If you’re shopping for a new laptop, then you’re probably trying to wade through pages upon pages of reviews, pricing information, features, and other data.
During your research, you may have come across Dell’s Ubuntu-based XPS 13. Although Dell does make a Windows 8 version of the XPS 13, it’s also released A “Developer Edition” that costs slightly less. The Developer Edition features an operating system called Ubuntu. Ubuntu is Linux-based, and it’s different than Windows in a lot of ways.
But just because Ubuntu is Linux-based doesn’t mean that users should be scared away. In fact, Ubuntu is generally considered the most user-friendly Linux distro to-date. With frequent updates and a commitment to usability, the creators of the free, open-source Ubuntu have created a viable alternative to Windows 7 and Windows 8.
But should you make the jump to A Ubuntu laptop? Here are a few advantages and disadvantages that you should be aware of:
-Cheaper: The Ubuntu laptop is cheaper, but not by a whole lot. Manufacturers pay nothing for Ubuntu, but they pay a lot for Windows 7 and Windows 8. Dell decided to make the Developer Edition just $50 less than the Windows version of the XPS 13. It costs $1449.
-No bloatware: One of the worst problems with buying Windows laptops is that manufacturers choose to install a whole bunch of programs that you never use. From ‘free’ 30 day McAfee trials to disc burning software, this bloatware takes up a lot of room on your computer while serving no useful purpose. Bloatware is also one of the world’s leading causes of PC slowdowns. Ubuntu doesn’t come with bloatware. It comes with the programs you need – nothing more, nothing less. If you want to get new programs, you’ll have to download them from the free Ubuntu app store.
-Lots of programs: One of the problems that has prevented many PC users from adopting Linux is the limited variety of programs. Ubuntu is different. Major developers like Mozilla and Valve like Ubuntu, and they continue to develop and upgrade their software for the operating system. You don’t have to look very far on the Ubuntu app store to find the program you need, and there are plenty of different browsers, games, themes, and other options from which to choose.
Easier and simpler than Windows: Microsoft likes to talk a lot about its usability. But many Ubuntu users claim that the open source OS is much simpler and easier to use than anything Microsoft has made. Why’s that?
Solid community support: Another problem plaguing Linux operating systems has been community support and updates. You’re not buying software from an international software company like Microsoft. You’re downloading a free open-source OS from a community of developers. But Ubuntu has the best support of any of the distros in the Linux community, which means regular updates, good support, and better compatibility with the latest technology.
No Microsoft Office: Microsoft isn’t going to take the time to develop programs for an operating system that may become a serious rival in upcoming years. So you won’t find Microsoft Office on Ubuntu systems any time soon. What you will find, however, are plenty of free office-style tools, like LibreOffice and OpenOffice, both of which offer a good alternative – and similar interface – to traditional Microsoft Office programs.
Far from perfect: Ubuntu is constantly being tweaked and upgrades. But like we said above, it’s not made by a massive international software company. You will encounter problems with Ubuntu, including driver incompatibility with your existing hardware and programs that you need but just can’t find. But this is where purchasing a Ubuntu laptop can help. The Ubuntu laptop is made by Dell, which means that all the hardware has been verified to work with Ubuntu and includes all of the required drivers. That doesn’t guarantee an error-free experience, but it can certainly help.
A small learning curve: Ubuntu isn’t Windows. If you’ve used Windows your entire life, then it will take a few minutes (probably a few hours) to get used to the Ubuntu interface. It’s not an overwhelming amount of information by any means, but it could take some getting used to. But remember – once users have grown accustomed to Ubuntu, they tend to like what they see.
So now we get back to the original question –should you buy the Developer Edition of the XPS 13? To answer that, consider the following questions:
-Do you want a different experience than Windows laptops, but don’t want to pay $2400 for a similarly-specced Apple laptop?
-Are you willing to save $50 on your laptop by cutting out the Windows experience?
-Do you dislike Windows 8?
-Are you okay with using free Office-replacement software like LibreOffice to get work/school done?
And here’s the biggest endorsement for the XPS 13 Developer Edition – if you don’t like it, you can just buy Windows and install it on the laptop. Since there are Windows and Linux versions of the XPS 13, it can run both operating systems flawlessly. But of course, upgrading to Windows costs a lot more than the $50 you save on the Ubuntu version, so it’s up to you.