About to drop a Laptop-Desktop combo for Photography/Developer

I am close to buying my new laptop and desktop as moving to new place and my old laptop gave up on me. I have been reading great things about photography on FOSS and got introduced here. So here are my two top choice:

  1. Dell XPS 13 with Ubuntu and

  2. Custom built desktop featuring AMD RYZEN 7 and an Nvidia tbd. Gonna be rocking Ubuntu as well.

I need terminal so I was considering Mac but Apple’s price-per-performance is totally a shit show. But I also am a seasoned beginner (!) into photography so I want to keep chasing this lovely hobby.

I guess I just need a little bit of confidence boost to jump on the bandwagon. Are we at the safe place to have a smooth workflow without crashing our heads on the table?


I would surely say yes, the workflow is good. What applications are you planning to run?

The only thing I’d say about the Ryzen is that you’ll need a pretty new kernel to support it.


I started processing my pictures on my Windows work machine originally. Then I switched to open source tools and installed Ubuntu Studio as VM and I loved it. Then I realized that my photo processing setup deserves to have its own machine so I bought a Dell Latitude laptop and installed Ubuntu Studio as second OS there. Note: Latitudes are not best for photography but I just have been using them for so long plus there was a good deal on one in my area at the time so this is why I bought it. Ubuntu Studio did not work as great on a real hardware as it did in VirtualBox so I have been distro hopping for a while (Fedora Design Spin, Mint, Manjaro) before settled on OpenSUSE. The system just works and it is out of my way now. I never booted into Windows since then and thinking of wiping that partition to release the 60Gb for my /home partition.

I have heard that Dell XPS 13 is a great laptop for running linux on it. You cannot go wrong with it.

As for the desktop, sorry I cannot comment since I have not built and used one in at least 10 years (OMG, time passes by fast)

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While brands matter to a certain extent, it might be worth your while to re-frame the question into what types of hardware would you need for post-processing. I am not talking about yet-another spec battle but what the reasonable specs would be for a digital photo workflow.

Fortunately, we have a lot of FOSS developers here, so they can tell you what their applications need most :wink:. In terms of compatibility, I would probably stay away from new hardware like RYZEN. People are still figuring out if it is good to use. Therefore, it will probably not be well supported for some time.


@paperdigits I would say something similar to Photoshop (so GIMP) and Illustrators (probably Inkscape but…) and Lightroom (so darktable).

That’s so far the software I have been playing around with.

@afre I am also a programmer to certain aspect - is it possible to get involved into these projects?

@Andrius time sure flies - I still remember having to load the ‘Internet’ with dial-up connection, while hoping no one will ring another person during the time of download…

Of course. The easiest is going to IRC and talking to the devs there. GIMP folks hang out on GMIPNet, #gimp, the others are on FreeNode: Inkscape in #inkscape-devel, darktable in #darktable and RawTherapee in #rawtherapee.

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And pixls.us on freenode #pixls.us


I actually own this laptop, and it’s been great for me. Great hardware and form factor, and Ubuntu is running without a problem (mostly - I have an external port replicator that runs on USB-C that requires some manual fiddling to get working atm. I may track down why more a little later). It’s a good machine and it felt nice to actually buy nice hardware with Linux from Dell directly. In fact, iirc, it was the only way to get some of the hardware options I wanted (it wasn’t offered in a windows version on their website).

I feel like we are. Many of these projects are extremely mature and stable. They are also generally nice folks who are genuinely interested in helping if they can.


I had a similar question earlier. To me, a computer and OS, similar to a camera, are just tools. I don’t really have a strong preference and feel equally comfortable on a MS platform as a 'nix platform. My $0.02… get a machine that can host virtual guests and you’ll be fine.
I was quite lucky to find a used system with an i7 4790, 16G RAM. I upgraded the mobo and run the main OS from an SSD.
It chews through ~700 raw files with incredible speed compared to my aging e8400 that is now happily running in my Debian file server.
Moral of my story… Be patient. It will all work out.
Good luck with the photography and remember… The best piece of equipment is a few inches behind the camera…

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@Klusjesman so… My nose…? :smiley:

You might enjoy this read, a reference posted earlier by another member