I bought it from the business sales web site, the general PC sales staff knew nothing about the XPS 13 Developer Edition, a compact ultrabook that runs Ubuntu out of the box-in theory, and I allegedly saved $300 because it was for my business, todgermanica dot com.
It cost over $1100USD and I bought it thinking it would be easy to install Linux Mint 17.3 for the operating system since all the drivers would be the same as Dell’s ugly and unusable Ubuntu Linux 14.04. Should have been easy, but it wasn’t.
I like the design of the XPS overall with some exceptions. The super sharp touch screen, fast Intel Core i5 2.70 GHz CPU, 8GB memory, 500GB disk, SD card slot, 128GB SSD drive and small tough (CNC aluminum chassis with carbon fiber palm pad) form factor are great. A 13.3″ screen with the size of an 11″ PC, it’s fast, light and, after software upgrades, very stable.
However, the supplied OS, Ubuntu Linux 14.04, OTOH stinks on ice. It had random freezes and hard crashes daily for me, would not let me choose “do the same action for all files of this type” and would NEVER update.
It also lacks: a 3rd USB port, an RJ45 jack and an easy automatic way to enlarge and control the tiny fonts. The Broadcom wireless card has a bad reputation but mine seems to work OK now that I have the correct software driver. The battery is not replaceable and the memory chips are soldered on; like an Apple, not much is upgradable.
Unlike many, my experience with Dell support was good. They sent me a link to a recovery site since I foolishly installed Linux Mint 17.3 from USB stick using the entire disk-and then it wouldn’t boot!
I was pretty sure it was the MS Secure Boot crap preventing bootup since Mint ran perfectly from the USB stick as a live instance before I installed it. I thought I’d turned off Secure Boot on the BIOS configuration (f12) but must not have done it right.
Then the Broadcom wireless card device driver was corrupt and Dell support had no way to get me the correct driver because no RJ45 jack for the internet. Yet I know the card was functional and the driver was on the ISO somewhere because it worked as a live instance.
Of course I had to go to Fry’s and buy the damned USB-to-RJ45 dongle for $43. Luckily after I used it to download the right driver I heard solder rattling around inside and took it back for a refund. Score!
With that settled I got Mint working and configured it the way I like, downloading or choosing Gparted, Rhythmbox Music Player, VLC Player, Soundjuicer, Shotwell Image Viewer (for cropping and image enhancement-not for image viewing or management) and Opera browser.
It’s wonderful, after the pain of Ubuntu, to have an OS that allows multiple open windows, that has a system tray showing all the running programs so I can choose and to have no annoying ’tiles’ cluttering up my desktop. I am finally enjoying the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition thanks to Linux Mint 17.3, even though I’m not a developer.
If you buy one insist on the superior Intel wireless card. The touchscreen feature I have yet to use since it leads to ‘gorilla arms’, but maybe I’ll use it someday.
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