Took delivery of my Ubuntu loaded XPS 13 a few days ago. During the first 24 hours I experienced several crashes which left it unable to reboot, after several factory resets it does now seem to be a bit more stable but does still occasionally crash leaving me with no mouse pointer for some reason.
While I do have some prior experience with linux I am a relative novice. I am interested in running linux on my main PC and am willing to tackle the learning curve and do the work to get things working. There is a flip side however in that I also need a stable machine which I can rely on on a daily basis.
I would love some advice from folks who've had their machines for a little while, given my need for reliability would I be better off returning this and buying the equivalent Windows version instead then installing a linux distro in a VM? I realise that this is to a large extent a matter of personal choice but have a short window in which to make a decision and would welcome any input from more experienced users.
There are a few issues out of the box I'm afraid. Since you're wanting to get better at Linux, I'd encourage you to stick with it. The best way by far is to force yourself to use it every day. The only counterargument to that is if you have needs for certain software in Windows. e.g. if you depend on Outlook or running some Windows apps every day then maybe your productivity depends on Windows. But if that's not a concern, I wouldn't let a few issues put you off as they'll only help you learn faster.
You probably do want to minimise the pain of the issues as much as possible though so that you're not overwhelmed or too frustrated and want to give up.
So, perhaps backing up any files you've created so far it might be good to start from scratch. It seems that there are two popular options.
1) Dell OEM Ubuntu 14.04 upgraded to newer kernel.
In this option, from a recovered system don't follow the advice to create a recovery disc/image and let the system initialise. As soon as possible get online apply all available updates (apt-get update; apt-get upgrade; apt-get dist-upgrade).
Reboot and you should now be able to run the dell recovery image program and take a copy of the image if you want. (Probably a good idea.)
Next you might want to update the kernel to the latest supported version for 14.04. To do so I believe you add linux-generic-lts-vivid and reboot.
Maybe see how the system performs for a while like that? You shouldn't really experience any stability issues I don't think.
2) Fresh Ubuntu 15.04.
This is the option I took. I'm pretty happy with the system; some of the issues with the above are fixed out of the box and it's got some newer software that should keep me happy until 16.04 comes out. (By which point I hope that the issues are all sorted and I can stick with 16.04 LTS for 2 or more years.)
For this, just pop in a 15.04 64 bit image (USB flash disk or USB optical media) and install over /dev/sda4 (the biggest partition). There's advice from Dell about doing this at http://www.dell.com/support/article/us/en/19/SLN297060/EN
After that you should just need some system updates.
Other stuff: If it wasn't supplied with it, upgrade the system firmware to A04. Also, you're probably going to find some problems with the wireless with either 14.04 or 15.04, such as wireless drop outs and Channel 12/13 being unavailable. If you experience such things I'd make it known to Dell Support. Hopefully they'll get that resolved soon, but I think it could be a few months away. So if it's problematic, I've got to be brutally honest and say you probably want to replace the Broadcom WLAN for an Intel, preferably through support. And if it all sounds a bit more that you wanted to worry about, then yeah, maybe either use a VM or find an alternative make/model that's not had as many issues.
Hope that's of some help,
regarding the mousecursor you might try the trick that also helps to recover from the "stuck in drag-mode" effect, namely switching to a virtual console and back to your x-session.
press ctrl+alt+F# (one of the fuction keys, e.g F2 (for F2, also press Fn to not trigger volume switch), and depending on where your x-launches (I think Ubuntu still uses number 7, while many other distros switched to 1): ctrl+alt+F7 (no special function assigned to F7, so no Fn key needed)
General advice: update to more recent distro.
Thanks very much for taking the time to post such a detailed and thoughtful response, that really is very helpful. I've decided to keep it as my old desktop should be enough to provide a sufficient backup if I upgrade its ram a little bit.
I'm going to set aside some time over the next couple of weekends to start dealing with some of the problems so no doubt I'll be back here crying for help soon enough!
Thanks again for the advice.