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Dell XPS13 Developer Edition


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#1 themuntdregger

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 11:39 AM

Just bought myself one of these and thought I would share the experience with others here who prefer Linux.

If you've not come across this machine before, its a 'high end' Linux laptop. Whilst thats not unusual in the US, its a completely different story in the UK and Europe. Whilst you can buy Linux lappies such as the Chromebook, eepc and various android based arm machines, they are all low end. Not that there's anything wrong with that, however, its not much good if you want to run Other Life at anything more than the speed of a striking slug or,  run your resource guzzling Micro$oft o/s from the safety of a virtual machine. Thankfully, the XPS13 is nicely high end and a very powerful machine despite being very small and light. Whilst I could probably wax lyrically about its good looks, tbh, I couldn't give a crap for that kind of thing. Yup, I like that its a solid and well made piece of kit plus, I appreciate the awesome screen quality. However, the main thing to me is how it runs Linux.

I guess the first thing to say is that, when you first fire the thing up, it really and truly does run Linux straight out of the box. There's no need to mess around compressing windows partitions, wrestling with UEFI or, hacking around with drivers and config files, no indeed, everything just works. In the past, i've had lappies where everything that mattered worked under linux (eventually), but there were always some things eg card readers, which didn't. However, on the XPS13, everything works completely flawlessly, even the stupid touch screen (I have no idea how those fuckers are supposed to be useful). Installing Linux can take ages on a lappy (if its unfamiliar) and, its often a frustrating and difficult process. Hence, its kind of a blessed relief to avoid all that shit and be doing productive stuff within a few mins of unboxing.

The particular flavour of Linux that the XPS13 uses is Ubuntu. Yup, I know its not massively pro but, it does at least work and, being based on Debian, it works very well indeed. The particular version is 64bit 12.04  LTS which is about as reliably boring as you'll get without going fully Deb. Yup, I could prolly upgrade it to bleeding edge 14 but, I really don't need the extra icing on the cake. What I want is something that can run Codeblocks, Blender, Gimp and, most of all, Other Life (yayyyy !!!). In that regard, considering that the XPS doesn't come with a gaming GPU, I was pleasantly surprised with how the latest Intel graphics managed to handle OL, achieving a respectfull amount of FPS at all reasonable settings. Hence, am happy to confirm that this is a machine that not only plays OL but, due to the excellent screen, makes the game look absolutely amazing.

I was kind of concerned to start with that, because it uses 64bit Linux (rather than my usual 32bit), that I was going to hit some weird dependency shit with libs like SDL and OpenAL and Cal3d. However, there was no such fun and games. Once the libs were downloaded, everything just worked !!!! I have to say that stuff just working is an entirely new experience for me (yup, I know that apple also does that but, its even more ridiculously overpriced than the shit sold by MS).

Ofc there's some things that an XPS can't do. As it doesn't seem to get very warm, its entirely crap on those cold Winter evenings when you need a toasty lappy to bring some life into your frostbitten genitalia or, when your wife's away on the conference circle and you need something else to warm the bed. However, I still have the trusty Lenovo to do that, plus the mighty Dell Precision if things get really chilly.

http://www.dell.com/...xps-13-linux/pd

#2 butler

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Posted 15 April 2014 - 01:36 PM

Cool, nice find.
munt, do you subscribe to LXF? Some good machines get found and reviewed by them. Some interesting machines I've found are the little portables that are floating around using special versions of linux (not android) and some with pure linux desktop OS's running on them. The one i think you might like the most would be The OpenPandora, which as far i can make out is as or more powerful than a fair number of Phones, especially the 1GHz version.

But I really like the look of that laptop now. I might work on getting one after I go to Africa.

#3 themuntdregger

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Posted 16 April 2014 - 02:48 AM

View Postbutler, on 15 April 2014 - 01:36 PM, said:

Cool, nice find.
munt, do you subscribe to LXF? Some good machines get found and reviewed by them. Some interesting machines I've found are the little portables that are floating around using special versions of linux (not android) and some with pure linux desktop OS's running on them. The one i think you might like the most would be The OpenPandora, which as far i can make out is as or more powerful than a fair number of Phones, especially the 1GHz version.

But I really like the look of that laptop now. I might work on getting one after I go to Africa.

Yup, I really like LXF and there's some useful and interesting stuff covered in it. Alas, I can't find much coverage of new lappies, other than Chromebooks and eepc's.

I saw the review of the Pandora which, looks an awesome little machine, not just for gaming, but all kinds of other stuff.




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