I’ve been looking at the recent System76 Gazelle laptop, which boasts a i7-12700H 12th gen cpu (24 MB, 14 cores), RTX 3060 (3 external monitors plus laptop screen), 64 gb of DDR4 ram, 17.3" 1080p screen, pre-installed Coreboot, and a pretty good overall design.
Although the processor and graphics cards aren’t compatible with Qubes 4.1.1, I was planning on purchasing the laptop and setting it aside for 2-3 years, with the very reasonable expectation that Qubes will be compatible with this hardware by then. Think of it as me buying a laptop now and putting it in a time capsule.
I’m buying this now, as opposed to buying it in 2-3 years when it will be cheaper, is because I wanna guarantee that it’s in mint condition. I also don’t know if I’ll be able to find it then, since System76 regularly upgrades the hardware it the right one might not be on eBay or another seller then.
However, I understand that this is just one of many options. Whichever laptop I choose, it must have at least 64 GB of RAM (at least DDR4), M.2 or NVMe compatible sockets, a +16 inch screen, support at least 3 external monitors, support Qubes, and support Coreboot (must be on their compatibility list). I’m not looking at Starlabs because their laptops don’t support 4 displays. I’m also not considering Purism for now because of their poor build qualities and bad customer service (although your personal situation may differ, this is generally how things go, I’m not interested in hearing how you got lucky with your purchase).
Should I make the investment today and pick up the System76 Gazelle, or should I get another laptop? If so, which one? Would it be worth it to wait a few years to see what’s available then?
I saw a few cases of those situations happening recently
System76 / Pop! OS finds a bug (where ‘find’ often means that they confirm an existing upstream bug is impacting their OS version)
They write a patch or workaround, include it in their package but don’t upstream the change/fix (or just drop a .patch labelled as workaround in a comment rather than submitting it for proper review)
Later-on they start commenting on the upstream (Ubuntu, GNOME, …) bugs trackers, pointing out to users that the issue has been addressed in Pop! OS, advertising how they care about users and that’s why they got the problem solved in their OSSystem76 / Pop! OS team, while you should be proud of the work you do for you users I think you are going the wrong way there. Working on fixes and including them early in your product is one thing, not upstreaming those fixes and using that for marketing you as better than your upstreams is a risky game.
I see no reason why popOS should exist, it is a marketing spectacle for a bunch of fixes and UI changes that could be independent software packages or contributed to Ubuntu… I digress.
The laptops sold by System76 are generally purchased whitelabel from a company called Clevo. I was going to purchase from System76 but this article persuaded me to buy direct instead.
Purchasing any technology with the thought of a possible future use is not recommended. Being in the tech field and seeing the overnight package that was just delivered already out-of-date shows that predicting the future, especially in tech field, is hard. Much better to see what the future brings, including Qubes, rather than trying to ensure an easily reproducible component condition.
… but I’d say (I already did, actually) that in my threat model I’d rather be spied by Chinese 3LAs than 14-eyes-3LAs. But, when I don’t see the forest because of a tree, I tend to step back - I could say IBM collaborated with Nazis during WWII, a s well as for Japanese concentration camps and on a USA governments request?!
Or, should I mention Intel ME? ME(h)…
You can try asking that person if they managed to install Qubes, but judging from the problems with Oryx I wouldn’t be surprised if there are more problems than just getting the installer to work.
I wouldn’t buy a laptop just see if it works a couple of years from now, there is a chance time doesn’t solve all problems. It’s your money, but System76 might discontinue the laptop before it gets fixed, and you could be stuck with a laptop that is never going to work properly.