System76 Debuts High-End Laptop Powered By Ubuntu

Christopher Tozzi, Contributing Editor

November 21, 2012

2 Min Read
System76 Debuts High-End Laptop Powered By Ubuntu

If consumer demand for desktop Linux PCs is limited, the market for Linux based gaming laptops is even smaller. But that hasn’t stopped open source OEM System76 from releasing a new notebook PC designed for gaming and powered by Ubuntu. Is this a sign of changes to come in the world of high-performance computing on desktop Linux?

The system, called the Bonobo Extreme, features pretty powerful hardware: an Intel i7 CPU, nVidia Geforce GTX 670MX or Geforce GTX 680M video device and up to 32GB of memory. It also comes with all the fancy amenities one expects on this type of machine, including keyboard and display backlighting, a high-resolution webcam and an eight-cell battery.

Right now, the Bonobo can be yours (in its base configuration) for $1,499, a $100 markdown from the regular price. For upper range hardware such as this, that seems like a fair price — indeed, it’s actually a lot cheaper than some other “gaming” laptops, such as Dell’s Alienware M17x, for instance.

System76 isn’t promoting the Bonobo Extreme as a machine solely suited for gaming, but games do feature in the promotional material for the device. And that’s significant, since people who use Linux primarily for gaming aren’t exactly legion — to say nothing of the fact that if you’re serious about playing games, it usually makes a lot more economical sense to buy a desktop, where you can find the same class of hardware for a lot less money.

Still, System76 may not be off the mark. Gaming in the Linux world has been on the rise, as highlighted by the array of commercially produced games now available for purchase in Ubuntu’s Software Center, as well as serious open source game projects such as 0 A.D. Meanwhile, steady improvements to the Wine compatibility layer, which makes it possible to run Windows software on Linux, promise to increase the number of games designed for Windows that Linux users can enjoy too.

This isn’t to say that desktop Linux will soon — or, most likely, ever — attract the kind of stereotypically unshaven, underemployed users who while away a majority of their leisure hours engaged in fantasy universes brought to them through their computers. Nor is it true that one requires the kind of overwhelming computing power delivered by the Bonobo Extreme to play a majority of Linux games, most of which will work just fine on much more standard hardware.

All the same, the fact that System76, a long-established hardware OEM in the Linux channel, is betting that customers will want to purchase high-end systems such as the Bonobo is a sign that gaming and other high-performance applications for Linux machines may be in growing demand.

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About the Author(s)

Christopher Tozzi

Contributing Editor

Christopher Tozzi started covering the channel for The VAR Guy on a freelance basis in 2008, with an emphasis on open source, Linux, virtualization, SDN, containers, data storage and related topics. He also teaches history at a major university in Washington, D.C. He occasionally combines these interests by writing about the history of software. His book on this topic, “For Fun and Profit: A History of the Free and Open Source Software Revolution,” is forthcoming with MIT Press.

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