Review: System 76 Pangolin Performance laptop PC

The System 76 Pangolin Performance laptop is for the business (or home user) who needs a fair amount of power, plenty of room for expansion, but doesn't need the most powerful graphics for games or video rendering.

Business thrives on mobile computing. And with mobile computing comes a need for solid, reliable, secure hardware. What better match for the on the go professional than a laptop with the power to handle any task, an operating system secure enough to work on the road, and an infrastructure offering multiple lines of support. The System 76 Pangolin Performance laptop is all that and more.

Specifications (Baseline; can be upgraded at purchase time)

  • Operating system: Ubuntu 9.04
  • CPU: Core Duo T3400 2.16GHz, 667MHz FSB, 1MB L2 (editor)
  • Display: 15.4" WXGA (1280 x 800) or 15.4" WSXGA+ (1680 x 1050)
  • Graphics: 512 MB DDR2 nVidia GeForce G105M
  • Audio Output: Intel High Definition Audio
  • Networking: Gigabit LAN (10/100/1000), WiFi
  • Wireless: 802.11 a,b,g,n and Bluetooth
  • Expansion: Express Card 34/54 slot
  • Ports: VGA, HDMI, 3 x USB 2.0, eSata Port, Headphone Jack, Microphone Jack, S/PDIF Output Jack, SD Reader
  • Camera: Built-In 2.0 MP Webcam
  • Security: Fingerprint Reader (beta), Kensington Lock
  • Power Management: Suspend & Hibernate
  • Battery: includes one 6 Cell Lithium Ion
  • AC Adapter: includes one AC adapter
  • Dimensions: 14.13" x 10.55" x 1.46" (WxDxH)
  • Weight: 5.8 lbs
  • Price: $759 base price
  • Additional information

Who's it for?

The Pangolin performance is for the business (or home user) who needs a fair amount of power, plenty of room for expansion, but doesn't need the most powerful graphics for games or video rendering. Thanks to the use of Ubuntu, this laptop is perfectly suited for the mobile business user who needs the security to be able to get online anywhere without having to worry about being hacked. And with Ubuntu 9.04 powering the laptop, the Pangolin will blow away similar machines when it comes to performance.

What problem does it solve?

The Pangolin Performance (as well as any other System 76 machine) solves a problem that has left many Linux wanna-be users from migrating to the Linux operating system. System 76 ships PCs with a perfect marriage between hardware and operating system. And the Pangolin Performance highlights this perfectly. With both the fingerprint reader and the webcam working out of the box, the Pangolin gives the user an out of the box experience that will have them asking "Why haven't I tried this before?"

Standout Features

  • Components: The obvious standout feature is the marriage between the hardware and the operating system. The Ubuntu 9.04 operating system shows off the power of the laptop as well as the usability and speed of Linux.
  • Hardware style: With a keyboard that would make even an Apple Macbook user envious and lines that are as clean as any laptop on the market, you will know you have something special.
  • Pre-configured: Both the fingerprint reader and the webcam are items that might have new Linux users losing their hair trying to get to work correctly. With the Pangolin Performance, these items work out of the box.
  • Display: The Pangolin has a beautiful screen with little glare and brilliant images.

What's Wrong?

The only nit to pick with this machine is not really a System 76 issue, but a GNOME/Linux issue. Although the fingerprint reader works out of the box, it is not well integrated into the desktop and operating system. The system will eventually work as expected, with many developers working on such systems, but out of the box, the user might be disappointed when they realize they are better off not bothering with this feature until there is a more seamless integration.

Competitive products

Bottom line for business

There have been plenty of companies attempt to deliver solid Linux-based hardware to the masses. But none have done it as well as System 76. Any company looking to upgrade their users' hardware would do well to look into this company's products. And anyone needing a powerful, cost-effective, reliable laptop should not overlook the System 76 Pangolin Performance.

User rating

Have you encountered the System 76 Pangolin Performance laptop? If so, what do you think? Rate the unit and compare the results to what other TechRepublic members think. Give your own personal review of the System 76 Pangolin Performance laptop in the TechRepublic Community Forums or let us know if you think we left anything out in our review above.

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Jack Wallen is an award-winning writer for TechRepublic and He’s an avid promoter of open source and the voice of The Android Expert. For more news about Jack Wallen, visit his website


The Sony DSC-T100 uses a custom battery Li-ion battery for power. The number of shots the camera is capable of battery life based on CIPA and / or standard test conditions of manufacturer. Usually recommend picking up a spare battery fully charged and keep it handy for long trips, but the battery of the DSC-T100 is sufficient that some users may feel the need for a second battery.


I must say that I had low expectations just bought this computer. Well, this laptop is great and I love it. Its lightweight, fast, and the resolution of the screen and has a very good. Above all reliable. I, at least buy one laptop every two years and usually wihtin the range of 1500 to 2,000.00 and up to 2800.00, but I'm tired of paying so much for what is increasingly appliance. I have to say ... I'm sold on this notebook and the price. I'm never going to spend 2k on the laptop again, the era of cheap laptops left. If you are a home user and especially if you are a business user, this computer is more than enough. I played about 100 words per minute and I also likes the keyboard action. I use a lot of spreadsheet applications, accounting software, and remote access, and often work at home and the computer works fine.


It doesn't list the specifications for the Processor or RAM...

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

Would you consider a Linux-based notebook? Are you considering one now?

Mark W. Kaelin
Mark W. Kaelin

The basic CPU is: Core Duo T3400 2.16GHz, 667MHz FSB, 1MB L2


I have an HP G50 and it is running Ubutnu 9.04, I am on it now. My old Acer Aspire was running 8.04 before it broke. It runs 8.10 now (I think or maybe I reinstalled 8.04) but you can't close it. On the Acer Bluetooth, Cardbus, and the card reader (built into the cardbus) doesn't work (the card reader will read SD cards but not xD or Memory stick like in Windows, funny thing is it reads SDHC cards in Ubuntu, but I don't think it did in Vista). Everything works on the HP Laptop. When I first got it I had to play around to get Wifi working, but in 9.04 it works out of the box, but I think the internet goes slower, unless that's just me...

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