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Reading the ArchLinux Wiki, I found out today there was a BIOS update available for my DELL XPS 13″ Developer Edition (2016). Version 1.4.4.
Download it and learn how to do the update at: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dell_XPS_13_(2016)
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It is based on my previous post on the New Dell XPS 13″ Developer Edition. Read it at: https://opensource.com/life/16/7/hands-linux-ready-dell-xps-13-developer-edition
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About 15 months ago, I wrote a review on Fedora 21 on the ASUS Zenbook UX305 and an article for Opensource.com as well. As happy as I have been with that machine, a new year came along, and I had the opportunity to pick up a new personal laptop. I found myself undecided among 3 laptops: New Dell XPS 13″ Developer Edition, ASUS Zenbook UX305UA and the Lenovo Thinkpad 460s.
Without getting into too many details, I ended up choosing the Dell XPS Developer Edition (DE) mainly for a couple of reasons:
- I already own a Lenovo Thinkpad 450s for work which is running Fedora, and I know it runs pretty well, although I haven’t been very happy with the battery life recently and the ASUS still looks solid this year, but last year’s UX305 still working well enough.
- I haven’t bought a Dell system in over a decade, and since they went private again, I’ve been thinking about giving them a chance specially given that they are selling a machine with Linux pre-installed.
The XPS 13 DE I ordered does not have touchscreen, and it comes with 8 GB of RAM, 250 Gb SSD, and an Intel Core i5 Skylake processor. It is relatively more expansive than the ASUS UX305UA and a bit cheaper than the Thinkpad 460s (with comparable specs). The ordering experience was relatively painless, and it took Dell/Fedex a few days to drop it at my doorsteps, all within reason, so no complaints there. The XPS 13 DE does come with a USB-C port and SD card slot. The only “negative” feedback I have for the hardware is that Dell ended up putting the web camera on the laptop on the lower left corner of the screen, so if you ended up having video conferences with someone, if you start typing, your hands will be all over their faces 🙂
Unlike my old Asus UX305, I didn’t have to dual boot or remove Windows with this laptop. It came with Ubuntu 14.04 pre-installed. I decided to play with Ubuntu for a few days before installing Fedora on it. The Dell Ubuntu 14.04 runs pretty smoothly on the XPS 13, which shouldn’t be much of a shocker since they are selling it with it. I then decided to wipe the hard drive and install Ubuntu 16.04. I noticed that with the native Intel video drivers for Ubuntu 16.04 the XP 13 screen suffered from random flickers which was really annoying. After some research, this thread gave me a couple of different ways to solve the problem.
After a week or so running Ubuntu, it was time for me to install Fedora. The latest and greatest version of Fedora, 24, came out on June 21st, and I installed it on the XPS DE on the very same day. It turned out that Fedora 24 shipped with kernel 4.5, and the screen flickering was also happening with it. I then decided to go back to Ubuntu 16.04 and wait for kernel 4.6 to make into Fedora 24. I am glad I didn’t have to wait too long for it. 🙂 On July 1st, the kernel 4.6 RPM was released for Fedora 24, I did the install again, and for the past 3 days the XPS 13″ DE has been running mostly flawlessly on Fedora 24.
The only 2 issues I’ve seen so far on the Dell XPS 13″ DE in both Ubuntu and Fedora are minor issues with the touchpad which once a week it seems to forget I have “tap to click” turned on, and it only responds to actual clicking the touchpad. The second isn’t a real issue more like an annoyance, and it happens on Fedora and Ubuntu as well, but sometimes it takes 30 to 90 seconds after the laptop resumes from sleeping for the wi-fi to be detected. It always comes up, but sometimes it takes too long.
The screen is beautiful, 1080p with very good brightness. I boot Fedora 24 with powertop enabled on systemd so it automatically sets all the power saving tunnables under powertop on, and that gives me 8+ hours of battery life, yet I haven’t actually done a complete battery drain to confirm if the system is accurately keeping track of how much power is left. For what is worth, I have used it for over 5 hours unplugged and it said it still had a few more hours.
The New Dell XPS 13″ Developer Edition is an incredible machine, good looking, well built. It doesn’t come with Windows installed (if that’s important to you), and it runs Linux (Ubuntu and Fedora) virtually perfectly. It is a great machine for developers and systems administrators out there.
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Happy Pi Day Week. I got an new article out on Opensource.com: https://opensource.com/life/16/3/simple-led-control-raspberry-pi
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Opensource.com has a ‘Careers’ series going on right now, and I wrote up my 2 cents regarding my views on what I am looking for when I hire System Administrators for my team. Check it out: https://opensource.com/business/16/3/job-interview-advice-sys-admins/
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I signed up for the MagPi issue #40 so I could get a Raspberry Pi Zero for free. The magazine arrived in NC w/o the board, and after I emailed the US folks responsible for the Magazine subscription and only a few days later, I had another magazine with the Pi0 on it!
I am temporarily running a web server available on the Internet that is running on my Raspberry Pi Zero right now. URL: http://minecraft.the-silvas.com
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