System76 & Kubuntu 13.04

My wife and I are 25 year Mac users. We have about 5 or 7 Apple computers in the house. Everyone in the family owns at least one iPhone. Since 1986 I have been a self-confessed Apple Fan Boy.

This week I set up the first non-Apple computer we have had for regular use, a System76 Ratel Performance. Bottom line up front (BLUF): I am surprised at how good the experience has been. I cannot wait to order my laptop from System76.

In addition to the computer I bought a Logitech K360 keyboard, a Logitech M325 mouse, a Wacom intuos 5 touch medium tablet and a Dell U2412M monitor. I also planned to install Kubuntu 13.04, replacing System76’s supported Ubuntu OS. I had everything working in about 90 minutes, including the OS install and updating.

Everything was plug and play. The keyboard, mouse, and tablet worked right out of the box with both Ubuntu as it was installed on the Ratel when it arrived and again on Kubuntu once I completed the install. Additionally, the Epson Workforce 600 that we already had worked without modification, printer and the scanner. When I say everything was plug and play, all of the drivers were already there. I did not install drivers, the OS did not hit the Net to find and install additional software. It was all there.

There are a few things I would do different. The Logitech peripherals use the Logitech Unity wireless protocol. Ubuntu does not appear to provide the software tools need to add devices to a Unity dongle. In the future, I will probably replace the Logitech Unity devices with Bluetooth devices so that I can manage them entirely through Ubuntu. I had to connect the Unity dongle to my MacBook to get the keyboard and mouse working on the same dongle.

I would get the Asus PA246Q instead of the Dell U2412M. They get pretty equal reviews and the Asus has an HDMI connector which should provide a better video signal.

While I am very happy with the System76 computer, System76 sales question responses were not terribly helpful. Their answer to every question I asked started with disclaimers. I asked if the Ratel could be expected to work with the Dell U2412M monitor. “While we do not test individual monitors, I would expect the monitor to work as you’d expect.” However, I have been using a System76 Meerkat NetTop at work for 2 years with excellent performance.


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