We look at several excellent Linux laptops that offer something for every small business—from tiny, tough, and affordable to powerhouse desktop replacements. Plus a commentary on Chromebooks.
Linux Laptops for Small Business
A Linux laptop makes sense for a small business. Not only is Linux the most secure computing platform, it's highly efficient, which means that computing power goes toward actual work instead of powering a bloated operating system.
It's also very customizable without requiring a computer science degree. You can install and remove software with the click of a button, and Linux vendors don't lard down their systems with junkware which, as we learned last year in Lenovo's SuperFish Security Gaffe delivers little value and big troubles.
You can always download Linux for free and install it yourself. However, buying a laptop preloaded with Linux ensures that you can have it customized to your specifications; it works out of the box, comes with support and a hardware warranty, and it has extended support options.
You get better quality hardware with Linux vendors; the typical discounted low-end Windows laptop is built as cheaply as possible, and depends on software hacks to do the work of hardware. It's better to spend more for better hardware; cheap hardware doesn't last, and it causes mysterious errors that are difficult to diagnose.
Finding commercial Linux vendors remains harder than it needs to be, because of Microsoft and Apple's lock on the retail chain. Dell and HP occasionally offer Linux workstations and laptops, but you can't count on their availability.
The three top independent Linux vendors are ZaReason, System76, and Emperor Linux. These first-rate shops offer great products and service, and they're the most likely to be around for the foreseeable future. Here's a sampling of excellent Linux laptops.