Any of the major PC brands’ cheap, fanless, educational laptops are particularly better or worse at running free operating systems?

First of all I understand you at Purism try to push things forward by the Tesla business model. Meaning you start with the top of the line products then (potentially? if ever) you eventually move down the value chain over time. Like Tesla started with the exclusive Roadster, then the premium Model S, the the midrange Model 3, then moving to the even more affordable Model Y.

You start with premium, high specced Linux laptops but I guess the majority of Linux users don’t really need that much omph on their Linux boxes as Linux is much mode resource efficient than Windows by design. As I’ve hear at the Googleplex many developers use no frills Chromebooks for their work. Quite a few developers need basically nothing more than a terminal and a text/code editor.

Wake me up when you offer a fanless laptop under 1.2 kg. $600 in this category is still considered premium. I understand this highly likely isn’t in your roadmap for the coming decade. You might as well move replace the x86 base with something else sooner.

Anyway, the Bett education conference just takes place with manufacturers showcasing their updated cheap, fanless, but rugged education laptops (with nice housing, keyboard, and MIL-STD grade 810G drop protection for their price points) mostly with 11.6" screens aimed at kids, pardon, school administrators. But these kinds of laptops are ideal for quite a few other people as well, such as road warriors, Linux enthusiasts… or maybe it’s just me?

The five major PC laptop brands who offer something in this category (excluding Apple) are Acer, ASUS, Dell, HP, and Lenovo. With the addition of brands like Samsung who does not have a solid, 11.6" education line but offers the little more unique, 13.3" Notebook Flash in this category right now. Other brands like CTL focus mainly on their education partners for their business and their main products are Chromebooks. But sometimes they offer similarly specced Windows laptops as well. Or I could mention Microsoft with their unique designs as a separate category. Actually a Surface tablet with Gnome would be cool. I consider Gnome to be a touch-oriented OS. Sadly Surface tablets don’t have replaceable batteries, at least not the current generation of the Surface Pro or Surface Go.

My question.

Does any of the major PC brands’ laptops in general, but their cheap, education line particular work noticeably better (or worse) than the rest with free operating systems? What do I mean specifically I heard some of these laptops’ BIOSes are locked down too much. Basically all I need to work is the machine should boot up and I should have a working screen, keyboard, trackpad, and USB. I don’t care about the internal Wi-Fi working or not, that one isn’t a deal breaker to me. I’m perfectly fine with getting my net through USB (wired or wireless), but I don’t want to use an external mouse so I want a trackpad that actually works.

I’m not asking about how to hack a Chromebook’s BIOS to run Linux on it nor do I ask which of the major PC brands’ cheap education laptops have better keyboards, screens, or general build quality. Although the latter could be an interesting, separate topic (if such a discussion still fits this forum).

Actually Star Labs from the UK offers an affordable, 11.6" fanless laptop aimed at Linux users which at least looks good, but they lost me with the shrunken (not full-sized) keyboard. Are you listening, Purism?

Are you asking purism what all hardware they’ve tested their software on (to which I’d offer the response “the hardware they sell”)? Or are you asking them to make a smaller, cheaper laptop (to which I’d offer the response “the librem 5, once its convergence is ready”)?


Oh. I’m asking the community. It’s a community forum. :slight_smile:

I understand that now they sell the Librem 5 with a desktop monitor as a combo (at minimum 24" size) but convergence notwithstanding I still want a mobile screen (I mean, not desktop monitor) larger than a smartphone screen. Something along the lines of a Surface Pro or Surface Go, or a 11.6" to 13.3" fanless laptop. And I want this today (like the rest of the world use computers like these today), not 5 to 10 years into the future.

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I think Chromebooks with Gallium OS tend to work well, but I have never used one.

You can also get one of those cheap USB powered laptop fans that go under the laptop, 10 or 20 bucks.

Definitely the latter. The Librem 5 has quite a small screen to work on. I know you mean by convergence you mean you can connect it to a desktop monitor and use it a desktop but some folks would prefer an in between size of about a laptop.

Anyone has a personal experience with this?

Your suggestion adds yet another fan while I want to go fanless. :stuck_out_tongue:

Over a dozen years ago my next door neighbors kid used a slingshot on my sunroom by accident and left a perfectly round hole in the glass. I never fixed it, so I taped it up with duct tape.

Then a year or so ago I found one of those laptop USB base fans with a single center fan at a thrift store for a buck and bought it. I removed the tape on the glass and put this thing over it. Then I hooked it up to a USB cell phone charger. Now I have quiet air circulation in my sunroom. Also oddly enough now I have a little blue LED light at on that part of my back lawn.

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They work excellently, at least mine did (Acer C720P).
I have since installed Arch on this device, but my mother still runs it with GalliumOS and has no issues.

I am also happily using Mr. Chromebox’s SeaBIOS for this.

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Maybe I’m a simpleton but I find a plain old laptop without a phone dongle sticking out of it much more ergonomic than a “laptop dock.” Like 100 times more ergonomic. The “laptop dock” being a product category I can’t really fathom but hey, if the free market demands it, more power to you. But it definitely isn’t for me.

And you Purism guys want to design free software friendly hardware like Steve Jobs, Jony Ive, or Panos Panay? :slight_smile:

Maybe I’m missing something, but are you not aware Purism sells laptops?

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What I really want to see in a laptop dock is something like Razer’s Project Linda, where the phone inserts as the touchpad.

Maybe Purism has something like this in mind several years from now. If I understand correctly, this package/library apparently lets the phone touchscreen emulate a mouse, which seems like a good first step.

that would eliminate physical touchpad buttons. i’m not convinced that’s a good idea. some people have asked about this already on the forum and were concerned about physical buttons not being available anymore.

I did have that thought, and yeah, that would be disappointing, because I hate tap-to-click. I don’t know enough to say for sure, but it seems like you still have physical buttons separate from the trackpad that still work (like on Thinkpads, though I don’t like the placement above the trackpad), and phone screen could just be used to position the mouse for clicking. I am not sure what sort of driver/software/hardware coordination would be needed to make that happen, though.

Maybe yes. Have you read my original post?

There may be a very good reason this concept hasn’t materialized: it isn’t a viable product?

Guys, thanks for your interest overall. I’m thrilled by your enthusiasm about the “laptop dock.” But how about doing it in another topic so here we can focus on what I truly wanted to discuss: affordable, fanless laptops? :sunglasses:

Yeah, it would be cool if Purism entered this market but until then I have to look at other solutions.