The new ultra-customizable keyboard also works on Mac and Windows. Could it do for Linux what the iPod did for the Mac?
Linux PC maker System76 has announced the forthcoming availability of its new Launch Lite keyboard. It’s a smaller version of the company’s line of configurable keyboards.
“A New Keeb Is Coming”
System76 announced the new 12-inch keyboard, which is slated for release on July 14, 2022, in a YouTube video:
System76 is using the tagline on its website, “A new keeb is coming,” to promote the product. The company also took to Twitter to tease the upcoming keyboard, touting its configurability, small size, and comfort:
The company has not yet announced a price point for the new keyboard, but the current version is priced at $285.00
Launch Lite Configurability
The Launch Lite keyboard features jade switches, which provide a “clicky” feel prized by programmers and gamers. The biggest difference from conventional keyboards is that it’s completely configurable. System76 has created a Configurator utility that runs on Linux, macOS, and Windows that allows users to remap the keys and customize the backlighting. Previous versions have included alternate keycaps and a tool to swap them.
While the company’s other Launch keyboards double as a USB hub, the Launch Lite only has a single USB-C connection.
The company has made the keyboard completely open. The firmware is open source, and System76 has even made the chassis design available on GitHub.
Could The Launch Lite Get People Interested in System76 Computers?
The new keyboard is pitched at more than just dedicated Linux users. This may reflect that the market for keyboards is broader than that of preinstalled Linux PCs. System76 may be hoping that this line of keyboards will do for their computers what Apple’s iPod did for the Mac line. The iPod, especially once iTunes was ported to Windows, reinvigorated interest in the Mac from people who would have not ordinarily considered buying one.
While the iPod music player had a hip cultural cachet at its peak, configurable keyboards tend to be a niche market, but the Linux userbase is loyal and it could also appeal to gamers who like to customize their hardware and are willing to spend to do so
A Growing Linux Hardware Market
System76’s new keyboard is evidence that it’s part of a growing Linux and open source hardware market. These offerings range from small single-board computers to high-end workstations.
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