California-based ZaReason started selling Linux computers in 2007 and for more than a decade the company remained one of a fairly small number of businesses to exclusively sell desktop and notebook computers powered by GNU/Linux software.

Now ZaReason is closing up shop for good. A message posted to the company’s website notes that ZaReason “is no longer in business” as of November 24, 2020.

According to the message, the pandemic dealt a final blow to a company that was already struggling. ZaReason was having trouble keeping up with customer support requests, and had seen its product lineup shrink in recent years.

For the most part ZaReason’s computers had been OEM devices loaded with Linux rather than Windows. For example the ZaReason Zini 1550 mini-desktop computer I reviewed in 2015 was a rebranded Intel NUC with a custom lid featuring the ZaReason label and a choice of Ubuntu, Debian, Fedora, CentOS, or Linux Mint operating systems.

But it was nice to be able to buy a computer without worrying about missing drivers or other bugs that may pop up when you try installing a Linux distribution on your own.

With the company going out of business, ZaReason says it will no longer be able to offer any sort of official support. Warranties are now void, returns and repairs will not be processed. And there’s no official technical support.

But one of the nice things about buying a computer running free and open source software is that there’s no shortage of community-based support including forums, chats, and social media groups. And existing customers who are unhappy with the operating system that came with with their computer (the company used to offer a choice of various Linux distros), can always download and install the operating system of their choice as a replacement.

Meanwhile if you’re in the market for a new PC that comes with Linux pre-installed, there are a growing number of options. For example, System76 has been around for years, Star Labs has a couple of interesting laptops, and Purism has been making interesting moves in this space (including launching one of the first Linux smartphones).

In Europe, there’s Tuxedo Computers and SlimBook (which also sells Windows computers).

And major PC makers including Dell, Lenovo, and HP offer a number of systems with Linux these days as well.

via Tux Machines and Phoronix

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  1. This is a sad development. Installing Linux on laptops was enough of a pain that I was glad to have someone do it for me. I bought several laptops and a NUC from them. It was a good company.

  2. All of these “Linux friendly” PC sellers are waaaay over-priced. Star Labs has the Star Lite Mk III 11.6″ laptop with a Pentium 5000 and a real SSD, which is interesting, but even that is over-priced starting at at a whopping $452.00.

  3. Selling expensive computers with Linux pre-installed doesn’t seem like a practical business model. Linux and BSD have always been the hacker’s OS and half the fun of running them is getting them working exactly the way you want it. It might be useful in a business environment, though.

  4. I recently bought a System76 desktop for video work, as my 8 year old homebrew was rendering too slowly. I can certainly vouch for their customer service – the Ethernet port on the motherboard failed after a few days (these things happen), and they promptly built another in exchange at their expense. Kudos!

    I compared pricing to a high-end Dell with Windows, for which I would need to set up Linux myself, but the price difference was negligible. I’d rather support freedom-friendly companies with my money.

    Now if I could just find a really good keyboard with Tux or Gnu on the super key.

  5. So sad to hear this. The writing was on the wall for a few years though based on the condition of the website.

    I think a few years ago, System76 and ZaReason were battling for the same niche space. System76 kind of pulled ahead and in the process forced ZaReason to start scaling back.

    A good defense is a strong offense. This was the System76 approach, methinks.

    Snowball effect later…

  6. That’s too bad. I always liked the Zareason Linux laptops. I also liked how the offered a choice of operating systems. But I hesitated to buy one because of the $900+ price tag. I ended up buying a refurbished Dell laptop for $200 instead, and installed Linux Mint Xfce myself.

    1. I have purchased one system preinstalled with Linux. It was a System76 Galago pro. I know I paid a little bit more for it, but wanted to support the company. With Linux improvements I rarely run into issues with drivers anymore so I never bother worrying about compatibility. In recent years, this has made me purchase very inexpensive Windows laptops and just install Linux overtop.

      While I hope to go back to buying Linux preinstalled hardware the supply of cheap Windows laptops has made it difficult to justify.

      Just my opinion.