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System76 releases the open source Launch Configurable Keyboard

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Ready for your next keyboard? How about one that's properly open source and looks quite fantastic? System76 has today properly revealed and released the Launch Configurable Keyboard.

Sticking to their ethos, they've launched the Launch as a fully open source unit. This includes the hardware (certified by the OSHWA), firmware and configuration tooling all as open source and firmware updates can be done directly through LVFS but it's not forced - it's up to users if they want to update the firmware.

While System76 remains a Linux vendor selling their custom Thelio desktops, laptops and they continue with their Pop!_OS Linux distribution - this is their first to be fully compatible with Windows and macOS too. System76 created the System76 Keyboard Configurator app to allow full customization of the keyboard layout - with changes saved to the keyboard so you can take it anywhere.

“Launch with macOS and Windows 10 is a phenomenal, high-end keyboard with a comfortable feel and unique high-speed USB hub,” said Carl Richell, CEO of System76. “Combined with Pop!_OS and, in particular, auto-tiling, the hardware and OS blend into a holistic desktop experience that's faster and easier to navigate.”

Just like their Thelio computers, the Launch is custom-built in their own facility in Denver, CO. Featuring a chassis
milled out of a solid block of aluminium, as well as a custom PCB (printed circuit board). Created for customization, it comes with a set of red, blue, or brown keycaps to get it how you want it. It also has runner feet to keep it still, along with a magnetic foot for an optional 15% incline.

"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 oneSpace Bar keycap for Shift, Backspace, or Function to reduce hand fatigue while typing. Launch uses only three keycap sizes to vastly expand configuration options." — System76.

Check out our gallery of pictures below, click the image to view more along with some close-ups of the switches:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9

Ever feel like "I don't need it but I need it"? I've got that right now. Although, I'm not sure how I would cope without the trusty numpad. Would be interested to know in the comments how many of you never use the numpad though, does it bother you it doesn't have one?

System76 Launch Configurable Keyboard Specifications:

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 Configuration 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)
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)
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Available to pre-order from May 13, 2021 with shipping starting in June - with a price of $285. We're hoping to see a review unit at some point to give our thoughts.

Check it out on the official site.

Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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44 comments
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TheSHEEEP 14 May
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Quoting: TuxeeLED lighting that doesn't illuminate the key labels? Sorry, but that must be the most idiotic design decision ever...
I didn't even see that.
You're right.


That's just... that's.... what the...
furaxhornyx 14 May
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I am also not fond of the compact-style keyboards: no numpad, strange arrangement of del/end/page up, all top keys (escape, F1-F12) are all clustered together... I'll pass

Quoting: TuxeeLED lighting that doesn't illuminate the key labels? Sorry, but that must be the most idiotic design decision ever...

Yes and no... I have a spare keyboard which has RGB lighting. The thing is, the backlighting is quite strong, and can only be changed in color, or turned off. Problem: when turned off, the printings on the keys become invisible, and you can no longer see which key you are typing on. At least System76 design allows for turning the (annoying) RGB off, without making your keyboard unreadable.
damarrin 14 May
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Quoting: furaxhornyxI have a spare keyboard which has RGB lighting. The thing is, the backlighting is quite strong, and can only be changed in color, or turned off. Problem: when turned off, the printings on the keys become invisible, and you can no longer see which key you are typing on

That's just bad design, the see-through plastic should be whitish so the cut out characters stand out against the (presumably) black of the keys.

I also never noticed that characters aren't illuminated in this one. It's a very, very strange decision.

Edit: still, it's their first iteration, they wanted to keep things simple, but atm it looks a bit too compromised to be useable.


Last edited by damarrin on 14 May 2021 at 9:09 am UTC
It certainly looks cool, but I really need a full layout with number pad and the arrow keys/insert-home-delete-end/etc. block. Of course, my Corsair mechanical keyboard from 2014 is still going strong and showing no signs of stopping, so I can't really justify getting a new one anyway. Still, hopefully this is just the first iteration of a new development for System76.
No numpad is a deal breaker for me sadly.

Almost on a daily basis I use my numpad for accounting or product prices, other calculations etc, heck i even avoid laptops which have no numpad.

I'd also like some keys dedicated to being programmable function keys.

This kb is cool idea though. But for now I'll stick to my £10 keyboard that has a numpad and dedicated programmable keys, and backlighting that lights up the letters too😅😂


Last edited by BlackBloodRum on 14 May 2021 at 11:49 am UTC
Grimfist 14 May
Not bad, not great. As a gamer and programmer I have more needs than this, split design with additional thumb keys and more ergonomics are a Must-Have for me. Therefore I am very happy with my Dygma Raise (https://dygma.com/) Nearly the same price point, but better overall product.
Tuxee 14 May
Quoting: furaxhornyxI am also not fond of the compact-style keyboards: no numpad, strange arrangement of del/end/page up, all top keys (escape, F1-F12) are all clustered together... I'll pass

Quoting: TuxeeLED lighting that doesn't illuminate the key labels? Sorry, but that must be the most idiotic design decision ever...

Yes and no... I have a spare keyboard which has RGB lighting. The thing is, the backlighting is quite strong, and can only be changed in color, or turned off. Problem: when turned off, the printings on the keys become invisible, and you can no longer see which key you are typing on. At least System76 design allows for turning the (annoying) RGB off, without making your keyboard unreadable.

My HP and Lenovo laptops both come with illuminated keys which are perfectly readable without lighting, too. On the desktop I now have a Sharkoon Skiller Mech - with turned off lighting the keys are still legible, but contrast could be better. So: It's feasible. And at this price point I can expect that they put in some effort. Simple solution: Offer optional keys with transparent labels.
Love that it's made in the USA... but come on, bro, I need my keypad!
It's funny, I came down to the comments expecting to be one of the sole defenders of the numberpad, and instead it seems to be vital for nearly everyone. Maybe we need a new question on the monthly survey…
vgnmnky 15 May
Been looking forward to this, even though, as suspected, it's out of my price range for now.

I already use a Max Blackbird TKL, which is decent enough. I got the Max Falcon 20 numpad as a gift, and that's great. Highly programmable, though I need to do that in a Windows VM. Everything is stored on the numpad itself. And I can push it out of the way when I need a bit more mouse space.
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