On /., someone said, "there are plenty of vendors out there that will preinstall and support linux on your laptop for not quite twice what the equivalent windows laptop will run you." I used to think that, but recently I noticed System76 prices are really a lot lower than I perceived them (in my mind, over $1000=expensive, but without being on sale, less than $1000 means the inner-geek feels unloved due to low specs). So, I did a test. I went through Dell's site and System76 and customized two computers until they were as close to matching as I could get them. I think the remaining difference was that the System76's card-reader was 4-in-1, while the Dell's was 5-in-1. Here's what I came up with:
- Intel Core 2 Duo, 1.83 GHz
- 15.4" Widescreen XGA
- Intel graphics
- Intel sound
- Intel Pro Wireless 802.11 ABG
- 100GB hard drive
- 1GB RAM (2x512)
- CD/DVD burner (DVD+/-RW)
- 1 year tech support and warranty
The price (before taxes, shipping, etc) for the Dell was $1103. For the System76, it was $1192. The System76 was only $89 more! Were there any extra costs for the Dell? Yep. Don't forget that if you're running Windows, you're going to need to purchase some anti-virus software. Dell will sell you a 3-year AV subscription for $99, bringing you up to $1202, $10 more than the System76. Also, the Dell doesn't come with an office suite. You can either pay them $149 to have Microsoft Office there out of the box, or you can install OOo yourself. Are Linux pre-installed laptops really expensive? Not at all! They're comparable to Dells.
Next time you need a computer, why not try System76? Remember, the more computers are sold with Linux on them, the more obvious it becomes to the hardware industry that we DO count for something. We're not just sysadmins with servers, and we want our home computers to run it too. Many OEMs believe it's not worth the cost to offer Linux computers because the market is so small. If companies like System76 get more business, other OEMs will take notice and realize that we don't all build everything, and there is a market for pre-installed, and maybe they'll start offering it. The next computer in my house is sure to be System76 after doing that price comparison and knowing that I won't ever have to deal with tech support that says "there was Windows when you bought it. You changed that, so we won't support you now."