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Operating Systems

Dell Doubles Down On High-End Ubuntu Linux Laptops (zdnet.com) 128

Dell became the first major OEM to offer a laptop with Linux pre-installed in it in 2007. Ten years later, the company says it is more committed than ever to offering Linux-powered machines to users. From a report on ZDNet: The best known of these is the Dell XPS 13 developer edition, but it's not the only Linux laptop Dell offers. In a blog post, Barton George, senior principal engineer at Dell's Office of the CTO, announced "the next generation of our Ubuntu-based Precision mobile workstation line." All of these systems boast Ubuntu 16.04 long-term support (LTS), 7th generation Intel Core or Intel Xeon processors, and Thunderbolt 3, AKA 40 Gigabit per second (Gbps) USB-C, ports. As the Xeon processor option shows, these are top-of-the-line laptops for professionals. It took longer than expected for Dell to get this new set of five Ubuntu-powered Precision mobile workstations out the door. The Precision 5520 and 3520 are now available. The 3520, the entry-level workstation, starts with an Intel Core 2.5GHz i5-7300HQ Quad Core processor with Intel HD Graphics 630. From there, you can upgrade it all the way to an Intel Core Xeon 3 GHz E3-1505M v6 processor with Nvidia Quadro M62 graphics.
Microsoft

Windows 10 Build 15048 Has a Windows Mixed Reality Demo You Can Try (betanews.com) 42

Microsoft's big push into mixed reality involves headsets from multiple manufacturers (including ASUS, Dell, HP, Lenovo), and developer kits with Acer's headset will begin a phased rollout this month. But Windows 10's latest "Insider Preview" build already includes a mixed reality simulator with a first-person 3D environment that can be navigated with the W, A, S and D keys. Slashdot reader Mark Wilson writes: From the look of the changelog for Windows 10 build 15048 that was released a few days ago to Insiders, it looked to be little more than a bug fixing release. But in fact Microsoft has already started to include references to -- and even a portal for -- Windows Mixed Reality. We have seen reference to Windows Holographic in Windows 10 before, but this is the first time there has been anything to play with. It coincides nicely with Microsoft revealing that Windows Mixed Reality is the new name for Windows Holographic, and it gives Insiders the chance to not only see if their computer meets the recommended specs, but also to try out a Windows Mixed reality simulation.
Businesses

Tech Jobs Took a Big Hit Last Year (fortune.com) 119

Barb Darrow, writing for Fortune: Tech jobs took it on the chin last year. Layoffs at computer, electronics, and telecommunications companies were up 21 percent to 96,017 jobs cut in 2016, compared to 79,315 the prior year. Tech layoffs accounted for 18 percent of the total 526,915 U.S. job cuts announced in 2016, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas, a global outplacement firm based in Chicago. Of the 2016 total, some 66,821 of the layoffs came from computer companies, up 7% year over year. Challenger attributed much of that increase to cuts made by Dell Technologies, the entity formed by the $63 billion convergence of Dell and EMC. In preparation for that combination, layoffs were instituted across EMC and its constituent companies, including VMware.
Sony

If You Owned a PC With a DVD Drive You Might Be Able To Claim $10 (theverge.com) 99

If you owned a PC with a DVD drive more than 10 years ago, you're probably owed $10. From a report on The Verge: A class-action lawsuit is now accepting claims after Sony, NEC, Panasonic, and Hitachi-LG were accused of inflating the prices of optical drives sold to PC makers like Dell and HP. If you bought a PC with a DVD drive between April 1st 2003 and December 31st 2008, you'll be able to claim $10 for each drive as part of the class-action lawsuit. It appears you don't need to provide any proof of purchase -- the settlement administrators are simply collecting names, email addresses, and the number of drives owned at the moment. You'll need to submit a claim before July 1st, and the money won't be released until other defendants in the litigation have settled.
Microsoft

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella Says PC Market Is Finally Stabilizing (fortune.com) 51

In a call with analysts on Thursday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said the consumer PC market is finally stabilizing after being in a long decline. His statement echoes a recent report by International Data Corporation in which the market research firm said it was optimistic that the PC market would rebound this year after five years of contraction as people switched to mobile devices. Fortune reports: Nadella, however, did not cite specific numbers showing that the consumer PC market was rallying. He merely said that video gamers seem to be buying high-end computers loaded with Microsoft's Windows 10 operating system, raising hope of an overall recovery in the PC market. Additionally, Nadella said that businesses are increasingly upgrading to Windows 10, which is noteworthy because several other third-party research firms said in November that Windows 10 adoption numbers seemed low. "I think the overall adoption cycle of Windows 10 in the enterprise is perhaps the best we have seen for any new release of Windows," Nadella said. Still, Microsoft's personal computing business unit that includes Windows 10 dropped 5% year-over-year in the latest quarter to $11.8 billion. Still, the unit's revenue was better than what the company had originally projected because of an unexpected uptick in Windows 10 sales, said chief financial officer Amy Hood. Microsoft said that the money it collects from sales of Windows by other PC makers rose 5% in the latest quarter, which Nadella said highlights an "improving commercial PC market and enterprise demand." Nadella said that computer manufacturers that use Windows are seeing an uptick in sales of high-end PCs. He took credit for the rise by saying that the Surface blazed the trail for other manufacturers to create similar devices, which are selling well. "The enterprise adoption of these new devices is driving the all around excitement of Windows 10," Nadella said.
Desktops (Apple)

Mac Sales Declined Nearly 10 Percent Last Year (9to5mac.com) 328

It's not surprising that Mac sales dropped for Apple in 2016 as they experienced their first year over year sales decline since 2001. What is interesting, however, is that as Mac sales dropped roughly 10% and personal computers overall dropped 5.7% for the year, the top four leaders in the market all saw growth as Apple was pushed to number five. From a report: Although Mac sales were up in Q4 2016 compared to Q4 2015, an analyst note today from Bloomberg's Anand Srinivasan and Wei Mok has revealed Apple has dropped to the fifth largest PC vendor, with ASUS overtaking fourth place. The top four vendors are now Lenovo, HP, Dell, and ASUS. The report adds, "Those four companies represent 65.2% of the overall market and each grew year -- over-year, while Apple ceded ground, declining 30 bps to 7.1%. The other 27.7% of the market is comprised of more than 200 vendors. In a market expected to consolidate, Samsung and Fujitsu are reported to be in discussions to sell their PC businesses to Lenovo."
Debian

Linux.com Announces The Best Linux Distros for 2017 (linux.com) 224

Friday Linux.com published their list of "what might well be the best Linux distributions to be found from the ever-expanding crop of possibilities... according to task." Here's their winners (as chosen by Jack Wallen), along with a short excerpt of his analysis.
  • Best distro for sysadmins : Parrot Linux. "Based on Debian and offers nearly every penetration testing tool you could possibly want. You will also find tools for cryptography, cloud, anonymity, digital forensics, programming, and even productivity."
  • Best lightweight distribution: LXLE. "Manages to combine a perfect blend of small footprint with large productivity."
  • Best desktop distribution: Elementary OS "I'm certain Elementary OS Loki will do the impossible and usurp Linux Mint from the coveted 'best desktop distribution' for 2017."
  • Best Linux for IoT: Snappy Ubuntu Core "Can already be found in the likes of various hacker boards (such as the Raspberry Pi) as well as Erle-Copter drones, Dell Edge Gateways, Nextcloud Box, and LimeSDR."
  • Best non-enterprise server distribution: CentOS. "Since 2004, CentOS has enjoyed a massive community-driven support system."
  • Best enterprise server distribution: SUSE. "Don't be surprised if, by the end of 2017, SUSE further chips away at the current Red Hat market share."

Wallen also chose Gentoo for "Best distribution for those with something to prove," saying "This is for those who know Linux better than most and want a distribution built specifically to their needs... a source-based Linux distribution that starts out as a live instance and requires you to then build everything you need from source." And surprisingly, he didn't mention his own favorite Linux distro, Bodhi Linux, which he describes elsewhere as "a melding of Ubuntu and Enlightenment".


Music

Dell Unveils XPS 27 All-In-One With 10 Speaker Dual 50W Sound System (hothardware.com) 53

MojoKid writes: Over the past couple of years, Dell has been driving a redesign effort of its consumer and commercial product lines and has systematically been updating both design signatures and the technology platforms within them. Dell's premium consumer XPS product line, perhaps more so than any other, has seen the most significant design reinvention with the likes of its XPS 13 and XPS 15 notebook line. At CES 2017, Dell announced the XPS 27 7760 all-in-one PC that has a radically new look that draws at least one design cue from its XPS notebook siblings, specifically with respect to the display bezel, or the lack thereof. Though Dell isn't officially branding the touch-enabled version of XPS 27 with an "InfinityEdge" display, the side and top bezel is cut to a minimum, accentuating a beautiful 4K IPS panel. However, the machine's display might not be the most standout feature of the 2017 Dell XPS 27. Under that display, Dell actually expanded things mechanically to make room not only for a Windows Hello capable camera but a 10 speaker sound system that was designed in conjunction with Grammy Award-winning music producer and audio engineer, JJ Puig, that takes the system's audio reproduction and output capabilities to a whole new level. Its sound system is very accurate with dual 50 watt amplifiers at less than 1% THD (Total Harmonic Distortion) and a 70Hz to 20KHz frequency response. Though the system is currently built on Intel's Skylake platform, Kaby Lake versions are imminent and with discrete AMD Radeon R9 M470X graphics, it has decent gaming and multimedia chops as well.
Windows

Dell Launches XPS 13 2-in-1 Laptop With Intel Kaby Lake Chip, Starts at $1,000 (venturebeat.com) 114

Ahead of CES 2016, which officially kicks off Tuesday, Dell has announced a convertible version of its popular XPS 13 laptop. The machine is powered by a seventh-generation Kaby Lake Intel Core i chip (i5 and i7 options are available), Intel HD Graphics 615 integrated GPU, 4 to 16GB LPDDR3 RAM, a 128GB-1TB solid-state drive (SSD), a 720p webcam on the bottom of the display with support for Windows Hello, a fingerprint scanner, a 46 watt-hour battery, and a 13.3-inch touchscreen, available in QHD+ or FHD configurations. From a report on VentureBeat: The bezel is very narrow, in keeping with the XPS style. The fanless PC offers an SD card slot and two USB-C ports, and a USB-A to USB-C adapter comes in the box. The laptop is 0.32-0.54 inch thick, which is thinner than Dell's 2016 XPS. But the keyboard hasn't been squished down -- the keys have 1.3mm travel, or just a tad bit (0.1mm) more than you get on the XPS laptop -- which is impressive. The laptop weighs 2.7 pounds. The question is whether people will want the convertible option when the laptop is fine as is. The convertible XPS 13 starts at $1000, which is $200 more than the XPS 13 laptop.
Linux

Ask Slashdot: What's the Best Linux Laptop? 288

Long-Time Slashdot reader sconeu is finally replacing his 10-year-old Toshiba Satellite laptop, and needs suggestions on the best current laptops for running Linux. I'm looking to run some flavor of Linux (probably KDE-based UI, but not mandatory) while using a virtual machine to run Windows 7 (for stuff needed for work). For me personally, battery life and weight are more important than raw power. I'm not going to be running games on this. I've been considering an XPS 13 Developer Edition, or something from System76, ZaReason or Emperor Linux. What laptop do you use? Do you have any suggestions?
It's your chance to share useful information, recommendations, and your own experiences with various brands of laptop. So leave your best answers in the comments. What's the best Linux laptop?
Portables (Apple)

Slashdot Asks: Which Windows Laptop Could Replace a MacBook Pro? 315

Last month, Apple unveiled new MacBook Pros, featuring an OLED Touch Bar, Touch ID, and all-new form factor that shaves off roughly 3mm in thickness. There are three base versions of the 13-inch MacBook Pro with Intel Core i5 processors and 8GB of memory (upgradable to 16GB RAM and dual-core Intel Core i7 processors) for $1,499, $1,799 and $1,999. The base model 15-inch MacBook Pro comes with Core i7 processors and 16GB of memory for $2,399 and $2,799. Of course, adapters and AppleCare support are sold separately. The new laptops are great for Apple users -- but what about Windows users? Is there a Windows laptop that matches the new MacBook Pro in terms of build quality, reliability, and performance? Jack Schofield via The Guardian attempts to help Patrick, who is looking for a PC that matches Apple's new offerings as closely as possible. "I use my Mac for all the usual surfing, watching videos, listening to music and so on," Patrick writes. "I also use Adobe Photoshop pretty heavily and video-editing software more lightly." Schofield writes: The Dell XPS 13 and 15 are the most obvious alternatives to MacBooks. Unfortunately, they are at the top of this price range. You can still get an old-model XPS 13 (9350) for $950, but that has a Core i5-6200U with only 4GB of memory. The latest 9360 version has a 2.5GHz Core i5-7200U, 8GB of memory and a 128GB SSD for $1,050. If you go for a 512GB SSD at $1,150, you're only saving $420 on a new 2.0GHz MacBook Pro. HP's Spectre x360 range offers similar features to Dell's XPS range, except that all the x360 laptops have touch screens that you can rotate to enable "tent" (eg for movie viewing) or tablet operation. The cheapest model is the HP Spectre x360 13-4126na. This has a 13in screen, a Core i5-6200U processor, 8GB of memory and a 256GB SSD for $1,050. You can upgrade to an HP Spectre x360 13-4129na with better screen resolution -- 2560 x 1440 instead of 1920 x 1080 -- plus a 2.5GHz Core i7-6500U and 512GB SSD for $1,270. Again, this is not much cheaper than a 2.0GHz MacBook Pro 13. You could also look at the Lenovo ThinkPad T560, which is a robust, professional 15.6in laptop that starts at $800. Do any Slashdotters have any comparable Windows laptops in mind that could replace a new MacBook Pro?
Portables (Apple)

New MacBook Pro Has Already Outsold All Other Laptops This Year (macrumors.com) 209

New submitter TheFakeTimCook writes: An article on MacRumors has revealed that Apple's latest MacBook Pro has already outsold all competing laptops this year, according to new data shared by research firm Slice Intelligence: "Slice Intelligence says the new MacBook Pro accumulated more revenue from online orders during its first five days of availability than the Microsoft Surface Book, ASUS Chromebook Flip, Dell Inspiron 2-in-1, and Lenovo Yoga 900, based on e-receipt data from 12,979 online shoppers in the United States. The new MacBook Pro generated over seven times the revenue that the 12-inch MacBook did over its first five days of availability, according to Slice Intelligence. If accurate, that means it took the new MacBook Pro just five days to accumulate 78% of all the revenue generated by the 12-inch MacBook since its April 2015 launch. The data follows Apple marketing chief Phil Schiller's claim the new MacBook Pro had received more online orders than any previous MacBook Pro as of November 2. Apple has also reportedly told its overseas manufacturers to expect strong MacBook Pro shipments to last until at least the end of 2016. Slice Intelligence extracts detailed information from hundreds of millions of aggregated and anonymized e-receipts."
Businesses

PC Industry Is Now On a Two-Year Downslide (theverge.com) 310

According to analyst firm Gartner, PC shipments have declined for eight consecutive quarters -- "the longest duration of decline in the history of the PC industry." The company found that worldwide PC shipments totaled 68.9 million units in the third quart of 2016, a 5.7 percent decline from the third quarter of 2015. The Verge reports: The firm cites poor back-to-school sales and lowered demand in emerging markets. But the larger issue, as it has been for quite some time, is more existential than that. "The PC is not a high priority device for the majority of consumers, so they do not feel the need to upgrade their PCs as often as they used to," writes Gartner analyst Mikako Kitagawa. "Some may never decide to upgrade to a PC again." The threat, of course, comes from smartphones, which have more aggressive upgrade cycles than PCs and have over time grown powerful enough to compete with desktop and laptop computers at performing less intensive tasks. Tablets too have become more capable, with Apple pushing its iPad Pro line as a viable laptop replacement. PC makers are feeling the pressure. HP, Dell, and Asus each had low single-digit growth, but Acer, Apple, and Lenovo all experienced declines, with Apple and Lenovo each suffering double-digit drops. Meanwhile, the rest of the PC market, which collectively ships more units per quarter than any of the big-name brands, is down more than 16 percent. Some good news is that 2-in-1 devices have experienced year-over-year growth. Kitigawa also notes: "While our PC shipment report does not include Chromebooks, our early indicator shows that Chromebooks exceeded PC shipment growth."
Intel

Windows 10 Haters: Try Linux On Kaby Lake Chips With Dell's New XPS 13 (pcworld.com) 234

Attention Linux enthusiasts. Your OS of your choice can finally work on laptops with Intel's Kaby Lake chips. Dell is releasing three new models of slick XPS 13 Developer Edition that will be available with Ubuntu OS and 7th Generation Core processors in the U.S. and Canada starting on Oct. 10, reports PCWorld. From the article:Prices for XPS 13 DE will start at $949. Dell also announced the XPS 13 model with Kaby Lake and Windows 10, which will ship on Oct. 4 starting at $799. Dell didn't share details on what version of Ubuntu desktop OS will be preloaded. It officially supports Ubuntu 14.04 in existing laptops, but could pre-load version 16.04 on the new XPS 13 DE. Dell has remained committed to Linux while major PC vendors shift to Windows 10 on PCs. Intel made a major commitment to supporting Windows 10 with its new Kaby Lake chips but hasn't talked much about Linux support. XPS 13 DE is perhaps the sexiest and thinnest Linux laptop available, with an edge-to-edge screen being a stand-out feature. It is the latest in Dell's Project Sputnik line of laptops, and it is targeted at computer enthusiasts who want a Windows or Mac alternative. A knock against Linux is that the OS has lagged behind Windows on driver development and on supporting the latest technologies like USB-C ports, 4K screens, and Thunderbolt. Project Sputnik started four years ago as an effort between Dell and the open-source community to bridge that gap, and since then, the resulting laptops have achieved cult status among Linux enthusiasts. A Dell XPS 13 with a Core i5 chip will have a full HD screen, 8GB of RAM, and a 128GB SSD. Another configuration will have a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen, Core i5, and a 256GB SSD. A fully loaded model will have a Core i7 chip, a 512GB SSD, 16GB of RAM, and a 3200 x 1800-pixel screen.
Businesses

Dell To Cut At Least 2,000 Jobs After EMC Acquisition (bloomberg.com) 38

As Dell processes the acquisition of EMC Corp, its largest buyout ever, it plans to cut about 2,000 to 3,000 jobs, people familiar with the matter told Bloomberg. The layoffs are expected to happen later this year, and regions such as the United States will be impacted the most by it. From the report:The reductions are planned for later this year and will be mostly in the U.S. and in areas such as supply chain and general and administrative positions, as well as some marketing jobs, said the people. Dell is looking for cost savings of about $1.7 billion in the first 18 months after the transaction but is largely focused on using the deal to boost sales by several times that amount, the people added. The new company has 140,000 employees. "As is common with deals of this size, there will be some overlaps we will need to manage and where some employee reduction will occur. We will do everything possible to minimize the impact on jobs," Dave Farmer, spokesman for Dell, wrote in an e-mail. "We expect revenue gains will outweigh any cost savings, and revenue growth drives employment growth."
Intel

Intel Demos Kaby Lake 7th Gen Core Series Running Overwatch At IDF (hothardware.com) 56

Reader MojoKid writes: Intel unveiled a number of new product innovations out at IDF last week, but the company also stuck to its core product march by teasing its next gen Core series processor. Kaby Lake is the follow-up product to current, 6th Generation Skylake-based Core processors. With Kaby Lake, Intel is adding native support for USB 3.1 Gen 2, along with a more powerful graphics architecture for improved 3D performance and 4K video processing. Kaby Lake will also bring with it native HDCP 2.2 support and hardware acceleration for HEVC Main10/10-bit and VP9 10-bit video decoding. To drive some of those points home, Intel showed off Overwatch running on a next-gen Dell XPS 13 built around a 7th Gen ULV Core i5 processor, in addition to a HP notebook smoothly playing back 4K HDR video. Kaby Lake 7th Generation Core-based products should start arriving to market in the fall.
Microsoft

Microsoft Store Offers Free Laptop If They Can't Upgrade Your PC To Windows 10 (microsoft.com) 126

Microsoft is now promising that their Microsoft Store employees "will give you a free Dell laptop if the staff can't do a same-day upgrade on your eligible PC by close of business," reports new Slashdot submitter Pritam Dash. To be eligible for the Dell Inspiron 15, the PC must meet Microsoft's upgrade requirements -- and be checked in by noon -- and in a further effort to boost adoption for their of the Windows 10 operating system, Microsoft is also announcing that "If your PC isn't compatible with Windows 10, we'll recycle it and give you $150 toward the purchase of a new PC." (This second offer is limited to PCs already running Windows 8). Both offers are valid until July 29th, "while supplies last."

Meanwhile, the U.S. army is "half a year behind the January 2017 deadline to adopt Windows 10 set by Defense Department Chief Information Officer Terry Halvorsen," and has hired Microsoft engineers to assess their 1.1 million devices and legacy systems.
Entertainment

The Great Tablet Gold Rush Is Over (mashable.com) 170

Earlier this month, Dell announced that it will no longer sell Android tablets. The company added that slate tablet market is "over-saturated" and is "experiencing declining demand from consumers." The company says it will focus more on 2-in-1 -- otherwise known as hybrid laptops -- devices moving forward. Dell is right. According to IDC, tablet sales have fallen greatly in the last few years. Mashable goes on to say that the "great tablet gold rush is over." From an article: Pretty much every major tablet maker's growth fell year-over-year. Apple's iPad and Samsung's Galaxy Tabs, the two most popular brands of tablets, were down 18.8% and 28.1%, respectively. [...] In the beginning, the pitch was: The tablet is the future of computing. It'll replace your phone and your laptop. Then it became: A small tablet will replace your smartphone. Today, the pitch: It's good enough to replace your laptop. But only for some people, and only if you're willing to get by with a mobile OS. Long story short: Tablets are a complete mess right now. We can't seem to decide if we want them to replace all of our devices or only a few of them.
Microsoft

Microsoft Targets The iMac With New All-In-One Surface PCs, Reports Say (networkworld.com) 140

New submitter Miche67 writes: Two reports say Microsoft is working on an all-in-one (AIO) PC under the Surface brand. If that's true, it would put it in competition with HP and Dell, which have their own AIO lines, as well as put it in competition with Apple's iMac. Network World reports: "Both DigiTimes and Windows Central picked up on the story, each citing their own sources. DigiTimes, a Taiwan-based publication with connections to the PC industry over there (but also a very mixed record of accuracy) said the new devices would come in the third quarter of this year. Windows Central, which is a little better when it comes to rumors, said it did not have a solid release date." Business Insider was able to find a patent filing by Microsoft for a desktop PC that supports the rumored AIO design. "The device is evidently targeting a 'modern and elegant' design and is meant to be something akin to a premium appliance or furniture," Windows Central wrote. Intel's release date of the new Kaby Lake line of processors around Q3 of this year complicates things. While Kaby Lake is said to be more mobile-friendly with less power consumption and heat, they would make for a good choice for an AIO machine. However, it would be pushing it for Microsoft to release its AIO machines in the same quarter that Kaby Lake is due. On a semi-related note, a programmer at Building 88 recently confirmed that Microsoft will release Surface 5 devices next year powered by Kaby Lake processors. He posted pictures of four device holders marked "2017" on his Twitter account.
Android

Dell Stops Selling Android Tablets (pcworld.com) 82

Dell is discontinuing its Venue line of Android tablets. Furthermore, the company says it will also stop issuing software updates to its existing Android tablets. The move comes as Dell wants to shift its focus on Windows 2-in-1 devices. As for the other reason, the American company adds that Android market is "oversaturated" and is experiencing "declining demand from consumers." Other Android devices from the company were discontinued some time ago. The company will honor after sales support for people who have purchased Venue Android tablets until the warranty and service contracts expire.

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