[Arm-netbook] new development laptop needed, looking at dell xps 13 9350

Russell Hyer russell.hyer at gmail.com
Sun Dec 4 11:39:02 GMT 2016

Hey Luke,

Well, obviously you know that there are a couple more hardware people
like https://www.thinkpenguin.com/ in the US and novatech.co.uk in the
UK, but none of these are particularly interesting from a tech or
friendliness perspective.

If it's just about having a machine that might be compromised whilst
you bootstrap the new system up, then, the Mac Mini would get my
upvote (true, it's bad in some respects concerning freedom), but it
does support multiple screens, but, then it is locked down (soldered

Whatever you decide, I feel I should add that whilst my business is
improving, I've still not been able to generate any more money for the
project. (I could sell some items, though, though that's more worst
case scenario)


On 4 December 2016 at 11:15, Luke Kenneth Casson Leighton <lkcl at lkcl.net> wrote:
> around 3 years ago i bought an apple macbook pro 13in because it was
> well-built, high spec'd and high-priced (translation: plenty of profit
> so that no corners need to be cut in manufacturing, which in turn
> means less chance of component failure).
> that was the theory, anyway.  one design flaw, though: the PCIe SSD
> could be "spiked" by the lack of earthing of the power supply,
> resulting in resets of the SATA bus about twice per second.  setting
> "min_power" on the SATA bus stopped this flood of entries in
> /var/log/syslog... but the setting was OVER-RIDDEN at the slightest
> opportunity.
> also, i had no idea that i would need more than 8GB of RAM (and the
> macbook pro is NOT UPGRADABLE - the RAM is soldered down).
> i've also just had my backup SSD (a 4 year old kingston 512mb SSD
> which is hardly used) totally fail after a non-intensive *READ*.  not
> write: READ.
> with the macbook pro's internal SSD being difficult to get at, i'm
> feeling a leetle paranoid: this machine is a CRITICAL resource, now a
> single point of failure.  my partner's machine only has 4GB of RAM and
> a 1600x1080 LCD.  lovely machine but it would in no way cope with what
> i'm doing.
> also... i've literally worn holes in two of the keys (ctrl and S)...
> basically it's time to get a new laptop, and i need something that has
> particularly special high-end specifications in certain areas:
> * 2560x1600 or greater resolution LCD (CAD development)
> * 13in size (has to fit in my backpack)
> * below 1.5kg weight (carryable)
> * 16GB of RAM (i'm maxing out the 8GB)
> * 512GB SSD (i've maxed out the 256GB drive)
> * cooperative manufacturer that hasn't caved in to microsoft
> cartelling business practices
> actual processor and processor speed isn't actually relevant.  battery
> life: also not really relevant.  doesn't *particularly* need a
> dedicated GPU: intel shared graphics turns out to work well enough for
> the 3D CAD work that i do (even when the framerate is seconds per
> frame in openscad).  i run mostly from mains, and processors are so
> insanely fast these days that speed is not really an issue.
> now, the machine i came up with is the Dell XPS 13, 9350:
> https://wiki.debian.org/InstallingDebianOn/Dell/Dell_XPS_13_9350
> i looked at the lenovo yoga 900: zowee, lenovo are unethical.  they've
> locked the BIOS so that you can't switch the NVMe SSD out of RAID mode
> (so you can't even install windows from a windows CD), they've refused
> refunds to people who claim mis-selling, they're ACTIVELY working to
> release new BIOS updates that prevent and prohibit people from
> installing linux, and they're scrambling to constantly censor reports
> and complaints on their forum.
> i also looked at the asus zenbook: fantastic machine.... except the
> 13in variant peaks at 12GB of RAM.
> sony... have stopped doing laptops!  that's the end of an era: i'm amazed...
> now, before i go spending $USD 1500 of crowd-funding money (which is
> easily justifiable as it's absolutely essential that i have a working
> machine and a half-decent backup) i'd like to double-check with people
> if they know of anything better than the XPS 9350, both in terms of
> specification as well as support for the linux community from the
> manufacturer.  dell appear to be cooperating, releasing BIOS updates
> that *actively* help linux users (as opposed to lenovo who do the
> complete opposite and then try to hide the fact, generally being
> incredibly evasive and unethical).
> thoughts and suggestions appreciated for evaluation.  the 9350's at
> the top of the list right now.
> l.
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