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System76's Configurable Mechanical Keyboard is a Dream Come True for Open Source Enthusiasts

System76 is popularly known for its Pop!_OS Linux distribution and its laptops/desktop offerings tailored for Linux.

While we already had some of the details when System76 teased its open-source ‘Launch’ keyboard, it has been finally unveiled to the world.

This is System76’s first accessory offering, along with the laptops/desktops available. I’m sure that the new open source mechanical keyboard is just the start. And it is going to be a treat for open-source enthusiasts!

Here, let me briefly share the key highlights of this open-source configurable keyboard and what I think about it.

Launch Keyboard: Open Source & Fully Customizable

The primary highlight of System76’s TKL (tenkeyless) keyboard is the customizability, along with an open-source hardware and firmware. You can check out the available source code in their GitHub page.

Here are the most important features worth mentioning:

  • It lets you remap your keys, swap your keycaps, and add multiple layers to use different layouts or shortcuts.
  • The open-source firmware puts you in control and only the user will decide if it should be updated or not.
  • Kailh switches by default
  • You can also use it as a high-speed USB hub with the help of its extra USB-C and USB-A ports
  • RGB support
  • Compatible with Linux, Windows, and macOS
System76 Launch USB Hub

On paper, it definitely sounds like an exciting open-source keyboard that you can customize to suit your personal needs to a great extent.

With an aluminum chassis, PBT keycaps, open-source firmware, and the customizability, there isn’t much to complain.

Not to forget, the presence of a high-speed USB hub makes a difference for users who want to connect more devices and make use of high-speed data transfers. Do note that the keyboard must be connected using USB 3.2 Gen 2 to get maximum potential speed.

In addition to this, you get two options for the switches — Royals and Jades. The first one is more on the silent side and the jade provides a satisfying sound if you want it.

Even though it does support RGB, without a hands-on, it would be tough to predict the experience of customizing it.

You can explore more about its technical specifications on its official product page.

Pricing & Availability

It costs $285 that includes one year of warranty coverage irrespective of the switch choice. You can add two more years of warranty extension for an extra $35.

There’s also a shipping coverage for Canadian customers only.

It is available for pre-orders and should start shipping from June 2020.

Closing Thoughts

System76’s Launch keyboard is certainly an impressive product. I’m sure it has been carefully crafted for the intended users, but it is not for everyone.

I’d say it is only for mechanical keyboard enthusiasts.

Of course, having a customizable mechanical keyboard and personalizing it over the years is an expensive hobby. But I feel the entry price for a product, which is their first iteration, is a bit high.

Also, the layout, with two space bars and a color theme that gives a classic vibe to it, might limit the interested customers.

I’m currently using a mechanical keyboard – CoolerMaster Masterkeys Pro L, which is a full-sized keyboard that offers Cherry MX browns, four profiles, macro support, onboard memory, and a few more features that cost me under $100.

So, considering the price bracket of mainstream options, not open-source though, this might be a tough purchase decision. But, that’s just me.

What do you think about the open-source mechanical keyboard by System76? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below.

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