by Jonathan Rothwell

[LINK] Dell releases decent Linux ultrabook, but there's no reason to buy

Update, 1 December: Dell has dropped the price by $100, making the D™XPS™13LDE, with its still-stupid name, cheaper than the Windows version. This makes the XPS easier to recommend overall.

Dell has released an ultrabook1 with Ubuntu preinstalled.

On the one hand, it’s a tantalising proposition. The major problem with using any Linux system on a notebook is one of hardware support: wireless cards and trackpads have famously shonky drivers. The snappily-named Dell™ XPS™ 13 laptop, developer edition (no, really—that’s its full name) is the result of Project Sputnik, an attempt to create a laptop specifically aimed at DevOps people.

On the other hand, there’s a simple chicken-and-egg problem here. First of all, you can’t buy one if you’re outside the U.S. They say ‘stay tuned for more information,’ but don’t provide a box where you can enter your mail address to be notified when it’s released in your area.

Then there’s the price.

It’s $1549.

That makes the D™XPS™13LDE only $50 less than a broadly-equivalently specified MacBook Air2 which has a better screen resolution and may well be going HiDPI by this time next year. OS X is broadly compatible with Linux (they’re both *nix) and Ubuntu will also install somewhat cleanly on a MBA.

The D™XPS™13LDE has a 1366×768 display. For something allegedly aimed at developers, that could be a deal-breaker.

This is a shame. I do think there is a case for DevOps-oriented laptops which run *nix—the trouble is that most of them are Macintoshes. Unless Dell can drop the price or improve the screen resolution and storage, I doubt many developers will be rushing out to buy these instead of the current fare of Macs and ThinkPads.

  1. We should really be calling it an Ultrabook™ as that word has now been trademarked by Intel.

  2. The top-end MBA 13”, specified with 8GB of RAM, comes to $1599.