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Dell XPS and Ubuntu Update

I’ve had a couple of weeks now using the new Dell XPS laptop with Ubuntu and figured it was time for an update. In short, I’m loving it. The laptop is thin and light weight, as you’d expect an ultrabook to be. But unlike a netbook, there is plenty of space for my fingers on the keyboard and the screen is a nice 13 inches over the too small for my aging eyes netbook.

There is really only one major physical flaw with the XPS and that is the lack of a groove to slip your finger into to open it. It is unusually difficult to open this laptop as a result. If you have longer fingernails, it comes apart easier, but my nails are short so I have to pry it open. It’s not hard to open, just more awkward than it needs to be.

The battery life is around five hours, but to be honest, I don’t go for anywhere near that long on the laptop, so I’m a horrible judge of that. The longest I’ve gone is about three hours. Not too many modern computers do less than that.

The screen has been just fine for me too. Again, I don’t need bleeding edge resolution to write books or watch a streaming movie. I did finally watch a movie on it this weekend and it looked great.

The bottom does get warm after an hour’s solid use. But what laptop doesn’t? If you keep it on a desk, like every manufacturer recommends, you should be fine.

I’m also loving the latest Ubuntu operating system on this laptop. It’s fast, smart and let’s me do what I need to do. What else can a writer need? Oh yeah, it looks pretty sweet too.

I wish more manufacturers would put their trust in Canonical and work with them to ensure their laptops run Ubuntu. What say you Samsung, HP and everyone else? Because right now, Dell is the only company and this XPS is the only ultrabook that I can personally recommend to you.


4 thoughts on “Dell XPS and Ubuntu Update”

  1. Ian,

    I would think this little baby would perform brilliantly as a scripting machine. Python, Javascript, PHP are all less taxing on a Linux system than the lower level languages. But you’re right, you are gonna need some beefy RAM specs for doing VMs. I have toyed with the idea of doing a VM to try the beta versions of the next Ubuntu. But 1 gig is not going to cut it for that.

    Unfortunately, I just don’t have the time for playing like that. My writing keeps all my limited free time wrapped up. ;-)

    I have an HP netbook running 12.04 and it handle’s fine. It’s just too small to really do all my writing and editing on.

  2. Like John, I too follow your XPS13 adventure, but I’m also hoping to find a similar review from a software developer, ie what Project Sputnik was initially intended to serve. At the same time, kudos to you for jumping in and testing out other aspects of it.

    I bought my wife the Dell netbook from years ago which was a little 10-inch model running Ubuntu 8, and while it let her do pretty basic things, it fell short in *many* ways, mostly because of screen resolution. But it was only $100 when I bought an Alienware laptop at the same time, so it was hard to pass up. Now, it looks destined to have some small Linux distro installed on it and prepared for my little kids who are itching to learn to use a computer that I can lock down easily.

    For me, though, I’m mostly interested in the ultrabook from a web development perspective. I write lots of Python and PHP and dabble in Ruby and Javascript, and would love to see how this performs for those needs. Currently at my work, however, I use a VM which needs 2+ GB all on its own, so I’d definitely need more RAM.

    As far as hardware upgrades go, more RAM or Ivy Bridge or otherwise, Barton George was pretty tight-lipped on Twitter when I asked nicely just for a simple yes or no whether the XPS13 was going to get a hardware refresh. It’s too bad that they can’t even say “Yes, we’re definitely looking at a hardware refresh but can’t comment on what”. I don’t want to drop $1500 on the top model and be disappointed a few months from now when a newer model drops with more RAM.

  3. Thanks for following my adventures John!

    More CPU and more RAM wouldn’t matter much at all for me. I don’t compile large programs or run VM’s – things that require more horsepower. I just write and do light coding at the most.

    I know the Sputnik team at Dell are evaluating extending the program to larger, more powerful systems, but I just wanted an ultrabook. So I’m happy with this one as is. If you can hold out for a beefier system, I imagine that would be up to you and your needs.

  4. Thanks for the update; I’ve been following your Ubuntu ultrabook chronicles for a while. I’m currently struggling internally with ordering an XPS 13 now, or waiting for the Ivy Bridge refresh ( and rumored higher resolution / more RAM ). My other option is an XPS 14 but the only model that has an SSD is $2K. Do you think a more bleeding edge CPU and more RAM would matter all that much to you?

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