I switched from MacOS to Linux about two months ago. The transition wasn’t a big deal as I was already familiar with the Linux environment through web development. There’s been a bit of a learning curve and adjusting to new applications but overall I’m happy with my decision. I’ll have a separate article on the applications I use and what the transition was like for me.
My initial impression of System76 and Pop!_OS was not great.
On first boot I could not install the operating system. Support was very helpful both in tickets and over the phone to help solve this although it’s still a mystery why this happened. It was resolved by creating and using a live disk of Pop!_OS. I have not had to contact System76 with technical issues since then.
- Pop!_OS 18.04 LTS (64-bit) with full-disk encryption
- 8 GB GTX 1070 with 2048 CUDA Cores
- 15.6″ Matte HiDPI 4K HiDPI Display
- 4.1 GHz i7-8750H
- 32 GB Dual Channel DDR4 at 2666MHz (2× 16GB)
- 1 TB NVMe PCIe M.2 SSD
- 1× HDMI output port (with HDCP), 2× DisplayPort 1.3
- 1× USB 3.1 Type-C with Thunderbolt 3, 2× USB 3.1 Type-A, 2× USB 3.0, SD Card Reader
System76 created Pop!_OS to go alongside their laptop. It has made the transition from MacOS to Linux easy. I can snap applications into various workspace’s, split windows, and navigate using mostly the keyboard and not the mouse. It’s been far easier to switch than I anticipated and I think a part of that is because how easy System76 has made it for people coming into Linux for the first time. Admittedly, I don’t have experience with many Linux distros so it’s hard for me to compare what it may be like with other distros. I love it and going to stick with it.
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It’s bigger and heavier than I expected coming from a MacBook Pro. I was being greedy. I customized it so it had top of the line specs that it would increase the size and weight of the laptop and battery pack. It’s not the ideal travel sized laptop but it’s a beast of a machine. I’m still amazed that there’s a GTX 1070 in this machine. The biggest downside however is carrying a large charger and not a USB-C charger. I used a single USB-C charger for my MacBook Pro, Nintendo Switch, and Google PixelXL2. That made traveling with all those devices easy and I miss that.
Another issue for opting for the 15″ 4k HiDPI display meant that I would not get a Thunderbolt 3 port which I didn’t realize at the time. If you’re going for 4k HiDPI then your only option is the 15″ which results in not having the Thunderbolt3 that the 17″ has.
I’ve been disappointed with the battery life but it doesn’t seem like it’s entirely the fault of System76. I haven’t optimized all my applications. This guide has helped. It’s not that different from how long my MacBook Pro would last if I was running heavy applications. The problem is that before I used that guide, the computer would last less than two hours by default. It’d be nice if it came well-optimized for battery life or at the very least with better instructions for longer battery life.
I’m convinced that nothing in the market right now can compete with Apple’s trackpads.
I’m keeping it
It’s a sexy looking laptop. I love standing out in the sea of MacBook Pro laptops at cafes and customizing my machine to my liking. None of the things I highlighted above are deal-breakers but there is one thing that bothers me. It’s their website. I love that an order is tied to a support ticket but that’s it. Their documentation is lacking content which I guess explains why there’s no search. The quick start guide link is only seen after you’ve made a purchase but it doesn’t tell you much that you don’t already know. It’s embarrassing that their blog is on Tumblr. I realize their prioritizes may be with their product and looks like their busy with a new manufacturing facility. I’m confidence they’ll get to those tasks.