Been looking for a new laptop to install Linux because thats just the way I roll, when it comes to coding. Been using laptops given to me by companies, alas had to hand these back when moving on.
Many years ago, I used a ThinkPad T series (back in the day when it was still made by IBM). I actually purchased x2 of the same exact models over the course of a few years, which cost less than £400, when I was contracting in the UK. Found these were super ideal and rugged.
Well, I was looking to do the same about 2 years ago and purchase another one, but somehow Moore’s Law seems to have taken on mutation form in relation to price (is it just me or is there a conspiracy that laptops are getting more expensive). So I did the sensible thing and purchased a Lenovo G580 for about the same price. Now living in Switzerland, I wanted something immediately and so opted to purchase this over the counter. This is a particularly bad move, especially when you are a programmer used to US/UK keyboard layouts. Needless to say, don’t try this at home! Unless you want to learn key combos (at astronaut level) that would impress your old youthful self. Anyone remember mastering combos for mortal combat/street fighter/killer instinct?
Sorry Lenovo, but the G580 model (Swiss edition) sucks because it has the performance of a 3 legged donkey, which your grandma can beat walking backwards (I don’t even want to donate it, as I’ll be loosing sleep over the poor person who will be frustrated with their unwanted “gift”).
So, I needed a new well thought out plan… and back of the envelope it was. I really like the Lenovo X1 Carbon, but when comparing to other brands for the same technical specs, there is a bit of a premium (I’ll get one in future when I have more cash). Taking into account the technical specs, price and delivery time I opted for the Dell XPS 15 (9550) laptop.
Must admit, I’ve never owned a Dell computer. The online purchasing process was straight forward and I could swap out for a less combo intensive keyboard (US for me thanks). And being impressed with an initial 2-3 day delivery time – I was in!
Wrong… you know that feeling when you book a flight and at the very last step they add on some stupid charge, well Dell likes to screw you with the delivery time, 17 days is my experience (this is in order of magnitude compared to 2-3 days, sort it out fellas).
Seeing that there must be an opportunity, I used the time for research and self improvement. But to be fair and make a sincere positive comment, the delivery process was superb. I was informed all the way about the whereabouts of my laptop and it was hand-delivered to my front door (I’m still impressed when I think about it).
The option to install Ubuntu on this model was not available to me at the time of purchase, so I had to go through this myself. It can be slightly tricky for the following reasons:
- You need to jump through some BIOS hoops when doing this.
- There was an Ubuntu boot partition issue.
For the first issue, I couldn’t find a reference, so I just decided to create a YouTube video because I think people need to have a quick “pleasant” alternative experience (hope it helps, it’s my first one, so be kind), see below.
Second issue, is around the actual installation of Ubuntu 16.04. It’s pretty straight forward usually, until you get “executing ‘grub-install /dev/…’ failed”. I found this resource which was useful install Ubuntu 16.04 with screenshots, but I did my partitions like so:
- On the installation type, choose “something else”.
- Click “free space” and the “+” button (see above screen shots from the reference).
- Partition 1, 500 mb size, choose “Primary”, “Beginning of this space”, “Ext4 journaling file system” and for the Mount point select “/boot” (bingo, this is the solution).
- Partition 2, select largest size but leave some for “swap space”. Choose “Logical”, “Beginning of this space”, “Ext4 journaling file system” and for the Mount point select “/”
- Partition 3, allocate the amount for “swap space”, Choose “Logical”, “Beginning of this space” and use as “swap area”.
Five simple steps and you are done, you should experience something like this (thanks to Riba Linux).
Hope this helps, if you want to add anything, please feel free to post in the comments below.
UPDATE 10.02.2017 I had some issues when connecting an external monitor. Note my graphics card is GeForce GTX 960M/PCIe/SSE2, with Ubuntu 16.10. See follow these instructions (in the shell/terminal): 1.
sudo apt-get purge nvidia-*2.
sudo add-apt-repository ppa:graphics-drivers/ppa3.
sudo apt-get update4.
sudo apt-get install nvidia-367 More info here: https://help.ubuntu.com/community/BinaryDriverHowto/NvidiaExternal monitor (HDMI cable) can now connect without needing to restart. Enjoy!