back to article Dell seeks Linux fans to try cut-price Ubuntu Ultrabook

Dell is tempting Linux developers with the promise of a cut-price XPS 13 Ultrabook running Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. The machine is the outcome of Dell's Project Sputnik, which it kicked off back in May in a bid to create, with the commmunity's help, the best laptop for coders. The PC giant isn't quite ready to put the machine on sale …

COMMENTS

This topic is closed for new posts.

Page:

Anonymous Coward

Didn't the last Linux laptop from Dell actually turn out to be more expensive than the Windows version?

6
0
Anonymous Coward

re: last Linux laptop from Dell

That's because they had to hire on someone specially to scrub the Windows bits ...

0
0
Silver badge
FAIL

Mine certainly was, by the time I'd specified extra ram, better cpu, etc. to match. Oh and in 2010 it had the 2008 version of 'buntu.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Where shall we start?

1200 or more vertical lines

Graphics cards with open source libraries

Multiple external screens allowing the desk top be spanned across the screens - I have 4 in the office

Gigabit cabled networking. WIFI

Full size keyboard - including cursor, page, home, end keys

SSD or hybrid

64 bit OS

8 GB or more RAM.

I'm sure others can come up with more...

5
2
Silver badge

Re: Where shall we start?

Make it Quad Core

Add 32Gb of Ram for all those VM's we love to run

Add at least 1TB of disk space. No, we don't want a Raid-0 Array either.

0
0
Stop

Re: Where shall we start?

Why would you want a graphics car with open source libraries, given that the open source drivers mostly perform like donkey balls compared to the proprietary drivers?

What do open source graphics cards libraries have to do with 99% of development work, unless developing for graphics cards?

One of the problems with Linux is that people like yourself think you speak for all and every other Linux user. All the developers I know who use Linux are doing stuff using Eclipse. They really don't care about the open source drivers. It's meaningless to them. It's not even a "nice to have", it's meaningless.

You can moan all you like, but the 1% desktop share, of thereabouts, that Linux has pretty much says it all.

Nor will having open source libraries necessarily make them better. That partly explains why the open source drivers offer fewer features and worse performance than the closed ones.

6
5
Anonymous Coward

re: Performance of open source drivers

"open source drivers mostly perform like donkey balls compared to the proprietary drivers? .. open source drivers offer fewer features and worse performance than the closed ones".

Could you provide specifics on this ? Meanwhile have a look at this: windows 7 vs ubuntu linux 9.10

0
0
FAIL

Re: re: Performance of open source drivers

My Samsung 17" laptop, when using the oss nvidia driver, has no support for 3d acceleration or accelerated video playback. It overheats and shuts down after playing full screen 1080p H.264 video for 10 minutes, at very poor quality and with choppy playback if I so much as try running anything else.

When I install the proprietary driver, everything works wonderfully. CPU usage while playing that video is 4%. I can even compile code in the background while it plays.

So yes, the proprietary driver kicks the arse of the oss driver, and always has. After all, nvidia know how their hardware works. I have no problem with this, and nor does anybody who lives in the real world.

3
0
Thumb Down

Re: re: Performance of open source drivers

Certainly: http://www.phoronix.com/scan.php?page=article&item=nvidia_june_2012&num=1

The same goes for ATI cards.

And to anyone who has thumbed down my comment, you have your heads in the sand and are ignoring the evidence. It's OK to be a fan of Linux, but not to be blinkered.

5
0
Anonymous Coward

Zedsmith

No, Dell are asking what I want. I don't give a monkey's about the other 99%.

For 90% of what I use, it's command line based work, but the graphics drivers do help when a bit of gaming comes along. My personal opinion of Eclipse is unprintable, but then I don't have to use it, my choices reflect my usage; a good text editor - Geany, sqsh and sqlplus.

I also don't really care what other desktops are around and since this discussion is based up Dell asking about Linux, I don't see other desktops are relevant to the discussion.

With respect to the open source drivers. The main reason why they offer fewer features is a lack of available documentation. Nothing to do with the quality of the work being done by those teams writing and supporting them.

3
0
Coat

Re: re: Performance of open source drivers

There is a logical and rational reason to want open source drivers for your video card. But if we're talking about blinkered, lets talk about all the practicalists who care nothing for the computer they'll have tomorrow and only for the computer they have today. It's clearly short sighted when development efficiency depends on openess of the complexity of software today.

Now economically speaking, the linux nouvou driver is a bloody miracle. Not only do we have drivers for nvidia cards based on the work of very few developers, but their skills are rare, expensive and complex. The linux project has to compete for these rare skills against the development of all sorts of proprietary dead ends. All in all, they've been hacking at nouvou for only a few years and already the increased efficiency of development is evident.

0
0
Anonymous Coward

Don't ask propellerheads what they want, you'll end up with a laptop that looks like the bridge of a spaceship :)

6
2
Anonymous Coward

Don't ask Windows users what they want

Or you will end up with something looking like a Fisher Price design.

What's that ? They did and called it Metro !

10
2
Silver badge
Linux

Propellerheads...

Just got to System76 or your local version of same.

No need to bother with any more of Dell's empty promises. Go to a proper Linux vendor.

5
0
Silver badge

You say that like it is a bad thing!

1
0
Anonymous Coward

If they are serious about creating a laptop for developers, perhaps they should start offering some devices with support for multiple external displays. Although I'm sure I could live with a 13" screen for making the odd change while out of the office, I am NEVER going to choose to use it for any serious work. For me, being as productive as possible requires 3 x 24" monitors which currently means I need a desktop machine to act as an RDP client into a dev VM. If Dell were producing a laptop that supported at least 3 monitors, preferably more (by docking station I imagine) that would actually make it a tempting replacement for a desktop system for me.

1
0
Anonymous Coward

... and a machine that doesn't overheat when you run it with the lid closed too!

3
0
Silver badge

Lost my Toshiba Tecra M4 convertible tablet thing to that.

0
1

Running with the lid down

Turn it upside down

0
0
Anonymous Coward

A morse key and a software defined radio are essential accessories for any dedicated developer...

but I'd be happy with relabelling Caps Lock as Ctrl (and put the led on current ctrl)

0
0

or ditch the caps lock

Never found a need for Caps Lock myself. I always configure X with:

Option "XkbOptions" "ctrl:nocaps"

and put the Ctrl key back where it should be. The one at the lower left is a bonus.

This should be compulsory on all systems and hopefully shouty posts in all caps will be just for the die-hard ranters...

0
0
Silver badge

Dell Cut Price Ultrabook

Double plus good oxymoron.

1
0

"A viable GNU/Linux machine that works out of the box"

I'm not sure what Dell is on about, unless Dell laptops are full of nonstandard hardware that needs odd, proprietary drivers.

I supect that the "driver download safari" is mostly FUD (created after Linux became well-known) to frighten the average semi-technical bloke away from trying a non-Windows OS on their machine. I've been running Linux on Thinkpad laptops since 1996, and I must say that it's been many years since I encountered anything that didn't just "work out of the box". I have had far more problems getting 64-bit Win7 to play nicely with the hardware in new laptops than I do with mainstream Linux distributions.

14
0
Anonymous Coward

Re: "A viable GNU/Linux machine that works out of the box"

Drivers in general have worked but honestly speaking there has always been some crippled functionality.

The original article mentions the "top three driver issues with the XPS13-Ubuntu system already solved [...] being screen brightness and the Wi-Fi hotkey. Improved touchpad and multi-touch support is in progress"

0
0
Silver badge
Thumb Up

Re: "A viable GNU/Linux machine that works out of the box"

I'm with Quxy - Never really had major driver issues with linux since I started using it some six years ago, in anger rather than just experimenting.

Only real issues I've had have been hotkey support or DPMS (screen brightness) issues which require some workaround of sorts, which are irrelevant on desktop machine.

I've recently built a new Fusion A8 box with 16gb RAM, my old HD4850 and a Samsung 830SSD. Installed Win8 Release Preview (which surprisingly didn't require any drivers installed!) then plugged in the old hard drives from my quad booting Q6600 machine that died recently. Installed Umbongo 12.04 on top/beside it, and about the only thing I had to do was provide a username and password, and ask it to install alongside the current OS.

I now have a hex-boot system, thanks to GRUB/Ubiquitys (IIRC) device discovery magic.

Desktop linux on common hardware? It's pretty much there, I'm quite pleased to say! I can't say it's the year of the linux desktop (lets be honest, it never will be), but if you want one, you've never had it so good, no matter how you approach it.

Steven R

5
0
Linux

Re:Re: "A viable GNU/Linux machine that works out of the box"

@dx - when you talk about "crippled functionality" are you referring to a machine that came with a version of GNU/Linux installed? If you are, then why did you not return it & ask them to sort it? If you are not, then that is a totally different situation, as you are talking about taking pot luck, i.e installing an OS on a machine that isn't at all certified to run it. Just because the ingenuity of an army of GNU/Linux devs often means that you can do that & everything *will* work, doesn't mean that its a valid criticism if you do have difficulty getting drivers(or firmware - an issue with laptops I think) for some device where the makers have not helped at all, or released drivers for nothing but Windows.

Try installing Windows 7 on anything but x86 - why doesn't it work? Debian installs fine on this Sun machine - why doesn't Windows?

Sounds stupid, but that's the sort of attitude displayed by some when faced with the reverse situation.

2
0
Thumb Up

For that matter...

Try installing Windows 7 on *anything* that didn't ship with it. If it's more than a few years old, you'll *never* be able to find drivers for it; and even modern machines suffer from an array of compatibility problems, especially with 64-bit Win7.

If you run into driver problems when you're installing Linux, you've got a good shot at finding quick support and a patch. With Windows 7, you're SOL if it's a hardware device that the vendor doesn't intend to support for the 64-bit Windows 7 market.

4
1

Re: For that matter...

My last machine shipped with Win7 and Win7 didn't have drivers for it's wifi card.

Neither did Intel. INTEL. Not some fly-by-night hardware vendor.

I had to install some for a totally different card which somehow worked.

All the linuces I put on there worked perfectly out of the box.

5
0
Bronze badge
Pint

Re: "A viable GNU/Linux machine that works out of the box"

Do you buy your laptops from another galaxy? Windows has an order of magnitude better driver support than Linux.

The market Dell are going for here is that people can buy this, format the crappy, insecure Linux, that no one wants and upgrade to Warez Windows without paying for it...

0
13
WTF?

Re: For that matter...

Absolute dog spunk.

Quick support for Linux, you mean trawling through the support forums looking for the right post? Finding solutions for older versions of the distro and hoping they still work with the current one? Having to connect through a wire before you can download the firmware for your wireless? Ubuntu handles this pretty well admittedly, but stray away from the mighty brown distro and you're in for a painful time.

And what of performance? Open Source drivers are piss poor. Proprietary ones have better performance, sometimes even as good as Windows. Often it lags behind Windows in development. Sometimes there are no drivers at all e.g. for creative x-fi. I believe there is a driver now, but for a long time there was none, and then there was a shit one.

0
10
Silver badge
Angel

Tech support for Linux

If you have an actual technical issue, please state it as plainly as you can in reply. Linux support is so hard to get that you need only do that on any popular forum and help will be along in minutes.

4
0
Silver badge

Re: For that matter...

"but stray away from the mighty brown distro and you're in for a painful time."

Absolute nonsense - never had a problem for years (~2000) using OpenSuse on lots of different hardware.

3G dongle, wifi, webcams USB headset, bluetooth, usb-serial convertors, epson scanner/printer, 3 lasers, vdpau graphics acceleration all worked - no fuss, no bother

2
0
FAIL

@windywoo

Jeeze, crawl back under the bridge you came from -- you give Microsoft-lovers a bad name, and that kind of trolling won't positively influence any of The Register's readership. I develop for Windows 8, but at least have the sense to recognize the high quality of so much of the open-source code, and to acknowledge the debt our (necessarily) proprietary drivers and applications owe to FOSS code that came before.

1
0
Silver badge

Re: "A viable GNU/Linux machine that works out of the box"

We once did a hardware shootout at work. A Windows Vista box against a Linux box. We got 3 devices, an USB to serial adapter, an USB to Ethernet adapter and an USB Wifi dongle. The first 2 corresponded to standard device classes so they should work out of the box on any operating system. None of them worked on a Windows system, they all produced incomprehensible error messages. They all worked on an older Linux system.

1
0

Re: @windywoo

It's all true. Ever tried an open source driver for a graphics card? They'll accelerate the GUI and that's about it. I wanted to play back a 720p MKV and it couldn't do it. Even a site like Phoronix will admit how far behind the OSS graphics card drivers are. Even the proprietary drivers will take a while before they support the latest cards, and if they do, be prepared for poor performance until they get their acts together.

Recently, wireless hasn't given me any problems so perhaps that's sorted. In the past I had frequent disconnects, connections but at such a low speed as to be useless, or even, on one fine occasion Linux managed to crash my router. I have many machines in the house, Windows, OSX, Android, Web OS, but none of them has ever managed to crash a router. It was an IP version 6 problem.

As you can see I am not a Microsoft lover, I wish you had not made any unwarranted implications. I just despise propaganda. And saying that Linux gives fewer driver headaches than Windows is something to be scoffed at.

0
0

Re: For that matter...

Did you install the wifi drivers during setup and download updates during install, or did you have to use a wire?

I wasn't talking about anything other than wifi drivers.

0
0
Silver badge

Re: For that matter...

Always works with the distro's wifi drivers

0
0

Re: For that matter...

Do they install straight of the CD or do you have to connect with a wire first to download them?

0
0

If I wanted a new dev laptop...

Then it certainly wouldn't be a crippled oxymoronic Ultrabook.

2
0
Gold badge

And so it begins..

I predicted when M$ announced Surface that the OEMs wouldn't take their exclusion from the new version of Windows lying down, and so it starts..

4
0

Re: And so it begins..

Probably not. If Dell really has been talking to customers then they will be well aware that the leading edge of the tech community is moving away from windows and there is resistance in the user community to microsofts latest offerings. It must be a bit frightening for Dell, not wanting to be the next Nokia but not yet ready to clench the hand that supports it. Dell need to be seen to be playing with the cool kids and somehow relevant.

1
0

Re: And so it begins..

Not to worry... Because the public will never want something with a weird, geeky, unpronouncable name like OOBOONTOO...

0
1
Bronze badge
FAIL

Re: And so it begins..

I think you misunderstood. OEMs are not excluded from either Windows RT or Windows 8 for Tablets.

0
4
Anonymous Coward

Signed up! Perhaps with their super-generous developer beta-testing discount I can get it for the same price equivalent as the USA usually pays! $999 versus £949... what a joke...

0
0
Bronze badge

Project Sputnik?

Launch a basically harmless piece of hardware over the heads of your mortal enemies. Enemies who are currently mired in a swamp of complacency. This will motivate them to catch up and even surpass your efforts.

In the final analysis, who is launching all the supplies and crew to the ISS now?

1
0
Linux

Red Racing Stripes

That is all.

0
0

Ultrabook but make sure it has 18"+ screen and full (w/ numpad) sized keyboard, 16GB, proper GBit Lan card and I am game.

0
0

720P display???

Not sure what developers they think will be satisfied with 720 vertical pixels. I'd much rather have a Macbook with the Retina display.

1
0

Had great success with...

... an HP elite book 2540p.

Left win7 on there (dual boot) as you never know when it might be needed. Installed xubuntu - runs like a dream. Displayport gives me a perfect image on 24 inch monitor - and probably will run several monitors.

Light enough to walk around with. And high res enough to be able to work on all day.

And I managed to pick up an 'as new' one from amazon for 350.

1
0
Silver badge

Make 2 machines

One being a portable machine used for carrying around. Make it lightweight with the possibility to add wireless networking. (i.e. UMTS) Give it a high resolution display and make is as tiny as a normal sized keyboard permits. Perhaps make the keyboard fold out somehow. Worry about battery power and compactness more than CPU power or thickness.

Then make a larger one which you can still carry around in a backpack, but is mostly designed for stationary use. Give it a cheap and open source dock, and many video outputs, as well as the possibility to install 2 harddisks for redundancy. Of course ECC ram.

Of course drivers must be open source, that's simply a no-brainer. The times of proprietary drivers on laptops are long gone since Intel offers complete chipsets.

The use case would be like this. You have the large one parked somewhere and if you are not at your main workplace, you log into it via the Internet. Thanks to SSH and X11 forwarding that works acceptably well.

0
0

Page:

This topic is closed for new posts.

Forums