Best Laptops for Ubuntu

A unique selling point of the Linux-based OpenSource operating system (OS) Ubuntu is that it is free to install and use.

Ubuntu means ‘humanity for all’, and there is a vast community of users and developers who will help you get the best out of your operating system in terms of acquiring new tools, or arranging it just as you like it. 

Help is available through easy-access messenger boards.

One of the best things about Ubuntu is that it takes up so little operating space, helping your laptop to work more efficiently. You can accumulate apps to work within the operating system until you have a personal computer which is set up entirely to your needs with no ongoing subscription costs.

For people who love to customize their working environments, it’s fabulous. But what about if you just want to boot up your laptop and write that report in a format that everyone else is going to be able to read?

Also no problem. Ubuntu features a user-friendly user interface called Gnome, which allows you to find your files and programs quickly.

Perhaps you’re in the process of buying a shocking amount of equipment for a teen soon to start college. If so, you want to give them a laptop which is super-portable and which has great connectivity to Wi-Fi, printers, scanners, and other external devices.

They’ll most likely need to share documents with students with Macs or the full MS Office 365 subscription.

Navigating the realm of laptops is not particularly easy at the best of times because of the vast array of options across countless brands, and the speed at which new updates are released. 

We’ve hunted through lists of up-to-date recommendations from expert Ubuntu fans, sifted through the hardware feedback from laptop fans in general, and narrowed down a list of the top five laptops which are Ubuntu-friendly.

Read on for a buyer’s guide on what to look for when investing in the right laptop for your needs. 

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Our Pick

Best Laptops for Ubuntu - Reviews

Acer Aspire 5 Slim Laptop, 15.6 inches Full HD IPS Display, AMD Ryzen 3 3200U, Vega 3 Graphics, 4GB DDR4, 128GB SSD, Backlit Keyboard, Windows 10 in S Mode, A515-43-R19L, Silver

Our Top Pick

Our rating

This laptop is Amazon’s bestseller and presents a much less heavy impact on your wallet than the other Ubuntu-ideal competitors on this list.

Those looking to operate Ubuntu as an operating system will tick along very happily with its 3.5GHz processor (AMD Ryzen 3: 3200U Dual Core), the 4GB DDR4 memory (RAM), and 128GB of space on the solid state drive.

If you’re going to be doing a lot of work through the Windows 10 S-mode operating system, then you can expand the 4GB random access memory easily, as numerous testers and reviewers have reported to have done. 

It is also possible to come out of S-mode safely, and there are instructions on how to do so on Microsoft’s own support site.

The connectivity on this laptop is pretty good. If your life requires a lot of scanning, printing and general hooking-up to external devices, then the HDMI port, USB-3 port and the two USB-2 ports will come in handy.

It’s a heftier laptop than some of the others we’ve recommended (3.6lb) but that’s still not going to weigh your rucksack down very much.

It features a wider screen than average at 15.6 inches and the resolution’s at a decent 1920 x 1080 full HD standard.

If you’re known for working late into the night in the far corner of the couch, then the 7.5hr battery, backlit keyboard and quiet solid state drive will make this beast ideal.

Pros

  • An inexpensive, solid performer
  • Good connectivity
  • Light and tough enough for frequent trips out and about
  • Fast and responsive

Cons

  • Many users prefer to have Windows installed without S-mode from the beginning
  • Not a great deal of RAM

The Surface laptop 2 has one thing in common with the Asus Zenbook, which is extended (14+ hours) battery life, as confirmed by many happy Amazon reviewers.

The battery performs even better when running Linux-based applications and programs on it instead of the installed Windows 10 Home operating system. Ubuntu is far less resource-intensive.

It comes with processing power from 8th generation i5 Intel, 8GB RAM and 256GB flash memory size.

The 13.5-inch interactive touchscreen is beautiful. The narrow bezels make best use of the surface space and the PixelSense display comes with 2256x1504 resolution.

According to the very thorough testers at EasyPcMod, the screen on the Microsoft Surface 2 laptop comes very close to the quality you’d expect from the MacBook Pro Retina.

Users who have bought this for extensive graphics work have given enthusiastic feedback about how easy the screen is to use, and how responsive.

The laptop copes well with a heavy load of graphics programs, has a comfortable, fluid keyboard, and it comes in three elegant tones of Platinum, Burgundy and Cobalt Blue.

Pros

  • Fantastic touchscreen
  • Reliable, fast processor and good memory
  • Aesthetically pleasing
  • Super-light

Cons

  • Not great for connectivity: one USB-3 port only, no HDMI port. You might want to invest in a 4-port hub

This laptop is super-light at 2.6lb all told. It’s so slim (half an inch, folded) that you can pop it into the protective sleeve that comes with it, and then pop it into a discreet rucksack that doesn’t shout ‘I am carrying a laptop!’

Despite its slender appearance, it’s actually a very robust laptop to take out and about, having passed the MIL-STD-810G military standard for reliability and durability.

If you live with conspicuously dangerous people, you may be reassured to learn that it’s been tested for its resilience in the face of: high and low temperatures; temperature shock (sudden change in environmental temperature); contamination by fluids, rain, humidity and solar radiation, and its ability to withstand being dropped from a regrettable height.

Just to cover all your bases, the laptop has free 1-year ASUS protection coverage for accidental damage.

It is fabulous for the travelling worker with its exceptional battery life of 14 hours. If you’re used to having to set up for work in libraries and coffee shops, then this laptop is designed with flexible positioning in mind.

The exclusive ErgoLift design enables you to tilt the back-lit keyboard to the most comfortable typing position. This in turn creates space between the cooling fans and the working surface, which can only improve the laptop’s performance.

In terms of functional flexibility, it’s a fast machine with a great memory. The Asus Zenbook is kitted out with 512GB of memory storage on a solid state drive and four times as much random access memory (16GB) as you need to run Ubuntu quickly and smoothly.

It comes with an 8th generation Intel i7 core processor.

If you love your unique gadgetry, you may get on very well with the one-touch conversion of the touchpad from built-in mouse to numeric keypad.

This is great for those whose work requires a great deal of invoicing, for whom the loss of a separate numeric keypad on a laptop can slow productivity down considerably. 

Pros

  • Extended Battery life
  • Durability and portability
  • Ability to run two operating systems easily
  • Great memory and processing power
  • Use of solid state drive (rather than hard drive) makes this very quiet

Cons

  • The sound on the laptop could be better
  • The number keypad comes on a little too enthusiastically (and randomly) for those who don’t want to use it. A separate wireless mouse is advised.

The Dell’s touchscreen is what blows most people away. Though a modest 13.6 wide, the virtually non-existent bevels (4mm) which form the InfinityEdge border make the screen seem so much wider than it actually is.

The 4K resolution is stunning at 3840 x 2160 pixels, making it the perfect hardware for photographic editing and more complex graphic packages. The UHD screen helps you make the best of the full color range and the Intel Graphics HD processor. 

It also comes with a 720mp rear web camera.

It’s a fast machine. The laptop’s run by an 8th Gen Intel Quad Core processor (i7-8550U), capable of being boosted up to 4.0GHz, and the operating memory underpinned by 16GB of RAM. The solid state drive stores 512GB.

You could run the installed Windows 10 Pro all day and still have acres of space for the Linux operating system and all and any OpenSource applications which you’d choose to load.

It’s a great device to use alongside the other gadgets in your life. There’s a Thunderbolt 3 USB-C port, 2 USB-3 ports and 1 USB-2 port, for starters.

There is also an SD card reader and a headphone jack. There’s no optical drive (CD/DVD reader) but it is very easy to configure this laptop so that it works with an external reader.

The battery life is respectable at an average 8 hours of heavy use. It’s nice to use out and about because it’s exceptionally lightweight (2.7lb) and the anti-reflective coating is particularly helpful when sitting outdoors.

There is some feedback regarding the overheating of the UHD screen, but it is difficult to judge the extent of that problem, given the lack of detail over how long the screen had been in use at the time.

Overall, this laptop is heavy on the pocket and the most expensive of these choices by a considerable margin. However, if your work involves a great deal of time spent on graphical packages, the screen alone may well make this well worth the investment.

Ubuntu, Mint, and Debian users and developers have a fondness for this Dell laptop as Dell products as it’s one of the flagship brands which remains committed to supporting Linux platforms and applications. 

Recommended by online Ubuntu enthusiasts Freedom251 and EasyPcMods, the Acer Aspire 1-15 is a solid performer at a decent price.

It’s got a 7th Generation (i3 Intel processor) with 4GB of DDR4 memory and 1TB Hard disc drive capability.

Now, those who want more RAM, or to install a solid disc drive into the space inside, will be delighted to know that the power of this laptop can be expanded quickly and easily, even for those who shudder at the idea of fiddling with any kind of hardware. 

Anticipating this anxiety, Acer have kindly provided a compartment door to make this far less intimidating a task for those who are not tech-savvy.

However, those loading Ubuntu onto this laptop are by and large happy with the speed and storage space available for the open source apps which are used.

Although it comes with Windows OS pre-loaded, it is easily converted to a Linux system. Alternatively, you can create a virtual machine within the hardware and use both.

The laptop comes with a very decent battery life, a broad, Full HD 15.6” display with LED backlighting, and Acer’s own ColorBlast technology. It fits in wonderfully with a home office, with 2 USB-3 ports and an RJ-45 port, among others. It also has powerful 802.11ac Wi-Fi connectivity. 

Pros

  • A lot of features for your money
  • Great connectivity
  • Decent battery life
  • Easy to upgrade

Cons

  • The heaviest of this group of recommended laptops
  • Loading the Ubuntu system involves a few steps

Best Laptops for Ubuntu - Buyers Guide

What does the laptop need to run Ubuntu?

The system demands are pretty basic. It’s good to have 8GB RAM, though 4GB is an operating minimum. Whether on solid state or hard drive, aim for 128GB storage space. 25GB is probably the least you can get away with.

You’ll want a 2.0GHz processor at minimum, ideally 2.5GHz or more. You’ll also need a USB port or CD/DVD player by way of installer media.

Are there any brands which specifically embrace Linux systems?

In the FAQs we’ve mentioned System76, but Dell has long been a brand which actively supports Linux platforms. Chromebooks are increasingly making room for Linux-based developments to be added to their hardware.

As of last year, engineering has been enhanced so that people can have both the Chrome OS and a secondary Linux OS on their Chromebook, working alongside one another in a chroot system (or with Ubuntu loaded as a virtual machine).

This means that you not only get access to all the Chrome apps (of which there are thousands) and have the benefits of saving all your work to the cloud (good for disc space) but you can also work offline using OpenSource programs instead, launching them straight from the desktop. 

So, which OpenSource apps work well with Chromebook?

According to the customisation champs at ComputerWorld, there are a number of apps you can install, which keep you and your work accessible to the rest of the Mac/Office-dominated world. Evolution is a good email and calendar system.

Firefox is an OpenSource Browser, and FireZilla a free file transfer protocol program. Those who want equivalents of Word, Excel and Powerpoint will do very well with LibreOffice. Just save your work as “OpenDocument” (and ask peers to do the same) and you’ll share documents without a problem.

Do you need a touchscreen?

You can save yourself considerable cash by going for a more traditional laptop as the touchscreen element can slap a good $250 on top of the price instantly, even if it isn’t a particularly high-spec touchscreen.

However, if an interactive touchscreen is a must and you’re happy mostly working in the cloud, then The Asus Chromebook Flip is worth an honorary mention here as a comparatively inexpensive touchscreen laptop.

It has 8GB RAM, 64GB flash storage, and more porting options for external activity than you’d expect from a notebook-style device.

What other ‘extras’ might you need?

Regardless of brand, the touchpad mouse can be a severe irritant to anyone who’s usually more comfortable at a desktop PC. A wireless optical mouse can be exceptionally helpful.

If your favorite laptop happens to be a touch light on USB ports, then an extension port will open your world to printers, scanners and power chargers at very little cost. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get Ubuntu on my tablet or phone?

You can on an android phone, but it’s not the most straightforward process. A group called UBPorts has taken over development of this capability from Ubuntu’s parent group, Canonical. UBPorts has developed a system called Ubuntu Touch, which you can instal in your device by connecting it to your computer and stepping through the dialog boxes.

Aren’t there any laptops with Ubuntu pre-installed?

The guys at TechRadar are big fans of System76 exclusively Linux laptops, which all come with its own inhouse version of Ubuntu (POP!_OS) already installed, but you have the option of downloading the most up to date version of Ubuntu yourself, which is a rapid, painless process. They are phenomenally powerful machines—you get 64G RAM and 12TB storage on the System76 Serval WS, for example.

Their upsides: they’re powerful and fast, like a cross between a packhorse and a racehorse. Downsides: they’re somewhat pricey and not available on Amazon.

Do I have to install Linux on Chromebooks? I thought Chromebooks were Linux-based anyway?

They’re Linux-based, yes, but with their own language. But, yes, you do need to installLinux. The good news is that it’s very, very easy. The guys at UbuntuPit can help.

Last update on 2020-12-03 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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