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Linux PC Maker System76 Plans To Design And Manufacture Its Own Hardware (liliputing.com) 103

An anonymous reader quotes Liliputing: System76 is one of only a handful of PC vendors that exclusively sells computers with Linux-based software. Up until now, that's meant the company has chosen hardware that it could guarantee would work well with custom firmware and the Ubuntu Linux operating system... Starting in 2018 though, you may be able to buy a System76 computer that was designed and built in-house... CAD files for System76 computers will be open source, allowing anyone with the appropriate skills and equipment to build or modify their own cases based on the company's designs.
"We're prototyping with acrylic and moving to metal soon," the company says in a blog post, adding "Our first in-house designed and manufactured desktops will ship next year. Laptops are more complex and will follow much later."
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Linux PC Maker System76 Plans To Design And Manufacture Its Own Hardware

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  • by locater16 ( 2326718 ) on Sunday April 23, 2017 @12:26AM (#54285479)
    I mean, really it's an odd way to sneak an ad onto /.

    I mean, I'm so glad these new computer cases will be compatible with Linux. Really. I accidentally bought a case one time that wasn't, couldn't install Linux Mint or any other distro. Worked with Freebsd, but not Linux. Fortunately this will solve this well known problem.
    • To be fair, unlike Apple, MS and the main PC makers (dell, hp, asus, ...) there isn't much information about Linux-only manufacturers ; being informed like that, once in a while, keeps us aware that there are alternatives...
      • by rtb61 ( 674572 )

        SteamOS is very likely to change that. Not a huge space in that market and it will likely get much tighter as manufacturers jump into that market. It is likely even game publishers and gaming studios will jump into the Steam OS market https://arstechnica.com/gaming... [arstechnica.com], as it grows. In the back of managements mind will be escaping M$ licensing fees and controls and creating a easier to access gaming market. Valve would likely do far better if the opened up SteamOS to broader investment and sharing of control

    • by Vskye ( 9079 )

      That's cause your a newb, and you shall be chastised for giving crap to a good hardware Linux company that actually cares.

    • Seems pretty relevant since the question "who sells Linux PCs" comes up on /. every two months, and the response is always "System 76" to which someone always replies, "they just rebrand Company X's laptop, why not just buy one of those instead?"

  • by Gravis Zero ( 934156 ) on Sunday April 23, 2017 @01:22AM (#54285613)

    I RTFA and the source article and I didn't see anything to indicate they would be designing their own electronics. Instead, it seems like they will be building their own computer cases. Frankly, computer cases are far less important than the electronics that reside inside them. Having the CAD files to customize is nice but when their is a backdoor in every new x86 chip, it's kinda like putting on sunblock to protect your skin from the sun as you stare down a civilization ending 10000 meter tsunami wave.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Exactly. Our problem now are x86 cpus.

    • by aktw ( 4857131 )
      Based on the actual blog post, this sounds more like the first step towards a much larger goal of Apple-like hardware design. They're starting with desktop cases, then moving to laptop cases "much later," so the real traction isn't going to pick up for a while (or whatever "much later" means). Still, it stands to reason that if they can get enough experience in case design -- and if they can generate enough interest in the products -- then they'll be able to work with other vendors to build components to
      • by Anonymous Coward

        they won't ever get to the "in house" laptop chassis designs until (and a big IF, at that) they get to their own custom circuit board designs.. if they don't have that, then whatever laptop chassis they "design" is going to be limited to fitting whatever electronics and other components they can get in bulk or whatever some cheap chinese maker 'designs' (i.e. builds from existing or old product designs) for them. it's not like there's a form factor standard for these things like there is for desktops.

        • by aktw ( 4857131 )
          Of course, which is why I said they are probably biting off way more than they can chew.
    • Frankly, computer cases are far less important than the electronics that reside inside them.

      I disagree. If that were the case (har har) then a perfectly viable laptop would be a cardboard box with a bunch of great parts haphazardly fixed to the inside. The case and packaging is super important. Many laptops are just shonky heaps of garbage where the case falls apart fast.

      With portable electronics, it's ALL about tradeoffs. It needs to be fast enough. It needs to have enough ram. The batterylife has to be l

      • Everyone who could build a motherboard or CPU at home put their hands up.

        [nobody]

        And now everyone who could build a case, albeit one that's susceptible to termites.

        [me].

        • Can you also make LEDs and power button?
        • I know several people who have the equipment to build motherboards at home (in garages and basements). I agree that it's not common and consists of surplus equipment they were able to get cheap and would not be as efficient as a properly equipped manufacturer, but they're out there and they can do the high BGA counts of processor sockets with a high degree of success.

          Manufacturing the PCBs isn't the problem; see my other post.

          • And the CPUs, lan/wifi cards and so on?

            The claim was that cases are as difficult, if not more so, than the electronics. To make, not to scavenge.

    • To make a competitive system, the real issue is, is the ability to convince Intel or AMD (or any other processor manufacturer) as well as BIOS/EFI vendors (if you're not going to write your own) that you are serious enough with enough resources to be successful in designing a system and maintain their IP.

      Probably the most difficulty somebody who wants to design/build motherboards will have is showing these companies that they have sufficient security systems and protocols in place that the processor and sup

      • Probably the most difficulty somebody who wants to design/build motherboards will have is showing these companies that they have sufficient security systems and protocols in place that the processor and support chip manufacturers (if they're different) can provide you with the datasheets and other documents necessary to design systems without them becoming public knowledge (ie available to their competitors).

        This is only a problem with x86. Go with stuff you can buy on the open market and you can build whatever you like and there is not BIOS/UEFI bullshit to deal with. x86 should not be a prerequisite since we're talking about Linux.

  • Nice to see (Score:5, Insightful)

    by poor_boi ( 548340 ) on Sunday April 23, 2017 @02:04AM (#54285707)

    I live in Colorado where Sys76 is based. The original post may read like an ad, and my comment may sound like a shill, but check my post history. I'm not shill, I'm a real life Sys76 customer. Sys76 is committed to Linux on well-designed desktop/laptop systems. They have a legit business that focuses on systems designed for HPC and deep learning. I don't think they're super focused on mainstream consumer audience right now. From what I've seen they're really on the prosumer/commercial side of things -- looking to cash in on the deep learning craze, and put capable hardware and OS stack in the hands of interested people who want form-factors that fit into daily life. I'm impressed with their last-gen offerings, and I really look forward to what they'll be doing next.
    tl;dr: real company, real product. Keep an eye on this.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Chromebook's have had some success because they customize hardware and the OS to work together. This is also why Apple Mac's have worked so well, and why Windows struggles to work well in a vast hardware ecosystem. Linux also has this problem sometimes adapting drivers that only marginally work and regressions are happening far to much from version to version. System 76 has the right idea, but making your own hardware is costly and it also can lock a user into a certain operating system. Kind of working aga

    • If they choose hardware that can use open source drivers or write drivers themselves and open source the drivers you won't be locked into what ever flavor of Linux they use. I have one of their notebooks and have used other distros, hopefully they won't only work with Ubuntu.
  • Is this for people that confuse the box with what is in the box? A computer case cannot be "Linux hardware".

  • I guess we're all systems now.

  • There are people that don't want this to happen.

    1 - A lot of the hardware documentation that was open 5 years ago has disappered.
    2 - If they came out with such a device - you can count on a trip ti FISA court.

    Take the Ubuntu phone - it is not really Linux - it is an Android kernel with binary blobs that are there for our protection...

    'They' put an end to this about 5 years ago - read about core boot...

IOT trap -- core dumped

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