It may still be a bit early for the ubiquitous end-of-year story looking back at 2012, but even now, it seems safe to say that the “Linux preloaded” trend will surely go down in history as a big part of what has characterized this year in desktop computing.
Back in July, we recounted a few of the Linux-preloaded options that had emerged in recent months, and since then many more have appeared.
Think Linux is just a hobbyist's platform for manual installation by experts who already know it well? Think again. As the following examples show, vendors are increasingly selling it preloaded and ready to go as a compelling Windows 8 alternative.
1. System76 Sable Complete
Fans of Linux in general and Ubuntu in particular are no doubt already familiar with System76, and late last month the company released its Sable Complete all-in-one Ubuntu desktop starting at $749.
With a 21.5-inch, high-definition 1080p display, this new desktop PC features edge-to-edge glass and aluminum trim along with quad-core, third-generation Intel Core i5 or i7 processors and Intel High-Definition 2500 or 4000 graphics.
2. System76 Bonobo Extreme
Even more recently, System76 unwrapped its 17.3-inch Bonobo Extreme, a high-performance Ubuntu laptop featuring what the company calls the “world's fastest” mobile GPUs as well as memory capacities of up to 32GB, as much as 3TB of storage and a 3rd generation Intel Core i7 CPU. Pricing starts at $1,499.
Then, too, there are new options preloaded with Linux Mint available through that distro's new online store. Offered via a partnership with ThinkPenguin, these new desktops start at $249 while notebooks are priced from $499. Either way, 10 percent of the purchase price goes towards the Linux Mint project.
4. Asus F201E
Looking a bit further back, we've also seen Asus launch not just one but two laptops with an Ubuntu Linux option. First, there's the Asus F201E with an 11.6-inch HD display, a 1.1GHz Intel Sandy Bridge dual-core Intel Celeron 847, and an Intel HD 4000 integrated video subsystem. With 4GB of RAM and a 500GB hard drive, this device is priced at 299 euros, or about $382 -- considerably cheaper, it's worth noting, than the Windows 8 equivalent.
5. Asus X201E
The Asus X201E, meanwhile, is a lower-end version of the F201E that features a 1.1 GHz Intel Celeron 847, 2GB of DDR3 RAM and a 320GB hard drive. Pricing was expected to be in the vicinity of $315 and the computers are now available through select online stores.
Last but not least, there's the Diablotek U310 all-in-one PC-in-a-keyboard now available for $199.99 on Amazon. Featuring an Intel Atom D525 1.8GHz dual-core processor as well as 1MB L2 cache and 2.5 GT/s DMI, this device includes 2GB DDR3 RAM along with a 500GB SATA 2.5-inch hard drive. Ubuntu Linux is the operating system that comes preloaded.
Linux-preloaded PCs may not yet be in every corner computer store, but there's no doubt the options are increasing rapidly. For those who wish for a Linux PC every holiday season, 2012 may be the year that wish finally comes true.