Huawei selling MateBook laptops with Linux preinstalled to consumers in China


Huawei is selling three models of MateBook systems with Deepin Linux preinstalled, available at the company’s Chinese shopping site.

Huawei’s “plan B” smartphone OS: What it needs to succeed
Component manufacturers around the world are cutting off Huawei following an executive order signed by President Trump. As a result, Huawei’s contingency plan may see the light of day.

Despite the trade blacklisting of Huawei by the US government, the Chinese electronics giant’s notebook division is plugging along, despite reports of component order cancellations in June, prompting concern they could exit the PC OEM market.

Huawei is now selling the Matebook 13, Matebook 14, and Matebook X Pro at VMALL, Huawei’s ecommerce marketplace in China, with Deepin Linux preinstalled. Deepin is a Chinese-domestic distribution, with their own desktop environment—appropriately also called Deepin—called “the single most beautiful desktop on the market” by TechRepublic’s Jack Wallen. 

SEE: How to choose between Windows, macOS, and Linux (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

Huawei is passing along the savings to consumers as well, with the Matebook 13 and 14 models receiving a 300 yuan ($42 USD) price cut, though the Linux version of the MateBook X Pro is listed at 600 yuan ($84) higher. This pricing should be considered tentative, as the products are listed on VMALL, though only allow users to be notified when they are in stock.

It is possible that Huawei may lose the ability to purchase Windows licenses from Microsoft due to their placement on the “entity list,” restricting companies dealing in US-origin technology from conducting business with Huawei, constituting an effective blacklisting by the US government.

 Sales of Linux laptops to consumers—by Huawei, and in general—could result in better driver support for fingerprint readers and other hardware with inconsistent Linux support. 

Huawei’s MateBook products are available outside of China, though Huawei has made no announcement of making Linux versions available in the West. The Matebook series is well-received by reviewers, though—as is practically the case for the entire PC industry, to some extent—the products follow Apple’s design footsteps quite closely. 

ZDNet’s Matthew Miller praised the inaugural Windows 10 tablet, saying “it’s great to see manufacturers challenge Microsoft’s Surface devices that I used to think set the bar for well designed computers,” while Adrian Kingsley-Hughes said “the MateBook oozes quality.” Miller called the 2017 MateBook X “a fantastic piece of hardware,” and praised the 2018 MateBook X Pro for having a 91% screen-to-body ratio, and high quality speakers.

The Deepin desktop, likewise, is available in English, the Deepin desktop environment is also packaged in Fedora 30, which may be a more comfortable distribution for Linux users in the West. Deepin’s business model is similar to Canonical, the company charges for desktop support, and releases sources for much of their internally-developed programs, like Deepin desktop environment.

For more, check out “Lenovo shipping Ubuntu Linux on 2019 ThinkPad P-series models” and “South Korean government planning Linux migration as Windows 7 support ends” on TechRepublic.

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Image: Angela Lange/CNET

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