The XPS 13 Developer Edition goes Bionic, Welcome 18.04!


When project Sputnik debuted over five years ago, we launched with one config of our XPS 13 developer edition and it came with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

Today, thanks to the interest and support of the community, we are announcing that in the US our seventh generation XPS 13 developer edition now comes with Ubuntu 18.04.  Europe and Canada will soon be following suit.

XPS 13 with 18.04

18.04 represents Project Sputnik’s fourth preloaded LTS as we have progressed from Precise Pangolin (12.04) to Trusty Tahr (14.04) to Xenial Xerus (16.04) and today, Bionic Beaver.

What’s an LTS

In case you’re not familiar with it, LTS stands for “Long Term Support” and a new LTS release comes out every two years.  Ubuntu’s LTS releases are supported and receive updates for five years, versus nine months for the interim releases.  It is the LTS releases that Dell certifies and preloads on our Ubuntu-based systems.

That was then, this is now

Project Sputnik’s first system debuted at the end of November in 2012 and, as mentioned above, it came with Ubuntu 12.04 preloaded.

The HUD small

The HUD in 12.04 — image from webupd8.org

Back then there was only one configuration of the XPS 13 developer edition and it boasted: 8GB RAM, a 256GB SSD and a 1,280 x 720 display.

On the OS side, Ubuntu 12.04 introduced the HUD “a revolutionary new way of interacting with application menus on the desktop.” 12.04 was also the release when people started to see the value of Ubuntu’s default user interface, Unity.

Fast forward to today

The XPS 13 developer edition is now in its seventh generation with 13 configurations.  The top of the line developer edition comes with 16GB RAM, a 1TB SSD and a UHD (3,840 x 2,160) display.  The big news of Ubuntu’s 18.04 LTS is the removal of Unity and the return of the GNOME desktop.

There is also a new “Minimum Install” option which excludes extras such as music players, office suites etc.  In its place you get a slimmed down version comprised of GNOME, a web browser, a terminal and basic apps.

Looking forward

Speaking of systems, right around the corner is the new Precision 5530 mobile workstation, developer edition.  Stay tuned

And if we look further on the horizon you can just make out Sputnik’s LTS number five, 20.04 😊

 

Extra-credit reading

  • Ditching Windows: 2 Weeks With Ubuntu Linux On The Dell XPS 13 – Forbes
  • 5 Reasons You Should Switch From Windows To Linux Right Now – Forbes
  • Dell XPS13 Developer Edition ships with Ubuntu 18.04 LTS pre-installed – Ubuntu blog
  • Ubuntu 18.04 LTS: The Linux for AI, clouds, and containers – ZDnet
  • Leave it to Beaver: Unity is long gone and you’re on your GNOME – The Register
  • Dell Unveils New Ubuntu Laptops — OMG!UBUNTU!
  • Dell refreshes Precision laptops with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed – ZDnet
  • Dell stuffs Intel Coffee Lake CPUs and Ubuntu into latest Precision workstations – The Inquirer

Pau for now…

64 Responses to The XPS 13 Developer Edition goes Bionic, Welcome 18.04!

  1. […] Barton de Dell acaba de anunciar la certificación de Ubuntu 18.04 LTS para el nuevo modelo de su ultraportátil XPS 13, el cual se […]

    Like

  2. d3 says:

    Awesome! 🙂
    Currently not in the market for a laptop, but if I were, this would be it.
    Are all device drivers publicly available? My distro of choice isn’t Ubuntu for example, so that would need to go in favor of another, which would of course be pointless if nothing works because the drivers only exist as blobs for Ubuntu

    Like

  3. venemo says:

    Hi Barton,

    Congrats for your release and really glad to see you guys succeed with Project Sputnik. While I’m also a happy user of an XPS 13 9370, I must admit that there are still several issues when running Linux on this machine. These are not deal breakers but stuff that one would expect to “just work”, when the laptop is shipping with Linux.

    My question would be what is the proper place to report such issues and how to help fix them?

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi @Venemo,

      the best place to report issues is at the following link http://www.dell.com/support/incidents-online/us/en/04/contactus/Dynamic Its a dynamic link and takes you to our contact list and it should adjust based on support available in your region. If it doesn’t, you can select your region in the bottom right corner to update it.

      Out of curiosity, what distro are you using? We officially support Ubuntu and make “best efforts” on other distros.

      I appreciate your interest and support!

      Like

      • venemo says:

        Thank you Barton for your kind reply. The stuff I’m talking about is not really dependent on the distro I use, but are common to all of them.

        Current remaining issues are:

        1. Excessive power draw during sleep mode. This is a kernel issue, and is tracked here: https://bugzilla.kernel.org/show_bug.cgi?id=199689
        2. The touchpad can produce “jumps”, which has been discussed many times, even on previous XPS models. This is most likely a firmware issue (or a kernel driver bug).
        3. There is no way to update the SSD firmware on Linux. (At the same time kudos to you guys for providing firmware updates to the BIOS and the Thunderbolt NVM!)
        4. The Bluetooth device sometimes completely disappears after suspend. (You already commented on this on the forum.)

        Most other issues have been solved since I’ve purchased this machine, kudos to your team for that!

        The Arch wiki has a nice writeup of the status of Linux on this machine here: https://wiki.archlinux.org/index.php/Dell_XPS_13_(9370) – the material is 99% applicable on other distros too, not just Arch. I personally use Fedora.

        Best regards,
        Tim

        Like

  4. Tom J. says:

    Hi Barton,
    A welcome news! Could you please let us know when this upgrade is implemented in Europe (Germany)?

    Like

  5. Andrew M says:

    This looks great. I am ready to buy but I can’t configure the Dell site for more than 8gb RAM. It is my understanding that the RAM is soldered to the board so I would need to be able to select more RAM now. Is that correct?
    Also I am in Australia, presumably I need to get it delivered to a US address if I order from US site? Australia Post offer this as service so that is fine but thought I would check.

    Like

    • Hi Andrew are you looking at the US site? I just reconfirmed and there are 16GB options there.
      And as you mention you need to have it sent to a US address. Thanks for the support!!

      Like

      • Andrew M says:

        Yes you are correct; I was looking at the US site but specifically wanted the i5 and didn’t think to look at the i7 model. I guess that makes sense if it’s soldered to the board you’d probably have to pick a model and run with it and most people are going to want an i7 with 16+ Gb

        Like

      • John says:

        Before this upgrade happened, there was an i5/16 gig model that has gone away. Any idea why it was discontinued? There is a Windows version that has an i5/16 gigs of ram/256 but no corresponding Ubuntu version.

        Like

      • Hi John, let me check with the team and get back to you, stay tuned

        Like

      • Hi John, here is what i heard back from the team:

        It’s still available. Here’s the order code… Order Code: cax13w10p1c607ubuntus

        Starting configuration for this OC is i5|8gb|256, but the customer has the option to upgrade both memory (from 8gb to 16gb) and the display (from FHD to UHD touch).

        HTH

        Like

  6. danasanis says:

    Pity Dell XPS or Precision developer editions are not available world wide. Last year I got Precision 5520, but had to go with no OS version cause in my region there were no Linux variant. But so happy to hear about new Linux availability on Dell computers. Just wish Kubuntu was chosen, Plasma 5 is so much better user experience… to me at least 🙂 anyway, I am very excited and looking forward for what’s to come next. Linux and Dell is awesome together and hope to continue on using Dell for my Linux OS based workflows.

    Like

    • Hi @Danasanis, thanks for the support and kind words!!

      Which country are you in? Its my understanding that the 5520 w/Ubuntu is available worldwide

      Like

      • danasanis says:

        Hi Barton!
        Thank you for your reply. My case is Lithuania (small market, I know 🙂 ), but I attempted to order in UK, but at the time, all Linux options were not available anymore. Anyway, I hope marketing teams realize, that Linux users number is greater than stats may show. I believe half of no OS Dell computers are sold to run Linux OS. In so many shops there is either windows pre-loaded or no OS options only.
        I hope Dell continues the support of Linux OS for many years to come. Nowadays it is Dell where I look when I want to upgrade my hardware. And that is because of Linux team at Dell 🙂

        Like

  7. G says:

    Great stuff, please keep delivering working hard, us developers really need an alternative to Macs.

    Currently it’s impossible to watch content in HD through Amazon prime. HDCP Content Protection. But anyway these issues need to be resolved. Linux should be the same priority as windows and Mac. How can this be achieved?

    Like

  8. Looking forward to the release of the Precision 5530 with Ubuntu 18.04

    Like

  9. Sanjeev says:

    any update on when it will be released in india?

    Like

  10. cheesedudle says:

    Hi! The work you and the team are doing is very much appreciated, however, you need to emphasize that even though many of the Dell laptops can come preloaded with Linux, this does not make them “developer edition” standard.
    I bought a Dell precision 3530 with Ubuntu 16.04 that did not live up to my expectations as a tested Dell linux machine.
    I was not aware that only the Xps 13 is in fact a Developer edition machine.
    The laptop was eventually returned….

    Like

  11. […] see, Dell has been working with Canonical to make great Ubuntu laptops since November 2012. Barton George, Project Sputnik and Linux lead at Dell, said, “When Project Sputnik debuted […]

    Like

  12. Jennings says:

    Hi, not sure if we can reinstall the ubuntu 18.04 since I prefer other desktop than gnome ? for instance, I used mate desktop a lot more.

    Like

  13. […] see, Dell has been working with Canonical to make great Ubuntu laptops since November 2012. Barton George, Project Sputnik and Linux lead at Dell, said, “When Project Sputnik debuted […]

    Like

  14. BJ says:

    So does this mean that we are good to go upgrading a 9370 that came with 16.04?

    Like

    • bj says:

      OK, it appeared in update manager. No bench marking, but it seems to be OK. I’ve been begging all year for some kind of clue but it’s clear for some reason, they just will not give us any and I guess that we have to get used to that.
      That said, I’m grateful for the awesome program and 9370 is a great computer. w00t!

      Like

  15. […] see, Dell has been working with Canonical to make great Ubuntu laptops since November 2012. Barton George, Project Sputnik and Linux lead at Dell, said, “When Project Sputnik debuted […]

    Like

  16. xemly says:

    I’ll purchase the Precision 5530 if you get Ubuntu 18.04 installed on it. Do we have a deal? 😉

    Like

  17. stromfeldt says:

    Hello Barton,

    I’m a Canadian in Australia, currently looking for an XPS 13 Developer Edition. As that’s not available for purchase down here I’m wondering if other than blowing money on Windows 10 (which I wouldn’t use at all) if there would be any disadvantage to just picking up a regular XPS 13 and installing Ubuntu 18.04 (actually elementary OS 5.0) on it myself. Are there, for example, any Linux-specific drivers installed on the Developer Edition that I wouldn’t be getting on the regular edition? I’m by no means proficient with Linux, hence my concern (and keenness towards an OS like elementary OS, which works just fine on an old-school Dell I currently have).

    Thanks for any help,
    Allan

    Like

  18. Stefan says:

    How “right around the corner is the new Precision 5530” by now?

    Like

  19. Rik C says:

    Hi Barton,

    I am still rocking the 9343 XPS 13 DE. I have been upgrading from 14.04 to 18.04, but due to some problems, I am now considering a clean 18.04 install from the Canonical site. This is mostly because I do not want to go back to factory defaults.

    Is there a list of things (energy settings, drivers) that I would be missing out on, if I do so?

    Thanks in advance and good luck with Project Sputnik!

    Like

  20. bramevert says:

    Is there somewhere we can get the install image to do a clean install?

    Like

    • Geoff_D says:

      Hi,
      If your purchased the system with Ubuntu pre-installed, you can get the full ISO from Dell.com/support. Note this will only be the distro that shipped with your system. Otherwise the public download from Canonical should work, since it pulls the latest drivers, etc. from the Ubuntu repository.
      Hope this helps,
      Geoff

      Like

  21. Matt says:

    It’s cool that you guys have been doing XPS machines with Ubuntu. Hopefully one day it spans across all your product lines. I got an Inspiron laptop recently – a big reason I went with Dell was that fact that you guys do have Linux support on some of your machines, so Dell is a safer bet than a manufacturer who has 0 interest. Also better to support manufacturers like Dell who do support Linux on some level. I know the Inspiron isn’t “certifed” or anything, but it turned out the Inspiron runs Ubuntu just great!

    Like

  22. Bob says:

    Hi Barton,
    Great blog and source of info 🙂

    Is it possible to use Dell’s Ubuntu installer, to (re)install the machine with *disk encryption*.
    Which is offered by the Ubuntu installer anyway.

    Gr. Bob

    Like

    • Jürgen says:

      I just called the Dell Hotline.. and the answer is “No”. I wonder how a notebook without encryption is viable for any business usage at all.

      Like

  23. David Cuthbert says:

    Apologies if this is a duplicate — I think my previous comment got eaten when I did the WordPress login.

    I just wanted to chime in about how I’m loving the XPS 13 9370 Developer Edition. I was waffling on whether to get this or just install Ubuntu myself on a laptop — I was expecting this to just be a stock install of Ubuntu (with the hardware compatibility issues I’ve grown accustomed to with Linux laptops). It’s clear that you guys have taken significant time and effort to polish the Ubuntu experience on the XPS. No monkeying around with wireless drivers, hotplugging monitors “just works,” and power optimizations (sleep, hibernate, etc.) never seem to cause apps to start going haywire. The only issue I have is mixed standard (laptop screen) and HiDPI (external) resolution monitors (which is probably a Gnome limitation).

    I’m coming over from a 2013 MacBook (don’t like the newer editions), and even tried giving Windows on a Surface Book 2 a shot (constant wrestling with Hyper-V/VMware/WSL trying to get a dev environment going). I think I’ve found my new standard here.

    Thanks for a marvelous piece of hardware.

    Like

  24. Are there any plans for XPS 15 9575 ?

    Like

  25. PK says:

    Hi, i’m going to order a XPS13 9370, my University offers a good discount on it, but only ships with 16.04 preinstalled, how can i upgrade it to 18.04 Sputnik version?
    Do you have an image for it, or do i just need to run those commands?: https://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/04/sln136017/how-do-i-upgrade-my-ubuntu-operating-system-to-the-latest-version-

    What’s the best way to upgrade? I heard there is a recovery partition for Ubuntu, will this partition be upgraded to 18.04 too after upgrading from terminal?

    Thank you!

    Like

    • PK says:

      Looks like to me that the do-release-upgrade command is upgrading to standard Ubuntu and not Sputnik certified one, but maybe i’m wrong?

      Like

      • PK says:

        Will I be able to download 18.04 image from this link giving my 16.04 XPS 13 Tag or will I only be able to download 16.04? https://www.dell.com/support/home/us/en/04/drivers/osiso/linux

        Like

      • Geoff_D says:

        Hi PK,
        If your system shipped with 16.04, that’s what is on the hard drive, recovery partition and all. If you upgrade to 18.04, then run a recovery process, you’re back to the factory configuration of 16.04.

        There’s no ‘Sputnik-certified’ version of Ubuntu, only validated and supported versions – so you’re not losing anything by upgrading. And you can always go back to the factory installed 16.04 build with recovery.

        The recovery ISO posted to dell.com/support will be the one that shipped with your system, so in your case, I’m sorry, it’s 16.04. The ISO versions are tied with the Service Tag they shipped with. I’ll check around and see if 18.04 can be posted for all interested parties.

        #iworkatdell

        Geoff

        Like

      • PK says:

        Thank you. I’m currently running 18.04 upgraded from 16.04 developer edition, only bug I can think of is top bar desktop app icons not showing up 1/3 of the time (the extensions one are showing 100% of the time though).

        Like

      • Thanks for the feedback. Ill pass it along!

        Like

  26. John Kirozaki says:

    Hi, where can I find the 18.04 image, please?

    Like

    • Geoff_D says:

      Hi John,
      Unfortunately, unless your system shipped with 18.04, there is not an image you can access. I’m checking with Dell to see if we can hook you up, but it all comes down to what we can publish and make available based on the image that was certified on the system as-shipped.
      #iworkatdell
      Will let you know something soon.
      g

      Like

  27. apisapis says:

    Just received my brand new Dell XPS 13 – and the function keys are not working. Wow.. that’s a bummer. Also, encryption was no option when using the installer provided by Dell. I am thinking of re-installing Linux with a generic image (maybe Ubuntu or Fedora). Can anybody explain how the image by Dell differs from stock Ubuntu? Do I have to expect things not working when installing a stock distro? What about BIOS/UEFI/firmware updates? Are they only possible with the Dell image?

    Like

    • apisapis says:

      Update:
      The problem with the not working function keys was kind of a layer 8 problem – it seems fn lock was activated on delivery. Well, I use Laptops for like 15 years, and never had the need for fn lock, nor used it, nor didn’t know there is one. And it seems, there are lots of people out there, which are surprised by fn lock, see here:
      https://ccm.net/forum/affich-675263-dell-laptop-fn-key-is-not-working

      Maybe it would be a good idea to ship the laptops without fn lock activated.

      P.S.: My XPS rocks! 🙂 (except the page up/down keys, which I constantly hit by mistake)

      Like

  28. Geoff_D says:

    Hi apisapis,
    That sounds serious, and not at all like the XPS Developer Edition that Dell strives to deliver. I’ll ask the team about function keys and encryption, but from my understanding encryption should work fine with the right BIOS settings.
    For Ubuntu distros, all our drivers make it into the Ubuntu repository, so that should be good. I’m less sure about encryption and UEFI. In my experience UEFI is fine if your boot key supports it, and most Linux key-builds do.
    #iworkatdell
    g

    Like

  29. Szilárd says:

    @apisapis I can confirm that most distros work out of the box; the 4.4.x kernel that Ubuntu 1604 LTS was originally shipped with did require some custom kernel modules, but none are needed with recent kernels.

    I’ve got a few questions myself from users of the XPS 13:

    – Am I alone with being annoyed by the far to high minimum brightness level (on the FHD screen)?

    – WiFi issues are less frequent, but they still persist, are others also experiencing this?

    – Is anyone else experiencing frame flex — on mine it’s so bad that it physically locks up the touchpad?

    Like

    • The minimum brightness is also a bit high at night for me. WiFi hasn’t been a problem except with captive portals; occasionally the portal login dialog doesn’t render properly and handoff when the connection becomes available requires stopping and restarting WiFi. (In the old days, ifconfig down/up would solve it without having to fuss with dhclient/ip, but systemd doesn’t seem to do anything meangingful here.)

      Haven’t had the frame flex issue at all.

      Like

      • Szilárd says:

        Dell support told me to install redshift for lower brightness — thanks, but that’s not really what I wanted, I said.

        How did you check flex? Just wondering cause there is definite cross flex especially along the right bottom/top left diagonal on both XPS 13s I tried.

        Like

      • David Cuthbert says:

        My flex “test” isn’t terribly sophisticated: Hold the laptop by the corner and see how much it seems to give. (Which I do more often than I should, but is often the norm when shuffling between a conference table and podium for a presentation.)

        My XPS 13 is slightly more rigid than my 15″ 2013 MacBook Pro (larger and heavier), though both are solid devices. My wife’s old HP Touch x2, on the other hand, has noticeable give (to the point where I consciously don’t hold it by just one corner).

        Like

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