System76 Shows off First Images of Its Virgo Linux Laptop Design
Consumer Linux hardware pioneer System76 is preparing its first fully in-house designed laptop. The company, codenamed “Virgo”, wants to move beyond whitebook customizer status to offer a range of fully bespoke Linux portable products. As the founder and CEO of System76, his System76 touches on this important milestone in the evolution of the company Carl Richellposted some images of the prototype parts on Twitter.
“Virgo” is the codename for the laptops that are manufactured at the Denver factory. This is an LCD “A” panel milled from thin 6061 aluminum bar stock. pic.twitter.com/hon88Ia5NnApril 4, 2023
Two images appear to show the top clamshell of the laptop. This is where the display panel and wireless antenna will be placed in the final design. The outward face of his milled 6061 aluminum part can be seen engraved with his large System76 logo using his CNC engraving machine as part of the milling process.
In a few follow-up tweets, Richell explains that milling gives the part an interesting undulating finish and what you’re looking at is “raw metal out of the mill.” However, he commented that this laptop’s lid was not made using production techniques. It’s too early to decide whether to mill or cast such parts of the laptop, but the quality from casting wasn’t attractive enough, so the company turned to previous manufacturing techniques with its in-house Launch keyboard design. We’re also not sure where the components and the finished laptop will be manufactured.
Looking to the inside of the milled lid, the most obvious are the reinforced struts formed to minimize panel flex while keeping weight down. Towards the bottom of the shot you can see that the Virgo prototype will be a dual hinge design. We hope that System76 will give the hinge great durability and smooth flex, minimizing bounce and wobble for heavy typists.
So while these prototype milled parts don’t bring much profit, Virgo laptops should be the best ever to bear the System76 logo. One aspect of the design explained by Richell, although not obvious, is that it is important for the company to be able to provide a repairable and upgradeable design. Framework and other laptops are emerging with easy access to component repairs and upgrades. Even Valve’s Steam deck has complete teardowns and replacement parts courtesy of iFixit. Social media seems to be interested in a high-quality built-in keyboard, already igniting debate about the merits of a numeric keypad on laptops. We hope there are plenty of keyboard configuration choices to satisfy everyone.
This unique design process presents challenges and opportunities, and we hope System 76 You can shrug off the former while making the most of the latter.