If you're a Linux user considering a new machine, you might be tempted to just buy a standard computer and install Linux on it, irrespective of the operating system it came with.
There are several reasons you might want to seek out a computer with Linux preinstalled. Let's take a look at some of them.
1. Your Hardware Will Actually Work
The biggest reason to buy a PC with Linux preinstalled when you can is that you'll know all of the hardware you paid for will actually work with Linux. The manufacturers and distro developers will test the preinstalled distro to make sure that the system is compatible with the hardware.
This is important with laptops as some components have been tricky to get working with Linux. For many years, Wi-Fi cards were troublesome for Linux users. Since one of the selling points of laptops is that they're portable, this was particularly frustrating.
Nowadays, power management is a big issue. More laptops include fingerprint readers as an alternative to logging in via password, but again this tends to mostly work under Windows.
2. Manufacturer Support
How many times has this happened to you? You have a problem with your hardware, but when you get in touch with the manufacturer, they tell you they can't help because they only support Windows, and Windows works perfectly fine with that piece of hardware.
With a preinstalled Linux computer, you'll get support from the manufacturer if you run into trouble. While you could rely on community support, manufacturer support will be better because the company has tested the machine and will in theory know about any potential trouble spots, adding them to their knowledge base.
3. It Tells Manufacturers That Linux Is Important
Today, preinstalled Linux machines are limited to manufacturers that specialize in such systems like System76, or expensive workstations catering to developers and data scientists like those from Dell or Lenovo.
On the low end, Chromebooks are popular, but these systems deemphasize Linux in favor of ease of use. You can install a Linux environment on a Chromebook, so you could consider one if your needs are simple.
In the Market for a New PC? Consider Getting One With Linux Pre-Installed
If PCs with Linux preinstalled sell well, it will convince manufacturers to offer more of them to general users, and for more PC makers to offer them in turn.
Think of it as a vote with your wallet for the Linux desktop ecosystem. While the operating system may be open source, the firmware might still be proprietary. Read on for more on how you can find a truly open-source PC if you really want one.