Best Linux laptop for developers?



Just ordered the same thing! Really excited. Aluminum case! this will be my 3rd System76 laptop and like 8th System76 computer in general.

Hopefully battery life is decent, the specs are pretty insane.


Awesome! It’s my second System76 laptop, previous was a Galago UltraPro. Very much looking forward to the upgrade, but I haven’t heard great things about the battery. Pop OS 18.x is suppose to include better battery profile stuff, so I hope that helps.


I have a bunch of Lenovo Laptops of the last 18 years, some stock models, some customized with coreboot, libreboot, more RAM, etc. It usually depends on what your requirements are. If I can’t find a suitable system for building software (mainly I develop Operating Systems), there’s another system I can offload the build to. I had good experiences with the T and X models.


I discovered cpufreq to reduce processor power when you want to save battery life. I hear good things but haven’t really put it through the paces yet.


Would love tools for undervolting on Linux, better thermals and more battery :slight_smile:


I’ve been rocking a modified Chromebook that runs GalliumOS natively (xubuntu but hyper optimized for Chromebooks).

For $350 you get:

  • 1920x1080 IPS panel
  • 128GB SSD (easily can upgrade to a larger size if you need it)
  • SD card, headphone jack, backlight keyboard and a good trackpad
  • Weighs under 3 pounds and is thin enough

Sure it’s not an i9 with 32GB of ram but honestly, it works just fine for every day web development. I run large Dockerized Rails apps, stream music with Youtube, use VSCode and have half a dozen browser tabs open and things are never slowed down.

I’ve been running that set up for over 2 years now as my primary on-the-go laptop.

Full details on how I set everything up can be found at


I’ve heard @mobileoverlord loves his XPS. I’m looking at upgrading to either the Dell XPS 13 or a Razer model.


I wanted this to work out for me. I gave it a really good effort, but this didn’t work out for me. I’d like to try it again sometime. The problem i had was RAM. I think if i try it again, i’ll likely also spring for an i3 or i5 model if they have them.


That specific model has an i3 as an upgrade option. I didn’t get it because nothing I do is really CPU bound.

Yeah I suppose it depends on what you do. I’ve never personally ran out of RAM on that machine doing web development related tasks. That’s running some pretty big apps that use Rails + Sidekiq + Action Cable + PostgreSQL + Redis + Elasticsearch too.

I could see RAM being a problem if you want to run a couple of VMs.


cpufreq seems to do a solid job. It lets you control how many cores are active, so I can convert my laptop from 8 to 2 if I want to save power. I’ve seen a pretty noticeable improvement from it with my small test window.


I prefer to have as much as possible in BIOS, so I don’t have to depend on OS.
For example I have nuc box, and it is perfect fine for linux, also I can setup most everything in BIOS.


The pretty good comprise are 28W/35W TDP processors.
Easy to cool, not so hot and good performance.


I do too, but bios settings is usually pretty limited on laptops :confused: - atleast on my Asus UX550VE.


Balancing price, processing power and battery life would be the new “Gemini-Lake” Celeron N4100 or Pentium Silver N5000 both are quad-core and 6 watts TDP. You can get a Lenovo Ideapad 330 Notebook w/N4100 for only $250 (review#1) (review#2) and install more RAM and a good SSD drive. This is better than a Chromebook I think, for a programmer who doesn’t mind a non 1080P screen. For nearly twice the price you could go with the Core i3-8130U CPU of course would be a big speed improvement - note: I would stick with the integrated Intel 600/620 graphics for perhaps better Linux driver support (arguable?).

The most common problem I’ve seen with running Linux on low cost Apollo-Lake (N3450) and Gemini-Lake (N4100, N4200) notebooks is with some of them the touchpad does not work. So that would be something to test out… with booting up a distro via Live-USB.

[EDIT] This guy says the latest version of Ubuntu (18.04) works fine on the Lenovo Ideapad 330 and he also resolved his touchpad problem. Lenovo seems to have a decent Support/discussion forum as well.

“Bought a ideapad 330 15igm 81d1. loaded Unbuntu 18.04, and everything works great except for the elantech touchpad.”

Here is the referenced Ubuntu thread where it was fixed:

[EDIT#2] As of June 2018, here is an Ideapad 330 w/Core-i3 owner running Manjaro. Again, everything works fine except the touchpad which he fixed by rebuilding the kernel. This will undoubtedly be fixed soon in a new kernel release.

_ Personal note: I’ve been using a Lenovo Ideapad G50 w/AMD A6 quad-core for years running various flavors of Linux. Currently running rolling release Arch based Manjaro XFCE. Like it a lot. The only problem I ever had with it was a flaky/intermittent wifi (Realtek RTL8723bs) but that was eventually fixed later in the Kernel. I think I paid $320 for it years ago. Parts are cheap and easy to find. I spilled coffee on the keyboard and surprised it still runs fine after replacing it. Just the SD card reader stopped working._


If ever touchpad issues then I wonder how running Kubuntu would work, KDE uses a lot of it’s own interfaces for touchpads and more to work better so I wonder if that would work…


I pointed out on the Manjaro forum how this could probably be patched by merely changing one (or a few) bytes in the driver binary using a binary/hex editor. It seems easier than rebuilding the whole kernel for such a simple change. That would work around the problem until they include the fix in a forthcoming kernel. And this could be done for other notebooks with the same problem.


At the other end of the cost spectrum prob the best would be a Dell XPS 13 or XPS 15 or the Lenovo X1 Carbon 14 or 15 inch with 8th generation Intel Core i5 or i7…These will set you back well over US$1000


I read a lot of complaints about Lenovo X1’s compatibility with GNU/Linux, instead I suggest you to consider the ThinkPad T series: I’m very satisfied with my T450s and Arch Linux, and I heard that at least the T460 and 470 work great as well :slight_smile:


i’m using dell for professional work.
For private i never ever had any major issue with also “cheap” laptops running linux.

For distros i have used: Archlinux, debian/ubuntu, opensuse and fedora.

I think for distros is really a philosophical discussion that will never ends. :smile:
I like personally Ubuntu, Arch and opensuse Leap. With those i never had major pb on laptops. ( be aware i’m not saying that with the others distro you have major pbs). :slight_smile: