In the next several weeks, the preinstalled Linux computer maker, System76, will have a brand new and much improved version of its popular Pangolin laptop on its shelves and ready to ship.
One thing about the folks at System76 is that they have so many lines of laptops, that when they put one on hiatus for a while for a redesign you hardly notice.
One that’s been gone for a while is Pangolin, which previously sat midpoint in the company’s roster of six lines of laptops. The company announced on Thursday that Pangolin is on its way back, with beefed-up electronics and packaging that should put it closer to System76’s top-of-the line than its middle tier.
In case you’re new to Linux space, Denver-based System76 earns its keep by making top-shelf computers that are purpose-built to run Linux. When the company got started 17 years ago, it largely just put motherboards in off-the-shelf cases and shipped them with Ubuntu installs. These days they manufacture many of their desktop cases in-house, and take a much more hands-on approach to the electronics they put inside.
The company also builds three highly configurable mechanical keyboards it designed under the Launch brand, and develops and maintains its own Ubuntu-based Linux distribution, Pop_OS, which quickly gained favor with Linux users when it was released about five years ago.
If that seems like a lot for a smallish US-based computer maker to take on, there’s more. System76 is also in data centers, with several lines of rack mounted servers running Ubuntu Server, Canonical’s server operating system.
What’s Inside (and Outside) the New Pangolin
According to System76, the new souped-up version of its Pangolin laptop is due to be released in the first half of February, and on Thursday it started a teaser campaign, which humorously depicts what Pangolin’s been doing during its hiatus.
“We’re riffing off of New Year’s resolutions to get fit, and showing off how much stronger this model is compared to the previous model, via a gym-workout theme,” a System76 spokesperson told me in an email.
This new version of Pangolin will ship with the new AMD Ryzen 7 6800U processor. System76 says that its engineers have been testing the processor using the Phoronix Test Suite with some “amazing results.”
“Even doing a backflip over the 5700U in some cases,” I was told.
To be sure, this new laptop definitely appears to be much more muscle car than family sedan, and one that would be more appropriately used for gaming or film editing than for doing homework or taxes.
“This new 6800U CPU also ushers in DDR5 and PCIe 4.0 NVMe storage, which provides for some serious throughput,” the spokesperson said. “We’ve also bumped the display from 60Hz to 144Hz, meaning you should have a buttery smooth experience when working on any project or playing games that demand a higher frame rate.”
The company said that it’s also acted on customer requests to put a privacy cover over the laptop’s webcam.
“To one-up that, we added a physical hardware privacy switch to fully disable the webcam and microphone, putting you back in control of your privacy with a single flick of a finger.”
Users should also expect to be able to spend plenty of time working away from an electric outlet, as the new units will ship with a battery that delivers 70 Wh. The company said that they’re estimating the more powerful battery should power the machine for up to 10 hours, “but we think it can potentially get more.”
The third-party chassis (the company is in the early stages of designing its own laptop cases to build in-house as does with its Thelio desktops) has also been strengthened with a new magnesium alloy build, making the laptop more resistant to damage from the occasional ding or drop.
Support, Availability, and Price
The new version of Pangolin will of course ship with the company’s Pop!_OS, which is not only rock-solid stable (being based on Ubuntu), but also easy to use. It also features convenient features, such as keyboard navigation and window stacking. Also, in keeping with System76’s policy, Pangolin users will receive lifetime support from the company’s expert tech support team.
Again, it’s planned for Pangolin to begin shipping in the first half of February. The price will start at $1,299.
Christine Hall has been a journalist since 1971. In 2001, she began writing a weekly consumer computer column and started covering Linux and FOSS in 2002 after making the switch to GNU/Linux. Follow her on Twitter: @BrideOfLinux