Buying Your First Dedicated Linux PC

Today Cheryl writes in,

Hello Matt,

I’m wondering about buying computers for Linux. I have had Macs for the last ten years, and I know folks like to bash them, but I have had zero problems running Linux with them. I’m now totally committed to Linux, and it doesn’t matter to me if it runs the Mac OS or not, so I’m wondering about the best approach for finding an affordable machine for photo editing, video editing and noodling around. I mainly use Linux Mint, but I’ve been known to distro hop and currently have partitions with Manjaro, Solus and Ubuntu Mate too.

I’m a non-rich, if not starving, artist, so I need to learn how to approach affordable hardware that will run well (which translates to how to have the best possible machine for $600-700, laptop or desktop, either way). I’m all in favor of the folks like System 76 who build for Linux, but they are a bit out of my price range at the moment. I know there are lots of cheap windows machines, but most of those specs aren’t as good as my 2011 Macbook Air… And I hear stories about Windows hardware locking things down so Linux can’t be installed, which is pretty scary too.

Any advice about places to buy from or resources to use for system building?

Thank you, good penguin sir!

Hi Cheryl,

I totally hear you on the Mac front. My spouse is a Mac user and it suits her desire to “just get things done” quite well. It’s not for me, but I understand the desire to use Apple products. Heck I’m typing this article on my wife’s Macbook Pro running Ubuntu MATE (it’s set to dual-boot). You own a 2011 Air – you could potentially dual-boot Linux and OS X on it.

Now getting back to your main point about finding an affordable Linux PC, let me ask you this – do you still own any of those Macs? Are any of those Macs Intel-based? If you can answer yes to both questions, then perhaps the solution is to consider re-branding these older Macs into working Linux machines. Even a Mac with two GB of RAM could be used to give you a fairly decent Linux box. The more RAM however, the better. (Read the rest)