Ubuntu MATE Announces A Partnership With A PC Hardware Vendor

Written by Michael Larabel in Ubuntu on 2 July 2015 at 09:15 AM EDT. 6 Comments
Ubuntu MATE, the spin of Ubuntu that ships with the popular fork of the GNOME 2 desktop environment, has announced a hardware partnership in shipping their distribution pre-loaded on a "free software friendly and 100% blobless Linux driver" PC.

The partnership Ubuntu MATE announced today is in conjunction with small retailer LibreTrend, the makers of Linux friendly hardware with their only current model being the LibreBox. The LibreBox is designed to run Linux out-of-the-box with blob-free Linux drivers. The partnership today allows customers to order hardware from LibreTrend with Ubuntu MATE pre-installed as an option -- the other choices offered by LibreTrend are the FSF-approved Trisquel Linux or getting your PC with no operating system pre-installed.

LibreTrend is based out of Portugal and began with the LibreBox in 2013. According to today's announcement, other hardware is expected in the months ahead. According to their website, they are also trying to get into hosting and domain registration, website creation, app creation, and system administration.

For Ubuntu MATE users, before getting too excited about the LibreBox, the specs aren't really competitive unless you're explicitly looking for a low-power, low-end system. The LibreBox is equipped with an Intel Celeron 1037U (Haswell, 1.8GHz, 17 Watt TDP) dual-core processor with HD Graphics, 1 x SO-DIMM DDR3 memory slot, support for three hard drives (2 x 2.5-inch SATA and 1 x mSATA), and WiFi. The chassis is interesting with allowing up to three hard drives in the systems, but at the same time the potential is rather crippled with just having one DDR3 memory slot, a dual-core Celeron, and just one Ethernet port (there goes the potential for this three-drive system being a nice network hub). Going for a Bay Trail or Broadwell design would have also been more power efficient and potentially faster. It's also not mentioned whether this system uses Coreboot as an alternative to a proprietary BIOS, but given it's a Haswell system from a small company, there's slim chances.

Additionally, the price is rather high for the specs. In configuring a LibreBox with 4GB of RAM and just one 500GB HDD, the price comes out to 349€ for this dual-core Celeron box. Unless you're buying it to just support a free software friendly firm and Ubuntu MATE, I'd rather just buy an Intel NUC or a bare-bone Celeron 1037U setup for a lower-cost while still being able to run the Linux distribution of your choice, blob-free.

Hopefully the Ubuntu MATE and LibreTrend crew will be able to put out some other interesting hardware at a competitive price in the near future while their announcement today can be commended as another advancement for this popular community-focused distribution and another push for Linux hardware.

More details can be found via today's Ubuntu MATE statement.
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Michael Larabel is the principal author of Phoronix.com and founded the site in 2004 with a focus on enriching the Linux hardware experience. Michael has written more than 20,000 articles covering the state of Linux hardware support, Linux performance, graphics drivers, and other topics. Michael is also the lead developer of the Phoronix Test Suite, Phoromatic, and OpenBenchmarking.org automated benchmarking software. He can be followed via Twitter, LinkedIn, or contacted via MichaelLarabel.com.

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