Dell bets big on Ubuntu Linux laptops for developers

Dell has been offering Linux laptops for over a decade now, but never before have they offered so many high-end developer laptop models with 18 different configurations.
Written by Steven Vaughan-Nichols, Senior Contributing Editor

Back in 2007, Michael Dell told me that Dell was going to sell Ubuntu Linux-powered PCs. Since then, Dell has supported Linux on its desktops, laptops, and workstations. In particular, with Project Sputnik, Dell builds top-of-the-line laptops expressively for developers. Now, Dell is offering 18 different configurations of its New XPS 13 Developer Edition laptops.

The XPS 13 has long been the Rolls-Royce of Linux laptops. I've called previous XPS 13 models the best Linux laptop you could buy. These new models look pretty darn good too. 

I'm not sure if as Dell's VP and GM of XPS, Frank Azor, said at CES 2019 Dell has "finally perfected the product," but it has made it better. The last few generations of the Dell XPS 13 had one quirk: The webcam was located in the bottom of the screen. This could lead to some unflattering video conferences. Now, the tiny, 2.25mm in diameter, HD video camera is located where it should be -- at the top of the screen.

Each of the new model Dell XPS 13s come with the following features:

Processor Options

    • 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-10210U processor (4 cores)

    • 10th Generation Intel® Core™ i7-10710U processor (6 cores)

  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS preloaded

  • Killer AX1650 (2×2) built on Intel WiFi 6 Chipset + Bluetooth 5.0

  • InfinityEdge display with top camera placement

  • FHD and UHD resolution support

  • Up to 16GB of LPDDR3 memory at 2133MHz

When you get to the website though that's not clear at first. Only "one" system is displayed. This is the base configuration. From it, you can configure 16 different options. There are eight different i5 and i7 models. With each you can get either a 256 or 512 Solid-State Drive (SSD), 8 to 16GBs of RAM and three different screen types of which some support touch.

Most, but not all, of these models are also available to Canadian and EU customers.  

In the US, you can also order two other models by phone or online chat. One comes with a 1TB SSD and another boasts an even beefier 2TB SSD.  

Even the baseline model is nothing to sneeze at. It comes with a 10th generation Intel i5-10210U processor with a 6MB cache, up to 4.2 GHz. For graphics, it uses UHD Graphics with shared graphics memory supporting a 13.3" FHD (1920 x 1080) display. The laptop comes with 8GBs of LPDDR3 2133MHz RAM. Finally, for storage, it comes with a default 256GB SSD. This will currently cost you $899.

These days there are a lot of good preinstalled Linux laptops options out there. Two other companies I recommend you check out for top-of-the-line developer Linux laptops are System76 and ZaReason. They make great machines with excellent support. But, before you buy, the new Dell XPS 13s demand you give them a look. Based on their heritage and their latest components, these should prove excellent machines.

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