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Dell's line of Linux laptops expands to include new MacBook Pro competitor

Chris Hoffman | Feb. 2, 2015
Dell's Precision M3800 mobile workstation launched recently, and rejoice Linux lovers! The powerful, flexible MacBook Pro competitor is also available with Ubuntu Linux thanks to Dell's Project Sputnik endeavor.

Dell's Precision M3800 mobile workstation launched recently, and rejoice Linux lovers! The powerful, flexible MacBook Pro competitor is also available with Ubuntu Linux thanks to Dell's Project Sputnik endeavor.

If you'd prefer a sleeker Linux laptop, you can still pick up an XPS 13 Ultrabook with Linux, and yes, the latest, super-sleek version of the XPS 13 — which PCWorld hardware editor Gordon Mah Ung called a MacBook Air killer — will get a "developer edition" with Ubuntu preinstalled soon, according to Project Sputnik lead Barton George.

Rather than fizzling out, Project Sputnik is taking off — and Dell's Linux laptops exclude the "Microsoft tax" tacked on tonotebooks that include Windows.

Project Sputnik gets a second line of laptops

Dell's "Project Sputnik" started back in 2012. Dell wanted to create Linux laptops for developers who wanted officially supported Linux systems. These laptops aren't necessarily just for developers, as anyone can buy them. But many developers do want high-quality Linux hardware that will work without any hassles, and that's who Dell is targeting with these laptops. After all, even the Fedora is refocusing its Linux desktop efforts on developers.

Dell initially launched a "developer edition" of its well-regarded XPS 13 Ultrabook. That hardware has gone through several upgrades over the years.

But not everyone wants a super-lightweight laptop, so Dell's line of Linux hardware is expanding. Some people want more powerful, capable hardware — a mobile workstation. Dell's M3800 targets those people, and it's also available with Linux preinstalled as a "developer edition." It's a solid, powerful piece of hardware with 16 GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 processors, NVIDIA graphics, and an option for a 4K display.

A clean Ubuntu 14.04 LTS system

Like Dell's other laptops, the M3800 ships with the latest Long Term Support (LTS) release of Ubuntu — that's Ubuntu 14.04. This does mean the Thunderbolt hardware on the laptop won't function when it ships, although the Ubuntu 14.04.2 update should add additional hardware support and the newer Linux kernel should enable it. If Thunderbolt is essential to you, you can always upgrade the laptop's operating system to a newer Linux distribution. The M3800 comes with Ubuntu, but you don't have to use Ubuntu.

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Unlike previous "developer edition" laptops from Dell, the M3800 ships with a clean, bog-standard Ubuntu 14.04 LTS install. There are no additional pieces of software or drivers provided by Dell, which is an ideal situation. Everything the laptop needs is in the standard Linux software, so it should work well with any Linux distribution. You could just reinstall any version of Ubuntu you wanted on the laptop without worrying about installing any extra Dell software.

 

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