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Thread: How far does DELL customize Ubuntu on its machines (if at all)?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
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    0

    How far does DELL customize Ubuntu on its machines (if at all)?

    Hi,
    I've just ordered a DELL laptop with Ubuntu. I won't receive it until a few weeks but I'm already considering setup options. Does anyone know if there is an added value to the distribution that comes preinstalled by DELL, compared to a vanilla Ubuntu install ? Does DELL tweak any settings, include custom drivers, or add daemons to optimize battery life, thermals and such? I'm tempted to try Pop OS (which is Ubuntu-based and plays nice out-of-the-box with HiDPI screens and iGPU/dGPU combos), but would not want to lose out on any of the DELL tweaks, if they make using the laptop a better experience...
    Any experience from DELL users ? Thanks !
    Benjamin

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Sep 2014
    Location
    United States
    Beans
    362
    Distro
    Ubuntu 18.04 Bionic Beaver

    Re: How far does DELL customize Ubuntu on its machines (if at all)?

    Check out its OEM repository for details. They make adjustments to kernel and patches to hardware.

    https://linux.dell.com/repo/hardware/

    My main Debian machine runs on Dell hardware. I run another Ubuntu device that runs on very old HP. Dell is far superior.
    I'm the Sisyphus in security engineering.

    Read about 14.04 ESM and Puppet inside of Docker Containers.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jan 2006
    Location
    Sunny Southend-on-Sea
    Beans
    8,086
    Distro
    Kubuntu 20.04 Focal Fossa

    Re: How far does DELL customize Ubuntu on its machines (if at all)?

    It depends on the model.

    If there's anything that needs to be done to make the machine work well in the state they sell it, then they'll do that. They have a repository for that software.

    They also upstream those changes, partly to be a good open source citizen, and partly because that means they don't need to keep maintaining it indefinitely themselves when there are other people that want to do it for them.

    They also don't want to have to do scores of tweaks and patches in the first place, so they pick already Linux-friendly components to start from.

    The Ubuntu installer is also capable of applying hardware-dependent tweaks based on the results from Canonical's testing facility. Those also get upstreamed.

    I've been running standard Ubuntu installs (I wanted Cinnamon, and then I wanted KDE) on my 2015 Dell laptop throughout, with no problems.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2017
    Beans
    136

    Re: How far does DELL customize Ubuntu on its machines (if at all)?

    Not much, although there is still underlying Dell hardware management software. A couple years ago I had a Dell precision tower ordered with Ubuntu. It came with 16.04 installed a full two years after 18.04 was released. So yeah, it's almost like "send it with an empty drive, I'll do it myself."

    By "underlying software" I mean, a few times, once during startup and once during work with the O.S. opened, I got pop up notices for BIOS/Dell firmware updates. They obviously didn't come from Ubuntu. No big deal, they updated fine.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jun 2010
    Location
    London, England
    Beans
    Hidden!
    Distro
    Ubuntu Development Release

    Re: How far does DELL customize Ubuntu on its machines (if at all)?

    Would you break the guarantee if you installed another OS over the one supplied by the retailer?

    Regards
    It is a machine. It is more stupid than we are. It will not stop us from doing stupid things.
    Ubuntu user #33,200. Linux user #530,530


  6. #6
    Join Date
    Nov 2020
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    0

    Re: How far does DELL customize Ubuntu on its machines (if at all)?

    Thank you all for the answers. Good point about the warranty: the laptop is paid for by my employer and comes with a 5-year warranty period which I should probably try to keep intact , especially considering my previous experiences with Dell (admittedly from a long time ago, I hope QC has become better...). I'll ask Dell about it. If I'm allowed to change distros, I'll probably give Pop OS a try...

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