Please no custom software
I know that it's very exciting to create something special for the developers, and that the easiest way to create something special is by writing dedicated software, but please think twice before you do. There is a lot of custom software for develelopers, probably because the developers themselves enjoy writing tools for theirselves. There are lots of open source tools that can be combined and improved and adjusted to our particular needs, and we really don't need Dell to provide us with yet another tool or package system.
What we really need is the hardware to run our tools on.
That means that it has to be compatible with most Linux distributions out there out of the box -- without having to install anything special from Dell, and definitely without having to install the speicifc Linux distribution that Dell prepares for it.
That also means it has to physically comfortable:
- a good quality keyboard with a full set of keys (none of that fn+arrow for pgup stuff),
- a good quality touchpad that is fully supported by the operating system, with multitouch,
- a quiet fan, no air vents at the bottom -- developers will often do cpu-intesive things like compiling,
- a small power adapter with a long cable, so that I can carry it everywhere and connect easily,
- connectors for external monitor or two, keyboard, mouse, external disk, cd drive, etc. -- maybe even a docking station,
- jack port for headphones -- almost all developers I know wear headphones while coding,
- matte screen -- this is not a laptop for watching movies, it's a laptop for work, often in poor light conditions,
- distinctive branding -- developers want to show off their laptops at conferences,
- enough battery power for at least 3-4 hours of reading/typing on the train or plane,
- enough storage to keep about 150GB of current projects on it without having to carry the external drive all the time,
- enough CPU power and memory to run modern development environments (I'm looking at you, Eclipse),
- screen resolution high enough to fit modern web pages on it comfortably, support for really hi-res external monitors,
- screen with good colors and angles -- especially for web developers,
- robust, durable construction -- it's going to be used daily for work, make it scratch resistant and sturdy,
- MOST IMPORTANT: no quirks like something not working out of the box, having to provide kernel boot options or configure applications to not use certain CPU instructions (like that i5 thing with encryption), or like non-standard input devices (thinkpad, I'm looking at you).