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Laptop Brands with GNU/Linux Preinstalled (floss.social)
167 points by doener 76 days ago | hide | past | favorite | 82 comments

Rather than a blanket "Linux Preinstalled", I'd like to know about S3 sleep support. Eg, it would be nice to know which laptops still support real S3 sleep, and not just the new "Windows modern standby" mode.

I watched an LTT that indicates that Windows modern standby apparently doesn't even work right with Windows. ("Microsoft is Forcing me to Buy MacBooks - Windows Modern Standby" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHKKcd3sx2c)

I think Lenovo has a website somewhere where you can explore the bios for most of their laptops. IIRC, most of the thinkpads still support s3 sleep and are pretty Linux friendly (unfortunately I do not have personal experience with this, just what I read).

Some will argue since thinkpad got sold off to Lenovo that they can’t be trusted given their track record; I don’t necessarily disagree but given how much MS/Apple/Google/Dell/etc have burned people one time or another I’d opt for good hardware, customizable firmware, and good software support. If true that thinkpads still all support s3 and Linux, that’d be my pick but I’m a mbp guy now.

Lenovo that are NOT Thinkpad will give you headaches with Linux. Avoid. Sleep issues, WIFi issues (related to sleep) BIOS updates that only work from Windows 11, etc.

My amd T14 gen 1 thinkpad will sometimes have an unresponsive touchpad after waking up from sleep with Pop OS that I installed. Not sure if I'm using the wrong driver or something. Sleep is set to Linux in BIOS.

And when plugging in/out various audio devices sometimes it seemingly gives up caring about where it says it is piping audio, and to which device it actually goes.

While having Linux preinstalled is without doubt a good thing to make more people familiar with the ecosystem and soften the learning curve by eliminating the install process, note that this doesn't protect from any kind of spyware, branded crapware that pushes users into buying products or services, or simple telemetry. Users who know how to do a fresh Linux install should do that anyway before they put their personal data and files on the device. That would be good practice also with Windows preloaded laptops, where having a load of added garbage became the norm.

> Users who know how to do a fresh Linux install should do that anyway

Not great advice. Dell laptops at least ship with a specific version of Ubuntu that has all the necessary drivers and config tweaks for the laptops devices to work well out of the box. A stock Ubuntu install will result in a half-working laptop and a not great experience.

The Dell-customized Ubuntu image is pretty clean and crap ware-free anyway so it’s definitely a good idea to use that.

Drivers that are near unobtainable except when using the preinstalled OS is a NO-GO.

But it's probably something trivial. I know stories about bleeding edge wifi hardware drivers not being provided by a year old LTS Ubuntu (well du'h). And of course there is the gpu driver shism. But i'm guessing.

Can you elaborate on the changes made by dell?

Likely some sleep-state fixes for wifi HW. Those have a long history of issue (on many vendors) and fixes generally require BIOS, firmware and kernel to all play nice.

Dell has a better description of what’s done to the custom image and how most of those changes are later upstreamed. https://www.dell.com/community/Developer-Blogs/Dell-s-Develo...

Are you sure you meant to provide this specific link? Where on the page should we look, if so?

I've never figured out how to manage battery power settings on my windows MSI laptop after I installed Ubuntu.

Great advice. I'm not sure if Dell upstreams their changes or list them somewhere, but if they don't, they deserve support problems. And if they do, well, no issue then, right?

I wouldn't trust vendor not to put spyware / crapware on the laptop.

Startup idea:

Become a source of software where paranoid people install your things instead of from the OEM. Install rootkits on your drivers and sell to the CIA

Haven't checked in on Ubuntu on Dell for a while but they used to have a PPA so you could install fresh but get all the drivers easily

Why would I install a package from some 3rd party PPA? That is almost the same as leaving their installation intact.

It is a matter of trust. I trust my distribution vendor (no choice here really), but hardware vendors should just offer open-source drivers and apps and leave it at that. The app comes from the PPA already compiled, so who knows what it is doing.

Bad advice. A user unable to properly configure their device should be buying a Windows machine. Or a MacBook / Chromebook.

Just sound like reasons to not get a dell.

Totally. A manufacturer supplying drivers and a suitable pre installed OS, and upstreaming changes so they become available widely. The horror.

Most of the appeal of getting a laptop speed with Linux is the expectation of good Linux hardware support.

Most of the utility in running Linux on your hardware is from running the Linux distribution you prefer.

This. Have gotten the DE of the XPS and everything worked flawlessly. Along with Dell ProSupport it's hard to beat it.

Maybe not the best advice for total beginners, but good advice for anyone who wants to learn Linux. There is plenty of documentation out there on how to get a fresh Linux install up to speed on a Dell laptop.

Sounds dubious, could you be more specific?

> A stock Ubuntu install will result in a half-working laptop

Probably just because Ubuntu is outdated, try Archlinux.

This is FUD. Point me to any spyware or branded crapware on a Linux-preinstalled laptop. I'll wait.

This is technically mostly true, yet incredibly misleading. We can certainly argue about Linux's usability, but using Linux will put you WAY ahead of others in the crapware race.

Good vendor list. I myself bought a System 76 and a small Chromebook to get a no-hassle Linux experience. (Linux containers on Chromebooks are handy for light weight development).

Another great source of Linux friendly hardware: old Mac laptops. A few months ago, Apple stopped supporting old gear for the new iCloud encryption, and if you had any registered laptops without this option turned on, then you couldn’t use it for any of your gear.

The point is, that I put Ubuntu on an old MacBook and a really old MacBook Air (the very small form factor). These old laptops have a new life, and run great. It was incredibly easy to do the installs, especially compared to my first Slackware install that I had to do with a 2400 baud modem Internet connection.

I'm flabbergasted it's been an hour and there has been no "System76 is just an expensive Clevo" post. HN isn't the same on Saturdays!

Joking aside I also have one and am satisfied with it. In my experience it is the Linux laptop with lowest power consumption/longest battery out of the box by far.

I have a 2013 MBP with an aged battery. How would you go about installing Linux?

I put Fedora on my 2012 MBP Retina. I made a USB key, iirc with the Fedora USB image tool, then plugged the USB key into the MBP and held the Option key as I powered it on. USB key shows up as a bootable option.

I have the same model and installed Ubuntu from an ISO burned to a bootable USB. It works great!

I have the 20133 2015 13". MBP, and I installed OpenSUSE Tumbleweed from a USB stick. Everything works. You might just have to install facetimehd camera driver.

I have Manjaro running on a 2013 MBA. Installed on a USB with Ventoy. Runs great.

I don’t think I saw MNT on the list. They’re crowdsourcing their second laptop now.


I think this will be the one for me when my MBP is considered obsolete by AAPL, is that 2 or 3 years these days... Certainly wont be going down the even more locked down and proprietary M(n) AAPL road. I already have a 2013 MBP that overheats with anything but OSX. And an iPad that cant be used because some web certificate chain has expired, so much e-waste! open hardware for me next :)

Instead of picking niche brands with unknown build quality and support options, just buy a laptop from a trusted and well-known brand like Dell or Lenovo. Some of their laptops come with Linux options, and even if they don’t, it’s very likely Linux will work well on it anyway (and you can always check before you buy if all the hardware is supported).

I don't easily put Lenovo and trusted together with all the security/privacy issues: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lenovo#Security_and_privacy_in...

I would still trust Lenovo more than the no-name brands recommended in this post, even keeping those incidents in mind.

I understand why you would want hardware designed to run Linux but wouldn't you still want to do a fresh install so you are less likely to have to deal with spyware/crapware?

Pre-installed is the closest one will get to "works with Linux" from the larger manufacturers, so I evaluate it on that basis. Though sometimes it turns out they're using some obscure binary driver or even just an open source but obscure repo to support some important aspects, particularly on laptops -- so reinstall, but inspect the installation first.

I don't even understand the benefit of preinstalled Linux outside of the possibility being higher that they tested the hardware with Linux. Why would I risk their backdoors and crapware? To save the 15 minutes it would take to install something safer?

edit: have bought two Zareasons and a Dell with Ubuntu preinstalled. The support with Zareason was great at the time, and I'm willing to support companies that ship Linux because they have support that uses Linux, but I'm not going to be running some retailer's OS unless I'm forced to with locked hardware.

There's two things you want:

1. To know that every feature of the laptop should work out of the box.

2. Ongoing hardware support.

You don't have to keep the supplied OS if you don't want to but what you want is support.

As long as it comes with Linux pre-installed the manufacturer will put resources into ensuring it works or you could return it. That's not the case if you just buy a Windows laptop and wipe it.

If you can't trust your hardware vendor not to install "backdoors" and "crapware", I have bad news for you: They also ship the firmware, which you can't avoid, and it has all of the same access that any "crapware" would. Oops.

That's what happens with Windows. Most folks just use the included OS when they buy a computer, but I doubt many Linux users would.

Some of these vendors go the extra mile to load up coreboot or some other libre BIOS. There is also some effort put into finding components with solid Linux support. These may be good motivators to buy a Linux laptop, even if you intend to reimage it off the bat.

Most of us here on HN would probably install our own OS anyway. And many buying from the websites listed also would.

But if you could go to your local hypermarket and buy a cheap Linux-laptop, I bet many customers would be happy with the installed OS.

The last, and only, time something like that happened was 15 years ago with the Eee PC. I still have mine somewhere around.

Until there is spyware/crapware preinstalled on Linux laptops, there's zero point in doing that. Let's not preoptimize for something that doesn't even exist (yet).

My goal is not so much to get a GNU/Linux laptop as it is to avoid Microsoft Windows. Most laptops come with a Windows license, which costs me money and gives aid and comfort to the enemy. It is easier to find a laptop with Ubuntu preinstalled than to find one with no OS whatsoever.

Given you are wiping out the OS, "Linux" and "no preinstalled software" are synonymous, but "Linux" is a better keyword.

indeed, the number of distros that come with this strange bit of software called systemd...

I also dislike systemd but we can stop beating that dead horse. The big distros use it, it's here to stay. I'm using Gentoo+OpenRC for my boxen but at $WORK it's Debian+systemd. Use the energy for different battles.

I've never quite understood why Framework don't offer Linux as a pre-installed option.

I'm told that their machines work well with Linux and I like the user servicing options so it just seems weird.

They're probably just responding to demand. Preinsyallef Linux would only be appealing to newbies or people whose OS preferences happen to match what the laptop seller offers. Anyone who's been using Linux for a while likely doesn't think installing on a new laptop is a big deal and also has idiosyncratic preferences on how to do it.

(I, for instance, use NixOS, the market for which I'm sure will be miniscule for a long time yet.)

The preferences reason is the main one. We regularly run surveys in the community about distro preference, and we haven’t yet seen any one distro get over 30% of the vote. In response to that, we’ve written guides for setting up the top 3 most popular distros and ship the DIY Edition without an OS installed. That’s not to say we won’t ever have a pre-installed Linux option, just that our focus has been on making it easy for people to bring the distro they want.

I still don't understand why I need to buy the DIY version to not get Windows

I've asked this before and responses are just "its really easy to assemble!"

that isn't what I am asking though

I am asking why I cannot buy an assembled FrameWork laptop without Windows

its easy on your side - just do everything you would do and instead of installing an OS, just ship it

They probably have an agreement with Microsoft to ship windows on everything.

That or it's a warranty issue...where the DIY model forces the purchaser to carry more responsibility

I got a $400 Dell running Ubuntu. Works great for my general development and browsing needs. I'm pretty careful about stripping off any software/daemons that I don't need. https://www.dell.com/en-us/shop/dell-laptops/new-inspiron-15...

The price point is also in a sweet spot in the sense that if I break it or lose it or something, it won't be a painful financial loss. The same reason why I never buy sunglasses above $50. "I will financially recover from this."

Far more interesting IMHO is whether the vendor publishes uefi updates and other low level firmware for the device in a way that doesn't require a running ms-windows to patch it. Dare i ask for open source firmware?

I get Dell updates under Linux from LVFS, works great


TBH requiring Windows isn't so bad as it seems, because Microsoft provides a very-lightweight version of Windows free-of-charge. Remove your storage drives just in case before booting, to prevent Windows messing with your data. This is a relevant link:


Honestly, i do not consider that "good enough". Applying updates by manually searching for them, building a boot system with a completely different tech stack, physically removing storage drives, ... i know people who couldn't be bothered to do that even if the update fixes an HCF error.

Luckily the worst of the worst when it comes to firmware, the one on the wireless card that is reachable without direct physical access or a bridgehead on the system, is nowadays loaded by the driver and the binary blobs are updated by the package manager. At least for the most recent intel and qualcomm architectures (and maybe some other). However I am not entirely sure if they patch the device permanently or just load them for runtime. Relevant because there are wifi drivers embedded in UEFI (for example for WoWLAN), but who the heck has that enabled anyway.

Lenovo does this for their laptops, but struggles with peripherals.

Story time: A while ago Lenovo had bugs in their thunderbolt and uefi firmware, with symptoms like glitches when the devices were plugged in a lenovo ultra docking station. They published the firmware to LVFS and thereby enabled linux devices to apply these patches with fwupd.

However the dock, which is a device on its own, also has some glitches, little annoying stuff like certain monitors on the display ports not working every time when hot-docking. They made patches for that as well, because business hardware, but a microsoft operating system is needed to apply them to the dock.

Sure one can say: that is a problem of the dock vendor, which just happens to make the laptops as well.

Star labs does this using fwupd

I just recently set up my 2nd Dell XPS. The last one I switched between Arch, Gentoo, Ubuntu, and Windows as my itch to tinker kicked in from time to time.

I had minimal issues with any distro I tinkered with. Ultimately, the ol’ girl had some failing hardware components so I upgraded to the newest XPS model and will continue to do so until their quality declines. I absolutely love the machine.

Maybe not "GNU" enough for them but I'm writing this on a Lenovo Thinkpad Carbon X1 I bought pre-installed with Fedora. I have also bought a Dell laptop with Ubuntu.

I bought like 4-5 dell laptops with ubuntu preinstalled by now. The experience so far was somewhere between great and ok.

The most important thing with these laptops is that I know it's gonna have the right hardware.

At some point I stopped reinstalling ubuntu as it just worked anyways.

My exact computer as well, except that mine came with Windows and I installed Fedora on it. Interesting note: Tried ubuntu before that, not everything worked as seamlessly as fedora. I am a Fedora believer from now on.

Worth noting Dell, whose XPS laptops (at least) offer Ubuntu 22.04 as a configuration option.

I've had pretty good experiences with Dell and Linux, albeit I dual boot and usually get Windows from the factory.

If you have a moment — why do you dualboot? I find it too difficult to keep both environments around, especially given how high-maintenance Windows can be with blocking updates and general junk accumulation. (or, if Windows is your primary environment — how high-maintenance Linux can be, I guess)

Some windows updates fail when it doesn't recognize the bootloader. That stumped even my friends that work at MS on the OS team!

Then I had to disk repair to put the windows bootloader back, then update windows, then restore syslinux bootloader (then moved the windows out of the partition into VM image)

Makes you wonder if single-booting two laptops would have been easier.

Yeah I too was looking for Dell in the list, and for some reason didn't find it.

It's the second item from the top ;)

Already discussed about a week ago: https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=35077888

Picked up a Starlabs StarLite a few years ago and I love it. Really one of the only 11 inch laptops left that has (fairly) decent specs and linux.

Me too, but just a week ago. I’m finding the StarLite Mark IV to be exemplary for the price.

There are a couple of things that I’d like to change on the hardware front, but no show-stoppers. Excellent build quality, extremely portable and performant enough for development work.

I don't really care what comes pre-installed, I'm gonna do my own thing no matter what. I just got a (gorgeous) ASUS ZenBook S13 OLED and it took me all of 30 minutes to get it installed. Everything perfectly working (although I'm lucky that the latest BIOS update and 6.2 kernel fix a few issues).

Got a Thinkbook 13s Gen 4 running Ubuntu and it's been solid. Excellent specs for the price, battery life is the only thing that's mediocre but I'm plugged in most of the time. Oh and it tries to turn itself into a nuclear reactor occasionally while sleeping.

Shout out to Lincoln at http://emperorlinux.com/

I have had excellent success with him over the years.

Deeply knowledgeable, and able to configure whatever you can imagine.

I have a Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10 32GB RAM coming in the mail on Wednesday. Going to install another distro immediately upon receiving it, but I was happy to support a Linux laptop product.

Happy thinkpenguin customer here. In the old days I researched hardware for GNU/Linux compat; now I just buy a system from them and everything just works.

I have the Lenovo X1 that came with Fedora. Love it.

I have that, too. Though I ditched Fedora for my preferred distro. I wanted to give Fedora a good try. My issue might have been that it uses gnome and I prefer kde plasma. Anyway, great laptop!

over past 15 years I have installed the then current release of Ubuntu or other distros on dozens of different laptops/desktops and some phones across many brands each attempt success yet some did require googling to discover various incantations of boot up settings... So there is never the need to buy a new laptop with preinstalled linux ... Infact if a given person cannot muster the grit to do a linux install that person is not good material for even becoming a linux user ... Yes 'tis sad but true linux is decidedly not yet ready for the masses ... However no matter this relatively high barrier to entry the pure joy and productivity boosts of using linux easily outweighs the angst of this ongoing hazing ritual of doing your own installs

So do they just install the kernel?

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