My cheap Acer Chromebook just wasn’t cutting it anymore and I recently decided to get a new computer. I abandoned Windows PC’s in favor of Linux back in 2009 and haven’t looked back and probably never will. As a writer, I had three choices to make:
- Get a Macbook Air
- Buy a Thinkpad and install Linux
- Buy a Linux specific PC
Obviously, I went with option 3.
System76 is one the biggest names in the United States for computers built specifically for Linux. I had bought a Serval WS gaming laptop from them in the past and was mildly impressed with it, so I figured I’d check out what they had to offer in the world of ultrabooks.
I purchased my Lemur Pro with the upgraded i7-10510U 4.9Ghz quadcore processor with 16 GB RAM and a 1 TB NVMe harddrive with full disk encryption. Anybody that is familiar with solid state hard drives should not be surprised to hear that applications launch in about 1 to 2 seconds. You literally click on the icon and application is up on the screen.
It is 0.61″ thick and weighs in at 2.2 lbs, making it just as thin as a Macbook Air and slightly lighter. It boots up in about 15 seconds and the speed doesn’t stop there. Compared to my last gaming laptop, it feels like I’m carrying an empty bag around with me.
People that are familiar with Linux are aware of the battery issues they have. My Serval WS laptop had a battery life of about 2 hours, which for a gaming laptop is still shit. I was pleased to find that things have improved since then. This laptop has a battery life of about 7 to 8 hours – depending on what I’m using it for. I am still getting used to not having to lug around a heavy power cable with me everywhere I go.
Its performance doesn’t stop there, either. One of the first applications I downloaded Steam. The Intel UHD Graphics card handled Amnesia: The Dark Descent pretty well. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not a gaming beast, but for the casual gamer it will do just fine. I’m a writer, afterall and my main concern was having a lightweight laptop to type up my “masterpieces.”
Much like Apple, System76 not only builds computers, but they have their own flavor of Linux called Pop_OS. It is based on Gnome Shell. This was a huge plus for me because not only is Linux a fast operating system as it is, these PC’s are built to handle this operating system at its peak potential. With Linux already being a lightweight operating system, I was excited to see just how fast this laptop would be. I was not dissapointed.
On the surface, there isn’t much to differentiate Pop_OS from any other Linux distro running Gnome shell. The great thing about Linux is how easily customizable it is. I downloaded shell extensions such as “DashToDock” and was able to create an interface that was both user friendly and beautiful to look at.
System76 also periodically sends out firmware flash updates that enhances the performance and security of the system. Just in the month that I’ve had the PC, there have been 2 firmware updates. It gives me an added peace of mind that they are constantly improving their systems.
As somebody who has used Ubuntu, Linux Mint, and Deepin OS, I was pleasantly surprised by how fast and responsive this OS was. Without a doubt Pop_OS is the fastest Linux distro I have ever used.
Manuskript is an application that I only discovered in the past year. Before that, I utilized Focuswriter, which is a nice distraction free word processor, but it had very little in the line of organizing a short story or a novel. Apple has Scrivener, which I trialed the beta version that was made available on Linux. It was impressive, but the Linux version seems to have been abandoned and I wasn’t about to hold my breath awaiting for its release.
Manuskript is a writing software developed around the “Snowflake Method” of writing. For those of you unfamiliar with the “Snowflake Method,” it is a method of writing developed by Randall Ingermanson. You start with a one sentence deep theme to your story and, over time, add more complexity to the strory, until you have a finished piece.
The software is divided into seven sections:
Unlike Scrivener, which is packed full of features that a writer may or may not use, this software strips it down to the basics, guiding you through the process of writing your novel or short story. To put it simply: if used right, you may never have to worry about writer’s block ever again.
Linux is certainly not for anyone. Windows built a reputation for a reason and that is because it is simple to use and has a wide range of software that has been developed for it. Migrating from one OS to another can be a scary task, because it is in our nature to stick with what we know and are comfortable using. However, if your computer is dying and you’re thinking about getting a new one, I would suggest installing a Linux distro onto it to breathe new life into your old PC. You may be surprised by how much you like it and if that’s the case, I would suggest checking out System76’s lineup of PC’s.