I don't have professional experience loaning linux laptops in a library
setting. In fact my current gig uses windows as the dominant OS for both
staff computers and loaner computers. But I have been using Linux as my
home workstation OS for about 7 years now. I'd love to see more Linux in
the public sphere. As such I'll share my laptop experience with
distributions I've tried.

Debian - a free software distro , can have issues where drivers must be
installed via different repos but usually its a simple task.
The installer can be more manual (and possibly confusing).

Ubuntu - a corporate distro, and a great intro to linux distro. It is
easy to install and has a huge community with a great user knowledge
base. Also it benefits from all the Debian development, but also adds
some usability features like an easy to use dual boot install path, and
gui based everything.

Redhat - another corporate  distro. You can now get redhat developer
licenses for free with sign up to their developer site. They also have
an excellent knowledge base for admins and i have never had a single
driver related issue with them on a laptop.

Fedora - the development feeder branch for Redhat. Gives the benefit of
the redhat development, without the Redhat licences requirement.
Drawback is that is changes fast and can be hard to keep patched. Great
for checking out features before they get into (Redhat or CentOS).

CentOS ,the non-corporate supported REDHAT , gives the benefit of the
redhat development, without the Redhat licences requirement.

Linux Mint - supported by Corporate and Community sponsors. Based on
Debian and Ubuntu, it has an easy to navigate UI and most things work
out of the box without driver issues. Good community knowledge base and
benefits from both Debian and Ubuntu development and tools. Very easy to
use as a Linux novice, coming from Windows.

Thanks to all who have contributed to this thread.
These comments have been based on my experience, so please consume with
grains of salt.

Nick Critser
Systems Analyst/Programmer
Arthur W. Diamond Law Library
Columbia University
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1(212)854 0405
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On 3/15/2019 6:08 AM, Ross Spencer wrote:
> Hi Junior, 
> This sounds like a great initiative. I follow an education technology person on Twitter: they talk a lot about procuring laptops from eBay and then installing distributions such as Linux Mint on them to refresh them and loan them in their library. It might not be something every org has an appetite for but it's one option. 
> I can also speak to the quality of System 76 laptops that Chuck mentioned. The high-spec ones are great for development, but there may be combinations of machine that are much cheaper and might offer a good solution for your purposes as well.
> All the best,
> Ross