In addition to the open source aspect, I must mention the design aspect of recent System76 machines. They’re full of subtle hints, such as the exhaust fan grill:
Those circles on the grill bars represent the position of the Sol system at the UNIX epoch. I can only imagine how the author of the fine article came across that information!
I don’t get how they call it “open source”. It doesn’t have a FOSS (at least partially) firmware and uses either Intel’s or AMD’s CPU (both need proprietary firmware).
If open source is your thing, just get Talos II or Blackbird.
They’ve made it pretty clear that the point of the Thelio line is to work toward freeing more and more components of the system over the course of many revisions. This model has the “Thelio I/O” board which frees thermal management and storage. Future products will likely be more free.
If freedom is your primary concern, you should definitely go with an older and more well-understood system, like the X200. If you need performance, that’s not really an option. I personally moved to the Thelio from a Corebooted ThinkPad because the level of performance it offered wasn’t acceptable for the work I was doing. I still use it as my mobile computing device.
You compare moving from a laptor to a desktop. If you move to a desktop PC, you can move to Talos or Blackbird, or, if you need amd64, you can get ASUS KGPE-D16. KGPE-D16 is amd64 and can run blobless coreboot.
All those boards are quite fast, definitely much faster than a usual PC
Price per performance is drastically out of proportion for all of these systems; either they have very bad price to performance or a very high starting cost. “much faster than a usual PC” is not really an acceptable metric for me; I have some specific tasks I need to do (many-core compilation; real time video transcode; physics simulation; some other things) and a college student budget. Thelio is currently the best solution to get much more openness for a reasonable cost, for me. I note this in the “Go/No Go” section.
There’s nothing wrong with using one if it fits your use case. I researched all of these options and none of them did.
KGPE-D16 with two Opteron 62xx is great, that’s my daily driver. a build with that is sub-400 quid
I have X200 with coreboot, but if I were to buy it now, I wouldn’t do it. It’s better nowadays to get some Chromebook now that we have Panfrost.
A Chromebook isn’t exactly the match of a ThinkPad.
It isn’t, but you should compare ThinkPads X200, which are pretty old now (11 years old). With Chromebooks, you can get a better CPU and GPU, but only 4GB RAM and at most 64 GB flash HDD (although you can also insert SD card).
So it might be better, but it’s certainly a tradeoff. Still, there are no new other laptops that fit my needs, so I’ll probably switch to Chromebook anyway at some point (I’m postponing it until they have at least 8GB RAM).
I have a ThinkPad X200, so I’m familiar with its performance. Even if you can get a Chromebook with a better CPU/GPU, as you point out you’re limited on RAM and storage (my X200 has 8Gb RAM and fast Samsung SSD), and moreover you miss out on other general ThinkPad features such as durability, user-repairability, and most importantly for me, the TrackPoint. (I’m not going to use any laptop that doesn’t have a decent pointing stick, which pretty much means a ThinkPad.) A small increase in CPU/GPU power isn’t worth it over these other features.
Just got a ThinkPad recently with first TrackPoint. This is gonna sound really stupid but I just found out how to use the thing. I tried rubbing my finger across it like a track pad since pushing it didn’t do anything. Didn’t get results or really need it. So, I just went with track pad. Your comment made me have another round at it DuckDuckGo’ing this time how people use it. Didn’t expect an official page. So, press then move.
Well! That’s still weird but makes way more sense. A little playing around with it shows the precision changes with pressure. Which I’m also just now seeing at bottom of linked page at second glance. I’m used to trackpad. Might stick with it for familiarity. Probably will play around with this TrackPoint more in future. :)
I’ve never really been able to properly use a laptop as a lap-top until discovering ThinkPads with TrackPoints: always had to have some sort of table and plug in a mouse. TrackPoints are pretty intuitive once you get the hang of it. You may need to configure the sensitivity to make it more usable. (Which is not as straightforward as it should be in Linux, but this page has good info: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/TrackPoint .)
Panfrost isn’t really ready for ‘daily use’, is it? The patches in Mesa seemed to contain a lot of stubs, but I’m definitely no expert so I could have the wrong impression.
Apparently it’s complete now: https://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=news_item&px=Panfrost-Gallium-Update-For-Mid
I don’t own this hardware so I can’t really check.
I was mainly referring to this message on the initial panfrost series that was merged in mesa earlier this month: https://cgit.freedesktop.org/mesa/mesa/commit/?id=61d3ae6e0bde93c5601278d1a60c44be655a7cb5
More things have been merged into the main mesa tree since then. Still, you might (??) still need to use their tree if you wanted to try it out. Though that tree says “lives in upstream” now.
What’s a Blackbird? It’s such a common name for things I can’t find anything googling.
It’s a Raptor’s new board ( https://www.raptorcs.com/content/BK1MB1/intro.html ). Smaller (uATX) and designed more for desktop than a server. Also much cheaper.
I was super interested in buying one of these, but the markup is just too much for my tastes. I built out a reasonable workstation (9900K, 16 GB RAM, 500 GB NVMe SSD, 1TB SSD, RX 580) and the cost came out to $2,359 versus the $1,582 it would take to build it myself. I could understand a markup over retail of $100-200, but $700+ just isn’t a good value in my opinion, especially when I wasn’t selecting affordable parts.
Yeah, the high end ones are a bit pricey, though I don’t think that’s actually a possible configuration (they don’t sell a 512 GB SSD), and when I configure something closer to it, I get $2150. Where are you getting a 9900K for that little money?
Sorry, I meant the 500 GB SSD. I also forgot to mention the 1 TB 2.5” SSD. Here’s my build.
I’d really like to know if Debian will run well on the hardware; I’ve not (so far) been able to find any reference anywhere. It’s absolutely lovely, and I have a good opinion of System76, but I’m just not interested in Ubuntu or an Ubuntu-derivative. They’re fine distros, no doubt, but not my thing
Generally if Ubuntu will run on something, Debian will also have the drivers available somewhere. It was a few years ago but I’ve run Debian on a system76 laptop and it worked just fine. The system of good citizens sharing useful hardware support code seems to work pretty well these days, and system76 is a good citizen.
I asked because 8 or 9 years age, I think, I had a Sustem76 laptop running Ubuntu; I installed Debian on it after a few years and it was always a little weird. FDE was odd, weird display glitches. It worked, but it wasn’t the experience I was looking for. So instead I switched to another manufacturer, but they haven’t released a new top-of-the-line model in awhile.
I’m in the market, but I son’t want to spend $2,000–3,000 and be disappointed.
I can’t imagine it wouldn’t. Debian has driver support for everything but the custom System76 board in the repos and that’s available in apt-compatible format with DKMS.
This seems really fun: I like the aesthetic, sounds like minimal driver/setup fuss, and full-size desktops are pretty dang capable (and still upgradeable) these days. If it made any sense for me to shell out a lot for a desktop right now it’d be a contender. (Another would be the mini desktop quite similar to the one in the “colo your PC” story here, which checks a lot of boxes if you don’t need a discrete GPU.)
I think it’s great that they’re making this. I think having companies that produce ready-to-go Linux desktops/laptops that don’t look like industrial machinery will go a long way towards making Linux more palatable to a wider audience.