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Linux Computer Maker System76 To Move Manufacturing To the US (opensource.com) 136

An anonymous reader shares a report: Linux computer manufacturer System76 made its mark in part because of its commitment to open source principles and doing what it believes is right. Last year it released its homegrown Linux, Pop!_OS. In early March, System76 founder Carl Richell tweeted about the company's plans to locate its computer manufacturing factory in Denver, Colorado. By moving its manufacturing from China to the United States, System76 is offering more proof that it's not afraid to buck prevailing tech norms to do things "the System76 way." Carl Richell, founder and CEO of System76, says in a Twitter exchange that they anticipate shipping products from the factory by the end of the year.

Linux Computer Maker System76 To Move Manufacturing To the US

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  • All the parts, will still be manufactured elsewhere.
    • Re: (Score:3, Funny)

      by Anonymous Coward

      what, do you want them to fab their own chips in house or something?

      • by Luthair ( 847766 )
        Its hard to see what they will actually be doing to "manufacturer" computers when its generally known their laptops have all been designed and built by other companies like Clevo.
        • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @01:09PM (#56413147)

          Did you RTFA?

          Don Watkins: Why are you building a factory in the United States when so much is offshored?

          Louisa Bisio: Over the last 12 years, we've developed every capability, capital-wise, that an organically grown hardware company can. We can make careful and deliberate choices about hardware and our product line. We can customize all parts of the software stack from the firmware level to the operating system experience. But today, we can't design and manufacture our products.

          It's similar to how Tesla used a Lotus chassis for their first car. Like the Roadster, the outside of our computers might look similar to others, but it's the inside that counts. The strategy was cash-efficient and allowed us to focus on developing high-value areas of the company. However, knowing what we wanted to build—but without the means to do so—left us constantly yearning.

          Chris Short: Where are systems being built before the factory opens?

          LB: Current products are produced from a global supply chain with much of the manufacturing concentrated in China. Final assembly, OS imaging, and QC testing are in Colorado and California.

          Sure, they could be lying, but it seems pretty obvious what their plans are here.

          • by Luthair ( 847766 )
            For years they've often made claims that their hardware was custom - in short, I won't believe them until they actually ship something that isn't from an OEM.
            • For years they've often made claims that their hardware was custom - in short, I won't believe them until they actually ship something that isn't from an OEM.

              Sure, the processor chips will be one of the major brands, but having custom production runs for other makers, franchises, etc is bread-&-butter work for many manufacturing facilities. This is particularly true for many foreign manufacturers.

              The new guitar distortion pedal I just bought made in China has a board inside identical to several other brands of distortion pedals. They use a single generic 'type-X distortion circuit' PCB and fill it with the appropriate parts for the features desired for that

              • by Luthair ( 847766 )

                Sure, the processor chips will be one of the major brands, but having custom production runs for other makers, franchises, etc is bread-&-butter work for many manufacturing facilities. This is particularly true for many foreign manufacturers.

                What? They are literally just installing software and slapping a sticker on existing sager & clevo laptops today and have referred to them as custom.

          • That doesn't explain why it needs to be assembled/manufactured in America vs China.
            They may want more control of their process. Having your own assembly line can help this, and often it is actually cheaper to build in America especially if their product has a higher tolerance levels. But it doesn't mean it cannot be done in China and just as well.
            Mostly I expect it is just a political thing, where they can show they are a solid American company.

      • No, but until the chip, display, battery, circuit card, and other component manufacturers move back (though especially the ones that require real science and tech), the US doesn't manufacture computers, it assembles them. The computer is what's inside, not the case. I've run computers without a case before.

        On their side, after carefully reading the article, this isn't just "final" assembly - it is a hair past that. They are already doing something they are calling final assembly in this country. There are i

        • You'd need to exempt raw materials from that. To take an extreme example, jewelry production cost is dominated by the price of the precious metals... I think most people would agree that a handmade ring from New York was made in the USA even if the gold ingot came from South Africa.

          • Maybe... I'd agree if there are no known reserves here that that could be an exclusion. But, contrary to what we've been guided to believe, we have large deposits of virtually everything we need at home. We just choose not to develop them. I think that is a combination of NIMBY and a strategic move to manipulate via NIMBY to maintain our reserves while using those of others.

            • Even if the US had large deposits of gold, the value added on a ring is the manual labor - not the cost of the raw materials.

              Actually, I think I stumbled upon the solution. Measure the value added, just like the Europeans do to calculate their VAT. If the value-added to the consumer is greater than 50%, it's 'Murican.

              • Yes. I was just saying that you can't exempt the raw materials because the labor to get the raw materials could be performed in the US in nearly all cases. Even in the cases of the rare metals everyone panics about, we have large deposits of most that we choose not to admit exist.
                • The problem with this is that the raw material source can't be traced after the initial mining operation. If I make things out of recycled aluminum or steel, I have literally no idea where those elements came from. I could make the exact same widget out of recycled aluminum one day and "fresh" aluminum straight from America's finest bauxite mines the next and I'd need to use two different labels. I don't think that's a meaningful distinction.

              • Europe is now getting close to the point where the value added tax is more expensive than the actual value added, though.
      • Well if they did that we'd have to call them the successor to Commodore.
    • by Anonymous Coward

      That's like saying Ford doesn't manufacture cars because they source parts from all the world.

      By this logic nobody can possibly manufacture anything unless you're in the mining or petroleum businesses.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Intel chips are made mostly in Oregon and Arizona.

      • Perhaps, it changes year to year, but the wafers are then shipped overseas to be cut-up and packaged.

      • Many of their chipsets are made in malaysia, or were when I worked there.

    • True, but the perfect is the enemy of the good in this case, and one has to start somewhere. It would be nice if everything can be made in the US, but one only can do so much, and this is a lot better than just buying something from a Chinese OEM/ODM and "badge engineering" the product.

      • by tlhIngan ( 30335 )

        True, but the perfect is the enemy of the good in this case, and one has to start somewhere. It would be nice if everything can be made in the US, but one only can do so much, and this is a lot better than just buying something from a Chinese OEM/ODM and "badge engineering" the product.

        So System76 is not doing anything that every other white box computer maker in the US is doing. There are plenty of companies who assemble computers in the US - they range in size from mom and pop computer shops selling their

    • by timjones ( 78467 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @02:15PM (#56413631) Homepage

      Read the article. They understand, as should YOU, that you can't just suddenly start manufacturing every last part immediately. They'll take back what they can, AS they are able.

      Did you expect them to make the CPUs and the hard drives and the screens all on day one? Is that realistic for anyone in the hardware business, even an Apple or Samsung?

      At least System76 is making more of an effort than anyone else, and open-sourcing it along the way. That's way more than Lenovo, HP or any other major brand is doing.

      • Did you expect them to make the CPUs and the hard drives and the screens all on day one?

        Do you expect them to ever given the amount of pull they have in the market? Comparing them to Apple is being disingenuous.

        At least System76 is making more of an effort than anyone else

        No they really aren't. System76 are a niche market player not competing with general purpose computing on raw cost and are in the best position to be able to do whatever the hell they want for manufacturer. It's a nice token move, but hardly a resemblance of effort. A better question would be, given their products and market position why weren't they assembling in the USA in the first p

      • Except for Apple already doing assembly on some models in Texas for a few years now on some systems, and announcing plans a couple months ago to spend billions moving more manufacturing and assembly back on-shore. [venturebeat.com]

        Sure, the number of Mac Pro systems is probably pathetically small for a company like Apple (especially since it's ass-old and stupidly priced), but System76 is hardly a major OEM cranking out millions of units either.

        So what is unique in what was announced here today, and how it's "way more" than

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I wish you well on your mad quest. Good luck!
    (Also will we maybe see an open source laptop from you too?)

  • What's the advantage of manufacturing them in the US? Higher price?
    • Easier to prepare for retirement when you live near where you plan to retire.
    • Mebbe stop trolling and RTFA?

    • by pz ( 113803 )

      Better quality control when either (a) you employ the people doing the manufacturing and can say, "make it better or I'll find someone else who can to take your job," or (b) you use a domestic service that you can stomp over to and say, "make it better or we go to your competitor."

      In my laboratory, we do light manufacturing. We bring in supplies that are either domestically or foreign (read: Chinese) and do the work in house. It isn't cheaper in dollars spent, but it is cheaper in time because I don't hav

    • What's the advantage of manufacturing them in the US? Higher price?

      It's hard to get more expensive than System76 already is. Home of $900 desktop towers with 250 GB hard drives and 8 GB RAM.

      • And last I looked, their laptops looked really big and bulky too. I was seriously considering them, but the Dell Precision was just better all around. Ubuntu installed and working on boot too!

    • by gweihir ( 88907 )

      Probably easier for the NSA to force in their back-doors. I guess they have something juicy on the CEO and forced that change of location.

    • by jbo5112 ( 154963 )

      For some items, the shipping cost outweighs any savings from manufacturing overseas. There are other things to look at too: cost of regulatory compliance (i.e. how many pounds of paperwork to prove you aren't hurting the environment), tax rates, etc.

      With lower taxes, less regulation, and the cheaper shipping, it could be cheaper to manufacture in the US.

  • I'd wager that they "manufacture" so few units now that the logistics of dealing with a Chinese manufacturer to even give them the time of day is getting so hard, and the actual DOLLAR savings so little (no economies of scale to speak of), that it just doesn't matter, when they can just go order their next month's supplies from NewEgg or Fry's and be done with it.

    It matters to companies like Apple, HP, Acer, Lenovo, etc.; because I'd bet they EACH sell more product in a DAY than System76 does in a YEAR.

    So,

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Rubbish. It matters - and if you care about jobs in the US, then vote with your wallet and buy System76 products. That is the *only* way things can change - persuade people to buy American instead of Chinese, even if it means buying less stuff.
  • Does anyone here have any experience with their POP!_OS flavor of Linux? I'm getting tired of waiting for Apple to remember that it is (was?) in the computer business and am looking to come back to Linux. I like the System76 hardware, but I'm not sure what distro to use (I used CentOS last time out).
    • I have it on a machine I bought from them in November. It's mostly just a minimalist Ubuntu distro that comes with the System76 firmware and an custom "app store" style interface for apt-get.

      I like it, but it's hard to really think of it as a distinct distro yet.

      I gather they have plans to build more customization into it over time though.

    • I was in the same boat with Apple last year. Went with a Dell Precision through the small business part of their site, came with Ubuntu installed. No complaints at all. There a few quirks, but nothing like some of the crap Apple is doing with OSX. And it was 2x the hardware for about 1/2 the price of the new MBPs.

  • Personally, I don't understand why somebody would go with them. Their prices are significantly more than what you would pay for a similar Windows computer with a major manufacturer (Dell, Lenovo, HP etc.) You might as well just buy a laptop off a major manufacturer and wipe the disk. I know that still means that Microsoft gets a chunk of money, and you may be against that, but the large price premium makes it a hard stance to take. The desktop makes even less sense as you can just build a desktop yourself

    • by FictionPimp ( 712802 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @01:25PM (#56413281) Homepage

      Or buy a dell with ubuntu pre-installed.

    • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @01:29PM (#56413303)

      System76 laptops are built and certified with Linux. If you buy a Windows laptop somewhere else, you're rolling the dice on Linux compatibility. And they actually care about usability, ensuring enough accessory ports.

    • In Nancy Kress' Nebula and Hugo Award winning story, you see the opponents of the scientific advance choosing to pay more for worse technology as a gesture of solidarity against the non-sleepers. This appears to be the same action, which at best can be spun as such resistance, and at worst is sheer xenophobia.

    • 1. I knew everything in it was going to work with Linux out of the box, rather then all my linux using friends who always seem to have pieces of hardware that never work even though they should
      2. Being in a niche sometimes means you have to pay more than the mass market does. But if you don't support your niche, it eventually gets abandoned.

  • Good for them (Score:5, Informative)

    by tobiasly ( 524456 ) on Tuesday April 10, 2018 @01:30PM (#56413315) Homepage

    Wow, tough crowd in here. If you RTFA (yeah I know, bear with me here) they seem very sincere about pushing forward the state of open source computer systems. No, they may not be fabbing their own chips or using your favorite Linux distro, but I'd think the Slashdot crowd would be more receptive of another player putting significant skin in the game.

    I bought my dad one of their "Meerkat nettop" devices (IIRC), must have been 10 years ago now. I was tired of the endless phone calls about whatever Windows problem he was having that month. Yeah, I could have built him something for cheaper but having something supported by a real company was quite attractive and I felt much better about recommending that he spend his money with them as opposed to, say, Dell, where MS gets a cut.

    It's been wonderful. Support calls have dropped to almost nothing. Once I had to reinstall Ubuntu when whatever LTS it came with ended support. But he still uses that system to this day, checking email and browsing the web.

    Thank you, System76, for showing us that a real company can make real Linux-based consumer products and be successful. Best of luck on your new facility. Too bad your systems are so reliable, or I'm sure I'd be recommending my dad buy another one by now.

    • I might buy one of these just to encourage them!
      And, it's about time I checked out Linux again...

    • Wow, tough crowd in here. If you RTFA (yeah I know, bear with me here) they seem very sincere about pushing forward the state of open source computer systems. No, they may not be fabbing their own chips or using your favorite Linux distro, but I'd think the Slashdot crowd would be more receptive of another player putting significant skin in the game.

      Just because they are good in one area doesn't mean they deserve praise in all, and likewise note that no one is criticizing their products, quite the opposite they are actually praised here.

      What is being criticized is the fact that being in the unique position of offering a niche product not competing on cost, they a) should not have outsourced to the lowest bidder in the first place, and b) not be praised for what is actually not a hell of a lot of effort on their behalf.

    • I thought System76 were just like Sager [sagernotebook.com] - a reseller of Clevo systems :
      LPC Digital [lpc-digital.com], reseller
      xoticPC [xoticpc.com], reseller

      • by HiThere ( 15173 )

        Those seem to be MSWind machines. I'm not going to trust them not to need drivers that aren't available for Linux. Even if they use the same manufacturer, this doesn't mean they need the same drivers.

  • Otherwise it gets really tedious to replace all those BIOSes. Now they can just use an NSL or secret law to do it.

    • Otherwise it gets really tedious to replace all those BIOSes. Now they can just use an NSL or secret law to do it.

      Yeah, instead of Chinese rootkits, now you can get Chinese and American rootkits.

      Maybe there's still time to relocate to Germany or Switzerland before the Europeans decide to stop buying.

  • we do it better ;-) Fully automatic install in case the use trashed his Linux. Pop in the included usb, connect a wired network and enjoy your fresh install with the latest updates and drivers. Every function is working even when the kernel release changes, we develop on time and keep pace.

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