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Dell is bringing Thunderbolt 3 support to Linux systems

Dell XPS 13 (Skylake)
Greg Mombert/Digital Trends
The Dell XPS 13 is one of our favorite laptops, but that’s only if Windows is your operating system of choice. Mac users have a whole brand just for their computers, but Linux aficionados are typically left out in the cold. There’s good news today though, as the XPS Developer Edition, which runs a custom Ubuntu image, will bring support for Thunderbolt 3 to the platform with the Skylake update, according to chatter on the Dell forums, as pointed out by PCWorld.

Thunderbolt 3 brings a wealth of connectivity capabilities to the Ultrabook. It works as a display connection, with support for a pair of 4K displays in a daisy chain, or data, where it can transfer up to 40 gigabytes per second. While current availability is limited, there’s even suppotr for PCIe, DisplayPort, and Ethernet over Thunderbolt 3. The impressive connection has already found its way into storage devices, high-end audio peripherals, and gaming systems and monitors.

You can actually buy the XPS 13 developer edition now, but it lacks the Type-C USB port that enables Thunderbolt 3 connectivity, and only has a 5th Generation Intel processor. Dell wants to make the new version available though, so it’s been working to include Thunderbolt 3 drivers in the Linux kernel, regardless of which distribution users choose. It even works with the current Skylake XPS 13, although Dell’s Thunderbolt 3 dock isn’t working yet.

But this new feature isn’t just about making Dell’s laptop better, it’s a move that’s going to help Linux users everywhere take advantage of the newest wired connectivity option out there. Whether on laptops or desktops, USB Type-C and Thunderbolt 3 are going to quickly become the standard over the next few years, and Linux users will want to share in that bounty.

How soon that support is coming remains to be seen. The Dell engineer discussing the matter with users on the forum says the systems have to go through the approval process, but the Ubuntu image is ready to push. The Skylake update and Thunderbolt 3 inclusion will roll out at the same time, and hopefully the Linux update will roll out shortly thereafter so everyone can enjoy.

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Brad Bourque
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Brad Bourque is a native Portlander, devout nerd, and craft beer enthusiast. He studied creative writing at Willamette…
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