8 Best Laptops for Linux Operations

Last updated: Sep 29, 2019

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Best Laptops for Linux Operations – The Linux OS is versatile – meaning it can be designed to cater to developers and business people alike. The best part of all – it’s free to use, and there are loads of Linux distributions (“distros”) with huge communities that support its development.

If you’re looking for a laptop to run Linux on, this guide will help you find the right device in no time.

You should know that except Dell, no other major brand offers Linux as their base Operating System right out of the box. However, this is no cause for concern, since it is effortless to install Linux on almost any laptop.

However, there are a few laptops on the market that have locked their Operating System to Windows. Therefore, installing Linux on them is out of the question.

It makes compatibility one of the most significant factors in deciding if you’re going to purchase a particular computer or not. However, there are a ton of other factors to consider when you’re buying a new laptop for Linux operations.

Comparison list of Best Laptops For Linux

Image and Rating

Name and Features

Price

The XPS 13 Developers Edition comes with Linux out of the box (or Windows, if you choose)

Comes with a fingerprint reader, making for enhanced security and ease of access. It weighs 2.75lbs making it easy to carry.

The XPS 15 is the first large device on this list at 15.6″. It’s big on size, and delivers well performance-wise too

The laptop comes with Windows 10 loaded, meaning that you’ll have to install a Linux distribution yourself. It looks clean and smooth and doesn’t have any unnecessary physical features.

Upgrades are made easy with a 3-screw panel at the bottom. The panel enables you to switch your storage drive and upgrade your RAM.

The Spectre is a hefty laptop, weighing 4.78lbs that also carries a hefty price. However, the laptop also packs a lot of power.

Dell’s Precision 5540 offers insane performance and complete compatibility.

comes with Chrome OS; however, you may load any flavor of Linux you please, and it’ll run flawlessly. 

FEATURES

  • Processor: Intel i5-8265U/ i7-8565U
  • Graphics: Intel® UHD Graphics 620 (No discrete video card)
  • ROM: 256GB M.2 SSD
  • RAM: 8GB LPDDR3 RAM
  • Display: 13.3” 1080p Non-touch display/ 1080p touch display/ 4K touch display

Extra features:  backlit keyboard, body is lightweight, weighing 2.7lbs

Dell’s XPS line is known as one of the most polished and premium ranges of mobile computers built.

The backlit keyboard makes it easier to type in dim surroundings. The body is lightweight, weighing 2.7lbs. One downside is that you don’t get a fingerprint reader on this device.

The bezels are thin, giving the laptop an 80.7% screen-to-body ratio. The build quality is impeccable.

You get incredible battery life – on paper, Dell claims 21 hours of battery. However, you get a decent 10-11 hours of regular use out of the device before you need to charge. 

The system is super snappy, and boots and resumes almost instantly thanks to the SSD. The RAM is huge, and won’t slow you down even if you multi-task a lot.

The XPS 13 and XPS 13 Developer Edition are two different devices and have some subtle hardware differences. This may make it challenging to run Linux on the XPS 13. Ensure that you know what edition you’re buying.

Pros

  • Amazing performance
  • Lightweight

Cons

  • Not Easily Available

FEATURES

  • Processor: Intel Dual-core i5 (8th generation)
  • Graphics: Intel UHD Graphics 617
  • ROM: 128/256GB SDD
  • RAM: 8/16GB RAM
  • Display: 13.3” 4K IPS display (LED-backlit)

Extra features: comes with a fingerprint reader, making for enhanced security and ease of access. It weighs 2.75lbs making it easy to carry.

Although the MacBook Air can run Linux well, setting it up can be challenging. Do not buy a MacBook for Linux if you’re a novice and don’t know how to set things up properly

The display is one of the best you’ll find on a laptop – super vibrant and bright. The stereo speakers are surprisingly active for the small form factor.

Hardware-wise, it packs a punch – the i5 deals with heavy loads brilliantly. You may purchase a laptop with up to 1TB of SSD storage and 16GB of RAM, which keeps storage worries at bay and makes for effortless multitasking.

Apple claims that you’ll get up to 12 hours of battery life. However, you can expect around 7-8 hours of use before needing to charge.

The device’s shortage of ports can pose a problem if you use drives and cables regularly. Having to carry dongles around can be annoying.

Pros

  • Great display
  • Easy to carry

Cons

  • Relatively less battery life
  • Shortage of ports

FEATURES

  • Processor: Intel i5-8300H
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce GTX 1050 (4GB)
  • ROM: 256GB SSD
  • RAM: 8GB RAM
  • Display: 1080p Display

Extra features: The XPS 15 is the first large device on this list at 15.6″. It’s big on size, and delivers well performance-wise too

The quad-core i5 chip is powerful and can handle the heaviest workloads. It also has a discrete graphics card – the robust GTX 1050 which will give any graphic intensive workloads a substantial boost.

Linux works flawlessly on the XPS 15. However, you may face some driver issues for the discrete graphics card on some Linux distros. 

The integrated graphics card is compatible with all flavors of Linux though.

The laptop has a 97Wh battery, which delivers terrific battery life. It also has a slot for adding in another drive, in case you need more storage space. There’s an extra slot for RAM too.

The screen is sharp; however, it is no match for a 4K display. However, the slightly lower resolution makes for better battery life.

The fans can be a little loud for some users. Also, the device is quite heavy at 4.5lbs. It’s powerful and compatible, but loud and heavy.

Pros

  • Discrete graphics card
  • Big battery
  • Sharp screen

Cons

  • Loud fans
  • Little support for discrete graphics card

FEATURES

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-50U / Core i7-8550U
  • Graphics: MX150 graphics card (2GB)
  • ROM: 256GB SSD
  • RAM: 8GB RAM
  • Display: 15.6” 1080p display

Extra features: Aspire E 15 is a perfect laptop for Linux – it’s decently powerful and offers great value for money.

The laptop comes with Windows 10 loaded, meaning that you’ll have to install a Linux distribution yourself. It looks clean and smooth and doesn’t have any unnecessary physical features.

Upgrades are made easy with a 3-screw panel at the bottom. The panel enables you to switch your storage drive and upgrade your RAM.

Linux support is excellent across the board, and you’ll face no compatibility issues whatsoever.

The keyboard is backlit, and the trackpad is excellent. Booting times are fast too! 

The display is good looking but is not as bright as you would expect. You’d need to have the brightness turned up to use the laptop at any point. 

The features and Linux support are astounding in this affordable device.

Pros

  • Backlit keyboard
  • Easy Upgrade
  • Affordable

Cons

  • Bland look

FEATURES

  • Processor: Intel Core i5-8250U (Quad-Core)
  • Graphics: Intel HD Graphics 620
  • ROM: 256GB M.2 SSD
  • RAM: 8GB DDR3 RAM
  • Display: 13.3” Full HD Display

Extra features: Aspire E 15 is a perfect laptop for Linux – it’s decently powerful and offers great value for money.

The laptop comes with Windows 10 loaded, meaning that you’ll have to install a Linux distribution yourself. It looks clean and smooth and doesn’t have any unnecessary physical features.

Upgrades are made easy with a 3-screw panel at the bottom. The panel enables you to switch your storage drive and upgrade your RAM.

Linux support is excellent across the board, and you’ll face no compatibility issues whatsoever.

The keyboard is backlit, and the trackpad is excellent. Booting times are fast too! 

The display is good looking but is not as bright as you would expect. You’d need to have the brightness turned up to use the laptop at any point. 

The features and Linux support are astounding in this affordable device.

Pros

  • Fingerprint scanner
  • Long battery life

Cons

  • No upgradability
  • Fingerprint scanner might not work on Linux

FEATURES

  • Processor: Intel Core i7-8565U
  • Graphics: Nvidia GeForce MX150
  • ROM: 512GB SSD
  • RAM: 16GB RAM
  • Display: 15.6” 4K resolution display

Extra features: The Spectre is a hefty laptop, weighing 4.78lbs that also carries a hefty price. However, the laptop also packs a lot of power.

The display looks fantastic on this laptop, and the WLED backlighting makes it bright as well. It comes with Windows 10 loaded and also includes an HP active stylus.

It has loads of ports – one Thunderbolt 3, one USB 3.1 Type-C, one USB 3.1 Type-A, an HDMI slot and a headphone/microphone combo.

The Spectre is super durable and runs Linux perfectly. It is also upgradable, and you may add more RAM sticks or replace the storage drive if you wish to do so.

The screen can flip all the way, and it can also be used as a tablet. 

One downside that a lot of customers complain about is the loud fans. The Spectre can get loud, even when under literally no load which can be annoying.

All-in-all though, the laptop is the right choice for power users looking for a performance-oriented device.

Pros

  • High-performance
  • Loads of ports

Cons

  • Heavy

FEATURES

  • Processor: 9th generation Intel Core i5/i7/i9
  • Graphics: NVIDIA Quadro T2000
  • ROM: 512GB SSD/ 1 TB HDD
  • RAM: Up to 64GB of RAM out of the box
  • Display: 15.6” 1080p Display

Extra features: Dell’s Precision 5540 offers insane performance and complete compatibility.

It is a beast of a device that supports all Linux distributions flawlessly. It is Red Hat 8.0 certified and will give you no software compatibility issues whatsoever.

The device comes with Ubuntu 18.04 preloaded, and you’re free to load whatever flavor of Linux you love.

The laptop is the most powerful device on this list – it has an Nvidia Quadro T2000, which a workstation graphic card. This feature, paired with an i5 makes for an ultra-powerful machine.

You may upgrade the RAM on this device up to 64GB, and you may also add a drive if you’re looking for more space.

It is portable – however, it is also cumbersome at about 4lbs.

Pros

  • Amazing Linux support
  • Really powerful

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Heavy

FEATURES

  • Processor: Intel Core M3 processor (2.2Ghz)
  • Graphics: No discrete graphics card
  • ROM: 32GB eMMC
  • RAM: 4GB RAM
  • Display: High-resolution 4K display

Extra features: comes with Chrome OS; however, you may load any flavor of Linux you please, and it’ll run flawlessly. 

The small form factor makes for great portability – it’s slim at 0.5” thickness, and you can operate Linux on the go for long periods with the decent battery life. The unit weighs 2.8lbs. 

Then again, this laptop is for those who know what they’re doing, since Chrome OS is not as mainstream as Windows or macOS, things may go wrong.

Overall, the Chromebook Pro is a stylish and ultra-portable laptop for Linux experts on the move.

Pros

  • Lightweight
  • Amazing display

Cons

  • Difficult to set up
  • Final Thoughts

No single laptop is perfect for all users. However, this list captures the best laptops for all kinds of users.  

If you’re used to a MacBook, go for the MacBook. If you’re a power user, the Precision and the Spectre are great options. If you’re on a budget, the Aspire E 15 will get the job done, and if you’re primarily looking for portability, the ZenBook is a fantastic option. 

Making a purchase will be easier when you evaluate your requirements across your budget. All the best!

What To Look For In a Laptop For Linux Operations​

Compatibility

There is a chance that a laptop with Windows has driver incompatibilities for Linux. It means that even if you get Linux running on the computer, there will be some issues – you may not get any sound or the Wi-Fi card may not work.

However, the Linux community takes rapid action, and most hardware receives support a few months post-launch. 

Looking up Linux compatibility on the device you plan to buy is a good idea before investing.

A Blank Hard Drive/SSD

Ideally, a laptop that you’re buying for Linux must have a blank hard drive – without Windows loaded. It saves you money since software costs are added on and borne by customers.

However, most brands do not supply laptops with Linux out of the box (barring Dell). 

Also, you can wipe the drive already present and install Linux.  

Relatively newer hardware

A laptop doesn’t need to have bleeding-edge technology to be able to run Linux. Most Linux distros still support hardware from years ago. Getting anything relatively new is alright.

Moreover, it’s highly inadvisable to impulse buy when you’re looking for a laptop to run Linux on.

Do your due diligence, and don’t buy the first thing you see – you might end up regretting it later.

Here’s a list of the best laptops for Linux operations on the market right now.

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