system76_ubuntu_pcsAs Dell continues to adjust its Ubuntu system lineup, niche Ubuntu PC makers are pressing ahead with expanded Ubuntu-driven offerings. A key example: System76 has refreshed its Starling Ubuntu netbook with more memory and the company has introduced two new Ubuntu desktops. This could be the start of a busy August for Ubuntu systems: I'm expecting multiple Ubuntu netbook developments later this month.

According to System76 President Carl Richell:
Our Starling Netbooks are back in stock... and now with 2 GB of memory. We also launched two new Ubuntu desktop products. Here's the announcement:

Introducing New System76 nVidia Ion and Intel i7 Desktops

The new Meerkat Ion combines a Dual Core Hyper-Threaded Intel Atom CPU and nVidia GeForce 9400M GPU to create a powerful, energy efficient NetTop. Supporting 1080p HD video and 5.1 surround sound, the Meerkat Ion is perfect as a Boxee or MythTV appliance or as a replacement to old power-consuming desktops.

Driving Ubuntu toward gaming and content creation, the new System76 Leopard Extreme features Intel i7 CPU's, Triple Channel Kingston HyperX DDR3 memory, high performance RAID 0 options, and the fastest nVidia graphics cards available. The Leopard Extreme was designed to enable the unfettered use of Open Source games and multimedia content creation software available on Ubuntu.

Mixed Perspectives

While System76 and other niche Ubuntu PC makers march forward, there's mixed Ubuntu systems news elsewhere. Two prime examples:
  • As of August 11, Dell still had not fulfilled a July promise to introduce a new Ubuntu desktop PC. Dell's U.S. Ubuntu web site ( only lists netbooks and notebooks, and no Ubuntu desktop PC options are mentioned.
  • US Big Box retailers (Best Buy, Staples, Target, etc.) have recently distanced themselves from Linux netbooks, increasingly offering Windows XP netbooks instead.
Still, Ubuntu-centric system builders sound upbeat. Back in July, System76 said it was having trouble keeping up with Ubuntu netbook demand. And more recently, another Ubuntu PC specialist told me they plan to introduce an Ubuntu netbook (potentially in August 2009) to fulfill growing customer inquiries.

From a purely selfish point of view I'm happy to hear about the developments. I'm in the market for an Ubuntu netbook right now.

Netbooks and Ubuntu One

Many WorksWithU readers have told me to check out Dell's Inspiron Mini 10 with Ubuntu.

However, I've hesitated to purchase a Dell netbook because the preload is Ubuntu 8.04. Instead, I need Ubuntu 9.04 so that I can also test Canonical's Ubuntu One shared storage service.

Yes, I could manually upgrade a Dell 8.04 netbook to Ubuntu 9.04. But the point of purchasing Ubuntu preloaded on a netbook is to avoid immediate upgrade hassles in the first place. So, I'm taking a closer look at System76's Starling netbook (with Ubuntu 9.04 preloaded) and other third-party netbook models that will likely launch in August.

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