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New XPS 13 Developer Edition from Dell (dell.com)
70 points by nighthawk24 on Apr 7, 2015 | hide | past | favorite | 81 comments


It affects the E7x40, E6x40, E5x40, E5x50, M4800, M6800, E7450 & XPS 13 2015 under Linux/VMs.

So basically Dell took a few months to fix the keyboard de bouncing under Windows and when they finally released a BIOS update they made the situation a lot worse for linux users (keys would appear to get stuck). After waiting a few more months, they finally released another BIOS update to "fix" the anomaly under Linux (they fixed the "stuck" key problem but many users are still reporting a de bouncing issue, see the latest pages of this thread if you are interested http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/... )

There's also a touchpad & trackpoint issue that is still not fixed after more than a year and It looks like a BIOS/EC/firmware issue: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/+source/linux/+bug/1258837

Dell also broke USB3 support in the latest BIOS update for the E6540 and on the E6440 http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/...

They also released a botched BIOS update (when UEFI netwokrk stack is enabled) fairly recently that necessitated the removal of the CMOS battery in order to boot... https://www.reddit.com/r/sysadmin/comments/2m6u4s/dell_latit...

Also their fan control & thermal management is a sad joke. http://en.community.dell.com/support-forums/laptop/f/3518/t/...

Their BIOS testing process is broken if not in -existing.

So, if you want to buy a Dell machine, just make sure that you know what you're getting into... Once the initial BIOS is declared gold it can take several months to see an issue resolved.


Do you know how this would perform with Linux? ASUS Zenbook UX305FA-ASM1 13.3-Inch Ultra-Slim Aluminum Laptop, 8 GB RAM and 256 GB SSD

It sounds like it runs fine once you get past the tricky install:


Lack of a 16GB RAM option on a "developer edition" machine is very disappointing. Looks like a Chromebook LS + Crouton is the best Linux development environment one could aspire for right now.

The 64GB HDD on the Chromebook is quite limiting too though. (Especially if you develop with multiple virtual machines.) I suppose you could use an external hdd but that seems bulky and I'm not sure it would be as quick.

I might try and hold on to my x220 for another year and see if 2016 offers any better ultrabooks.

Between more RAM and a bigger hard disk I'd always pick more RAM. On my development machine I have a very minimal setup (i3, no desktop environment, Emacs, compiler, debugger etc.) and not more than a couple of big repositories checked out (Linux, Hotspot). I can see why this might not work for other kinds of development setups though.

I also use i3 with vim and a browser as my setup, but I would always go for SSD more then anything. The whole machine feels snappier when compiling and running stuff, although I do back it up with 8GB of ram.

I am using mSATA SSD drive via USB3.0 and it is quite fast and small.

with half the HD space ? I don't think so. The Dell machine actually looks way more interesting than a Chromebook that requires a hack to run Linux. I'm amazed how people here are trying to sell Chromebooks so hard it feels like they're paid to do that.

I can plug in an external USB hard drive. I cannot plug in more RAM.

This is actually the only thing holding me back from getting a new machine. I need one, badly. But I also need at least 16GB RAM. I have 8 in my current (very old) machine and it is by far the biggest restriction I have. Getting a new machine with the same amount of RAM is pointless and I don't want to get another machine this big but my options are limited. I can't find many ultrabook's with 16GB though :(

If you are fine with 12GB, there is always the Thinkpad T450S, which should have one of the best (if not the best) keyboards on the market, and is an ultrabook with a very good battery life. I'm not sure whether you will be able to add more memory, though.

The X250 supports 16 GiB RAM sticks, and the T450(s) (20/32 GiB) aren't too big either. Keyboard could be better, but the competition is worse IMO.

Do you have a link or further info on that as I've everything I've found says the X250 is limited to 8GB (which is why I'm still stuck with my 2yr old X230)?


8 GiB is the official limit, 16 needs after-market modules; and you're still limited to single-channel speed.

So no, I don't think the X250 is an adequate replacement for the X230. The X230's 35W CPU is still faster than the X250's 17W one (except in [GP]GPU-heavy benchmarks) and the X230's dual-channel RAM eats the X250's single-channel setup for breakfast, even with the new modules.

Advantages of the X250 are the nicer display (FullHD IPS at 400 nits), and lower power consumption per pound (the X230 still has a higher total battery run time, but only with 9-cell+slice batteries, which double its thickness and weight…).

Have you considered a macbook pro?

16GB RAM is not a requirement for everybody.

Neither is 8GB but they should still have the option.

Fair enough. Large memory is needed for some developers and the 16GB option should be there. But for many, many developers, a few GB should be more than enough.

I'm in the same boat and actively looking at the XPS-13 (have one in cart as of writing). Dell Tech support suggested this limit was due to the motherboard. I would imagine another refresh will be coming -- either with Windows 10 (Sep/Oct) or Skylake (Aug).

Why is this getting downvoted? I use a device with 1GB for development.

I actually tried to buy one of these. Unfortunately I live in Scandinavia, but I wanted an English keyboard (Scandinavian keyboards are a pain to write code on). Since it wasn't possible to specify this via the order form, I tried to ring them, only to find that the only support available for private consumers is via their website, which doesn't allow me to specify this!

Got curious and tried it from the Netherlands. I get one version of Ubuntu supported XPS 13, with no customization options whatsoever.

I just wonder what kind of logistical mess Dell must be. If I order an Apple, I get the same options anywhere on the planet (with the exception of keyboard variations, but at least I can always order English international), and the customized laptop gets shipped straight from China.

Surely having all these localized variations just makes things more complicated?

I had the very same issue as you, but I managed to buy one of the previous versions with en-US keyboard by kindly requesting it to an agent via e-mail. They were able to fulfill the order even if the option didn't show up on their website. Note the delivery might take longer than any of the pre-configured options though.

Thanks for the tip! How do you get in touch with these agents?

I happened to have a contact from an agent I dealt with in a past order. If you check some specialized forums I'm pretty sure you'll be able to find out some agent working for your area.

They are selling them on the UK Dell website, maybe that might be easier to order from here?

Thanks for the suggestion. I considered this, but I was worried about how it would affect my support guarantee if I had bought the device from a different country. It might be fine, but it might also lead to all sorts of bureaucratic headaches if I ran into any problems.

There don't seem to be any customisation options there either though...

And the UK keyboard isn't the same as the US one, right?

Yes, its a bit different in the number+shift keys but the leters are in the standard QWERTY arangement.

> Unfortunately I live in Scandinavia, but I wanted an English keyboard (Scandinavian keyboards are a pain to write code on).

I got my laptop from Amazon and shipped it to Colombia just because of that. I had no luck trying to buy it local.

The thing that put me off the original was the 8gb max RAM... surely a developer edition would allow for more?

I got a ThinkPad X250 a few weeks ago. Originally I was hesitant, as it is also limited to 8GiB of memory, but I realised that development need not actually use more than that (and indeed, I never do). I basically need to run just Emacs, a compiler and a browser, and although both GHC and browsers are memory hogs, 8GiB is plenty. Whenever I need to do really intense things, like benchmarking, simulations or large-scale testing, I always want to use a remote beefy machine anyway.

I know that some developers have a need to run a large number of local virtual machines, but I do not really understand why, to be honest. I use virtual machines too, but remotely, and mostly automatically for continuous integration.

I don't think programming is inherently particularly resource-consuming.

  I know that some developers have a need to run a large
  number of local virtual machines, but I do not really
  understand why, to be honest.
If you're developing a website, and you want to test on several versions of Windows and IE. Or if you're developing something that needs to work on several versions of Linux and you want to make sure it works right on several different distros. Or if you're developing something that uses Java on Mac and you want to make sure it works if the user has Java 6 from Apple, or Java 8 from Oracle, or both.

Obviously, there are ways to struggle through if you don't have much RAM - for example you can run 1 VM at a time and be constantly stopping and starting them. But if testing is a PITA, and it means you do a day's work before you test properly and find there's a problem, you might have wasted that day's work :)

FYI, the X250 unofficially allows 16 GiB RAM. 16 GiB sticks are rather new (came out after the X250) and are still insanely expensive, though (around 400 dollars, last I checked).

> I use virtual machines too, but remotely, and mostly automatically for continuous integration.

I'd love to do that, but our internet is far too crappy for that – we upgraded our offices from 2 Mbit/s to 10 MBit/s last year, and there are no faster options even if we wanted to –, hence I have to carry the VMs on my laptop (X230 with 16 GiB RAM and 2 SSDs).

Depends on what you do. I work on a large c++ codebase, and running a full rebuild chews through about 20GB of ram, and almost 100% cpu utilisation on my workstation, for about 15 minutes.

My friend's wife is java programmer. She uses a thinkpad with 16 gb afaik. From what he told me she opens up like 5 different java projects in eclipse and 16gb is gone.

I work with Java development support so I need as much RAM as possible.

I need to test load balancing configurations, transaction troubleshooting, heap dump analysis and so on. VMs are an essential part of my day-to-day activities. 8GiB let's me run Firefox and Chrome and at least 2 distinct projects.

And I'm not even talking about web development troubleshooting which is a pain in itself.

Chalk it up to planned obsolescence for the stepchild broadwell, ddr3, and msata. Just wait for skylake they won't really be able to dodge it for another year.

By they I mean all the relevant windows laptop manufacturers.

  Operating System
  Ubuntu Linux 14.04 SP1
Does Ubuntu have Service Packs now?

Ubuntu has Debian-style point releases: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/TrustyTahr/ReleaseNotes/14.04.1

Unlike the normal release of a package into the repositories, the installation media are updated

I can only find jokes about Dell, so perhaps an erroneous find and replace.

Developer edition, and still no option to get it with 16GB of ram. This is the only thing that I dislike about this laptop, other than that it's a very cool little machine.

Serious questions: what's the use case for 16GB RAM? I'm not doubting... just curious.

In a developer machine? Off the top of my head: virtual machines, in-memory databases, a bitmap editor with huge bitmaps consisting of many layers, game programming, 3D rendering...


Well, I am a games programmer and my machine at the office has 64GB of ram....which nearly runs out every time I start the project. All laptops which we use for going on business trips have 16GB of ram but that's sufficient only for a minimal set of projects to be ran. Obviously that's a very specific use case, but those specific use cases exist, and it's sad that the XPS, which is supposed to be a high-end machine, does not cater to those use cases.

Thanks. It's interesting that both you and the other respondent to my question are game developers. It makes sense that that line of work entails large data sets, etc.

Its a bit funny, when they state that it turns on instantly, They then back it up with 12 second cold boot and 3-5 second from sleep

I find it strange they still use this as a selling point. My only computer is a Dell laptop from 2008 (Studio 1737) and it wakes from sleep (Windows 8.1) in ~1 second. Sure I don't have connected standby but to be honest I don't really care for it. I open the lid and in a second Windows is up and running again. This machine originally came with Vista and it has always worked this quickly as far as I can remember.

This is perfect timing for a link to "developer edition" laptops. I've currently been scouring, trying to find something I can be happy developing on for the next 5+ years.

The big selling features for me [and most developers, I'd assume] are the screen and the keyboard. These 2 things are my feedback loop for developing, and need to be of a certain quality or I'll feel 'off'.

I find so many companies get close to creating my ideal development laptop, only to lack in critical ways.

While I don't detest them, I find a lot of island style keyboards don't provide a resistance for typing. The scissor switches under the beveled keys on the older Thinkpads left me with a good experience for long periods of typing. Feeling that resistance is so much nicer than pushing flat tabs down (most often on spongy keys).

I do understand a lot of people watch movies on their laptops, but unless a screen is 1080 or higher, I find a 16:9 ratio screen limiting. My 12 inch SXGA+ screen goes up to 1050px height. Almost all "modern" screens are 16:9 and only go up to 900px height for the ~12" width. So unless a company makes a 1080 12" laptop, I still feel I'm missing out on those extra 150 pixels.

Soldering RAM, SSDs, etc. to the mobo. Like was mentioned here, "planned obsolescence" is everywhere, but I don't want to be a part of it. My old x61 Thinkpad still performs beautifully, even after nearly 8 years of service. Why? Because 8GB of RAM is still a nice thing to have, even if DDR2 RAM is mind blowingly expensive. And the ability to change wifi cards, throw in a CrystalHD card to play videos on, or just switch to an SSD. These little upgrades help keep my old workhorse alive, and makes me wish Lenovo would come out with an upgraded version, rather than changing to just hit the wider market of people.

And this is what it comes down to, I feel. So many companies blindly target the lowest-threshold-needs to hit the widest target group; not really thinking (or maybe just not caring) that every other company is doing the same thing. Perhaps it's the notion that 5% of a $1bn market is bigger than 80% of a $50mm. But at that point, you reduce your company's reputation to being just another brand, rather than being a master in a particular field.

The second model seems like a really good deal for a fairly powerful Linux laptop with a really nice screen.

Will probably wait for an Ars review but definitely looks promising. Way more affordable than the Precision model they released recently.

French link for this product. http://www.dell.com/fr/p/xps-13-linux/pd note that the ubuntu version is noticeably cheaper (-70€) than the windows version with identical configuration. This is appreciable.

I have the previous edition of this laptop, and I'm very happy with it. I'm a Linux guy through and through, and I'm happy to put my money where my mouth is, rather than buying some Windows machine and hoping Linux runs well on it.

I'll probably pick one of these up later this year.

I bought the new XPS 13. The fan runs all the time, even when the machine is idle. Other people have reported the same problem. I returned it.

What makes this a 'developer edition'? Does that just mean it comes without windows, or are there other differences too?

Sans Windows.

The m3800 they sell has 16gb of ram, fwiw.


I expected to change some hardware components via Customize & Buy, such as adding more RAM, however it only allows adding support or some accessories. Expected more from a "Developer Edition". Do you recommend any other laptops for Linux with full support and lasts more than 4-5 hours?

I got tired of waiting for the Dell (and got a bit antsy about the BIOS and other issues) and went with a Lenovo X250 instead. It's fully customizable but takes about 2 weeks to ship. I've actually been traveling since I ordered it, finally getting it cross-shipped this week.

There are some crazy discounts every so often (I got a 35% off on my X250 order a couple weeks ago; I spent $1500 w/ shipping+tax for the i7-5600U CPU, 512GB SSD, 12.5"FHD screen, w/ a 6-cell battery). It maxes out w/ an 8GB DIMM, but 16GB DIMMs are starting to show up and will be compatible (albeit currently quite expensive).

The X250 is slightly bulkier than the MBA11/XPS13, but one nice thing is that it comes w/ a built-in 3-cell battery and an additional hot-swappable 3 or 6-cell battery. Real world battery life is reported to be 6h+ with the 3+3 combo, and 10h+ with the 3+6. Lenovo claims 20h in Windows. I'm interested in running some tests but I'm confident it should last at least a work day.

Here are some notes I've gathered, both comparing various ultrabook options (I'm replacing my MBA11 after multiple generations of disappointments) as well as lots of X250 specific config notes: https://randomfoo.hackpad.com/Lenovo-X250-Linux-CVpUMLjBDZh

If you can live with 64 go of SSD, the new Chromebook pixel looks quite interesting (with crouton in order to use linux).

Seems Dell is a mess in ACPI and will need firmware updates: http://mjg59.dreamwidth.org/34542.html

The state of the hardware in Linux is very relevant, I couldn't find any real specs like chipsets of network, sound and such for this new XPS model.

Linux has come a far way as all of us who remember compiling a device driver will attest to, but that does not mean we're free from having to check if our new computers have well supported firmwares and preferably functioning open drivers.

The most extensive discussion on Linux compatibility for the XPS13 is here: https://major.io/2015/02/03/linux-support-dell-xps-13-9343-2...

It includes info on the hardware: ALC3263 audio, BCM4352 network. Issues (presumably all fixed/worked around now that Dell is officially selling a DE) included the above-mentioned ACPI issues, sound (HDA/I2S, mic, headphone output) keyboard debouncing, trackpad freezing (and having to run in PS2 mode), and un-suspend display corruption.

Note, Major Hayden, who wrote the original post ended up switching to a Lenovo X1 Carbon: https://major.io/2015/03/30/review-lenovo-x1-carbon-3rd-gene...

The X1 Carbon X1 (2nd gen) starts at roughly €2,200 in my region versus Dell's roughly €1,300 for the XPS 13 (3rd gen). That's a _big_ difference, it had want to be worth it but wait...

The Carbon has the good ol' Windows tax, the XPS comes with Ubuntu pre-installed.

The Carbon has an i5, the XP3 an i7.

Carbo has a res of 2560x1440 (QHD), the XPS has a res of 3200 x 1800 (QHD+).

The Carbon has a 180GB hard drive, the XPS has a 512GB.

Thanks, but no thanks. I have the previous version of the XPS 13 and it's a sweet machine. Granted, it may take Dell a while to get the BIOS tweaks just right but it's not like the machine is unusable otherwise - it just goes from nearly perfect to perfect.


[0] http://shop.lenovo.com/ie/en/laptops/thinkpad/x-series/x1-ca... [1] http://www.dell.com/ie/business/p/xps-13-linux/pd

I had the previous version of the DELL XPS 13 Developer Edition and I always had problems with USB 3 devices.

And Dell assistance is now a joke... four maintenance works (one of them broke the display) changing random pieces and at the end the problem was still there. I wouldn't suggest to anybody to buy one of this.

What I like about this: I can buy it with Bitcoin! That is not something I feel should be overlooked ..

8GB RAM is so 2014... also keyboard layout is not so dev friendly.

You mean 2010. Sandy Bridge laptops from 2011 already had 16 GiB RAM.

I think since 2014 use of 8GB in mainstream laptops was a standard. It seems like they just slapped Ubuntu on a mediocre spec laptop and called it a day.

Mainstream, maybe. But not in developer laptops/mobile workstations.

I hope they do the no bezel thing on the next xps 15. It's super sexy, but I need the extra ram and real estate in the 15.

It would be nice to be able to choose the 256 GB HDD for the non-touch version. I'm not sure why this is not an option.

Its available on the non-dev product page if you configure it.

» Software Skype™, Internet Explorer, My Dell Support application, Dropbox « wait what?

I would rather get a Thinkpad for that price, especially the T450S.

$1600 for an IPS 1080p screen? what a joke.

A bit weird as it says nothing about battery.

It does say "52 WHr, 4-Cell Battery (integrated)" in the details ("Also included in this system"), but it doesn't list the estimated run time.

Thanks. I didn't go into detail page. That's why

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