Where to Buy a Preinstalled Linux Desktop / Laptop

The hardest part of using Linux is often installing it.  Over the last couple of years, Linux has come a long way in terms of hardware support, and these days it is relatively rare that an installation of ubuntu/fedora will be lacking any drivers for your machine. However, installing any OS can still sometimes be a tedious task and one that scares the wits out of the average computer user. And, for the expert users out there, it’s just more fun to buy a computer with Linux already on it and not have to pay the Microsoft tax – even, if you are going to put your favorite distro on it anyway.  You can find Linux servers sold all sort of places, but where can you find Linux desktops for sale? Here is a list of places I have had good experiences with or have had heard good things about directly:


Dell http://www.dell.com/ubuntu

I bought a laptop (1420) from dell with ubuntu preinstalled.  It showed up and all of the hardware immediately worked flawlessly: webcam, wifi, suspend/resume, audio, compiz etc…  The good thing about buying a dellbuntu, as opposed to a computer from Best Buy, is you can be absolutely sure that everything will be supported.  Beyond piece of mind, buying an ubuntu machine from Dell sends a message to the big manufactures that there is a demand for Linux and Linux support on their computers.


ZaReason http://www.zareason.com

ZaReason is a local Berkeley company that sells preinstalled Ubuntu desktops and laptops all over the world.  They also sell Ubuntu swag such as case badges to replace any “powered by windows” stickers on your old computers (of which I have bought to give away at our meetings).  The prices start low and the computers are available with many customizations.  Whenever you buy a machine from ZaReason, they include a screwdriver in your package, letting you know that you are free to tinker with your computer.  If you want a preinstalled Ubuntu computer with great Linux support and would rather promote a small Linux only dealer than a big corporation like Dell, consider ZaReason.  I intend to buy my next computer from them.


System76 http://www.system76.com

Like ZaReason, System76, sells preinstalled Ubuntu Laptops / Desktops (and now they have their very own netbook).  They were one of the first companies to sell their own Linux systems and have a large user and support community (including their own forum at ubuntuforums).  Hardware support is flawless and they have a wide array of machines designed for everyday users, to business laptops to servers.  I have never had experience with a System76 machine, but have heard nothing but good things.


EmperorLinux http://www.emperorlinux.com

Unlike System76 and ZaReason, EmperorLinux does not create their own computers.  They get high-end computers from Dell/Lenovo (including several tablet options) and install Linux on them for you.  These are great for power users who want a high end (or business) machine with Linux on it.   But, it does not have the advantage of being a true Linux computer from start to finish.

LinuxCertified http://www.linuxcertified.com/linux_laptops.html

Linux certified also sells some preinstalled Linux laptops/desktops. I know very little about these machines, but they are worth looking into before you decide on a purchase.



Since the EeePC, a lot of netbooks have flooded the market, most with a Linux option.  I own and love the EeePC 901.  It originally came with a somewhat lame Linux distro based on Xandros.  However, I have installed Ubuntu Netbook Remix on it, and it is a great little Linux laptop.  Here are EeePC Linux options available at Amazon.Com:


HP SUSE Probook

Finally, it looks like HP  is getting back into the game…


Additions from the Comments:

Puget Systems http://www.pugetsystems.com/ – Looks like they sell both Linux and Windows custom PCs.

Pioneer Computers (Australia) http://www.pioneercomputers.com.au/ – Live in Australia?  Try this.

Los Alamos Linux http://laclinux.com/en/Start – One of the oldest Linux sellers.  Looks like they are similar to EmperorLinux in that they mod Lenovo’s for example.

Affordy http://www.affordy.com – Looks like another company similar to System76 and ZaReason.  Nice to have options – good review below in comments.

eRacks http://www.eracks.com

linPC http://linpc.us

IndaMixx http://www.indamixx.com Recommended in email.  Looks like a nice portable multimedia system.

EightVirtues http://www.eightvirtues.com

Diverse Technologies http://www.dt.com.au/linux.php

PsyStar http://www.psystar.com/linux

Also, as one of the commenters kindly pointed out, Linux.org has a list of some vendors (though, since they are missing most of my original suggestions, it is certainly no master list):  http://www.linux.org/vendor/system/index.html

77 thoughts on “Where to Buy a Preinstalled Linux Desktop / Laptop

  1. Well, I do think there is a lot that could be improved in OpenOffice. So, I doubt OO.o was trolling. It is ready to be used by most people, I think, though.

    Anyway, MSFT, nice site.







  3. >There aren’t many, but the body is — like everyone has said — a magnet for fingerprints. The touchpad is also finicky at times. It probably registers about 90% of the time…which can be annoying. It does get a little warm too, but I haven’t had any problems with the fan. Some say it’s loud, but it’s barely audible to me.

    Also, I wish the hard drive were more readily accessible. I imagine you just take the bottom off, but a compartment would be a nice touch. That said, the RAM is very easy to access and upgrade, and it is the most likely culprit. With 160GB, the included hard drive is just fine for me now.


    All in all, this is a great netbook, and I’d recommend it to anyone but Andre the Giant. I have pretty big hands, and it’s not that hard to type…you get used to it. It’s sleek and sexy even with fingerprints, and it’ll keep you entertained for hours if you want to slack off on writing that paper ;)


  4. Everybody should at least try the GNU/Linux os. With the bootable Linux livecd, it’s very easy to take Linux for a test run… just pop it into the cd drive, then boot your computer to it. If you’re running something like Ubuntu GNU/Linux, you can then checkout some of the FREE software via the Applications>Ubuntu Software Center – you’ll be amazed at how much is available. If you like Ubuntu, you can reboot to windows and then pop in the Ubuntu cd and install it inside windows (gives an option to select it on bootup). There’s hardly a better way to make your computer run faster, and be safe from malware and malicious activity.

    What you to have to lose? Only your freedom if you don’t try it….
    Oh and here’s another thing… If you need help – just say the word and someone like me will be glad to get you started.

    While you’re thinking about it, checkout some of these sites:
    FREE YOURSELF, Use GNU/LINUX! gnu(dot)org | fsf(dot)org | linux(dot)com | getgnulinux(dot)org | ubuntuguide(dot)org | whylinuxisbetter(dot)net | openoffice(dot)org | humans-enabled(dot)com | ubuntu(dot)com | distrowatch(dot)com | makethemove(dot)net

    Shannon VanWagner


  5. I think that’s a little unfair. Not everyone cares about computers as much as the readers here. Does anyone have the percentage of users who have never installed their own OS before? I suspect it’s quite high.


  6. I think my statement above was incomplete and therefore understandably misunderstood… what I meant to say was that people can TRY Ubuntu GNU/Linux without “installing” it at all. When you boot the Linux LiveCD (in Ubuntu for instance, but with many other distros as well… check distrowatch(dot)com, or livecdlist(dot)com ), it just runs it from the cd and RAM, without installing, changing, or overwriting the existing operating system (e.g., windows) at all.

    So I’m not saying everyone should “install” Linux, I’m just saying that it certainly doesn’t hurt to TRY Linux, which is in fact very easy to do. And by not trying Linux, so many people, yes – even the ones who don’t care about computers, just don’t even realize that they are missing out on an entire Universe of Free and unrestricted software(worth billions of dollars if you calculate how much developer time it took to create it) of all types.

    Just my humble opinion of course… but I have been a user and administrator of different operating systems for computer systems(yes even windows) for over 10 years.

    You see, GNU/Linux and Free Open Source Software (FOSS) are the very representation of computer science as a whole, and I feel that it’s my civic duty to pass on the benefits that I’ve myself found in the science of GNU/Linux as an enabler for humans and technology.

    IMHO… To think that humans are too “stupid” to get involved with(or at the very least explore) the technology they use, benefit, and rely on is a gross insult to human intelligence. And if such statements about people being too “stupid” to use technology were true, there’s no way we would be seeing people of all ages and backgrounds, walking around talking on cell phones (and using sms for txt messaging).

    The stupid user model is out.. The creative and technology enabled humans are in.. The GNU/Linux of today is easier to use than ever, and it continues to get even better, at a very, very rapid pace.

    So there’s my 2 cents… Oh and please don’t be offended by my passion-enthused responses.
    Shannon VanWagner


  7. AT&T definitely has hold of the market with the iPhone and that’s what SHOULD be looked at…not Apple. Do you reckon Apple genuinely worries whether Google offers Google Voice on its platform…. as long as individuals are purchasing their telephones – and they’re purchasing these life-changing gimmicks! I enjoy mine! The missed calls are one too many (AT&T), but the telephone is astonishing! One thing I wish it would have got is Flash to play videos from certain internet sites!


  8. Dell doesn’t do a great job of supporting Linux. You probably realise this now that X doesn’t work. I actually got a Dell laptop that didn’t even work out of the box. The particular configuration wasn’t tested that I ordered and I couldn’t even login with it. Physically the hardware worked too. I went through several techs before being told they don’t support Linux and being directed to Canonical. Then I founded out Canonical doesn’t offer support on the weekends so I’d have to wait till Monday. At
    which point I found out hoe expensive it was and returned the Dell laptop.

    EmperorLinux systems come with problems out of the box too. Although I did not experience anything that made me return it. Just the hard drive was very very slow (it had nothing to do with the physical drive) and the DVD writer never burned a disc successfully. It was a few years before any of this was resolved.

    If there was another company I’d want to check out it is ZaReason. I suspect the systems might be good systems for Linux although there is a lack of information for me to verify that. I’m pretty confident the support isn’t great either. I have emailed them before about a purchase got no response. I don’t see a phone number to call either.

    I have had good experience with LinuxCertified in terms of things working well although the quality was sub-optimal and the service wasn’t good at all. I would be the laptop worked out of coincidence than anything. I suspect if I bought another I might find issues. They don’t seem to be knowledgeable about the chipsets or understand free software issues.

    I bought a laptop recently from the newest player on the block that works great, has smart people running the show, and has excellent support services,. Not to mention the company supports free software. As far as I can tell of the others don’t understand the technical issues presented by non-free software. I don’t want to have to manually install drivers or replace devices that lose support from the manufacturer.


  9. I am looking at laptops. I had pointed a number of my customers to Dell for GNU/Linux laptops when they were shipping them in the US. It was a nightmare. While there are some Dell systems which run ok with GNU/Linux they don’t ship those systems with GNU/Linux. I had iffy experience with every company I’ve done business with although I’d agree with Ink.I’d rather go with a company like ThinkPenguin who at least makes an effort. Even if not everything is perfect I’ll at least know there is more of an being done to improve support for free software.


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