Unboxing the latest Linux laptop from System76

A quick overview of a lightweight professional computer for Linux users.
157 readers like this
157 readers like this
System76 Lemur Pro laptop

I've been on a journey from Mac to Linux since joining the staff at Opensource.com almost two years ago. In a huge step for me, I finally made the call to have my personal laptop also run Linux. Due to the coverage of System76 in our community, I thought I'd give it a shot.

I'm coming from a MacBook Pro as my go-to device, so I went with a near-standard build of the Lemur Pro for a comparable system. A reasonably priced upgrade to more RAM and a speedy NVMe hard drive later, my order was on its way.

Why this laptop? I want to continue my road to Linux as the main operating system of my life, and I like to support my company's participation in open source. Ports were important (USB-C is a must, USB-A is nice to have), but the decision came down to a balance of sleek design, battery life, and enough power. I found the Lemur Pro specifications did the trick.

But why System76? It's rare to find custom-built laptop designs that run open source firmware (Coreboot) and open source embedded controller firmware. I might not be digging into that level of code often, but I appreciate knowing I can see all the software that's running on my system from the operating system on down.

A note before going further: this is not sponsored content. I paid for this laptop with my own money, and I'm sharing out of an appreciation for the uniquely open source-centric focus of System76 and our community's enjoyment of a good unboxing.

My excitement only grew when I received the package, though it looked like it'd seen some bumps along the way.

Lemur pro box

The inside looked incredible and immediately reminded me that my excitement was warranted. The laptop comes well-protected in a rather uniquely reusable case, suspended in a cocoon of wrapping. My cat curiously inspected and approved of what she saw.

Lemur pro box

Removing the laptop revealed the question "What Will You Make?" an inspirational slogan that totally worked on me—I immediately thought about all the open source contributions that will be made once I'm up and running.

Lemur pro box inside

As a nice bonus, I found a package of different sized stickers so my System76, Pop!_OS, and overall robot enthusiasm can shine bright.

Stickers

Getting my hands on the actual Lemur Pro surprised me. Its light design was immediately apparent, weighing in at only 2.2 lbs (.99kg), and I was surprised by how sleek it looked. It's an aluminium case, which feels substantial, and looks great with its simple (though not subtle) logo.

Lemur pro

The keyboard looks and feels great. I really enjoy the tactile response and clicking sounds it makes—not too loud, not too soft. The trackpad is smooth and silky. The click on that is louder than I expected, but I tend to use touch more often.

Lemur pro open

What cannot be overstated is how smooth and enjoyable the Linux distribution, Pop!_OS, is to behold. It has a playful minimalist design, and I look forward to exploring its user experience. The installation was easy enough.

Lemur pro installation

As a comparison, you may be able to see the 14.1" display of the Lemur Pro is a touch bigger than my 13" MacBook Pro next to it. The weight difference is what really stands out, though, with the latter coming in at around 3.02 lbs (1.37 kg).

Lemur display

My first impression of the Lemur Pro by System76 is that it does a great job of offering a sleek and light design for a professional computer. The specifications are listed here if you want to take a deeper dive. I will be taking a deeper look at it and what I can do with Pop!_OS in articles to follow.

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Updated: May 25

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Matt is an advocate for open source software and currently the Managing Editor of Enable Architect. He specializes in designing technology communities that develop products and content in a way that tells a powerful story.

13 Comments

My current computing needs rarely include a laptop, so a 10-year-old, cheap "Black Friday" Acer running Devuan ASCII serves my needs.

But the design, apparent quality, and philosophy of the new System76 laptops makes them very tempting. The hardware just keeps getting better and better, while the company gets more and more open. I think that's a rare combination worthy of praise. The documentation, by the way, is fantastic, including full details on how to replace the battery and almost everything else: https://support.system76.com/articles/service-manuals/

At some point I'll replace my reliable-but-aging Acer, and I'm pretty sure it will be with a System76. I look forward to your unvarnished evaluation of the good and bad of the hardware, Pop!_OS, and System76.

I agree 100%. I have been a Thinkpad user for the last 15 years for laptops at work, but I'm seriously tempted by System76 for my next home PC. I usually build them myself, but I'm interested in their Mini line for a number of reasons.

The dedication to open source is inspiring, and I want to support that business model.

In reply to by Digitalis

Great review Matt! I was tempted to get the Lemur Pro myself. I love that it only weighs in at 2.2 pounds. You'll love their support. System76 has the best support team I've ever encountered. I've grown to love Pop!_OS too.

Great review of the hardware. I would love to hear what you have installed for software.
One of the things I do with my Windows system, is periodically rebuild the box. If you have the time, maybe you could review this all to common activity, for the System76 box.
I think that would be a great article to read.
Thank you for sharing you experience with this laptop, very intriguing.
Mark

Hi, nice review, could you make a deeper comparison? Especially for the screen brightness/resolution/color accuracy?
Thanks.

The hardware and philosophy of System76 products is definitively attractive, but their OS seems problematic, at least judging by the number of open issues on GH (512).

Amazing Review. Thanks! It's featuring 10th-generation Intel Core processors I guess.

Can you please share its amazing features?

Nice review! Looking forward to your future review on experience with this open source beast of a machine! Enjoy it!

When did you order your laptop? I had issues ordering a laptop through their web site and ended up going somewhere else.

I was curious what you thought of the image quality of the display compared to the MBP in terms of brightness, sharpness, eye strain, etc. I know that's going to be a factor of the OS and software too.

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