Dude! I'm getting a (Linux) Dell! Maybe...

by @edent | , , , | 16 comments | Read ~260 times.

I need a new laptop. My old one is dying a long, slow death. My requirements are modest - runs Ubuntu and charges via USB-C. Cheap would be a bonus - as would a num-pad - but I'll take what I can get!

Loads of people have recommended the Dell XPS13 series. I'm looking at them and I'm a bit confused (so what else is new). I'd appreciate your advice gentle reader.

There are two models available. Here are the main differences between them:

CPUi5-1035G1 Processor
(6MB Cache, up to 3.6 GHz)
(8 MB Cache, 4 Core, up to 4.90 GHz)
Screen Size13.4"13.3"
Ports2x USB-C3x USB-C

So, for a hundred quid less I get more RAM and more ports. And a faster(?) CPU with more cache. Or, do a pay a bit more for a screen which is a smidgen bigger?

Am I reading that right? Is there any other advantage to the newer system?

I write code, browse the web, and do some light media editing. I don't play games or do 3D rendering. So I don't need ridiculous power.

Or, should I be looking elsewhere? I want something with Linux support from the manufacturer - mostly to not have to faff around too much with weird drivers, but also to support the market.

If you know of a UK supplier of Linux laptops which charge over USB-C - please leave me a message in the comments!

16 thoughts on “Dude! I'm getting a (Linux) Dell! Maybe...

  1. If you are looking for a UK supplier, it might be worth considering PCSpecialist – whilst they don’t officially support Linux compatibility on their laptops, they do have a thread on their forum at https://www.pcspecialist.co.uk/forums/threads/linux-laptop-compatibility.60811/ which might help (and you can order OS-less laptops from them). Otherwise, I did quite liked the Lenovo Thinkpad X1 (USB charger etc) and it does seem to at least support Ubuntu ( https://certification.ubuntu.com/hardware/201904-26993 and https://linuxhint.com/linux_lenovo_thinkpad/ : notes the X1 Carbon 7th gen needs Linux 5.4 or higher for the Full HD screen with PrivacyGuard), but it’s sold with Windows….

  2. DavidS says:

    The new XPS has the camera at the top of the screen. The old one it's at the bottom, and you get a view of your hands typing and up your nose. Never good.

  3. Dragon Cotterill says:

    My one piece of advice in this area: Never skimp on memory.

    I'm lucky that I live in London, so when I needed a new laptop a couple of years ago I went to Tottenham Court Road and looked at the options that were available. I got a Dell e6320, with 16Gb Memory and a Terabyte SSD for £650. Yes, it's second hand. Yes it's not the most powerful in terms of processor (Intel® Core™ i7-2640M CPU @ 2.80GHz × 4 ). But it runs Ubuntu just fine.

    I can't advise you on USB-C since I don't use it. All my phones are Micro USB connections and standard USB ports on the computers.

    But whatever applications you're going to be using, get as much memory as possible. And a SSD.

  4. I've had a Dell XPS13 for nearly 4 years and tried to buy a new one the other day - but failed, as I found the options very confusing. Thanks for asking the question and I'm eagerly looking forward to the answers.

    It seemed to me that the newer one offered a 'fold backwards' option so that it can be used as a tablet. I'm not quite sure if that's the main advantage of it.

  5. I recently asked if anyone I knew had one of the new models but got no responses (via my blog, or Twitter).I've got an XPS 13 9343 and love it - largely form factor, but also the 3K screen - and have been wondering about upgrading recently, in part due to USB-C and fingerprint sensor, not for any other reason.According to the Arch Wiki entry for the new XPS it's mostly alright, but doesn't seem to have fingerprint support.May be that it needs to get upstreamed by the folks at Ubuntu.In case it's a point of interest, the highest-end one has a 4K screen (RRP £1768.00)I'd say go for the slightly newer one, with the caveat that if you stick with the Ubuntu build it comes with, it'll probably be alright, but if you want to re-install/install a different OS, it'll likely not work as well, and may require a more up-to-date kernel - as I decided to use Arch at the time it meant I always had the latest kernels, so as they added support for the drivers upstream, I was getting them pretty quickly, whereas friends with non-cutting edge kernels didn't have as much luck.I really do recommend Dell for the XPS based on my existing one, and would be very interested to see how you get on with it, if you do get it, so it can inform my decision to buy one while I'm in quarantine and don't need my laptop to be as functional as I would if I were travelling.

  6. Below-screen camera location is one of my bugbears with my generally lovely XPS.

    The other is that one of two rubber strips that act as feet came off; and the only way to replace them is to buy a while new bottom-shell.


  7. [2/2]

    One shift key is sticking, but that's after more than three years of daily use.

    I'm on my second external power supply.

    A replacement battery cost about as much as cheap laptop.

  8. New has a significantly better integrated GPU. I have an older 9370, great machines but weak on gpu. If you never do any sort of 3d or drive external 4k older one is fine.

  9. I've been using a dell xps 15 9560 for almost 3 years and I really recommend it. Solid build, nice keyboard the only issue is the camera being at the bottom of the screen but that has been fixed with the newer models. I keep thinking about swithcing to Ubuntu but I've never managed it, I may do soon though because Windows has been driving me nuts lately. Please blog about it if you get one 🙂

  10. I have the older of those two and it runs Qubes which is the most picky Linux OS for hardware I’ve ever used.

    You can select different specs for the newer one so you can get a more equivalent spec and it costs even more.
    I saw no reason to upgrade other than webcam placement

  11. I like lighter and old school desktops like XFCE and MATE, they are typically best suited if you want to get the most out of your laptop.

  12. ztolley says:

    I’ve got the XP’s 2 generations back I think and a good choice for Linux/gnu

  13. I've had 3 XPS13 developer edition and a Lenovo X1 Carbon. All wonderful machines

  14. I've been using an xps 15 at work with ubuntu for almost 3 years now, love it. I'm sure @JamieTanna would vote xps too.
    Now I just need to warrant buying one for home too...

  15. I bought a Thinkpad T495s and installed Manjaro Linux. The only thing that didn’t work out of the box was the fingerprint reader and that took about 30mins to get working. Very happy with it

  16. I’m a UNIX and Linux enthusiast of old and would say: For me I’d start with the 15″ Dell XPS anything unless your eyes are very good (mine are not). I’m not a great fan (now) of USB charge circuit laptops as the circuitry can be prone to failure cf regular chargers. If I bought a USB-C charged laptop in future I’d go with a 3 yr warranty.

    Obviously if you just want UNIX then of course Apple Laptops are very fine (and expensive) and they just love USB-C ports

    Also Intel has recently lost it when it comes to bang for buck. Instead therefore AMD Ryzen 7 4800U as an example

    The obvious caveats apply for any 2020 laptop purchase with manufacturers very keen to solder in not socket components unless you buy a large and ugly and heavy gaming laptop. Choose the memory and disk capacity wisely. Some few manuf (obviously never Apple) has socketed PCIe hard disks so you can buy ultra low spec and upgrade.

    Lastly be aware that new Dell XPS15 and XPS17 were leaked April 7 2020, so you might want to wait for those if you go for Dell.

    I was looking to buy the 2020 range of ASUS Vivobook S533 laptops announced in 2019, but an old ASUS trick, they don’t seem to be actually manufacturing them yet. Er they would be great value if available in UK!

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