Dude… you’re getting a Dell(?)!

The last 4 laptops I’ve owned went like this:

  • 2004 – ThinkPad
  • 2009 – Dell
  • 2014 – ThinkPad
  • 2019 – Dell

Whenever I had the Dells I would tell my wife: “Remind me to get a ThinkPad next time.” I wish I listened to my own advice. They’re well thought out – ThinkPads just get a little more love when it comes to design and build. While they’re not without fault, they are generally better than your average laptop.

The Dell laptops I’ve owned have felt cheap and both have gone in for repairs. The good news is, Dell support is pretty good about fixing things. But I wish I didn’t have to send them in for repairs. Sidenote: my old ThinkPads have made for excellent loaners during repair periods. Dell really should be cheap and cheerful, but the whole experience leaves me feeling a bit “meh.”

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Here are the other miscellaneous settings I’ve done with my new XPS13 Developer Edition. It doesn’t cover all the settings I like, just the ones that seem to be particular to this laptop.

My favorite feature by far is the built-in firmware update functionality:

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I’ve seen the future of mobile computing and it (unfortunately) is dongles

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I had a weird problem recently that I solved, and it was mostly due to my mis-configuring of my Ubuntu laptop. I finally figured it out when setting up my new Dell XPS Developer Edition laptop, so I wanted to share.

The situation: I would go to my local library and couldn’t connect to their wireless internet. But if I disabled dnsmasq and restarted the network-manager service, it would work fine.

What I didn’t realize was happening is dnsmasq was taking over local DNS control from the systemd-resolved service. What is systemd-resolved and why is it important? The man page reads:

systemd-resolvedΒ is a system service that provides network name resolution to local applications. It implements a caching and validating DNS/DNSSEC stub resolver, as well as an LLMNR and MulticastDNS resolver and responder.

My library uses a captive portal. When you connect to their network it brings up a page that makes you agree before actually being able to use the network. systemd-resolved has all the know-how to handle that – dnsmasq doesn’t.

I love dnsmasq and don’t want to lose it’s functionality. I want to use both the system resolved (pronounced resolve-D) and dnsmasq. Here’s how to have your cake and eat it too.

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My company helped me purchase a new Dell 7390 XPS 13 Developer Edition. The biggest hurdle I had when setting it up was getting my external monitor to work correctly. It’s a standard HD monitor (1920×1080), and the laptop screen is 4K (3840×2160) – known as a “HiDPI” monitor because while it’s run at 3840×2160 it’s scaled 200% so actual humans can read the fonts.

This presented a problem because the scaling was affecting the external monitor – it was appearing as if the resolution was half of HD – 960×540. Hello 1990s!

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