Galago UltraPro laptop: the good and the bad

I’ve had a Galago UltraPro laptop from System76 since August of 2013, and I use it every day at work (thank you, Vivint). Overall, I love it — but would have looked for another option had I known about the bad parts.

The good:

  1. Ships with Ubuntu by default, including drivers for the hardware.
  2. Powerful: Intel Haswell processor with the Intel Iris Pro graphics chip, which means it’s fast, and it can drive a Dell 30″ monitor (using an Apple mini display port to dual-link DVI adapter), an HDMI monitor, and the laptop screen at the same time.
  3. Small and lightweight — easy to carry around.
  4. USB 3.0
  5. The keyboard layout and function keys are designed for Linux, and they work — no tweaking necessary.
  6. The touch pad works well (although it’s not as awesome as Apple’s touchpad and gestures)

The bad:

  1. The screen is too small to use at its high resolution unless it’s sitting on my lap. So I always use external monitors when I’m sitting at my desk.
  2. No backlit keyboard.
  3. No indicators/lights for the caps lock, scroll lock and num lock keys — so you don’t know what state your keyboard is in. I hate this — it’s a huge omission.
  4. The ethernet jack door flips down, and it breaks off easily. When that happens, the ethernet cable doesn’t stay plugged in very easily. Inexcusable. It’s possible to use a USB-to-Ethernet device, but who wants to do that?

The Galago UltraPro is a fantastic Linux workstation, but it’s a poor laptop compared to most other laptops (with the exception of being lightweight) because the screen is too small, the keyboard isn’t backlit, and the lock keys lack indicator lights. A MacBook Pro Retina is a better laptop in almost every way. The screen is oh-so-beautiful, the keys are backlit, and the caps lock key tells you when it’s on (but the function key is in the wrong place — the control key should go there — what was Apple thinking?).

Why can’t Apple ship Ubuntu as an option on the MacBook Pro? It would be awesome, because they’d support the hardware with Linux drivers.

I can dream.