laptop keyboard with Ubuntu logo
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Update, 10/27/2022: We’ve reviewed and updated many of our recommendations with new models. Take a look!

What to Look For in a Linux Laptop in 2022

You can buy nearly any laptop and install Linux on it. However, there’s no guarantee that the laptop’s hardware will properly support Linux. If the right hardware drivers aren’t available for the Linux OS you pick, some of the laptop’s features won’t work, or the laptop may just get worse battery life due to poor optimization.

You don’t have to settle for this kind of experience. Some manufacturers release laptops that come with Linux pre-installed. These manufacturers officially support Linux on their hardware, so you know that everything will work properly and that the laptop will keep working with future software updates.

Sure, it’s now much easier to run Linux applications on Windows 10 and Windows 11 thanks to the Windows Subsystem for Linux—and that’s a great solution for many people—but it’s not the real thing.

Chromebooks are also well worth looking into, especially since you can install Linux on a Chromebook or use certain Linux apps on Chrome OS. The main downside is that Chromebooks have become rather more expensive than they used to be, but without any substantial improvement in their specifications.

Whether you’re a developer looking for a Linux laptop for programming, a big believer in open-source software and privacy, or just a Linux enthusiast who prefers the operating system to Windows and macOS, we’ve got some options for you. You can even get powerful gaming laptops that come with Linux now—after all, Linux is good enough for Valve’s Steam Deck.

Ready to step into the world of Linux? These are the laptops to do it with.

RELATED: How to Buy a Laptop for Linux

Best Linux Laptop Overall: Dell XPS 13 Plus Developer Edition

Del XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop.
Dell

Pros

  • Looks fantastic
  • Great core specs and screen options
  • Thunderbolt 4 makes it perfect for docked use.

Cons

  • Highest processor and RAM options doesn't come with Linux pre-loaded

The XPS 13 Plus Developer Edition has impressive specifications, but it’s also Dell’s choice of modern styling that makes it appealing compared to some of the more staid competition

The Linux version of this laptop is only available with the Intel i5-1240P or i5-1260P on Dell’s website. The Linux models are available in either eight or 16-gigabyte configurations, and storage ranges from 512GB to 2TB of SSD space.

Screen options are also excellent, including a touch-enabled 1920×1200 13.4-inch screen as the most balanced option. If you want to blow your budget, then the 3.5K OLED or 4K+ LCD options are worth a look. Although those resolutions aren’t particularly useful at such a small screen size, things should still be noticeably crisper than the base FHD+ option.

The inclusion of two Thunderbolt 4 ports makes it easy to use this laptop with a docked workstation setup, and thanks to its powerful CPU, it’s also an excellent candidate for use with an external GPU (a graphics card that connects to a computer using a Thunderbolt connection).

The XPS 13 Plus offers heaps of processing power to compile complex code, while still having enough in reserve so you can browse the web while you wait. Thanks to the latest Intel efficiency core technology, you won’t have to run from one electrical outlet to the next.

Overall this truly is a dream machine for developers in a Linux environment in particular. Even if you aren’t a developer, there are few such well-rounded and sleek systems that come with full Linux support from the factory.

Best Linux Laptop Overall

Dell XPS 13 Plus Laptop Developer Edition

The XPS 13 Plus Developer Edition looks gorgeous, is packed with features, and is perfect for use with a docked workstation setup, backed by fundamentally excellent specifications and guaranteed Linux compatibility.

Best Budget Linux Laptop: Star Labs StarLite 11

Star Labs

Pros

  • A lot of laptop for the money
  • Open warranty
  • Open Source BIOS option
  • Good battery life
  • Wide selection of Linux distros to choose from

Cons

  • Very modest specifications
  • May be too small for many users

There are laptops that work with Linux, and then there are laptops that only exist because of Linux. The StarLite 11-inch laptop from Star Labs is the latter, offering something entirely different from just about anything else on the market.

The specifications are modest, sporting a N5030 Pentium Silver, 8GB of RAM, and a 240GB SSD in the lowest tier option.  While you can’t opt for a better CPU or more RAM, you can increase the SSD size to 960GB if needed.

When you order a StarLite, you can have it pre-loaded with most of the Linux distributions worth having, not just the mainstream darling Ubuntu.  At the time of writing, there are 16 flavors of Linux listed for the StarLite 11, and you can even opt out of an operating system entirely.

The choice of a proprietary BIOS from American Megatrends or an Open Source Coreboot BIOS is even more intriguing. The final pillar of StarLab’s commitment to openness is the inclusion of an “open” warranty.  StarLite says the 1-year limited warranty allows you to “take your computer apart, replace parts, install an upgrade, and use any operating system and even your firmware, all without voiding the warranty.”

While the specs are undoubtedly modest, many Linux distros aren’t power hogs and will run fine on such hardware. If you’re looking for an open-source and budget-friendly laptop that can be used for most daily computer tasks, the StarLite is a very tempting option.

Best Budget Linux Laptop

Star Labs StarLite 11-inch

The Star Labs StarLite is a true Linux laptop with “good enough” specs for daily use, a compact build and intriguing open source BIOS and open warranty options.

Best Premium Linux Laptop: ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 With Linux

ThinkPad X1 corner shot
Lenovo

Pros

  • Excellent materials and build quality
  • Excellent battery life for an x86 laptop
  • Plenty of power for work purposes

Cons

  • The screen is non-touch and relatively low-resolution
  • Speakers are average
  • ThinkPad styling isn't for everyone

When reviewing the Thinkpad X1 Carbon Gen 10, we were impressed by its premium build quality and specifications. While our review was of the Windows version, even when it comes to Linux, there’s nothing quite like the X1 Carbon in the ultrabook category.

The X1 is available with Linux pre-installed, configured with a 12th-generation Intel i5-1240P, 8GB of LPDDR5, 256GB of SSD storage, and a 14-inch 1920×1200 PIS display.

The screen, in particular, has an impressive 400 nits of brightness and covers 100% of the sRGB color space. This makes it appropriate for a wide range of content creation work. It is, however, a little disappointing that the resolution isn’t higher or touch-enabled.

Battery life in mixed use comes in at over eight hours, but with more spirited use you may need to head for the charger after around 6 hours. The webcam is 1080p (higher than you get for many laptops), and thanks to the premium materials and build, typing and working with the Carbon on the go is confidence-inspiring. The speakers are adequate but don’t quite match the best laptop speakers you’ll find in many ultrabooks.

Of course, you always have the option of running Windows software on it through dual-booting, making this an extremely versatile machine.

Best Premium Linux Laptop

Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 10 With Linux

The X1 Carbon Gen 10 is the best-built 14″ laptop you can buy certified and pre-loaded with Linux today. The price is certainly not for the faint of heart, but the specifications and premium experience leave no doubt about where the money went.

Best Open Source Linux Laptop: Purism Librem 14

Librem 14 on pink background
Purism

Pros

  • Open source BIOS
  • Minimal closed-source firmware
  • Hardware kill switches and other privacy features

Cons

  • More expensive than the alternatives
  • 10th gen Intel Core CPU instead of 11th gen

If you want a powerful computer where everything is open source and you have more control over your own hardware, try the Purism Librem 14. Purism says these systems are “designed chip-by-chip, line-by-line, to respect your rights to privacy, security, and freedom.”

These systems come with an open-source coreboot BIOS firmware and no Intel Management Engine (ME) code running at a low level. To be as open-source as possible, Purism avoids using “binary blob” closed-source firmware on its hardware whenever it can, although some binary blobs are still present. The Librem 14 comes with PureOS, a security-focused Debian-based Linux distribution developed by Purism.

Beyond open source, Purism is designed to put you in control as a user. The laptop includes physical kill switches that disconnect the included camera, mic, Wi-Fi, and Bluetooth when you flip them. Hackers gaining access to your webcam and mic is a real fear, and a physical kill switch helps to protect you against it.

The Librem 14 also has a BIOS write protection switch on its motherboard, preventing potential malicious software from installing updates without physically changing a switch’s position. Features like PureBoot and the Librem Key help you ensure only trusted software boots on your computer and protect your laptop’s encrypted files with a physical security key.

All this aside, you’re getting a solid 14-inch laptop with an Intel Core i7 CPU. However, note that this is a 10th generation Intel Core CPU for compatibility with the open-source BIOS instead of an 11th generation Intel Core CPU—not a big deal in terms of performance. Still, for the price, it does sting not getting the latest hardware. You can customize the memory, storage, and other features during the purchase process. Finally, Purism promises 9 hours and 48 minutes of battery life in light use.

But, be warned that the Librem 14 is a more expensive laptop than many others on this list. It’s a premium product, and Purism clearly had to do a lot of extra work to provide these incredible and rare features.

If you’re looking for more laptops with open-source firmware, System76’s line also has open firmware.

Purism Librem 14

Purism’s Librem 14 takes the open-source nature of Linux to the next level, with the company developing this laptop to respect freedom and privacy.

Best Linux Laptop for Gaming: System76 Oryx Pro

A System76 Oryx Pro Linux gaming laptop on a desk.
System76

Pros

  • Hybrid NVIDIA+Intel graphics
  • 15-inch or 17-inch options
  • Customizable hardware
  • Open source BIOS

Cons

  • Only 1080p screen resolution
  • Low TDP GPUs with a largely pointless 3080 Ti option

For gamers or anyone else looking for powerful GPU hardware, you’ll want to look at the System76 Oryx Pro. This is a hybrid graphics laptop with switchable NVIDIA and Intel graphics, so your laptop can save battery life by automatically using Intel-integrated graphics when you don’t need the GPU horsepower.

The Oryx Pro is available in 15-inch or 17-inch sizes, and you can choose between NVIDIA GeForce RTX 3070 Ti, or 3080 Ti graphics, up to 64 GB of RAM, and up to 4TB of storage. The screen has a 1080p resolution with a 144Hz refresh rate. There’s no option for a higher-resolution screen, although that is a nice speedy refresh rate befitting a gaming system. Unfortunately, both GPU options are the 80W Max-Q variants, so there’s little point in opting for the more expensive 3080 Ti GPU, given that both chips perform virtually identically under the same power limits.

System76 only makes Linux laptops, and all of System76’s laptops come with open-source firmware. The company offers a whole line of PCs, including prebuilt Linux desktops.

These laptops come with their own Ubuntu-based operating system, Pop! OS, but of course, you can install other Linux distributions. Pop!_OS offers its own desktop environment with auto-tiling windows and keyboard navigation shortcuts, but it also integrates with the hardware.

You can also choose which GPU your laptop uses or configure the OS to automatically use a specific GPU when you launch a specific application in a few clicks. Pop!_OS is encrypted by default, too.

You can install Steam or any other Linux gaming software on Pop!_OS, and System76 even has a guide to gaming on Pop!_OS that will walk you through setting up Steam, configuring the open-source Lutris software to run emulators and Windows games, and using the GameHub software to combine your game libraries from multiple storefronts in one place.

Best Linux Laptop for Gamers

System76 Oryx Pro

Are you a gamer who doesn’t want to be tied to Windows? The Oryx Pro gives you the hardware specs you need while giving you the freedom of Linux.

The Best Laptops of 2022

Best Laptop Overall
Dell XPS 13
Best Budget Laptop
Acer Aspire 5 A515-45-R74Z Slim Laptop
Best Gaming Laptop
Razer Blade 15 Gaming Laptop
Best Laptop for Students
HP Envy 13
Best 2-in-1 Laptop
Lenovo - Yoga 9i 14 2.8K Touch 2-in-1 Laptop with Pen
Best for Photo and Video Editing
Apple MacBook Pro (14-inch, M1 Pro) (2021)
Best Laptop for Business
ThinkPad X1 Carbon Gen 9
Best Laptop for Kids
Acer Chromebook Spin 311 Convertible Laptop
Best MacBook
MacBook Air (M2, 2022)
Best Chromebook
Acer Chromebook Spin 713
Best Laptop for Linux
Dell XPS 13 (With Ubuntu)
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Chris Hoffman is Editor-in-Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for over a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times and Reader's Digest, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than one billion times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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Sydney Butler has over 20 years of experience as a freelance PC technician and system builder. He's worked for more than a decade in user education and spends his time explaining technology to professional, educational, and mainstream audiences. His interests include VR, PC, Mac, gaming, 3D printing, consumer electronics, the web, and privacy. He holds a Master of Arts degree in Research Psychology with a focus on Cyberpsychology in particular.
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