I recently replaced my aging Thinkpad with a Dell M3800. I selected it over the 15" MacBook Pro after spending almost a month with the MacBook. It is the nicest laptop I have ever had, and I am not the only one to highly recommend it as a Linux laptop for developers. My machine was actually shipped with Windows 8.1, as I received it about a month before Dell announced official Linux support.
This laptop is powerful enough to be used as a workstation (512 GB SSD, 16GB RAM, Intel i7-4712HQ CPU @ 2.30GHz, USB3, 15" screen), yet it is lighter than I expected and has a longer battery life (remember that my previous laptop was a Thinkpad). It has a solid construction, even compared to the venerable Thinkpad. Everything appears to work in Linux including hibernate, all the keyboard function keys, the touchpad, the touchscreen, 3D accelerated graphics, wireless, memory card reader, webcam etc.
However, there are some cautions with this machine. I'll summarize them here:
- One of the USB ports on the right side of the machine is actually a USB2 port. If you plug a USB3 device in to it, expect strange behavior.
- High DPI support is not as good as on OSX, especially with multi-monitors with different dot density. This is a limitation in X11 that should be addressed whenever Wayland is released (meaning in a long time). However, my second monitor is clear, and I have everything working even if it is a bit ugly at times. The AutoHiDPI plugin in Firefox helps, as does
google-chrome -high-dpi-support=1 -force-device-scale-factor=1.5
When I am using a TTY, I run `setfont sun12x22`.
- The touch screen works great (unless a coworker points at my screen). But when a second monitor is attached, it thinks the touchscreen goes across the surface of both monitors. This isn't a problem, because I don't use the touchscreen when I'm standing at my desk. This is another X11 architectural limitation that Wayland is supposed to address.
- I do miss the OSX gestures. There are some packages to add them to KDE, but I haven't bothered to try them. Theoretically, Wayland will help here too.
- The open source NVIDIA drivers run great, but to get 3D acceleration without killing the battery life you need to use the Bumblebee package, which is a pain. Again, this sounds like an X11 problem that won't be fixed until Wayland.
- And I have had trouble with the wireless card dropping for a few seconds every hour (enough to kill a Skype call). I have reason to suspect that this is resolved in the 3.19 Linux kernel, due in Fedora any day.
The last problem is the only one that bothers me on a regular basis, and the 3.19 kernel went into Fedora updates-testing today.
I am going to enjoy using this machine for the next three or four years.