Dell has come through again with its latest laptop that's just for Linux developers: The fourth generation Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition. This model is the latest in Dell's high-end workstation laptops for programmers.
Unlike earlier models, this latest power laptop starts at a very affordable price: $949. This "starter" computer is powered by a 5th Generation, 2.7Ghz Broadwell Intel Core i5-5200U Processor with Intel HD Graphics 5500. This paints its images on the very well-reviewed 13.3" (1920 x 1080) "Infinity display." For storage, the system also has 8 GBs of Dual Channel DDR3L RAM, and 128GB solid-state drive (SSD). It also includes 802.11ac Wi-Fi and Bluetooth 4.0; two USB 3.0 ports, a mini-DisplayPort, and a SD Card slot.
There are three other models. The top of the line is powered by a 5th Generation 3GHz Intel Core i7-5500U CPU, a 512GB SSD, and comes with a touch Infinity display. In all other ways its features are identical to its lower-end brother. It's price, however, is much higher at $1,849.
For those who want even more open-source laptop horsepower, earlier this year Dell released a Linux workstation built around its Precision M3800 hardware. This model starts at $1,649 and goes up from there.
All four XPS 13 versions are now available in the United States, Canada and most of the European Union. Regardless of the price-tag, each system comes with Ubuntu 14.04 Long Term Support (LTS) for its default operating system.
As Barton George, Dell's Director of Developer Programs, said in his announcement of the new Dell Linux developer XPS 13, "We do ... recognize that users will want to use other Linux distributions, Ubuntu versions or kernel versions so we've assembled a list to indicate problems users should expect with other distros. In general you will have the best experience on the latest in development distributions with newer kernels."
Specifically, Dell provides instructions for how to get the most from Ubuntu 14.10 and the yet to be released Ubuntu 15.04; Fedora 21; and Debian 7.0 and the still in development Debian 8.0. Based on my own experiences with earlier Dell XPS 13 models, any up-to-date Linux distribution, such as my own personal favorite, Mint 17.1, should run great on it.
Now some of you are going to think that even the $949 laptop is too expensive. I beg to differ. You pay for what you get. Yes, there are many, much cheaper laptops out there that will do well for most of your needs. But, if you want the biggest bang for your programming bucks, I think you'll find the Dell XPS 13 Linux developer edition to be an outstanding machine.