Our top pick, the Dell XPS 13 7390, recently underwent a redesign, and a controversial one at that. Despite this, it still remains a great laptop. The second on our list, the System76 Serval WS, has now been discontinued, but another offering from the company, the Oryx Pro, is still available and can be found in this guide as well.
Lewis Madison, Graduate Writer
The best Linux laptops of 2023 have you covered if you’re searching for a Windows 10 or macOS alternative. You don’t have to buy a slow, low-powered machine or install Linux yourself these days to have a laptop with an open-source OS.
In fact, some of the best Linux laptops offer up the same durability and premium design as their Windows counterparts. They’ll also cost less since there’s no Windows 10 license included with the laptop. With an operating system that is open-source, it also means that you’re not stuck with a proprietary operating system.
With this guide, we’re going to dive into the best laptops that are specifically built for the open-source operating system. There aren’t any mainstream notebook vendors, beyond Dell at least, that offer Linux as a base OS option on a new laptop. This leaves us with other smaller manufacturers, which can carve out a niche for themselves with the best Linux laptops.
Plus, you can still install Linux on pretty much any laptop, even though some manufacturers lock down their products, making installing Linux kind of a pain. There are lots of different Linux desktop environments to choose from, and a whole host of open-source Linux apps available.
We picked out five of the best Linux laptops on the market right now, comparing customizations and configurations, port availability, storage capacity, and screen display options. All featured have been fine-tuned to run some of the best Linux distros (like Ubuntu, for instance). That means they’re guaranteed to run the open-source OS out of the box without any tinkering.
We've also featured:
The best Linux laptops of 2023 in full
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The XPS 13 may no longer be the undisputed champion of the Ultrabook market, but it’s still one of the top Ultrabooks out there (read our review of best Ultrabooks). And, one can only admire Dell for its unwavering Linux support on a flagship machine, making the Dell XPS 13 7390 (opens in new tab) one of the best Linux laptops on offer.
The laptop has a number of customizations you can opt for, but as with all Dell products these days the number of configurable options is quite limited. The basic model comes with 8GB of LPDDR3 RAM at 2133 MHz, though this can be upgraded to 16GB RAM for an extra $100.
There are also two main hard drive options, both solid state, offering a capacity of either 256GB or 512GB of storage. There are also two screen option: the more expensive is the 4K (3,840 x 2,160) InfinityEdge touchscreen. Though it’s worth bearing in mind that the higher-res screen will tax the GPU and CPU more, and may affect battery life adversely. The more wallet-friendly configuration runs with a Full HD (1,920 x 1,080) 13.3-inch InfinityEdge non-touch display.
Although the Dell website offers three different style options for the XPS 13 when it comes to Windows, for the Ubuntu edition there's only the single style option of the platinum silver with the black carbon fibre palmrest - which, to be fair, is probably the most stylish option.
- You can buy the Dell XPS 13 7390 here (opens in new tab)
System76's Serval WS (opens in new tab) is the ultimate laptop powerhouse, not to mention one of the best Linux laptops on the market. Available with a 15-inch or 17-inch display, it offers a range of options from the 9th Gen Intel Core processors typically found in desktop machines.
The Serval WS is highly customizable, with up to 64GB of system RAM and up to 12TB of storage on hand. A variety of Nvidia GeForce RTX GPUs are also on hand, and gamers will further appreciate the choice of either a Full HD or 4K display.
It's obvious that a lot of thought and care has gone into the design of the Serval WS, considering that each key on the keyboard comes with its own multicolor backlight. The laptop, like all System76 models, comes preinstalled with either the firm’s own custom POP!_OS, which is based on Ubuntu, or Ubuntu 18.04 LTS (64-bit).
This notebook also has impressive connectivity in terms of ports, but be aware that this laptop is a fairly hefty beast, with the basic 15-inch model weighing 7.5 lbs (3.4 kg) and the 17-inch version tipping the scales at 8.6 lbs (3.9 kg).
This heftiness is matched only by the weighty price tag - pricing for the basic design model starts from $1,999.
- You can buy the System76 Serval WS here (opens in new tab)
Purism embarked on a quest to build the most secure laptop ever, choosing (obviously) Linux distro PureOS to power the device. From that quest came Librem 13, one of the best Linux laptops on offer.
In terms of specifications, Purism comes with seventh-generation Intel processors and graphics chips, as well as 8-32 GB of DDR4 RAM.
Purism is the only notebook vendor on the market to offer physical kill switches as standard on its laptops. Instead of going mainstream, the company tapped into the crowdfunding community to gain more than $430,000 (around £300,000, AU$550,000) worth of funding, allowing it to adopt a stricter ethos than most firms when it comes to privacy, rights to free software and security.
The Librem 13 (opens in new tab) might look and feel like a bog-standard laptop. However, there's far more to it than meets the eye (for example, the company designed its own motherboards).
In addition, Purism’s commitment to Linux (and security in general) certainly goes beyond most of the vendors on this list.
- You can buy the Purism Librem 13 here (opens in new tab)
One of the best Linux laptops to date, the Oryx Pro (opens in new tab) is definitely built for the operating system. Indeed, it currently offers a choice of either Ubuntu 18.04 or System76’s own Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS on purchase.
The Oryx Pro is made from lightweight aluminum with a matte black finish and is available in two screen sizes, either 15.6 or 17.3 inch. Inside, it's powered by a 9th generation Intel Core i7-9750H, which offers 2.6 to 4.5 GHz as well as a 12 MB cache, and for RAM you can choose up to 64 GB dual-channel DDR4 at 2667MHz, or up to 32 GB dual-channel DDR4 at 3000MHz.
For storage there are two SATA hard drives offering 8TB in total, and graphics options include the NVIDIA GeForce RTX 2060, 2070, or 2080.
The Oryx Pro is sleeker and lighter than the company's now discontinued Serval model, coming in at 4.6 lbs (2.09 kg) for the 16.1 inch screen version, and at 5.51 lbs (2.50 kg) with the 17.3 inch screen option.
However, this is also an expensive machine, with the base price starting from $1,699.
- You can buy the System76 Oryx Pro here (opens in new tab)
The Galago Pro (opens in new tab) from System76 is the cheapest Linux laptop on this list. Like the other machines from System76, it offers either Pop!_OS or Ubuntu to run on. However, even though it has some decent specifications, even the base model comes in at less than $950.
The standard processor is a 10th gen Intel Core, either the i5-10210U or the i7-10510U. 8GB of dual-channel DDR4 RAM at 2667MHz is also available at start, though this can be expanded to up to 64 GB. Storage options begin with a 240GB SSD, though can be upgraded to a 6TB SATA harddrive.
It's also much sleeker and lighter than the previous System76 models featured here, weighing in at just 2.87 lbs (1.3 kg) for the base model, though any upgrades are likely to raise that.
Altogether, another solid Linux laptop, but at a more affordable price than the others featured on this list.
- You can buy the System76 Galago Pro here (opens in new tab)
How to choose the best Linux laptop for you
If you've made the decision that you're looking for a Linux laptop, then you've likely done so because you're after the flexibility offered by an operating system that’s open-source, free, and allows you a large amount of freedom and privacy.
It could also be because they’re typically more secure than other operating systems. Windows 10, being so popular, is most often the target of viruses, for instance.
Whatever your reasons, aside from your budget, the key consideration to take into account when on the hunt for the best Linux laptops is how technically proficient you are, and how experienced you are with a Linux system.
Though Linux has a bit of a reputation for being complicated and technical, there are a number of distros (Linux variants), that are ideal for beginners, such as Ubuntu and Mint. If you are fairly new to the Linux scene, you should consider buying a laptop with Linux pre-installed, to make it easier getting started.
While Linux-based machines aren’t as widely available as Windows and macOS ones, boutique laptop companies are getting in on the action and offering machines pre-installed with Linux. Even Dell, one of the biggest laptop makers out there, offers pre-installed Linux machines.
If you're not yet confident with using Linux, we've featured the best Linux training providers and online courses.
The best Linux laptops: How we test
In our review of the best Linux laptops, we've looked at five of the top options on the market.
One of the advantages of the open-source Linux system is its high level of customization, and in our testing, we noted just how far-reaching each laptops configurable options were.
On a similar note, we not only looked at the initial cost of each laptop but considered the price of upgrades. Such as purchasing additional gigabytes of RAM for example.
Privacy is often a key issue cited by Linux users, and so we noted where additional features focused on this topic.
We also compared key hardware features like hard drive capacity, available screen sizes and display resolutions, and processing speed. Any additional aesthetic and design features, such as backlights, number of ports, weight, and look.