The 5 Best Laptops for Linux—I Install It on Every Laptop I Test

Lemur Pro isn't the best for graphics-intensive tasks like gaming or video editing (see below for some more powerful rigs with dedicated graphics cards), but for everything else, it's the 'one of the nicest laptops you can get.

Tuxedo's InfinityBook Pro 14 (9/10, WIRED recommends) is a svelte, lightweight laptop dedicated to the open source world. Tuxedo is based in Germany (that's why the price is in euros) and, like System76, has a long history of providing excellent support for Linux. The InfinityBook Pro is Tuxedo's lightweight laptop, featuring an Intel i7 chip, supporting up to 64GB of RAM and up to 4TB of SSD storage. There is also an option to add dedicated graphics in the form of an Nvidia GeForce RTX 3050 card.

For me, the highlight of the InfinityBook is the beautiful matte (anti-glare) screen with a resolution of 2880 x 1800 pixels. At 400 nits, it's bright enough to work anywhere. In my testing, the InfinityBook Pro had enough power for most tasks and worked well for editing high-resolution videos thanks to its dual-fan cooling design. Battery life is solid, lasting all day, and the custom tools for fine-tuning power settings are the best I've used. Tuxedo's custom operating system (based on Ubuntu) makes for a great Linux experience, and the website has extensive documentation and help for new users.

Dell's XPS 13 Developer Edition was one of the first high-profile laptops to ship with Linux, and it remains the lightest and smallest laptop with Linux installed. This configuration sports a 13th Gen Intel i7-1360P processor, 16GB of RAM (soldered), and a 512GB SSD. It ships with Ubuntu Linux 22.04, but in my testing it will happily run any distro, from Fedora to Arch (Dell support only applies to Ubuntu though). When you are on the product page, make sure to choose Ubuntu Linux 22.04 LTS as your operating system (default is Windows).

For more hardware details, see our review of the Windows version (6/10, WIRED Review). Although performance was poor with Windows, it worked well with Ubuntu. The main drawback of this machine is its lack of ports. There are two USB-C ports, one of which is your charging port. There's not even a headphone jack. Dell recently added the XPS 14 and XPS 16 to the XPS lineup, but so far it's unclear if either will have a Linux version.

Great if you want a bunch of ports

If the Dell's lack of ports leaves you wanting, this is the laptop for you. The System76 Pangolin (8/10, WIRED recommends) is a 15-inch, AMD-powered monster of a laptop with every port a system administrator could hope for. This configuration comes with an AMD Ryzen 7 6800U, 32 GB of RAM (soldered), and a 250 GB SSD. You can configure the Pangolin with up to 8 TB of storage.

Battery life is good for the size (it lasts all day in most use cases), but it's not as good as the Dell. The keyboard, on the other hand, is fantastic and a real pleasure to type on. The only downside is the number pad, which forces the trackpad to be off-center.

Here's a list of its ports: Gigabit Ethernet, HDMI 2.0, a single USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type-C port (with DisplayPort support, but not Thunderbolt), three USB-A ports, a 3.5 headphone/microphone combo jack mm and a full-size SD card reader.

The most repairable and the most upgradeable

If you want a laptop that you can upgrade, Framework's Laptop is the best Linux platform for you. There are a few flavors available. I tested the second version of the 13-inch model (8/10, WIRED recommends) and I loved it. 13th Gen Intel Core chips with 32GB of RAM, a 2TB SSD, and the right combination of ports for your needs start at around $1,400. This will come without an operating system. When it arrives, you'll be able to install Linux yourself (or choose to ship with Windows if you need to dual boot). I haven't had the chance to test it yet, but an AMD version is also available. The framework also takes pre-orders for a new 16-inch model. The 16-inch model is available with an AMD Ryzen 7040 series processor.

I tested Ubuntu, which Framework supports, and Arch Linux, and both worked very well (although Framework does not officially support Arch). My only complaint about using the Framework is my complaint about almost all Linux laptops: the battery life could be better.

Ideal for gaming or video editing

The System76 Oryx Pro comes in 15- or 17-inch models with 12th generation Intel processors and Nvidia graphics (either the 3070 Ti GPU or the 3080 Ti GPU). There are options for a brilliant 4K OLED display, up to 64GB of RAM, and up to 8TB of SSD space. It's not cheap, but the Oryx Pro is by far the most powerful laptop on this page. Like the Pangolin above, the Oryx comes with Pop_OS! or Ubuntu Linux. Unlike the Pangolin, the Oryx Pro's Intel chip means it comes with Coreboot and open source firmware.

OK, it's cheesy, but there's something about the Lenovo X1 Carbon Linux Edition that makes me want to install Kali Linux and start probing the coffee shop's Wi-Fi. You might have different ideas when you see it, but it's a nifty laptop for those of us who think ThinkPads are, uh, nifty. This finesse, however, comes at a high price. It costs twice as much as some of our picks. This configuration gives you a 13th generation Intel Core i7 processor, 16GB of RAM, and a 256GB SSD (much of which is customizable). This version is also now two versions behind Windows X2 Carbon, but still appears to be the only X1 with Linux as an option.

I really like the beautiful 2K (2880 x 1800 pixel resolution), OLED and anti-glare screen. I have not had the opportunity to test this model, but I really like the previous version (8/10, WIRED recommends) and the new version is primarily an improvement in specifications. It's frequently on sale for around $1,300.

Tips if you buy second-hand

Photo: Lenovo

One of the beauties of Linux is that it requires fewer resources and maintains support for older hardware much longer than Windows or MacOS. This means you don't need to spend a fortune on a new laptop; you can bring an old one back to life or grab a used laptop on eBay. I've been doing this for years, working my way through Lenovo's X-series laptops (starting with an X220, now a T14 Gen 1), but older Dell and Asus laptops are also great for Linux. If you choose to buy used, check out our guide to buying used on eBay to make sure you're getting a good deal.

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