Linux, while popular, is one of the lesser-known operating systems out there. The software is completely open-source, which allows it to run quickly. It is also customizable, versatile, and incredibly user-friendly. For those reasons, many people pick it over Windows and macOS.
However, some computers run it better than others. In this guide, we will break down the best laptops for Linux by explaining their numerous features and going over what makes them so special. If you enjoy the operating system, the following computers are for you.
- The Dell XPS 13 is a premier laptop that can also run Linux. This model is a great all-around option, offering excellent speed thanks to its 4GB of RAM, 128GB SSD, and 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor.
- Mac users who want to run Linux on a premium laptop will love the Apple MacBook Air. This model is not just thin and light, it also has a lot of RAM and plenty of additional storage.
- The Samsung Chromebook Pro is a great budget computer that works perfectly with Linux. This model doesn’t just have great internal specs, it is also lightweight and uses a convertible touchscreen.
Who Should Get This?
These laptops are obviously suited for Linux users. The operating system is not for everyone, and it can take some getting used to. However, as it is so user friendly, it’s quite easy for first-timers to navigate. That makes it perfect for people who don’t like complicated technology.
These laptops are also great for users who don’t want a lot of extra fluff or complications. Linux is not just easy to use, it comes with a lot of support and runs on any hardware. That then works with the open source nature to create a no-frills operating system that’s as complicated or as simple as you want it to be.
Best Laptops for Linux: What to Consider?
Most laptops can run Linux, but that doesn’t mean they can all run it well. While the operating system is incredibly flexible in terms of necessary hardware, you still want a machine that can easily run it with little to no hiccups. Always think about any issues you’ve had with other operating systems in the past and get a machine that has the power to overcome them. Pay special attention to storage and RAM.
When picking a laptop for Linux, pay attention to the additional features that go beyond specs and storage. That includes handy add-ons like touch screens, fingerprint readers, high-quality speakers, and webcams. Not only do you want your laptop to fit your personal preferences, but some upgrades may not work with Linux. Always do your research before making your final purchase.
While not Linux-specific like the two above aspects, it is also important to get a laptop with a good battery life. Long-lasting models won’t just make your life easier, they also allow you to work or relax on your machine without constantly moving. This may seem like a small detail, there doesn’t seem to be a lot of difference between 10 and 12 hours, but it goes a long way when you’re in the middle of a movie or lying down in bed.
Best Laptops for Linux: Our Picks for 2020
1. Dell XPS 13
The Dell XPS 13 is a fantastic stand-alone laptop for Windows users, and it can also run Linux. Not only does the sleek outer shell look great, the machine boasts some great specs. It has 4GB of RAM, a 128GB SSD, and an 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor. If those don’t work for you, you can also change the internal specs to an Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and 256GB of storage.
The true star of this model, besides the fact that it seamlessly runs Linux, is the bright, gorgeous display. The resolution pops and all of the colors are striking and vibrant. That makes everything you do on the laptop, from watching shows to doing work, look incredible. The 1920 x 1080 resolution is more than enough to get the job done. The computer is lightweight as well.
What We Like:
- 8th-generation Intel Core i5 processor
- 4GB of RAM
- 128GB SSD
- 13.3-inch display
- Bright resolution
What We Don’t Like:
- Doesn’t have the best durability
While the Apple MacBook Air doesn’t come with Linux pre-installed, it is Linux compatible. That makes this a great option for Apple fans who still want to run Linux on their computer. This machine, as the name suggests, is both light and thin. That portability is a big bonus for both students and professionals constantly on the go. The sleek shell also looks clean and brings the minimalistic look that makes Apple so iconic.
While installing Linux onto a Mac is no easy task, it is worth it for the Air. The computer has a great Intel Core i5 processor alongside 8GM of RAM and 128GB of storage. If you’re someone who wants more than that, you can upgrade to 16GB of RAM and 1.5TB of storage. There are also two USB-C ports and three different fun colors (silver, gold, and space gray) to choose from.
What We Like:
- 8GB of RAM
- Can be upgraded for more storage
- Two USB-C ports
- Headphone jack
- Lightweight and incredibly thin
- 12-hour max battery life
- Intel UHD graphics 616
- 13.3-inch retina display
- Touch ID
- Different color options
What We Don’t Like:
- Can run hot
- Low-quality webcam
As Google’s Chrome OS works well with Linux, the spill-resistant Samsung Chromebook Pro is a great machine for users who want to branch out. This sturdy-but-light model doesn’t just let you get a great computer at an affordable price, it also comes with many exciting features you may not expect in something so cheap.
The Chromebook Pro runs on an Intel Core M3 processor that’s backed with 4GB of RAM and 32GB of flash storage. Those who carry their computer with them will also appreciate the thin, lightweight construction as well as the sleek outer appearance. The nine-hour battery life and convertible design are simply icing on the cake. The touchscreen display works wonders as well.
What We Like:
- 9-hour battery life
- Spill resistant
- Bright display
- Intel Core M3 processor
- 32GB flash storage
- 0.5 inches thick
- Attractive design
What We Don’t Like:
- Touchscreen could be more responsive
- Screen not very durable
Useful Tips and Information
While Linux is great, it is not always easy to install. In fact, you have to be quite careful when putting it onto a computer. Though you can try to do it on your own, that’s not usually a good idea. Rather, following a guide is a much easier (and safer) path. This video will help you get it onto a Windows computer, while this guide tells you how to install onto a Mac.
Linux is a great operating system, but it’s one that not many people know about. While you can always get a computer that comes with Linux installed on it, getting an already-great machine that can run Linux typically gets you better results in the long run.
Every computer in this guide can run Linux, but they also do a good job of standing on their own. That duality is what makes them special, and why they rise above the pack.
Do you have a favorite Linux laptop? Are there any we missed? Let us know below!
Chris is a lifelong tech enthusiast with a broad range of interests including coding, data analysis, traveling, and more. He used to work as a software programmer immersing himself in the world of codes, now he finds it more interesting talking to real people.