The Galago Pro was my daily machine for about a month. While I had some issues as noted above (I don’t like the trackpad or the keyboard), by and large it’s the best stock Linux machine. The only place where the Dell XPS 13 blows it out of the water is in battery life. As someone who lives full time in an RV and relies on a very limited amount of solar power (300w) for all my energy needs, that battery life is a deal breaker. But in nearly every other regard, this is by far my favorite laptop, and I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend it.
There is something that comes up in the comments of nearly every review of System76 hardware, and that’s how the company doesn’t build its own hardware. System76 orders everything from upstream hardware vendors, and, in the case of the Galago Pro, that would be the Clevo N130BU (or N131BU). I’ve never quite understood what the issue is, but it certainly seems to rub some people the wrong way. Could you save a couple bucks by ordering the Clevo directly? Sure, but you’d have no support, no custom PPA to fix hardware issues, and no community to get involved in. If you just want a dirt-cheap Linux rig, try eBay. What System76 offers is great Linux experience with a piece of hardware that’s maybe not the absolute cheapest hardware.
However, that is going to change. In addition to launching its own don’t-call-it-a-distro OS, the company has announced that will soon begin what it calls “phase three” – moving its product design and manufacturing in-house. There, it hopes to “build the Model S of computers.” It’s a bold move, starting up hardware manufacturing and an operating system at the same time. It’s the kind of plan that might well lead to overextending oneself (after all, even Canonical has backed away from making its own desktop OS).
I’m genuinely curious what System76’s in-house Linux laptop will be like.
If they start with something akin to a RazerBlade Stealth and upgrade it to have removable RAM Then they could be onto a winner. As nice as the super thin laptops are, I value being able to upgrade ram/hard disk. The Razer design is good in that the SSD can be swapped out, but it could be improved by having upgradeable ram as well. Should be simple enough to do, mount the ram slot on the edge of the mainboard so it keeps the laptop thin. Rather than having it on top of the board.
Schenker manufactures almost the same style of laptop (the SLIM 13) – it doesn’t officially support Linux but as it has almost the same hardware so I’m pretty sure it’s compatible. Currently looking at buying one of those. I was really surprised to learn they actually manufacture in Germany.
As a side-note, the slim13 seems to be faily easily maintainable; you can upgrade parts (apart from CPU) by just unscrewing the back.
Edited 2017-08-18 10:38 UTC
This already sounds like a buildup to a Kickstarter campaign. I’m unconvinced they offer anything above what is available already on the market. For example Dell’s Linux laptops
a HP EliteBook 820. It matches the laptop on review on HiDPI, Ethernet-port, WIFI and exceeds it capabilities with a smartcard, fingerprint, battery, keyboard backligt and working 4G, all with a stock OpenSuSE 42.2. However, smartcard and fingerprint take some tweaking And admittedly CPU, memory and storage is not as impressive in a base configuration.
Edited 2017-08-19 05:52 UTC
Even the big brands don’t design and manufacture in house, a chinese manufacturer comes to them with a few designs, they choose which go into production… It’s likely that system76 will do the same, although obviously choosing the designs that contain hardware known to have good linux support.
One of the things i hate most about the big laptop brands is that for any given model you’ve no guarantee what components it will have – the official spec sheet will say “802.11ac wifi card”, but the actual device might have one of several different chipsets with different levels of linux support and different performance characteristics, and you don’t know which one you’ve got until you boot the machine to check.
I’ve played with one of these at a convention. It’s a really nice little laptop. The one downside is battery life, but they did say they’re looking at repurposing a big empty drive bay for a second battery, which should bring it well up over eight hours of use.