Linked by Thom Holwerda on Thu 19th Mar 2015 00:53 UTC
Linux

Sure - if you want a fast, well-built, well-equipped 4K laptop preloaded with Ubuntu, with most of the potential edge-case configuration issues already taken care of, with an active set of developers working to ensure that the necessary repos are kept current, and with an actual, for-real OEM warranty and support. The M3800 Developer Edition is what an OEM-loaded Linux laptop should be, and it's got the added bonus of being supported by Barton George and a small, dedicated group of Linux enthusiasts at Dell. Those folks are backed by Dell's significant resources and are in constant contact with Canonical.

The value proposition is pretty clear there, but the question is whether or not that value proposition is worth the extra money versus buying a less-expensive base laptop and loading the Linux distro of your choice. There's going to be a lot of overlap between the M3800 Developer Edition's target market and the segment of potential customers who have no problem with just rolling their own Linux installation on a Thinkpad or even on a MacBook. For those folks, how much is it worth to have Dell do the heavy lifting?

I guess the problem is this: a machine like this is for developers and enthusiasts. However, developers and enthusiasts have no issues with getting a cheaper model and installing and running Linux themselves. This puts this expensive Dell Linux laptop in a sort of demand limbo - which is sad, because it looks like a great machine.

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Pain
by tomz on Thu 19th Mar 2015 01:27 UTC
tomz
Member since:
2010-05-06

The problem is often the configuration and worse, upgrading the distro and such can be such a pain, that it is worth getting it to work "out of the box" and such that the drivers will continue to work.

I have a Dell and it sort-of works. I need proprietary drivers to do 4k, and they have lots of quirks, but the free driver (noveau instead of the nvidia which doesn't compile properly without hacking) doesn't do 4k out my HDMI port.

Until Apple went down the slippery slope to the dark side, I enjoyed having a CLI, but also an appliance that would do my photos, music, docs, and whatever well without thinking about it.

I think I would have to dual boot (I'd do Win7 or wait for Win10), but this sounds like a nice system.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Pain
by Alfman on Thu 19th Mar 2015 02:14 UTC in reply to "Pain"
Alfman Member since:
2011-01-28

tomz,

The problem is often the configuration and worse, upgrading the distro and such can be such a pain, that it is worth getting it to work "out of the box" and such that the drivers will continue to work.


On this product it doesn't sound like Dell is bundling custom OEM drivers. Instead they're working with upstream devs to make sure upstream kernels work, which is great!

Driver-wise, the laptop’s Quadro K1100M GPU uses a standard binary package from Nvidia (ours came pre-loaded with version 340.46). No extra coding was done by Dell, although Dell engineer Jared Dominguez told us that the company collaborated with both Nvidia and Canonical to make sure everything would be compatible and functional.


Edited 2015-03-19 02:19 UTC

Reply Score: 4

RE: Pain
by shmerl on Thu 19th Mar 2015 03:57 UTC in reply to "Pain"
shmerl Member since:
2010-06-08

If you want it out of the box, Lenovo is the best option usually.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Pain
by General_Edmund_Duke on Thu 19th Mar 2015 08:26 UTC in reply to "RE: Pain"
General_Edmund_Duke Member since:
2014-05-17

Does someone pay you guys for this Lenovo advertising? I`m selling and repairing notebooks and those damn Lenovo are just pain. I don`t know how it looks at otherparts of the world, but service in middle Europe sux, sometimes it`s a few months in service (including sending it to them, getting unrepaired and sending back a few times!), and b and g series just stratify themselfs... No other brand got that kind of problems. And out of the box? Nope, not always.

Reply Score: 1

RE[3]: Pain
by tidux on Sat 21st Mar 2015 10:29 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Pain"
tidux Member since:
2011-08-13

Only a retard buys consumer-tier Lenovo hardware. The Lenovo love comes from their T and X series Thinkpads.

Reply Score: 3

RE[2]: Pain
by mcnamara on Thu 19th Mar 2015 10:02 UTC in reply to "RE: Pain"
mcnamara Member since:
2015-03-19

If you want it out of the box, Lenovo is the best option usually.


You like crapware?

Reply Score: 0

RE[3]: Pain
by softdrat on Fri 20th Mar 2015 22:17 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Pain"
softdrat Member since:
2008-09-17

Crapware is great! The fees payed by the vendor offset the Microsoft tax. When you wipe and installed Linux, you are breaking even.

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Pain
by hobgoblin on Thu 19th Mar 2015 17:36 UTC in reply to "RE: Pain"
hobgoblin Member since:
2005-07-06

I am guessing you are referring to Thinkpads here, and not Ideapads.

Sadly it is not with Lenovo as it was with IBM, you can't simply toss out the company name without also specifying the product line.

Reply Score: 3

Developer Laptop Keyboard
by Alfman on Thu 19th Mar 2015 02:03 UTC
Alfman
Member since:
2011-01-28

The one thing I am very fussy about, especially with regards to software development, is the keyboard. I *need* distinct cursor keys to be productive. I once ordered a laptop where some of the nav-keys were overloaded onto other key...huge mistake! Having to hit FN all the time was debilitating. It wasn't clear when I bought it, but even the F1-F12 keys required the FN key (FN-ALT-F4). Screw that, the laptop got returned immediately. Unfortunately this Dell laptop also has the wrong keyboard for me.


Not having ethernet port is a bit of a bummer since I actually need ethernet for development testbeds, sometimes even two ports are useful to create an adhoc monitoring bridge. It's nice that this officially supports Linux and a 4000k display, but it doesn't hit my other requirements.

Reply Score: 4

RE: Developer Laptop Keyboard
by Drumhellar on Thu 19th Mar 2015 02:09 UTC in reply to "Developer Laptop Keyboard"
Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

At least with Dell laptops, there is a bios setting to make the F-keys do the default F1-F12, and not the media controls.

Not sure what it'd do on this keyboard, since my Dell laptop has dedicated home/end PgUP/PgDn in addition to the cursor keys.

I know it'd bug me regardless, since I use Ctrl+(Home,End,PgUp,PgDn) frequently. It'd be annoying to do that and need to press the Fn key at the same time.

Reply Score: 3

General_Edmund_Duke Member since:
2014-05-17

That`s not only Dell. Most of brands have that option in menu, so it`s easy to get ride of Fn. However I don`t understand why they do that by default. There are iven keyboards, where you have press Fn to type letters. Mother of Gods... ;-)

Reply Score: 2

RE[3]: Developer Laptop Keyboard
by Nth_Man on Fri 20th Mar 2015 23:06 UTC in reply to "RE[2]: Developer Laptop Keyboard"
Nth_Man Member since:
2010-05-16

> However I don`t understand why they do that by default.

Some manufacturers do a lot of anti-standard things so that users buy their brand of computers again :-(, that includes making their keyboards different to the other brands so that people get used to them and don't want to change to another brand in their next buy :-(

Sometimes they succeed, and they think that's good :-(

Edited 2015-03-20 23:08 UTC

Reply Score: 2

Just Works ?
by jokotole on Thu 19th Mar 2015 05:35 UTC
jokotole
Member since:
2015-03-19

I've been spending two days configuring a no-name Japan-made laptop, trying to make GPU works (CUDA and OpenGL). If Dell can promise all hardware "just works out-of-the-box", then it will be great.

Reply Score: 2

Screen resolution is great but....
by shotsman on Thu 19th Mar 2015 07:42 UTC
shotsman
Member since:
2005-07-22

only 16GB Ram max? Really.....

I'd love to replace my HP Elitebook 8770w but finding a luggable that takes 32Gb ram (for VM's) is not that easy.
(plus up to 3.5TB of SSD....)

Reply Score: 2

Carewolf Member since:
2005-09-08

only 16GB Ram max? Really.....

I'd love to replace my HP Elitebook 8770w but finding a luggable that takes 32Gb ram (for VM's) is not that easy.
(plus up to 3.5TB of SSD....)


Ram is usually upgradable if you stay away from ultrabooks.

If you need a lot of RAM get a mobile workstation like ThinkPad W (or HP Elitebook). The bigger ThinkPad Ws have 4 ram slots.

Reply Score: 4

Good experience
by cropr on Thu 19th Mar 2015 11:00 UTC
cropr
Member since:
2006-02-14

End 2013 I bought the Dell XPS 13 Ubuntu edition and I must say this has been a very plesant experience.
In th emean time I upgraded the 12.04 LTS to 14.04 LTS installed KDE on it iso Unity and I am a very happy user. The machine is very fast, works like a charm and I haven't had any issues.
For the future I would certainly buy again a Dell Linux machine, but a 15" laptop like the M3800 is too heavy for my needs as I travel almost daily. so I stick to XPS 13

Reply Score: 2

I'm a developer and I'd buy one
by SzoylentGreen on Thu 19th Mar 2015 13:18 UTC
SzoylentGreen
Member since:
2013-05-08

I have better things to do with my time than mess with installing and configuring distros. I just want something that works so I can get on with my work.

I think there is a very good market for this machine.

Reply Score: 4

Comment by KLU9
by KLU9 on Thu 19th Mar 2015 13:40 UTC
KLU9
Member since:
2006-12-06

Not a developer but I'd love a high-spec laptop with a free-libre OS configured out of the box. However I didn't see the author mention one of the most important specs for me, until this...
http://cdn.arstechnica.net/wp-content/uploads/2015/03/JT3A28981.jpg

I can no longer bring myself spend money supposedly buying a computer and end up with a mirror instead.

Reply Score: 2

RE: Comment by KLU9
by PieterGen on Thu 19th Mar 2015 14:56 UTC in reply to "Comment by KLU9"
PieterGen Member since:
2012-01-13

Yup, that is what comes with touch screens. I hate shiny screens as well.

As a matter of fact, laptops are very UNergonomic:
- many have a shiny screen (forces you into postions that avoid those reflections)
- keyboards are thin, without much tavel, hard on the fingertips, little guidance for touch typers where you "are" on the keyboard
- keyboard and screen are attached, meaning either your screen sits too low (-> neck problems) or your keyboard too high (-> back/shoulder problems)
- screens are low & wide, whereas most work requieres a vertical-ish screen

Im waiting for a laptop with a detachable, matte screen and a keyboard with mechanical keys and nice sculptured keycaps. :-)

Reply Score: 1

RE[2]: Comment by KLU9
by KLU9 on Thu 19th Mar 2015 15:21 UTC in reply to "RE: Comment by KLU9"
KLU9 Member since:
2006-12-06

Yeah, makers market laptops on their video playback ability but then make not just the screen but also everything surface around the screen reflective and sprinkled with blinkenlights.

And yes, the "island/chiclet" keys is another no-no for me. My current ultrabook has them, and within a month I started getting a lot of pains in my hands and had to buy an external keyboard for it.

(Although I can't go "full-metal clicky" as most of my work involves audio conferencing.)

And the other thing I bought almost immediately was a stand with ventilator, lifting it up about 20cm to improve the angle.

So if you ever do find your ideal laptop, splash the story across OSNews so I can learn about it too ;)

Reply Score: 2

What about the other computers?
by Thomas2005 on Thu 19th Mar 2015 14:11 UTC
Thomas2005
Member since:
2005-11-07

If Dell just built all their computers with components that had open-source support they would not have to have a "Developer Edition", they could just have an option for which OS (Windows or Ubuntu) a customer wants installed. Since Ubuntu will be officially supported users should be able to download an ISO at a later date and install it by itself, or dual boot with Windows.

Reply Score: 1

RE: What about the other computers?
by zlynx on Thu 19th Mar 2015 15:19 UTC in reply to "What about the other computers?"
zlynx Member since:
2005-07-20

Everything on this laptop does have open source support.

I didn't want to wait for the official Ubuntu version so I bought the Win 8.1 version. I installed Fedora 21 (and now 22) and it works. Mostly. Connecting an external monitor makes it crash.

But the problems I have with it are all Fedora bleeding edge problems. With Ubuntu 14.04 everything did work.

It even works pretty well without the Nvidia binary driver. Nouveau seems to support the discrete GPU well enough. Setting DRI_PRIME=1 runs apps on the Nvidia.

When the Nvidia GPU spins up the power use goes pretty insane though. Whether you use the Nvidia binaries or Nouveau the fans spin up to LOUD and the predicted battery life goes down to about an hour and a half.

Reply Score: 4

Thomas2005 Member since:
2005-11-07

Everything on this laptop does have open source support.

I know this laptop has open source support, but my question is why not have every computer have open source support? There are still people that use desktop (towers) that do not use Windows, so what about us?

Reply Score: 2

zlynx Member since:
2005-07-20

Tough luck?

Heck, there are OEMs that don't even support newer upgrade versions of Windows.

There were HP laptops that would die if you upgraded them to Windows 7. All HP would do was tell you to reinstall XP.

Reply Score: 1

Drumhellar Member since:
2005-07-12

When the Nvidia GPU spins up the power use goes pretty insane though. Whether you use the Nvidia binaries or Nouveau the fans spin up to LOUD and the predicted battery life goes down to about an hour and a half.


Bumblebee is a good solution to this - everything uses the Intel GPU, unless you launch it with the wrapper, in which case the discreet GPU is activated and used instead.

But, when the NVidia GPU isn't being used, it is off.

Reply Score: 3

zlynx Member since:
2005-07-20

Yes, the wrappers set the environment variables, like DRI_PRIME=1 as I mentioned. Same thing. If that isn't set the Intel is the default card.

Reply Score: 3

Except....
by Flatland_Spider on Thu 19th Mar 2015 15:13 UTC
Flatland_Spider
Member since:
2006-09-01

Replacing Windows for Linux will put the machine in an unsupported configuration for a lot of support departments.

Bad display: It must be Linux. Use Windows.
Dead NIC: It must be Linux. Use Windows.
Etc.

A machine with the full backing of the OEM is awesome. People can run Linux and have an intact support contract, which is very important in a laptop. Especially if the person is planning on using the machine to make money.

I buy refurb equipment or I assemble my own desktops, simply because I know the OEM isn't going to support Linux, or whatever else I run. Why spend $2k on a machine only to be told it's my fault not the shoddy part when something does go wrong? This is a good thing.

I know about System76 and the other Linux manufacturers, but their systems don't appeal to me for one reason or another. Sometimes it's aesthetics, and other times it's hardware configuration. With desktops, it's mainly hardware configuration.

Reply Score: 5

I have one of these
by zlynx on Thu 19th Mar 2015 15:28 UTC
zlynx
Member since:
2005-07-20

I bought it during their President's Day sale. I got the Win8 version but I installed Fedora on it.

It is a sweet system in my opinion. It is like a large-size Ultrabook with its design and the lack of ports.

But I like Ultrabooks so that's a good thing.

The 4K screen is awesome. The touchpad is great. The keyboard could be improved but it works well enough. I got the extra big battery so the battery life is about 4-5 hours. The 256 GB M2 SSD is nice and fast with 600 to 700 MB/s read speed.

Cooling seems to be good. And loud. I was able to run a large software compile on all 8 cores and they stayed up at 3 GHz for several minutes without slowing down. I haven't tried any heavy CPU + GPU jobs, which might change things.

Power use is pretty high. It burns about 20W just doing typing and web browsing. My older XPS 13 used 8W.

Linux 4K support seems pretty good actually. At least with X.org. Wayland needs some help still. Some software such as Thunderbird, Firefox and Chrome need manual tweaks of some variables to get the output looking the right size. Oh, and Java programs don't scale right. But none of those were important for me so I just don't use them.

Reply Score: 4

Cheaper machine
by JAlexoid on Thu 19th Mar 2015 15:30 UTC
JAlexoid
Member since:
2009-05-19

I'd rather buy a more expensive machine that will last, rather than pay ~1000 for something that will die in 3 years.

Reply Score: 1

Comment by Sidux
by Sidux on Thu 19th Mar 2015 15:45 UTC
Sidux
Member since:
2015-03-10

This competes directly with Mac book territory and considering that usually developers receive this laptop from the company they are working for, it's not that big of a problem.
The only thing I hope it included was a gigabit port. Sure there are plenty of USB 3.0 Ethernet adapters but it's funny to say at least that neither of them are fully Linux compatible.
When you mix this with Dell's own accessories that are not always Linux compatible you get a mild experience that is not good for business.
Look at Apple, at least they know how to do a thing properly (and overcharge their customers for this).
There are many other manufacturers that offer hardware that has been tested as being fully OS compatible, but the reality is that if you don't have a corporation to market this product and most importantly offer extended support for it it will always remain as a hobby, no different than what anyone can do with installing Linux on a device.

Reply Score: 2

Count me in
by jebb on Thu 19th Mar 2015 17:39 UTC
jebb
Member since:
2006-07-06

I'd buy one of these Dell Dev Editions if my 2009 MBP would only die...

Reply Score: 2

Cheaper Model ? You miss the point...
by delta0.delta0 on Sun 22nd Mar 2015 14:50 UTC
delta0.delta0
Member since:
2010-06-01

I guess the problem is this: a machine like this is for developers and enthusiasts. However, developers and enthusiasts have no issues with getting a cheaper model and installing and running Linux themselves. This puts this expensive Dell Linux laptop in a sort of demand limbo - which is sad, because it looks like a great machine.


These developer laptops are catering to businesses and governments that make big orders. As well as to individuals.

I don't see how this is expensive, why do you assume developers or enthusiasts would see this as expensive ?

The fact that this line is still being developed and the range is being expanded, should indicate that the demand is obviously there.

Reply Score: 2