Its been a long time coming , but here it is. My review of Juno Computers high end Linux laptop. The Gemini 15″, a 15″ Laptop starting at  around £770 ( $969 US, €878 ) for a 8th gen i5 8265U, 8GB DDR4 RAM ,128GB SSD, available in Silver or Red, and your choice of OS, from Elementary OS to Ubuntu 18.04 & 19.04 or a DIY option so you can install what you please.

On first un-boxing we get, the laptop , power brick and plug, nothing standoutish here, apart from how light it felt. Which is not surprising when the laptop only weights 1.7KG which is 3.74lbs for our friends over the pond.

Look and Feel

I received the Silver version for review, and as I have already mentioned, its light, due to its all plastic body , this means it was easy to carry around and have on my lap, while writing some of this.

The screen is a nice matte IPS 1080p panel so not loads of glare, with a thin bezel surrounding the screen, the screen itself has decent brightness and good colours. Although its states 60Hz on website It shows 120Hz in menu on both Elementary and Ubuntu (I have no way of testing if it is actually doing 120Hz though).

The back lit keyboard had a nice feel, good travel and felt comfortable to type on, font on key caps is a bit odd, the wife agrees. The back lit keyboard can be switched between its 7 colours:

  • Green
  • Light blue/aqua
  • Red
  • Purple
  • Yellow
  • White
  • Blue

It also had 9 levels of brightness which made for comfortable use at night when the lights go off, not to wake the wife up. One other thing to note , although not a deal breaker but it is a small detail that other Linux laptop companies have put in. On the keyboard there is the Windows key, rather than something else for the super key, this could be a conscious decision to keep it in, for newer uses to see a familiar key . Personally i would have liked to see anything else over the Windows key on a “Linux” laptop, but that doesn’t take anything away from this laptop or Juno Computers.

The Laptop as a whole felt sturdy, decent hinge which felt robust. there was however a bit of flex on the right palm rest, there also appeared to be a fingerprint reader on touch pad ( never tested so can’t comment on that ).

 

What about dongles?

With this Laptop, dongles are not needed in the slightest. There is so much I/O on this laptop it can compete with a full desktop

Right Side

Left Side

We have;

  • USB-C
  • 2x USB 3.1
  • 1 x USB 2.0
  • Full RJ45 Ethernet port
  • 6-in-1 Card Reader
  • HDMI Out
  • Mini Display port
  • Kensington Lock
  • 3.5mm Headhone Jack
  • 3.5mm Microphone jack with mini-toslink for digital optical audio.

Software

The review unit I received shipped with both Elementary OS 5 and Ubuntu 18.04 , With a few custom settings thrown in the BIOS, main one being a setting to not let the laptop charge past 89%.

In regards to the battery not charging passed 89% is because I have it set up that way purposely in the BIOS. This helps to prevent customers to charge it to 100% and over, which will lead to the battery to deteriorate over time and will reduce the battery life. This of course can be disabled from the BIOS if they wanted.

 

Giovanni Caligaris ( Founder and CEO of Juno Computers ) 

ElementaryOS

I will start out of the gate here and say,  not a fan personally of ElementaryOS, it is beautiful and does work, but i cant just cant get on with it.

It does ship with Kernel 5.0 and the whole experience was very pleasing, everything was supper snappy, loading wasn’t a thing, i clicked on something and it was there. Navigation around ElementaryOS is simple and pretty intuitive, it would be perfect for someone coming from MacOS.

Boot times were quick, 18 seconds from Off with 1 second Grub menu ( I bet would be quicker with only one OS and if it was EFI boot )

I did however run into some issues mind, no camera detected in the camera application ( fresh eOS install made it work ) , cant say for sure why this happened but on a retail unit i would bet this wouldn’t be the case. Another small niggle i had was , the laptop wouldn’t sleep / suspend properly, i would close the lid at night with 60% odd  battery and come to use it the next day and it would be dead. ( Giovanni helped me sort this issue by adding their PPA and installing TLP and some drivers ) 

sudo add-apt-repository ppa:junocomp/juno-apps
sudo apt install check-battery juno-drivers juno-fan-indicator clevo-n15xzu-keyboard-silver kronos
And then for the battery
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:linrunner/tlp
sudo apt install tlp
You will need to modify the TLP config to
sudo nano /etc/default/tlp
Remove the # from #CPU_SCALING_GOVERNOR_ON_BAT=powersave
change CPU_HWP_ON_BAT=balance_power to power only
Take the # from #CPU_MAX_PERF_ON_BAT=30 and change it to 35
And finally, change RESTORE_DEVICE_STATE_ON_STARTUP=0 to 1
To exit type ctrl-x and then y
execute TLP one more time
sudo tlp start
and that’s it.
By the way, if you type check-battery on terminal it will say how fast the laptop is discharging and the status of the battery. This is a small script I created for all laptops.
Giovanni Caligaris

 

Ubuntu

Ubuntu 18.04 came installed alongside ElementaryOS and came with the yaru theme / communitheme pre-installed and a really nice Juno Computers wallpaper.

Gnome tweaks came pre-installed which was nice to see out of the box,  not sure if this comes on the standard install from Juno but if it does, think it would be a great addition.

Again, felt snappy and load times on applications were almost non-existent, boot time 16 seconds plus 1 second GRUB menu. 

 

Not sure what else I can say about Ubuntu on this, Ubuntu just works, I could quite happily use it as a daily on a laptop like this. I feel this would be a great option for your everyday user.

After I had my fun the way Juno wanted me to, I had to go ahead and wipe and install my beloved Linux Mint.

Linux Mint

Although boot time was 30 sec from full off plus 1 second GRUB menu after its booted , it felt just as snappy as ElementaryOS and Ubuntu, and personally if offered as default is choice would be amazing, throw a Juno wallpapers and Mint-Y-Dark aqua and you have yourself a laptop that would easily feel comfortable for someone who has come from Windows. Could even Change the Mint menu icon to be the Juno icon to add some customisation. 

 

Conclusion

I should have probably started with this statement, I don’t own any laptops and only use a laptop for work ( Dell XPS 13 9350 ) so only really have this to compare to as far as Laptops go. I am a big desktop fan.

But this laptop would be a serious contender if I were in the market for a laptop, £770 odd for a 8th Gen i5, 8GB RAM and a 128 SSD , compared to others Laptops ( Linux laptops and Windows based ) seems reasonably priced, its in that mid-high range non gamer laptop. I feel it is a solid laptop with a great company behind it. You are always going to pay a bit of a premium for these Linux laptops as generally they have to have a bit more attention given to them to provide the best experience, not just on the laptop but the support behind it.

So from my limited laptop experience  I do prefer the 13″ XPS form factor, and if Juno could get a 13″ Metal body laptop with these specs it would be the laptop I would go for.

 

Links to Juno Computers and Social

 

 

Feel free to leave a comment and follow on social media. Thanks for sticking around to read this far.


1 Comment

micro:mag · September 17, 2019 at 8:51 pm

That looks very nice!

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