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Author Topic: Dell's affordable Ubuntu-powered Inspiron laptops take aim at Chromebooks  (Read 16046 times)

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Offline scifidude79

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Of course Ubuntu will come with a free upgrade.   :P

Offline PCNetSpec

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Rolling distributions are nice, but they're few and far between and most people haven't even heard of the rolling distributions.  The branch of Debian that is rolling is unstable, meaning it has software that hasn't fully been tested.  Distributions based off of it have frequent issues until fixes are released and are not new user friendly.  Distros like Arch or PCLinuxOS would be better picks for rolling distros on computers being sold.  Of course, then you can run into issues with popular software maybe not working as well with those.  For example, I tried PCLinuxOS again a while back and had issues with Steam working like it does on Debian based distributions. (probably because it's a converted .deb package) So, there are concerns when you start getting into "other" Linux flavors, aside from user familiarity.

That's the inherent problem with rolling releases .. they'll ALWAYS be considered "testing/unstable/experimental" .. Arch recently had an issue with a new version of audacious breaking audio playback of streamed media and mp3, it wasn't an Arch fault as much as an upstream bug but it made it into Arch because rolling releases have no option but to experiment on their userbase (generally not a problem for your average Arch user to fix, but an average Ubuntu user ?) .. okay the same might happen in a non LTS release where newer software tends to get tested for LTS releases, but the LTS's generally stick with tested  software (unless it's fairly self contained like a browser), which is why OEM's will always gravitate in that direction.
(stable LTS is a safer bet for the PC's guarantee/support lifetime .. rolling releases are too much of a moving target, with the inherent risk that brings)

In short - LTS's are more stable over the PC's guarantee/support lifetime than rolling releases, so from a support standpoint for Dell.......
« Last Edit: June 08, 2015, 06:39:53 pm by PCNetSpec »
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Offline AndyInMokum

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Quote
...Rollling releases are riskier, and from an support standpoint for Dell.......

They're also high maintenance and expensive to keep from a distros development point too.  This is why Linux Mint is no longer running LMDE as testing.  They are now going to base it on Debian stable, (Jesse).  I think they're calling it LMDE2.
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Offline perknh

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Dell Inspiron 14 Ubuntu Edition Review

Posted on June 5, 2015 by Jim Mendenhall  Copyright © 1998 - 2015 Jim Mendenhall.

To be honest with you, it sounds like setting up this "Ubuntu-powered Inspiron laptop" isn't nearly as easy as you would expect with Ubuntu and new a computer.  To be honest, I don't like what I just read here:

Jim Mendenhall tells of his initial experience with this laptop here:

https://www.starryhope.com/dell-inspiron-14-ubuntu-edition/
« Last Edit: June 09, 2015, 08:30:04 pm by perknh »
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Offline scifidude79

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Good read, thanks for posting that review.  :D

Am I the only one who notices the super key has the Windows logo on it? ::)  (fortunately, some sandpaper will take care of that)  Companies that specialize in Linux computers will at least put a Tux or Ubuntu logo on it, but I guess this is what you get when you buy a computer from a company that usually sells Windows computers.

It definitely seems like a great computer.  I'm not surprised that Dell borked Ubuntu a bit, OEMs have been doing that to Windows for ages.  I've had computers where upgrades, some hardware drivers and other stuff wouldn't work because of the hacked version of Windows.  That's what it sounds like Dell did here.  It also sounds like they added a bunch of bloatware like they do on their Windows PCs, which isn't a great surprise.  However, after the initial issues, it seems like it works great for guy.  :)

Offline perknh

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Hi scifidude79,

 I found what I read there quite disappointing.  I think the only thing to do with a computer like that is to do what I do with Windows --toss the installed OS completely and then replace it with Peppermint.

I always make a back up of the default OS when I first purchase a computer, but I can't imagine wanting to backup that.

It looks as if you can replace the battery when its time comes --which is good.  But it also looks as if the battery's charge doesn't last very long --which is bad!

At the end of the day, I'd be just as happy if I could put Peppermint on a lighter and even more inexpensive Chromebook.  But, the last time I checked, I wasn't able to do so.  And, even booting from a flash drive is challenge with Chromebook --something I never learned how to do.

I'm thinking AndyInMokum may prove himself prescient here:  We may not up to prime time with this Inspiron laptop yet, and this project might well backfire on Dell, Ubuntu and the Linux community in the long run. (Those aren't his exact words, but I feel that is gist of what he was saying.  Please correct me if I'm wrong, Andy.)  I say this because we have a computer here that is made especially for Linux, and a Dell computer at that!  And, the poor fellow, who is clearly a seasoned Linux veteran, has all those difficulties right out of the gate.  I think this is a bad sell for Dell, Ubuntu, and Linux, and this bothers me.  :(

Still, I hope I'm wrong with what I'm concluding here.  I should also say I was this far away from buying this Ubuntu-based 14" 4GB computer today.  I even made it to checkout.  But, for whatever reason, it just wasn't clicking with me, so I decided to do more research.  And then that was the article that I found.

Let's put it this way:  I don't feel so inspired by Dell's Inspiron any more.  But, who knows?  Maybe I'll feel differently about this tomorrow.

And, scifidude79, thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter.  I am, and will be, considering them.  ;)

perknh
We're all Peppermint users and that's what matters  ;).  -- AndyInMokum

Offline scifidude79

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The only reason I can think of to buy one of these (if you have the money, which I don't) is to show big computer companies that there are people willing to buy computers with Linux preinstalled.  It may lead to good things.  At the very least, they may do a better job next time.

But, yeah, it sounds like there are too many issues with the first boot.  Granted, those of us versed in Linux will know how to get past them, but new users won't.  And that, unfortunately, is a major issue.  People are used to powering up the computer for the first time and getting it to boot right up and everything is working as it should.  Someone wanting to try Linux on one of these may boot it up, run into those issues, and think "Linux is a piece of crap, I'm going to send this back and get a Windows laptop."  And that is unfortunate.  So, the only people who will buy and enjoy these will be people who are already Linux users.

Personally, when I'm in the market for a laptop next time, I hope I can afford one from Zareason or System 76.  Those companies know how tho make computers with Linux preinstalled.  All you can get from System 76 is Ubuntu, but Zareason offers a variety of distributions and you can even specify a different one when you order.  (such as Peppermint  ;))  Though, you pay more for their computers because they're not big companies like Dell.

Offline AndyInMokum

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Bingo, you hit the nail right on the head.  If someone is buying a laptop with a preinstalled OS from a company that's pretty much a household name.  Irrespective of the price of the machine.  It better work straight out of the box; without having to fiddle around with it.  This is especially true for a Windows user. 

I concur with you, for the average Windows user, the initial fiddling around will be the tipping point.  They'll feel all the negative stories associated with the Linux desktop are valid.  They'll mutter a few obligatory curses.  Then send the machine back in exchange for a Windows model.  I can't blames for doing it either  :'(.  I'd say that Dell are not targeting Windows users as potential new customers.  They're trying to develop the established Linux user market.  You can't blame them for this either.  They already have a well established and lucrative Windows market.  They're not going to do anything that may upset that  ;).
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Offline VinDSL

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Personally, when I'm in the market for a laptop next time, I hope I can afford one from Zareason or System 76.

Personally, I'm a flea-bay Dell fanboi.   ;D

It's sort of like buying cars.  Let some sucker buy it at a dealership and lose $10,000 when he drives out of the car lot.

Here's the way I roll...

Inspirons are shiz!  I prefer D-series Dell Latitudes (arguably the #1 selling laptops of all time).

Here's my current road warrior:  http://www.ruggedpcreview.com/3_notebooks_dell_ATG630.html

Did I pay $4500???  Hell no!  Last time I counted it up, I have $300 invested in mine - SSD, dual batteries, and all.

Examples on Amazon:  http://www.amazon.com/Dell-Latitude-ATG-D630-14-1-Inch/dp/B00CGE3IT8

You can buy them all day long on flea-bay.  The trick is to find one with a good screen, 2.5 or 2.6 CPU and Intel graphics.  Anything else you want to add (factory options) can be purchased for pennies on the wholesale dollar - if you don't mind getting your fingers 'dirty' and do the work yourself.

These Inspirons are what they are.  If it was my decision, I would contact Dell and work out a deal with them, to drop-ship Inspirons with Peppermint pre-installed.  We could handle the support here.

Ayway, gotta be in court again, this morning.  gtg bbl

Offline scifidude79

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I have absolutely no brand loyalty anymore.  I have a mixed bag of stuff.  Sharp TV, Toshiba DVD player, Samsung Blu-Ray player, Samsung computer monitor, Logitech speakers, keyboard and mouse, HP printer, ASUS laptop and Samsung tablet.  I guess Samsung is as close to a "favorite" brand as I get, just because I have more of it. ;)

My two home built PCs couldn't be more different.  One has an ASUS motherboard with an Intel processor and Crucial RAM, the other has a Gigabyte motherboard with an AMD processor and Crucial RAM.  (at least I'm consistent on the RAM ;))  For disc drives, hard drives, etc., I buy whatever looks good.  What I do anymore is I shop buy product reviews.  If I think something looks good and it has a decent rating, I'll read reviews, particularly the one and two star kind, to see what people like and don't like about it.  Brand matters not.

When I first started with computers, I bought Compaqs.  I loved them.  However, then HP bought them and they became HP's cheapo line.  So, since then, I've decided to stay away from Compaqs.  Unless I'm in the market for a computer and I find a Compaq with really good reviews.   :P

Offline VinDSL

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I have absolutely no brand loyalty anymore.

Heh!  Brand loyalty.  There's a flash from the past.  Bragging rights are what it's all about, these days.

I don't even have band loyalty.  I like certain DJs like Virtual Riot, but I digress...

I don't particularly care about Dell, one way or another.  I just like their D-series Latitudes - the '57 Chevy of laptops.   ;D

It's paying for itself today, BTW.  I'm sitting outside at lunch, right now.  I guess they're having a party for one of the judges or magistrates.

Anyway, there aren't many laptop displays that you can use outdoors, in the Arizona sunshine.

That's where my loyalty is -- OSs and machines that won't let me down, when you're on the trot.  ;)

Offline perknh

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Since I'm disillusioned with the Ubuntu-powered Inspiron laptops.  I'm toying with putting Peppermint on one of these Chromebooks --which I believe are not ARM laptops.

These seem to be going pretty fast --especially the Acer, which is the same make and model of Chromebook that my wife enjoys a great deal, and which I'm leaning towards.

Think any one of these could possibly be Peppermintized?  ;)

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Acer-Chromebook-C720-2844-11-6-Intel-Celeron-2955U-4-GB-16GB-SSD-ChromeOS-/141685524535?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item20fd1d8837    [Matte screen]

http://www.ebay.com/itm/ASUS-Chromebook-13-3-HD-Gigabit-WiFi-32GB-SSD-Storage-4GB-RAM-C300MA-EDU-/311363058616?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item487eaf3bb8

http://www.ebay.com/itm/Dell-Chromebook-11-6-Laptop-1-4GHz-4GB-16GB-SDD-Silver-Black-730-8301-/371348712995?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item56761bae23  [Suspected Glossy Screen]

Thank you,

perknh

« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 09:02:03 pm by perknh »
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Offline scifidude79

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Yeah, definitely not ARM, since Intel and ARM are mortal enemies.   ;)

I don't see why any of those wouldn't be a good fit for Peppermint, though I personally would go with the ASUS, simply because it has a 32GB SSD, the other two only have 16GB.  ;)  It also has a faster processor.  The only thing that gives me pause with ASUS is their plastics.  They tend to use a lower grade of plastic and their cases won't stand up to as much abuse as some others will.  I swear, the plastic around the CD drive on my laptop feels like I could crush it in my hand if I had a mind to.  I've read other people complain about their plastics in reviews of their tablets.  But, if you're not planning to bang it around a lot, that shouldn't be an issue.

Offline perknh

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Thank you, scifidude79,

It really does boil down to these two --Asus or Acer.  It really is a coin toss right about now.  The Asuses are used products, while the Acers are returns!  There's a factory warranty with the Acers, but there's a larger SSD and screen with the Asus.  The Acer is lighter and easier to tote around, while the Asus' processor should be better.  Both Chromebooks have matte finishes for their screens, but colors may display better on Acer's smaller screen.

So now, in total desperation, I must quote Jane, the sadistic vampire from the Twilight series, "Decisions. Decisions."

 :-\

P.S.

Two reviews by By Andrew Martonik from Android Central.

http://www.androidcentral.com/asus-c300-chromebook-review

http://www.androidcentral.com/acer-c720-chromebook-review


« Last Edit: June 10, 2015, 11:17:15 pm by perknh »
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Offline scifidude79

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If it was the other way around and the ASUS had the factory warranty, I'd tell you not to even bother factoring that in.  ASUS support is dreadful, from what I hear.  They'll claim you broke it and not fix anything.  However, I don't know much about Acer's support.  I do know their factory refurbished computers leave a lot to be desired. (fortunately, this Chromebook is just an open box buy and not a refurb ;)) I bought one of their refurbs 7 years ago.  Sure, the computer came all nice and clean and the keyboard, mouse and speakers looked new, but they didn't even fix what was likely the issue for it being a refurb: the HD was crap.  It didn't start being an issue right away, but it was a problem you ran into after you used it for a spell.  It would start "forgetting" files and pinging.  A HD pining is NEVER a good thing.  Fortunately, I didn't really like the size of the HD anyway and replaced it with a Hitachi that had double the capacity.  Ironically, that HD is still going strong.  My mom has it now, but I rebuilt the computer with a new mobo, processor and RAM for her last year.  So, I can't say all experiences I've had with that company has been stellar.  However, other Acer products I've owned have been good.  None of the ASUS products I've ever bought have let me down.  My 5 year old gaming graphics card is an ASUS and she's still going strong.  :)  My ASUS DVD-RW drive has an issue where it won't burn discs anymore, but it reads them fine.  I use another drive solely for burning stuff.

Anywho, back on topic here.  Both had decent reviews for what they are.  Like you said, there are advantages to both.  I did notice that the reviewer said he expected more bang from the ASUS's processor.  It may not perform as well as the specs claim.  But, that also depends on what he was looking for when he ran it.

But, yeah, between the two, I'd definitely say it's a coin toss.  Both look like nice computers and should run Peppermint great.  Now, you just have to do something about that Chrome logo. I'd recommend a Peppermint sticker for that.  ;)