Linux PC Maker System76 Teases Hackable Launch Lite Keyboard

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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 upcoming availability of its new Launch Lite keyboard. It is 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 scheduled for release on July 14, 2022, in a YouTube video:

System76 uses 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:

USE VIDEO OF THE DAY

The company has yet to announce pricing for the new keyboard, but the current version is priced at $285.00.

Lite launch configurability

The Launch Lite keyboard features jade switches, which provide a “clicky” feel prized by programmers and gamers. The biggest difference with conventional keyboards is that it is completely configurable. System76 has created a Configurator utility that runs on Linux, macOS, and Windows that allows users to remap keys and customize backlighting. Previous versions 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 Launch Lite interest people in System76 computers?

The new keyboard is aimed at more than dedicated Linux users. This may reflect the fact that the market for keyboards is larger than that for pre-installed 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, revived interest in the Mac from people who wouldn’t normally consider buying one.

While the iPod music player had hip cultural cachet in its heyday, configurable keyboards tend to be a niche market, but the Linux user base is loyal and it might 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 proof 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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