Rejoice Linux fans; the OS will work on laptops with Intel’s Kaby Lake chips.
Three new models of Dell’s slick XPS 13 Developer Edition will be available with Ubuntu OS and 7th Generation Core processors in the U.S. and Canada starting on Oct. 10.
Prices for XPS 13 DE will start at $949. Dell also announced the XPS 13 model with Kaby Lake and Windows 10, which will ship on Oct. 4 starting at $799.
Dell didn’t share details on what version of Ubuntu desktop OS will be preloaded. It officially supports Ubuntu 14.04 in existing laptops, but could pre-load version 16.04 on the new XPS 13 DE.
Dell has remained committed to Linux while major PC vendors shift to Windows 10 on PCs. Intel made a major commitment to supporting Windows 10 with its new Kaby Lake chips but hasn’t talked much about Linux support.
Further reading: Microsoft made ’em do it: The latest Kaby Lake, Zen chips will support only Windows 10, not Windows 7 or 8
XPS 13 DE is perhaps the sexiest and thinnest Linux laptop available, with an edge-to-edge screen being a stand-out feature. It is the latest in Dell’s Project Sputnik line of laptops, and it is targeted at computer enthusiasts who want a Windows or Mac alternative.
A knock against Linux is that the OS has lagged behind Windows on driver development and on supporting the latest technologies like USB-C ports, 4K screens, and Thunderbolt. Project Sputnik started four years ago as an effort between Dell and the open-source community to bridge that gap, and since then, the resulting laptops have achieved cult status among Linux enthusiasts.
A Dell XPS 13 with a Core i5 chip will have a full HD screen, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Another configuration will have a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen, Core i5, and a 256GB SSD. A fully loaded model will have a Core i7 chip, a 512GB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen.
Full specifications will be released closer to the shipment date. The XPS 13 weighs up to 1.3 kilograms with a touchscreen.
The XPS 13 Developer Edition with Kaby Lake is being released relatively quickly, considering its predecessor with Skylake chips came out just a few months back. Project Sputnik laptops usually ship much later than the Windows counterparts because it takes time for Dell to develop the Linux drivers. Dell earlier ran into problems developing Linux drivers for Thunderbolt 3 and USB-C docks, which delayed the Skylake-based XPS 13 DE.
There are also criticisms of the XPS 13 DE. Linux enthusiasts, especially those who don’t like Ubuntu, want to see more the laptops with more Linux flavors like Mint. That may happen in the future, but for now, Dell is working with Ubuntu developer Canonical on driver development for the laptop.