Year of the Linux desktop might not have arrived, but the year of Linux laptop is certainly here.
Only a few weeks back we saw a dedicated laptop specially tweaked for KDE Neon. Today we have got a new laptop series running elementary OS by default.
elementary OS is a Linux distribution mostly focused on the design element. This aesthetic OS is often considered the best Linux distribution that looks like MacOS.
To cash on the beauty of elementary OS, a new, rather unknown company has revealed a Chromebook like laptop series: Litebook. It is basically a 14″ laptop running on elemnetary OS. The hardware configuration is in the range of entry level Chromebooks and so is the price tag ($249).
- Litebook boasts of the following configuration:
- 14.1-inch Full HD (1920×1080)
- Intel Quad-Core processor running at 1.6 GHz
- Graphics: Intel HD 400
- 4GB LPDDR3 RAM
- 512GB HDD (can be upgraded to SSD for additional price)
- 802.11n and Bluetooth 4.0
- 2 USB 3.0 ports
- 1 HDMI port
- 1 Ethernet port
- MicroSD card reader
- 720px webcam
- 1.3 KG weight
- 9 hours battery claimed
- Price starts from $249, shipping extra
Litebook also claims to have modified elementary OS to make it more compatible with Litebook hardware. It also claims that “come without performance hogging bloatware” and at the same time Skype, Spotify and bunch of other software are installed by default.
Read this before you buy Litebook
Usually, I am generous with new small companies trying to build a business around Linux and Open Source. I even covered Novatio gaming console that has claimed to run Windows games on Linux.
But there are way too many red flags with Litebook here that I just cannot ignore it and encourage you to buy it.
A company has no name or address!
First thing, there is simply no mention of the company and its people. The best you know is that it is called Alpha and perhaps based in Florida (guessing from its terms of service). There is no office address, no telephone number etc. At least, I couldn’t find it.
There is no whois data available for the domain. The so-called company exists only through a website. There is no social media presence (not that it brings trust) except a Reddit account.
Using ‘fake’ images of the product
What is even worse that the images shared on the website are actually stock images lifted from the internet and the screenshot of elementary OS has been photoshopped on it. As a Reddit user noticed it:
It is a bulk order of cheap laptop from Chinese retail Alibaba
As a lover of detective fiction, I put my little gray cells to use and found something interesting on Alibaba. Alibaba is an online portal from where you can bulk order inexpensive stuff from China.
Windows laptop of same configuration available for $150 on Alibaba for orders above 300 units.
So basically it is a bulk purchase from China and then a custom build of elementary OS is installed on it. It’s not illegitimate at all but then it does raise questions about why a legitimate business is not using real pictures, leave aside videos.
elementary is not associated with Litebook
Now, the only reason why you might buy Litebook is for your love of elementary OS. You may think that elementary OS might be associated with it and get some part of the sales generated by Litebook.
Well, Litebook says that it will give $2-3 per sale to elementary OS’ bug bounty program.
But when I contacted elementary OS on Twitter, I was told that while they are ‘kind of’ aware of Litebook, they are not associated with it.
@itsfoss we're loosely aware of its existence but we have no involvement
— elementary (@elementary) March 6, 2017
elementary also told me that they might release an official statement on it since it is being sold as elementary laptops.
Is Litebook a scam?
Bulk order from China and then selling it by installing elementary OS doesn’t qualify as a scam. But then, the company has no face, no physical address, nothing. And that’s what worries me.
These days when even a concept is launched with videos among other details, Litebook doesn’t have a
single video to show to Linux users. Forget video, I think there are no real pictures of the product itself.
Update: I finally found a video on their YouTube channel.
In the Reddit Q&A, Litebook deliberately dodged questions about its authenticity and usage of fake images.
See, I don’t want to discourage the people behind Litebook but I would like to see more transparency here. The entire thing is being run as an amateur, not as a professional business.
Until more details emerge, I would NOT advise you to place an order. Meanwhile, you can surely surf Litebook website for some details: