System76 Starling NetBook

The folks at System76 announced today that they’re launching a new high performance 15.6 inch laptop called the Pangolin. It’s a big heavy machine that I’m not particularly interested in, but when I saw the news I decided to take a peek at the company’s 10 inch Starling NetBook page and I noticed that System76 has updated the processor without changing the price.

Last year the Starling NetBook was selling for $385 with a 1.5 GHz Intel Atom N550 dual core processor. Now you can pick up the same mini-laptop for the same price with a 1.66 GHz Intel Atom N570 processor.

That price includes Ubuntu 11.04, 2GB of DDR3 memory, a 250GB hard drive, 802.11b/g/n WiFi, and a 3 cell battery. You can also configure the laptop with additional storage, a solid state disk, or a 6 cell or spare battery.

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9 replies on “System76 quietly updates Starling Linux netbook with Atom N570 chip”

  1. For about the same price at Amazon or Sears I can get an Acer Aspire AS1430Z with better than Atom Intel Pentium U5600, 1366×768 display, 3GB RAM, 320 GB hard drive, HDMI port and a copy of Windows 7 Home Premium.  I’ll wrestle with a dual boot Ubuntu install if I need it.

    1. I’ve thought about similar, cheaper-than-System76 options, and tried going that route with an HP Mini 1000 a year or two ago, but the Starling has two big things going for it in my view
      .  First, it weighs only 2.0 lb with a 3-cell battery; since I want this as a supplement to a much heavier, much more powerful MacBook Pro, I want my “auxiliary” laptop to be as light as possible, and I can live with 3 cells.  Second, it is _designed_ for Ubuntu; my HP Mini came with their “Mobile Internet Experience” Linux variant, so I figured it should be supported by an “orthodox” flavor of Linux, but when I installed Ubuntu I found that the Ethernet card wasn’t recognized under some circumstances (and therefore my IDL installation wouldn’t work, as that was tied to the Ethernet MAC address).  Fixing this required adding a kernel parameter to /boot/grub/menu.lst; this wasn’t hard, and having to manually re-add it every time I updated the kernel wasn’t hard, but diagnosing the problem and tracking down the fix in the first place was a pain in the tail.  In short, I’m willing (if I have to, i.e., if the Eee PC X101 doesn’t pan out for me) to pay more to get (1) a lighter machine that (2) won’t require reading the entrails and consulting the secret masters of Linux lore to make it work.  (BTW and FWIW, System76 also assures me that upgrading the HDD/SSD in the Starling is easy.)

  2. This looks to be a low-volume high-margin netbook; it’s for the niche market who is most productive working in a Linux environment but doesn’t want to bother with their own Linux installation.  I like how the power button is located where it’s very difficult to accidently touch it.

    For people who are willing to install their own Linux, for about $340 (Google “ASUS 1015PX-MU17-WT”) one can get a standard Windows 7 Netbook with similar specs, as well as an easy-to-install 2gb memory card.

  3. What I would really like to see is system76 or zaReason bringing out AMD e-350 based netbooks. 

    1. They might later, possible contracts with Intel not withstanding, but keep in mind no one is offering a Zacate in anything smaller than 11.6″ but Ontario options are available for 10″ systems.

      1. Well, I am in the camp that actually considers 11.6″ screens to be netbooks.  11.6″ screen, zacate and linux ought to be a sweet little box.

  4. How refreshing!  Ubuntu!  Now because they don’t have the hardware constraints enforced by the OS vendor does it have a higher display resolution option as well?  I’ll have to check these guys out…  Any chance at a review of one of their netbooks?  I wonder what their build quality is like.

    1. Nope, they’ve got 1024 x 600 pixel screens, probably because that’s what’s readily available. But the netbooks come standard with 2GB of RAM and you have a lot of options for storage. Unfortunately most of them are rather pricey, but System76 doesn’t do Linux because it’s cheap, but rather because there’s a small but niche market for people who really *want* Linux systems and want to know that they’re buying supported hardware. 

      1. I’m one of them, so this rocks.  I was just hoping for more I guess…  Not that this is bad.

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