linux box under their desk isn't necessarily because it's ugly: it's to mitigate the fan noise.

I don't care much about walnut or maple; I just want quiet fans.


It's really refreshing to see such a clean design, especially from a committed open source vendor. I don't even really have a need for a desktop right now but it could be nice having an "anchor", so to speak, instead of being mobile all the time.


> And to offset environmental impact, every Thelio sold plants a tree with the National Forest Foundation.

In other words, they donate a dollar. Not that I'm against it, I guess. There's just something about the "buy our product for $X and we'll donate $(X/1000) to Y on your behalf" marketing ploy which rubs me the wrong way. I mean I guess it's better than them not doing it, but... it just feels bordering on sleazy.

I'd much rather see "We donate N% of our profits per year to planting trees". It's a subtle difference, but instead of a marketing technique, it feels more like a genuine company principle.


Isn't the question you want to ask: to what extent did the one tree really offset _the_ environmental impact, then we know whether the statement is true or a true lie. Oh no, we won't, because it didn't have the word "the". That was for us to assume, while they could tell us they meant "some", if ever pressed on it. Nice. Got it.


Love the 70's design! How's ordering from them from EU? Any experiences?


Off Topic: I love my S76 laptop, and just bought a Meerkat (mini PC) from them. I'm a fan. Hardware "just works" and I like that they respect my software freedoms. No disclosures, just a customer.


Why do they have Pop OS? It's a lot of work building and maintaining a distro and there are tons already. Does it do anything really different?


It makes a lot of sense for theme, this way the control the whole experience with the product.

I was testing it today and it seems to work very well on my desktop. I would say it is the first real innovation in distros in years.


theyre designing and manufacturing aluminum and they've got a software team doing POP_OS, a great start... now solve the trackpad! do whatever you have to do to get it done, and ill sell my macbook :)


It looks really, really cool (very nice specs, and attractive too). I wonder how well it’ll run Debian stable. A lot of folks like Ubuntu, and no doubt System76 are doing a fine job with Pop!_OS (gosh that’s an odd name though), but I’m happiest with a system I can set up exactly as I like.


Pricing isn't bad compared to a Boxx desktop. I was interested until the GPU offering. I mean I know I can install the GPU myself but it's weird to offer RX550/580s without offering NVIDIA alternatives like the 1070/1080...


Not that weird actually. The GTX 1070/1080 are in a category above the RX 580, the direct competitor is the 1060. They do have the RTX 2070 as a replacement for the 1080, that category is served. And of course a company favoring open source would lead customers to buy AMD, the free drivers are way better than what Nvidia is offering. So they set AMD where it is sound and Nvidia where AMD has no alternative on the market, and where for ML you'd currently want a Nvidia gpu anyway.


It's weird to see an open source focused company offering any NVIDIA at all.

The FOSS world should keep the middle finger up until novideo starts releasing actual detailed documentation and collaborating with the nouveau community.


I think I'm in the market for something at least very close to what System76 is doing. But there's a niche that I'm not finding in their product lineup (or anyone else's, so far).

The open hardware part is extremely appealing, and the reason I started paying attention to System76 in the first place.

What's missing for me is form factor. Rather than a desktop tower, I want to rackmount a machine in an AV cabinet and put it in my living room alongside other devices like an ethernet switch, UPS, maybe an AV receiver, set-top box, or other bits of AV/smarthome type gear. Like those home stereo racks people had in the 80s and 90s (tape deck, cd changer, receiver, record player, amplifier). But with actual rack mounting hardware like you get in modern server rooms.

I already shopped around for, and have, a suitable cabinet: https://www.salamanderdesigns.com/racks-stands/hampton-317-r...

So when I look at their 'servers' page I see machines that belong in some company's server room, away from humans. The small height (1U or 2U) says "compute density" (which is one of the metrics emphasized on their product page) and also means small fans which need to move a lot of air, which means noise.

The servers offered go up to 28 or even 31.5 inches deep. The shallowest is still 22 inches deep. My aforementioned cabinet has 16.5 inches of depth from the front rails to the back rails. So while the rackmount hardware is the same standard 19 inch width with vertical hole spacing measured in U's, there is a distinct difference between what is built for a server rack and what is built for an AV-style cabinet in someone's home.

A chassis with 4U or more of height would allow larger, slower 120mm fans suitable for a quiet living room. I want something like that on sliding rails so it can be easily pulled out like a drawer for component changes.

That would be a great bit of design for a home server, I think. And if System76 or a similar vendor were offering this as a product category, I'd be asking them to take my money :)


That is a sexy machine. Does anyone who understands GPUs know if all the NVIDIA do-linear-algebra-really-freaking-fast drivers that everyone uses for deep learning will run properly on the RTX 2070?


Yes, definitely.

You can see it among the benchmarks here.

https://www.pugetsystems.com/labs/hpc/RTX-2080Ti-with-NVLINK...

It's the slowest tested obviously, mainly because of limited memory (so you have to put less on the device and compute less in parallel). But it would still be a huge speed up over CPU, like night and day. And "as fast as a 1080Ti" is really, really great.

I will add, Pop!_OS comes with the latest NVIDIA drivers and lets you apt install the latest CUDA and even Tensorflow without any rigamarole.


Cool, thanks!


I won't claim to understand GPUs, but I've read a LOT of comments from people complaining about NVIDIA cards on Linux.

As I understand it, AMD is pushing more open standards, although I don't know how it compares in terms of performance. I actually have a tab open right now with the ROCm [0] docs, since I was looking to learn a bit more about what they were up to. They supports Tensorflow, although I don't think they're first-class citizens like NVIDIA.

[0] https://rocm.github.io/


Looks like a loudspeaker... IMHO they could have fully adopted that approach, adding a cloth covering a front grille for added airflow (and a fan perhaps?) Anyhow, nice


"...to the solar system at the time of the Unix Epoch, Thelio embodies the character of our company and community."

Nice detail.


This site is full of misleading or false claims.

>Open hardware licensed to give you rights

>Thelio, Thelio Major, Thelio Massive, and Thelio Io are >OSHWA certified open source >hardware.

The case might be. The mainboard, i.e. the actual computer, sure as hell isn't. Insofar that they're selling "Thelio" as a computer, a reasonable person would interpret this to mean the computer with all parts therein as sold, for which this statement is wholly false. As for the mainboard, my understanding is that it's both designed and manufactured by Gigabyte outside of the US, and the schematics aren't theirs to give.

>Designed and Manufactured in Colorado

>US-sourced wood and aluminum are formed, finished, etched, and built by artisans in our >Denver, Colorado factory. Premium components from around the world are then assembled to >your final specifications.

The case might be. The mainboard certainly isn't. "Premium components from around the world are then assembled to your final specifications." is pretty ambiguous. I wouldn't normally consider a mainboard a "component", it is the damn thing. This is at best highly misleading.

Moreover, according to [1], the company is "chipping away at the proprietary bits until it's 100% open source." This is, like Purism, stating vague ambitions which cannot plausibly ever be achieved; Intel and AMD platforms will never be blob-free.

[1] https://www.linuxjournal.com/content/system76-announces-amer...


I have been looking at these computers forever and am continuously waiting for them to come up with a nice looking laptop. I don't want to buy something that looks like a Dell I had in 2002. I want something that is comparable to my brand new MBP.

Also, I hate to be that guy, but if you are trying to compete in this market, why even spend time doing a Desktop computer. It is a super shrinking market... the only folks that still buy these are gamers (where sadly you just have to live with the proprietary stuff to squeeze every cycle for performance) or something hyper niche that doesn't matter anyway.

Concentrate on one product (probably laptops) and make something outstanding there. There are some of us that want to buy it.


I don't play games and have both a Linux desktop and an iMac. When you are doing a lot of distributed systems and large datasets the beefier machines help a lot.

I also have two laptops obviously but my main workhorses are the desktop computers. I'll even to shell into them when I'm on my laptop.

I don't have any data on it but I feel like the desktop market is getting bigger as datasets are growing and software is becoming more distributed. My 2015 macbook sounds like an airplane taking off when I code on it. The fan is at full throttle 100% of the time.


The latest Xiaomi laptops are pretty much like Macbooks and you can easily run Linux on them too.

As for gamers of course the majority will use Windows but Win10 is such a shitshow that Linux is going to get progressively more popular, especially now that Steam Play/Proton makes it super easy to run Windows games in Linux.


i think they sell a several laptops that are as beautiful as the macs now.


System76 should offer some kind of "Steam Machine" edition.


Now I we can run chrome!!


That is Apple level of expensive.


It's a cool toy, and obviously I'll be the manliest developer on my team if I had this... But what does it actually do? If I need that much compute for a problem, doesn't renting the capacity on AWS make 100x more sense? There's no way I could actually make use of all that hardware


It's a workstation. The following people might make use of all that hardware:

* Game development engineer who needs to test games at all graphics settings;

* Digital artist who needs to rapidly iterate by creating draft renderings quickly before sending the model/scene to a render farm;

* Roboticist developing robotics algorithms that require lots of local data collected in the field that would be infeasible to upload to AWS;

* Physicist developing computational models which should be tested on smaller instance locally before sending off to a supercomputer.

Besides, if you're planning to use a machine for compute for more than several months, it becomes cost-efficient vs renting an AWS instance.


"But what does it actually do?"

It manipulates 1's and 0's at a rapid rate and high precision.

"If I need that much compute for a problem, doesn't renting the capacity on AWS make 100x more sense? There's no way I could actually make use of all that hardware"

It's probably not for you then, just like the AWS instance wouldn't make a lot of sense for some guy playing Crysis.


For a web server that has low latency throughout the world, and if you don't know any cheaper provider that has equivalent reliability, yes. aws makes sense. Introducing network dependency and latency to your work environment, not sure how that makes any sense.


Was excited AF until I read this:

"Perfect with Pop!_OS

Pop!_OS by System76 and Thelio together form the perfect platform to create and discover. Thelio is optimized for maximum performance. Pop!_OS provides tools and development platforms that are always up-to-date and just a single click or command away. "

Forgive me but I'm just not interested in running an obscure custom Linux. I feel the same about Amazon's AWS Linux distro.

Give me one of the following, in order of preference, and we'll talk:

- Arch - Ubuntu - Debian - Fedora - RHEL


I was pleasantly surprised by Pop!_OS. It's basically Ubuntu + nice theme + drivers specifically tested and configured for the System76 hardware. No more pain and suffering because of nvidia drivers.


Does this mean that anyone wanting to run anything non-Ubuntu-based on a System 76 product, gets to take upon themselves the joyous tasks of extricating these drivers from Pop!_OS, monitoring Pop!_OS for driver changes, and re-extricating new versions of drivers when they arrive?


I have ran fedora on a system76 machine with zero issues, but the machine is almost 2 years old now , and a pretty no frills intel laptop so who knows


I regularly install the current ubuntu LTS on about 5 desktops, all with nvidia. Generally it just works you either have to click on (settings -> drivers -> nvidia) or just do an apt-get install nvidia-<current version>.

When there's a kernel upgrade it "just works", presumably with DKMS or similar. What pain are you seeing with nvidia?


Yeah, but the name... Ugh.


Ubuntu isn’t exactly a catchy name either. Sounds like the name of a miscreant troll.


On windows and mac, because there's no choice, things like this are offered as software to install. Would doing the same on linux more likely cause "pain and suffering"?


You can get it with Ubuntu 18.04 at no extra charge. Check the configurator.


Oh wait they offer Ubuntu 18 as an option. OK excited again


pop_os is pretty good, you might be out of the loop on that one it's gaining a decent amount of traction


Trust me you want Pop, it saves you alot of setup.




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