Buying a Linux-ready laptop

Tuxedo makes it easy to buy an out-of-the-box "penguin-ready" laptop.
195 readers like this
195 readers like this
How Linux became my job

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Recently, I bought and started using a Tuxedo Book BC1507, a Linux laptop computer. Ten years ago, if someone had told me that, by the end of the decade, I could buy top-quality, "penguin-ready" laptops from companies such as System76, Slimbook, and Tuxedo, I probably would have laughed. Well, now I'm laughing, but with joy!

Going beyond designing computers for free/libre open source software (FLOSS), all three companies recently announced they are trying to eliminate proprietary BIOS software by switching to Coreboot.

Buying it

Tuxedo Computers is a German company that builds Linux-ready laptops. In fact, if you want a different operating system, it costs more.

Buying the computer was incredibly easy. Tuxedo offers many payment methods: not only credit cards but also PayPal and even bank transfers. Just fill out the bank transfer form on Tuxedo's web page, and the company will send you the bank coordinates.

Tuxedo builds every computer on demand, and picking exactly what you want is as easy as selecting the basic model and exploring the drop-down menus to select different components. There is a lot of information on the page to guide you in the purchase.

If you pick a different Linux distribution from the recommended one, Tuxedo does a "net install," so have a network cable ready to finish the installation, or you can burn your preferred image onto a USB key. I used a DVD with the openSUSE Leap 15.1 installer through an external DVD reader instead, but you get the idea.

The model I chose accepts up to two disks: one SSD and the other either an SSD or a conventional hard drive. As I was already over budget, I decided to pick a conventional 1TB disk and increase the RAM to 16GB. The processor is an 8th Generation i5 with four cores. I selected a back-lit Spanish keyboard, a 1920×1080/96dpi screen, and an SD card reader—all in all, a great system.

If you're fine with the default English or German keyboard, you can even ask for a penguin icon on the Meta key! I needed a Spanish keyboard, which doesn't offer this option.

Receiving and using it

The perfectly packaged computer arrived in total safety to my door just six working days after the payment was registered. After unpacking the computer and unlocking the battery, I was ready to roll.

Tuxedo Book BC1507

The new toy on top of my (physical) desktop.

The computer's design is really nice and feels solid. Even though the chassis on this model is not aluminum, it stays cool. The fan is really quiet, and the airflow goes to the back edge, not to the sides, as in many other laptops. The battery provides several hours of autonomy from an electrical outlet. An option in the BIOS called FlexiCharger stops charging the battery after it reaches a certain percentage, so you don't need to remove the battery when you work for a long time while plugged in.

The keyboard is really comfortable and surprisingly quiet. Even the touchpad keys are quiet! Also, you can easily adjust the light intensity on the back-lit keyboard.

Finally, it's easy to access every component in the laptop so the computer can be updated or repaired without problems. Tuxedo even sends spare screws!

Conclusion

After a month of heavy use, I'm really happy with the system. I got exactly what I asked for, and everything works perfectly.

Because they are usually high-end systems, Linux-included computers tend to be on the expensive side of the spectrum. If you compare the price of a Tuxedo or Slimbook computer with something with similar specifications from a more established brand, the prices are not that different. If you are after a powerful system to use with free software, don't hesitate to support these companies: What they offer is worth the price.

Let's us know in the comments about your experience with Tuxedo and other "penguin-friendly" companies.


This article is based on "My new 'penguin ready' laptop: Tuxedo-Book-BC1507," published on Ricardo's blog, From Mind to Type.

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RGB-es, aka the Tolkian Penguin
On the web I'm known as RGB, RGB-es or el pingüino tolkiano (the Tolkian Penguin). I write, mostly in Spanish but also in English and Italian, about free software, text processing and typography.

22 Comments

For me, it's all about the money. What's the cost comparison between one of these and a similar or better (hardware) laptop running Windows where I'm going to blow Windows away and install Linux?

The point is to support companies that support free software by not worrying about the lowest out-of-pocket price for a laptop. If that is your primary criteria Walmart or Amazon is your friend. If you want to support the open source community buy from Tuxedo, System 76, etc.

In reply to by Greg Pittman

For this kind of hardware, there is no real price difference and, for me at least, there is a huge added value on the product of companies such as Tuxedo. Sure, there are "budget systems" for half the price, but the hardware they offer is quite limited, not to mention soldered memories, bad batteries and other not so nice stuff.

In reply to by Greg Pittman

Glad to read you here Mr. RGB!!
Have a lot of fun!! :)

I would be running Ubuntu Studio Operating system on that laptop

I haven't tried this vendor but I've had good luck with my System76 machines. It works perfectly fine nowadays which is cool. I'm always torn between rewarding a big vendor like Dell who finally caters to the market or rewarding the smaller vendors who are only targeting Linux. I kind of wish I had to buy many laptops so I could split the difference :)

That's great @hankg!
I've read various accounts of non-US users who have had epic issues with the System76 support. Initially I was looking at their systems (which look really neat!) but really don't want to risk issues, should something act up.

Tuxedo seems much more on the "to be explored" list for us. So far I've only read good things about them and their systems also look awesome.

I wonder why Librem isn't mentioned here, as they too seem to be very much on the libre track.

Hi! I mentioned System76 and Slimbook because I have happy friends using those systems too. I have no experience, direct or indirect, with purism so I let that brand for the comment section! :)

In reply to by Armando

Great review. I hadn't heard of Tuxedo before this. I'm a contented System76 user. Linux on the desktop allows for so many more options than either Windows of MacOS.

I bought a tuxedo laptop in September 2018 and it was my worst experience with laptop. In the first 5 months I had to send it in Germany two times to repair. The customer service was very slow, weeks to have answers to my questions.
The problem is not receive a damaged laptop, it could happen, the real problem is the customer service.
Never more a tuxedo for me.

Excellent article! I'll also add the Purism Librem. https://puri.sm/products/librem-13/

I test-drove a Librem 13 laptop for a while, and I really appreciated the hardware kill switches. You can flip a switch and your wifi/bluetooth (or your webcam/microphone - there's a separate switch for that) just goes away. You can watch the logs when you do it, and it's as though you unplugged the webcam/microphone from your system. Great security.

For those with a smaller budget, off-lease Lenovo laptops are a good option. I have a T400 and a T420. All of the hardware works just fine in Linux. Another plus is that these laptops are made to be easily serviced.

I have a Meerkat from System76 for about two years. Just got the DarterPro, and I like it too. I like both. Got Pop!_OS on the DarterPro. I recommend #System76, especially if you are in North America!

Hi all,

I have been buying Tuxedo notebooks for many years now (having lived about 1 km from their original store in Königsbrunn, I have known them for ages...). I'm writing this comment on my third Tuxedo laptop and I have been satisfied with most of their products (my first laptop had some issues and I have colleagues who have occasional problems with hibernation). Sure, Tuxedo is not the cheapest vendor in the lot, but as others noted above, the price is worth it.

Well, I also bought a Tuxedo computer last year.. What an error!
1) it arrived to me 2 months later, and another model because they said they had some shipping problems with the motherboard
2) they offered me a small discount for all these troubles - however, I did not get anything until today! (i.e. 10 months after...)

About the computer: it would be OK if the Wifi would not disconnect by itself occasionally! I noticed that this happens when the processor temperature goes up...

Meanwhile I made a bug report for my WiFi problem - no solution found 2 weeks later...
So I would rather say that their customer support is miserable too... :-(

After my experience with them, my advice is not to go with this company at all!

In reply to by Marian (not verified)

Purism, Slimbook, System 76 & Tuxedo ... but wait! there's another one Think Penguin ;)

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