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Operating Systems Ubuntu Windows Hardware Linux

Dell Doubles Down On High-End Ubuntu Linux Laptops (zdnet.com) 128

Dell became the first major OEM to offer a laptop with Linux pre-installed in it in 2007. Ten years later, the company says it is more committed than ever to offering Linux-powered machines to users. From a report on ZDNet: The best known of these is the Dell XPS 13 developer edition, but it's not the only Linux laptop Dell offers. In a blog post, Barton George, senior principal engineer at Dell's Office of the CTO, announced "the next generation of our Ubuntu-based Precision mobile workstation line." All of these systems boast Ubuntu 16.04 long-term support (LTS), 7th generation Intel Core or Intel Xeon processors, and Thunderbolt 3, AKA 40 Gigabit per second (Gbps) USB-C, ports. As the Xeon processor option shows, these are top-of-the-line laptops for professionals. It took longer than expected for Dell to get this new set of five Ubuntu-powered Precision mobile workstations out the door. The Precision 5520 and 3520 are now available. The 3520, the entry-level workstation, starts with an Intel Core 2.5GHz i5-7300HQ Quad Core processor with Intel HD Graphics 630. From there, you can upgrade it all the way to an Intel Core Xeon 3 GHz E3-1505M v6 processor with Nvidia Quadro M62 graphics.
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Dell Doubles Down On High-End Ubuntu Linux Laptops

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  • Why pre-installed? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by interkin3tic ( 1469267 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @04:46PM (#53994859)
    Are there really many people interested in using ubuntu on high powered laptops who can't install it on their own?

    Have they made it impossible to install your own OS on the rest of their laptops? I haven't tried to install ubuntu on anything in a while, I remember hearing something about how intel was trying to make it harder to install anything other than windows 10.
    • by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @04:50PM (#53994897)

      Have they made it impossible to install your own OS on the rest of their laptops? I haven't tried to install ubuntu on anything in a while

      No, it's that if people pay an arm and a leg for a laptop, they want it to be supported. And that doesn't mean "most of the stuff works", it means everything works. Every Ubuntu laptop I've used has had some quirk that didn't work right. Won't sleep. Won't hibernate. Display back light doesn't go off. DVD burner doesn't work. And so on.

      • Even if I get absolutely everything working up front, the first thing to go wrong on a "made for Windows" laptop is going to be on me to figure out and fix rather than getting Dell to do it for me. If it's supported with Ubuntu, it's supported.

    • Are there really many people interested in using ubuntu on high powered laptops who can't install it on their own?

      Yes. Otherwise Dell wouldn't be selling them.

    • by cvdwl ( 642180 ) <cvdwl someplace around yahoo> on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @04:52PM (#53994911)
      No, but it's nice to know the hardware is generally compatible out-of-box. Trying to correct graphics and audio issues is what drove me away from consumer Linux about 10 years ago. And my experiences configuring desktops at work have never lured me back.
      • I used to have the same issues back then. Even with desktops for things like wireless. But the advancements that linux has made as a whole is awesome now. Most all hardware works out of box on any mainstream linux os. You should really try it even if its just liveOS to start. I dual boot because gaming is not where i would like it to be for linux. But other than games i can do everything else better and faster most times with linux.

        • That's not been my experience. Yes it's miles better than it used to be 10-15 years ago, but I've yet to install linux on a computer where everything just works out of the box. SteamOS came close, but small things kept breaking every few months until eventually it just sort of self destructed after an update and refused to boot anymore.
          • Sounds like you played a little bit too much in the system files without knowing what you were doing. I have Linux installs that are years ole that I've transferred hardware.

            • Sounds like you played a little bit too much in the system files without knowing what you were doing.

              In the case of SteamOS I had the sheer audacity to install chrome and then occasionally drop to desktop mode to watch streaming content. I know I know. The OS isn't really designed for that level of tampering by a user and I probably shouldn't be blaming it.

              • I played with SteamOS as soon as it came out. and for the 2 years after that. I stopped because I can do better with Ubuntu and a Steam.deb file. They are trying to lock people to the "console" like portion like other vendors. And its highly modified debian. Real easy to break. I normally suggest people start with ubuntu/mint to learn and play with linux for the simple fact of the community available for any problem. Once you can get most things working without web help then its safe to move to less suppor

                • I'm not unfamiliar with linux. Over the last 15 years I've tried redhat (back in the days before fedora was out), gentoo, fedora, ubuntu, and debian. Of those, I ran ubuntu and debian fairly consistently on my laptop all throughout college. Whichever linux installation I was using tended to shit itself about every 6-12 months, so I basically ended up having to do a clean reinstall at the beginning of each semester. I never once had an installation of a new version go smoothly (there was always a weekend of
        • by lucm ( 889690 )

          Same here. At home I mostly use Fedora and it's rock solid. Setup is always smooth and installing apps is a breeze. If it was available from a vendor like Dell I'd buy a Fedora machine anytime.

          I don't know why they insist on Ubuntu. I've tried it time and again but I always had problems with it, especially on laptops. I think Fedora is smoother because they ship with a bleeding edge kernel, and this helps with recent chipsets. Overall the Red Hat ecosystem feels more polished than the Ubuntu family.

          One thin

    • by MSG ( 12810 )

      Are there really many people interested in using ubuntu on high powered laptops who can't install it on their own?

      I don't know, but I, for one, am interested in buying a laptop without paying for software that I won't use, and in paying a vendor to either used Linux-supported components or developing Linux support for the components that they use. Dell puts significant effort into developing Linux support, and pushes the rest of hardware industry to maintain Linux support.

      • by steveg ( 55825 )

        Years ago, even if you could find a vendor like Dell who would sell you a Linux version, the Linux version ended up costing you more than the Windows version, if for for no other reason than the kickbacks the vendor got from all the crapware that came pre-installed on the Windows version. Either that or you had to choose completely different hardware for the Linux version, and the Linux hardware was always inferior.

        With this generation of of Dells, choosing Ubuntu as the OS actually cuts the price, on the

    • Atleast their not giving in to the dark leader Microsoft, Like all the other manufacturers are. I loved the fact that Dell started doing this. It prompted other manufacturers to also offer Windows alternatives. I'm sure any "Developer" that buys an XPS developer edition will have no problem installing linux on it. But why bother with having to Replace the OS when you can just have it shipped to you ready to rock and roll. Maybe with a custom kernel(I don't know for sure) for the newest hardware they plop i

    • by phantomfive ( 622387 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @05:24PM (#53995101) Journal
      It's $100 cheaper than the Windows version of the same laptop.
      • It's $100 cheaper than the Windows version of the same laptop.

        And $1000 more than a great laptop where you might have to Google for module settings.

        I get that they can get the money from large corporations, but it's a shame they're not pushing a SOHO model too.

        • by tepples ( 727027 )

          it's a shame they're not pushing a SOHO model too.

          I think major laptop makers tried offering GNU/Linux laptops for the home market, but handling returns from people who didn't understand what they were buying made it unprofitable to continue offering them.

          • by Anonymous Coward

            No, Microsoft made it unprofitable to sell laptops running Linux. When Linux laptops really started gaining traction with the netbook era (Microsoft had no real presence in that market segment) Microsoft directly threatened OEMs with licensing changes unless OEMs remained MS-exclusive.

            A side effect was the killing of the netbook segment until the Chromebook came along and did basically the same thing.

            • No, Microsoft made it unprofitable to sell laptops running Linux.

              Selling netbooks running Linux was naturally going to be unprofitable. Linux may be free of licensing cost but it isn't free of cost in general, companies can't afford to support Linux if they're not going to charge at least some cost for the privilege of running it or else monetize it somewhere else like what Google has done with Chromebooks.

              This idea that the failure of Linux netbooks is down to a Microsoft conspiracy just doesn't hold water, we all know Microsoft's biggest OEM partners have shipped (and

      • by houghi ( 78078 )

        That means that the prices they get for the shareware are dropping. Because that is the main reason companies do it.
        For them it would make no difference to put on a Windows Image, Linux Image or DR Dos or tripple boot image on the machine. It will be the identical same process in production.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      This may seem surprising but most of the people I know who use Linux are not techies. Half of them probably have not installed their own OS. They use it because Linux is stable and does not reboot in the middle of their presentations. They would probably be happy to see more Linux pre-installed options on the market.

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      It's marginally easier to install Ubuntu on a laptop that was running Ubuntu, than on one that was running windows. Plus I then know that all the hardware works (it does.) And I don't have to pay the Microsoft tax. The Dell Precision is a sexy little laptop, entirely unlike any of the Fischer-Price laptops that have been issued to me in the past. It might actually be enough to be a daily driver.
    • michael is by-passing the general public and concentrating on the people that run the corporate enterprise networks.
    • In fact, Dell could try something no one else has - offer a high end Chromebook - w/ plenty of CPU, RAM and SSD, but preloaded w/ ChromeOS. Not everybody who wants ChromeOS necessarily wants to put everything on Google Drive. One might want to use Android apps, but in conjunction w/ files that they store on the computer offline
    • One HUNDRED percent about in-house kernel development.

      Aside from not being compatible with a lot of commercial software, the main detriment to linux on a workstation is that you just aren't getting as good of driver support.

  • Five years? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by DogDude ( 805747 )
    Five years worth of OS support? Really? That's totally impractical or very expensive for any non-Linux professional.

    Heck, most of my work is done on 5+ year old hardware, running a 7+ year old OS.
    • You can install a newer LTS OS later. And if there are drivers now, there is a good chance of drivers then.

    • Curiously enough Ubuntu support caps off at five years.
    • Five years worth of OS support? Really? That's totally impractical or very expensive for any non-Linux professional.

      Well, you have a point. But I'd note that it was only a few years back that LTS was only 3 years for Ubuntu, and if you really wanted a functional system, you probably should be updating with every 6-month release (which would finally make some things work but inevitably break other things). This is one of the reasons I abandoned Ubuntu several years ago. It's gotten a lot better in the past 5 years or so, and the support for releases has been extended.

      Not that this should excuse anything, but this is

  • 2017 (Score:3, Informative)

    by farble1670 ( 803356 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @04:48PM (#53994875)

    The year of the Linux Laptop (tm).

    • Is it just me or does no one else remember lindows (linspire) desktops and laptops in Walmarts all over the US around 2004 or 2005.

  • And that is having a good keyboard...

  • Sad its so expensive (Score:5, Informative)

    by tatman ( 1076111 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @04:56PM (#53994927) Homepage
    Dell XPS 13 developer edition, Ubuntu, i7 processor, 16BM almost $1900. Yikes.
    • There are some lower priced models if you don't need an i7. Core i5 at $999. [dell.com] http://www.dell.com/us/busines... [dell.com]
    • For that price I expected 32G RAM and 1T SSD (which aren't even available options!).
      • by tatman ( 1076111 )

        For that price I expected 32G RAM and 1T SSD (which aren't even available options!).

        Yes. I was shocked the memory was only 16GB at that price

      • by Anonymous Coward

        They have those options on the precision line. Also available with linux.

        The xps is more an ultraportable so there are some compromises to expansion options

    • by JaredOfEuropa ( 526365 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @05:47PM (#53995241) Journal
      I'd rather see some cheaper models. I'm still shopping around for a good basic laptop for my wife. It doesn't need to be ultra thin (it won't travel much) or super stylish, just something basic to run Ubuntu with a browser and LibreOffice. Not having to pay the Redmont tax is an even bigger deal on a cheap laptop. But the selection of low end laptops seems to be rather a lot poorer then when I last bought one around 5 years ago. And so does the selection of laptops with Linux or without Windows, come to think of it.
      • Not having to pay the Redmont tax is an even bigger deal on a cheap laptop.

        Well somebody has to do the development work to ensure compatibility, it's not just a matter of taking some hardware and whacking on the latest Ubuntu release. That's something anybody's been able to do for the better part of 2 decades.

        The idea that people should choose Linux because it is cheaper is stupid, if anything they should be more expensive and used to fund quality development of the operating system.

        But the selection of low end laptops seems to be rather a lot poorer then when I last bought one around 5 years ago. And so does the selection of laptops with Linux or without Windows, come to think of it.

        On the low end you have laptops like Chromebooks and plenty of cheap Windows offerings (you can't j

      • by steveha ( 103154 )

        I'm still shopping around for a good basic laptop for my wife.

        I've had good success just buying whatever is on sale at a computer store near me, and then wiping it and installing Linux.

        The last time I did this, I bought a Lenovo IdeaPad S415 for something like $350, brand new. And to my horror, Linux installation failed on it; it includes both an AMD A6 and a discrete graphics adapter, and the two graphics systems fatally confused X11. There were workarounds but I never got around to trying one.

        Almost a y

      • Why not get a cheap Chromebook? I have a $150 Hisense model and it works fine for browsing, word processing, Spotify and Netflix. I have it hooked up to an external monitor and stereo amplifier with a Logitech K400 wireless keyboard/trackpad.
      • by e r ( 2847683 )

        I'd rather see some cheaper models. I'm still shopping around for a good basic laptop for my wife. It doesn't need to be ultra thin (it won't travel much) or super stylish, just something basic to run Ubuntu with a browser and LibreOffice.

        Here, try System76's Lemur [system76.com]

    • Dell XPS 13 developer edition, Ubuntu, i7 processor, 16BM almost $1900. Yikes.

      These aren't your dad's BMs, these are 16 high quality gold plated BMs. If I were ever going to get BMs from anyone, it would be from Dell. Dell's BMs are the best BMs on the market and let me tell you, there are a lot of BMs on the market. Even Microsoft put their BMs in a box and they can't even pay people to take them! ;)

      • by tatman ( 1076111 )

        Dell XPS 13 developer edition, Ubuntu, i7 processor, 16BM almost $1900. Yikes.

        These aren't your dad's BMs, these are 16 high quality gold plated BMs. If I were ever going to get BMs from anyone, it would be from Dell. Dell's BMs are the best BMs on the market and let me tell you, there are a lot of BMs on the market. Even Microsoft put their BMs in a box and they can't even pay people to take them! ;)

        rofl. thanks for the catch

      • by tepples ( 727027 )

        But only Lenovo makes IBMs.

        (It bought the IBM PC business in 2005.)

    • by Greyfox ( 87712 )
      Well now we're just arguing about price and performance aren't we? How fast is fast enough to justify a i7 versus an i5? That's an answer that'll be different for everyone. Maybe someone's OK with dropping a grand more for 32 GB of RAM, a 1TB SSD and a 15" 4K touch screen. Maybe not. With Moore's law eroding, it might be a while longer before the price comes down a lot on the top-end experience, but at some point that experience will still become available to everyone. It's just a matter of whether you want
    • by Trogre ( 513942 )

      I posted this yesterday in another article but here it is again:

      The Dell XPS regular version works fine under Linux as of about two years ago (the WiFi driver was the missing piece). In fact it works better than under Windows 10, which seems unable to properly use its own port replicators.

      • by ruir ( 2709173 )
        How about the rumoured interference of wifi in the USB(C)? connector because they are side by side?
    • by MSG ( 12810 )

      Complaining that the fully upgraded, top-of-the-line model is expensive seems a liiiiiittle disingenuous, man. They start out a *lot* less expensive than that.

    • Your SIG and Hamlet:

      (2C || !2C)==if...

  • by Penguinisto ( 415985 ) on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @05:02PM (#53994977) Journal

    Gad - some of us actually *want* some actual real-estate on the screen. :/

    • I feel the same way. Thats why i try not to use laptops. I have has my laptop for about 6 months and I've used it twice. I am currently on my PC with a 40" 1080 screen and a 24" 720 next to it.

    • by sconeu ( 64226 )

      13" QHD display. A lot of programs apparently use fixed sized fonts, which are unreadable on this display (not the fault of Linux, but of the app developer).

      • by ruir ( 2709173 )
        3360x2100 13'' display here...OS/X works pretty much well with it. Though most of the time I wont use more than the 2048x1280 resolution.
    • by MSG ( 12810 )

      There's one 13" model, three 15" models, and two 17" models. You've got options.

      http://www.dell.com/developers [dell.com]

  • E3-1505M v6

    I hope AMD gets Intel to stop twiddling their thumbs. The E3-1505M v6 [cpubenchmark.net] benchmarks at 9798 / 2166 single threaded.

    I'm typing this on a 4 year old M6700 with a Intel Core i7-3940XM that benchmarks at 9324 / 2009 single threaded. It cost me all of ~$800 last year. Room for 4 hard drives, 32 GB of RAM, 17" screen. Thunderbolt and USB_C really don't seem like they're worth the $2k price tag.

    And it runs Linux and BSD just fine.

    • Intel says yours has a 55W TDP.
      So that's a great laptop you have there, but it is out of the ordinary.

      Perhaps someone could make a "luggable" that takes regular 65W desktop CPUs for max performance at min prices.

  • "double down"? It was overused during the Obama admin, and it doesn't show signs of going away, but it's getting as bad as "begging the question"

  • by Provocateur ( 133110 ) <shedied@@@gmail...com> on Tuesday March 07, 2017 @06:22PM (#53995435) Homepage

    My DELL latitude E6440 had Windows 7 for a few hours, but bodhi Linux 4.1.0 has been its main resident ever since. Bought for $129 or available for $99 if you look hard enough; I used to be Thinkpad exclusively. E6440 is not bad but XPS13 is still in my crosshairs because I do prefer Tracpoints and discrete graphics.

  • At first blush it appeared that Dell was using the same old tricks of 10 years ago. Clicking on the 5530 link I didn't see any reference to Ubuntu but I did see this:
    Operating System (Dell recommends Windows 10 Pro.)
    Uh huh. That's how it was 10 years ago.
    But, I clicked on the "Customize & Buy" link and on the very next page I could select the Ubuntu OS. The price also dropped by $100 but the hardware stayed the same. THAT is different. Ten years ago Dell did the bait & switch, offering

  • Either Dell support coreboot or forget it. Really.

  • I don't get why you make 13" Linux laptops. Linux isn't just "cheap". It's also what I work on. For me to be interested in a laptop from you it would have to have Linux and a 17+" screen.

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