System76 unveils open source 'Launch Configurable Keyboard' for Linux, Windows, and macOS that is made in the USA
System76 makes and sells excellent computers running Linux-based operating systems. The company's laptops and desktops can be had with your choice of the popular Ubuntu or the company's own Ubuntu-based Pop!_OS. For many years now, System76 has been a huge proponent of both the Linux and open source communities. Quite frankly, Linux users all over the world are very lucky to have System76 computers as an option.
And now, PC manufacturer System76 is becoming an accessory maker too. You see, after teasing the product for months, today, the company officially unveils its newest product -- the "Launch Configurable Keyboard." Yes, folks, it is a mechanical keyboard made in the USA with a focus on open source. The Launch has both open source firmware and hardware. Even the configuration software -- which runs on Linux, Windows, and macOS -- is open source.
"With a wide swath of customization options, the Launch is flexible to a variety of needs and use cases. The keyboard’s thoughtful design keeps everything within reach, vastly reducing awkward hand contortions. Launch comes with additional keycaps and a convenient keycap puller, meaning one can swap keys based on personal workflow preferences to maximize efficiency. Launch also features a novel split Space Bar, which allows the user to swap out one Space Bar keycap for Shift, Backspace, or Function to reduce hand fatigue while typing. Launch uses only three keycap sizes to vastly expand configuration options," says System76.
The computer-maker further says, "By default, Launch has two layers configured. Layer 1 has the layout seen on the keycaps. Layer 2 helps take advantage of keyboard shortcuts to navigate around the desktop and applications. There are two more additional layers available. If one frequently inputs numbers, for example, Layer 3 can be configured to contain NumPad. For audio editing, one can map all the relevant media keys and audio controls in Layer 4. A user can even map one of the layers to a different layout, like Dvorak or Colemak, and use a special programmable key to toggle the layer on and off."
What's particularly cool is that this wired tenkeyless keyboard utilizes a removeable USB-C cable for connectivity. This means if the cable gets damaged, you can simply replace it -- a benefit to the environment. That also means you can use either a USB-C to USB-C cable or USB-C to USB-A cable depending on which computer port you will be connecting the keyboard to. And yes, both of those cable types are included in the box!
The Launch keyboard pulls double duty as a USB hub too. When you connect it to your computer, it also provides port expandability. On the rear of the keyboard, there are total of four speedy USB 3.2 gen 2 ports -- two are Type-C and two are Type-A. How cool is that?
System76 shares specifications below.
- Chassis: System76 Open Source milled chassis design, Detachable lift bar to adjust keyboard angle by 15 degrees
- Electronics: System76 Open Source PCB design, Individually addressable RGB LED backlighting, N-Key Rollover
- Sockets and Switches: Kailh MX Hotswap Sockets, Kailh Box Jade or Kailh Box Royal Switches
- Key Caps: PBT plastic, Dye sublimated legend, XDA profile
- Layout: ANSI US QWERTY
- Custom Configurations: Customize layout and lighting in firmware with the System76 Keyboard Configurator Available on Linux, Windows, and macOS
- Integrated Hub: 2 × USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type C (Up to 10 Gbps), 2 × USB 3.2 Gen 2 Type A (Up to 10 Gbps)
- Firmware: System76 Open Source QMK Firmware
- Connectivity: Wired, with detachable USB cable (USB-C to USB-C and USB-A to USB-C cables included)
- Dimensions: 12.17″ × 5.35″ × 1.3″ (309mm x 136mm x 33mm)
- Weight: 2.09 lbs (948g)
Pre-orders for the "Launch Configurable Keyboard" begin today here, and it will begin shipping to consumers in June. System76 is asking $285, which may scare away some consumers. However, this pricing is totally appropriate given the company's' small size and the fact that it is being handmade in Colorado.
Are there less expensive mechanical keyboards? Sure, but not with a focus on open source, promised firmware updates, and an integrated hub. Not to mention, by purchasing a System76 Launch Configurable Keyboard, you aren't just supporting American manufacturing, but the Linux community too.