Introducing Project Sputnik: Developer laptop


-> Update 2/18/2013: Sputnik 2 is here: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition goes 1080p and lands in Europe

-> Update 11/29/2012: Sputnik has landed! Introducing the Dell XPS 13 Laptop, Developer Edition

Today I am very excited, I finally get to talk about project Sputnik!  In a nutshell, drumroll please, here it is:

Made possible by an internal innovation fund, project Sputnik is a 6 month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open source laptop targeted directly at developers.  It is based on Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 laptop.

To put it in context, Sputnik is part of an effort by Dell to better understand and serve the needs of developers in Web companies.  We want to finds ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as possible.  And what better way to do that than beginning with a laptop that is both highly mobile and extremely stylish, running the 12.04 LTS release of Ubuntu Linux.

Why a developer laptop

When we first started setting up the web vertical to focus on companies who use the internet as their platform, we brought in Stephen O’Grady of Redmonk to learn as much as we could about the needs of developers.  One of the ideas that Stephen tossed out was a Dell laptop running Ubuntu, targeting developers.  We thought the idea was pretty cool and filed it away.

As we continued talking to customers and developers the topic of Ubuntu kept coming up and we came across a fair number of devs who were asking for a Dell laptop specifically based on it.  To my knowledge, no other OEM has yet made a system specifically targeted at devs and figured it was time to see what that might mean.  When the XPS13 launched we realized that we found the perfect platform to start with and when Dell’s incubation program was announced we knew I had the vehicle to get the effort kick started.

I should also add that Ubuntu was a natural choice not only because of its popularity in the Web world but Dell has quite a bit of experience with it.  In fact Dell has enabled and pre-installed out-of-the-factory Ubuntu on more computer models than any other OEM.

What’s Sputnik actually running?

The install image available for Sputnik contains

  1. drivers/patches for Hardware enablement
  2. a basic offering of key tools and utilities (see the complete list at the end of this entry)
  3. coming soon, a software management tool to go out to a github repository to pull down various developer profiles.

Hardware enablement

In putting together the project, the area that we focused on first was hardware enablement.  As Linux users are all too painfully aware, Linux drivers are not always available for various platforms.  We have been working hand in hand with Canonical, the commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu and identified three main areas on the XPS13:

  1. An issue with brightness
  2. The Wifi hotkey
  3. The touchpad and multi touch support

The first two have been resolved but the last one re the touchpad is still at large.  The issue is a bit of a pain particularly the lack of palm rejection support which can cause your cursor to jump by mistake.  We have contacted the vendor who makes the touchpad and they are sizing the effort to fix this and at the same time we are working with Canonical to find an interim solution.

Update June 21: the driver for the touchpad is now available!

Developer profile management

Hardware enablement is table stakes but where Sputnik starts to get interesting is when we talk about profiles.  No two developers are alike so instead of stuffing the system with every possible tool or app a developer could possibly want, we are trying a different approach.  As mentioned above, the actual “stuff” on the install image is pretty basic, instead we are working with a few developers to put together a tool that can go out to a github repository and pull down various developer profiles.  The first profiles we are targeting are Android, Ruby and JavaScript.

As a one of our alpha cosmonauts, Charles Lowell, explained (we have been working with three local developers in Austin, Charles, Mike Pav and Dustin Kirkland to put together our initial offering together.   And yes I know Sputnik was unmanned but its our project and we wanted to call the testers “cosmonauts.” )

What I’d like to see is not only a gold-standard configuration, but also a meta-system to manage your developer configuration… The devops revolution is about configuration as code. How cool would it be if my laptop configuration were code that I could store in a source repo somewhere?

After we build the management tool and some basic profiles to get the effort started, we are hoping that the community will take over and began creating profiles of their own.

Getting Feedback and UDS activities

The idea is to conduct project Sputnik out in the open.  There is a Storm Session that went live this morning on Dell Idea Storm for people to discuss the project and submit feedback, comments and ideas.  Later today here at the Ubuntu Developer Summit, Dustin, Mario Limonciello of Dell and I will be hosting a UDS session to discuss Sputnik.  Additionally at UDS there is a coding contest that has been kicked off.  The three people who write the best Juju charms will each get an XPS13.

The Vision: a Launchpad to the cloud

As mentioned at the start, Sputnik is currently a 6month project to investigate an Ubuntu laptop.  If successful, we have big plans for the effort. :)

When we initially pitched Sputnik to Ubuntu’s founder Mark Shuttleworth a couple months ago he really liked the idea.  In his eyes however, he saw something bigger.  Where it got really interesting for him was when this laptop was optimized for DevOps.  In this scenario we would have a common set of tools from client, to test, to production, thereby tying Sputnik via a common tool chain to a cloud backend powered by OpenStack.  Developers could create “micro clouds” locally and then push them to the cloud writ large.

We see a lot of potential in Sputnik to provide developers with a simple and powerful tool.  Only time will tell however so stay tuned to this blog, check out the Sputnik Storm session and weigh in on the project, what you’d like to see and how you think it can be made better.

Pau for now…

Extra-credit reading

Links and notes

Basic Install

== standard meta packages ==

ubuntu-desktop^

standard^

== scm ==

git

git-core

bzr

bzr-gtk

bzr-git

python-launchpadlib

== utilities ==

screen

byobu

tmux

meld

juju

charm-tools

charm-helper-sh

euca2ools

puppet

chef (available post install)

== editors ==

emacs

vim

vim-gnome

== browsers ==

chromium-browser

firefox

== common build tools/utilities & dependencies ==

fakeroot

build-essential

crash

kexec-tools

kvm

makedumpfile

kernel-wedge

fwts

devscripts

libncurses5

libncurses5-dev

libelf-dev

asciidoc

binutils-dev

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336 Responses to Introducing Project Sputnik: Developer laptop

  1. Eduard Gotwig says:

    Cool o.0 Looking forward.

    • Glad you like it :)

    • Craig Ringer says:

      You’re never going to satisfy everyone with one model. Improving testing for a variety of existing models would probably be better, along with addressing pain points like the craptastic trackpads and difficulty of getting non-Optimus models at the higher end.

      I’m currently seeking a laptop for my own dev work – as in I want to buy this week. The only Dell that’s vaguely suitable is the Latitude series with Intel graphics, high-res displays, etc. Alas, they all appear to have incredibly craptastic Alps touchpads that make them horrible to use without an external mouse. I had to do some digging around the ‘net to determine this because Dell’s own sales staff had no idea what the touchpad was or why anybody would care.

      The only Latitude with 3G is the one that also has nVidia Optimus graphics. I can’t configure the Intel graphics one with 3G. This seems rather … arbitrary.

      Perhaps most importantly, all the Dell laptops I’ve ever had have tended to overheat under load or need to be propped up on elevated stands because of the bottom intakes and lack of bottom clearance.

      So, what would I want from this laptop?

      - 8GB RAM. Minimum.

      - High resolution display. None of that 1330×768 stuff. 4×3 would be great.

      - An ACPI firmware (BIOS) that’s been debugged properly, not just hacked until it boots Windows. This matters.

      - A Synaptics touchpad

      - Intel graphics. Some people will want ATi graphics; almost nobody under Linux will want nVidia Optimus. Intel built-in is the best supported, most reliable, and most power efficient.

      - Cooling that works. Not just works at idle, but works when running a 3 hour C++ compile job (try OpenOffice or Mozilla) on a hot Western Australian summer day of 35* C.

      - If possible, side air intakes. If they must be underside, intakes with easy to clean filters so I don’t have to take it apart every 3-6 months and clean it.

      - A 7200rpm HDD or an SSD. Size doesn’t matter to me, speed does. Others’ preferences vary, but you won’t find anyone who wants a 4200 or 5400rpm spinning disk for dev work.

      - A variety of CPU options as everyone’s needs vary.

      - a 3G antenna would be kind of nice. Again, people’s needs/wants will vary here.

      - Decently built

      - QUIET! No whining, whirring, buzzing, clicking and clacking.

      What don’t I care about?

      - Speakers. Laptop speakers are always bad no matter what’s said about them; some are just less bad than others. Put tiny little ones in and leave space for more useful things.

      - Gloss or matte. Opinions here are strong; I personally don’t care, both have advantages.

      - Weight. Others care a lot about this, I don’t.

      • Tom says:

        Craig nailed it. I would immediately buy this one for all our developers.

      • Mike says:

        Craig has some very good arguments, but missed one thing, if he wants a specific configuration he should talk directly to a sales rep. on the phone. The website simply doesn’t cut it. At least in Germany this has always been possible.

        I’m personally waiting for the Latitude F Series (I REALLY hope there won’t be another E series model) with a seriously updated platform and proper docking station. This will replace my D830 (and D800 before that)

        Specs wise I’m expecting:
        -Display: resolution WUXGA or higher (ie >=1920×1200)
        -Displayport/HDMI video/audio output
        -As graphics “card” Intel HD4000 is a must.
        Additionally NVIDIA (the best non-free drivers)
        and AMD graphics options should be provided.

        ->=8GB RAM

        -Proper USB3.0 integration

        -Thunderbold interface

        - The easy handling of the D800 cooling system.
        ie. just remove 2 screws at the bottom and remove the
        ventilator module. That makes cleaning out the dust quick
        and simple. No more need to take the machine
        apart completely, just to get the dust out.

        - 3G/4G: the buildin antennas should support both. The modules
        with 3G/4G modems will have to be different in North
        America/Europe/Asia to it doesn’t make sens to speculate
        about them too much.
        - WLAN antennas should allow for at least a/b/g/n support

      • Awesome Craig, thanks for the detailed feedback!

      • Craig Ringer says:

        BTW, I’ve since found out that there’s nothing wrong with nVidia Optimus so long as the BIOS allows you to completely disable it. A good BIOS allows you to choose between:

        * [Optimus switchable graphics]
        * [Only enable on-board Intel graphics]
        * [Only enable nVidia Graphics]

        If one of the latter two options are picked, the disabled graphics part shouldn’t even be visible on the PCI bus. My new laptop does this, and I highly recommend the approach, as it lets you satisfy people who want hybrid/discrete graphics and those who hate it or have s/w incompatible with it.

      • Craig Ringer says:

        By the way, my new laptop (not Dell I’m afraid) fits most of these criteria. Dell, I highly recommend that you rip the spec off as closely as possible – but perhaps build it a bit less like a black self-defense brick.

        It’s also given me a few things to add to the above list:

        - No VGA port please. They’re so twenty-years-ago. Big, chunky, ugly, a waste of room for at least two USB ports, and pretty pointless. Find me a projector that doesn’t come with a DVI or HDMI adapter. Just give the machine DisplayPort, offer a VGA adapter as an accessory for those who care, and be done with it. My new laptop has a VGA port and whenever I see it I think “that could’ve been USB ports!”.

        - Proper EFI firmware. It’s past time, seriously. (I’m loving the decent EFI support on the new lappy – super-fast suspend/resume when legacy BIOS is disabled, Setup application that isn’t horrid, etc).

        Dell: Look at the L****o T-four-two-zero (or the “s” variant), then ready your photocopiers. Side air intakes. EFI firmware (yay!). SSD. 1680×1050, Intel graphics. i7 but basically silent. 3G antennae and mini-pci-E slot. Tough chassis. 8GB.

        It’s afflicted with L..vo’s mangled version of Windows when shipped, but a Fedora DVD or (if you’re into that sort of thing) stock Win7 disk will fix that. Unlike Dell they don’t ship media (grr) so you’ll spend the first two hours burning recovery disks, too. Crappy TN panel with bad viewing angles and poor colour, but in a dev laptop that’s not a biggie, you have to compromise somewhere.

        Dell, please: rip it off! Seriously, that’s what the laptop game is about, and I think they’ve done something eminently rip-off-able. I’d love to be able to get a similar machine from Dell for work via our Dell account.

      • barmalini says:

        I think, we are talking Lenovo here. Check ThinkPad line, either T or W and I bet your chemistry will click

      • Janne says:

        I was going to wait for this, but reality (my current laptop is failing) forced my hand. In the end I went for a Lenovo T430 – I have to deal with paying for a useless Windows installation and lack of vendor support, but that’s what I was facing with this laptop too at the moment.

      • Torwag says:

        JA just more general list for a dev laptop would be:

        * a decent screen; resolution, brightness, contrast, image quality, will look on it for many hours a day

        * a decent high quality keyboard; really devs need a good keyboard, sane key-layouts, no hidden triple-key-monkey chords, no touchpad in the way, etc.

        * silent; a spining fan, a high pitch inverter, some summing capacitors…. all bad if you try to stay on focus

        * sturdy body; dev-laptops are much more used and stressed compared to the generic “check-once-a-week-my-mails”-laptop

        * extended and really excellent warranty and support… after all its a money-generating and make-a-living-machine… not good if you have to wait 2 month for a repair.

        All other specs are negotiable … really

        And do not try to save on quality to keep the price low. Devs consider a PC a working unit, they will pay what is needed to get the job done. A crappy $500 dollar offer with compromises and cuts on all ends, is not helping but killing the idea.

  2. [...] Dell TechCenter Linux users may be wondering what you get when you cross Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 laptop? That's easy, Project Sputnik, the new developer laptop initiative!    [...]

  3. [...] Dell TechCenter Linux users may be wondering what you get when you cross Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 laptop? That's easy, Project Sputnik, the new developer laptop initiative!    [...]

  4. [...] SPONSORED POSTS Introducing Project Sputnik: Developer laptop [...]

  5. [...] George, director of Dell’s web vertical, unveiled the project on his blog and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth showed off the Dell XPS13 laptop laptop running Ubuntu [...]

  6. [...] Ubuntu Developer Summit, Dell said it was getting back into Linux-running laptops with Project Sputnik, “a 6 month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open-source laptop targeted [...]

  7. [...] George, director of Dell’s web vertical, unveiled the project on his blog and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth showed off the Dell XPS13 laptop laptop running Ubuntu [...]

  8. Cezar Cocu says:

    I am completely ecstatic about this! I have been in the market for a ultraportable for quite some time now. I was going to pull the trigger on a MacBook Air.
    As a computer science student, It is my own personal opinion that Linux is the only way to go. And this just sweetens the deal. Just because of this you have persuaded one user to buy your laptop.

    Thank you, Thank you very much!

      • Cezar Cocu says:

        If properly executed , there is no doubt that you will have a winner on your hands. While the MBA can run all 3 OS natively(non-virtualized). It however does run it semi-well, requiring tinkering and limitations.

        Should we expect pre-installed systems in Q3?

        Again thank you for remembering that some people need their computers for more than just surfing the web, listening to music and gaming.

  9. [...] Ubuntu Developer Summit, Dell said it was getting back into Linux-running laptops with Project Sputnik, “a 6 month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open-source laptop targeted [...]

  10. Janne says:

    I would love this – if it was _not_ an ultraportable. The current models are too constraining, with too little memory, low-resolution screens and middling-to-bad performance. My current laptop has 4Gb and it is just not enough. I can’t actually run the code I’m working on right now with that amount of memory.

    I’d get a Lenovo Thinkpad already, but they’re limited to 8Gb and I hope to hold out until they bump it to 16Gb before I buy.

    • Janne, if successful we are hoping to offer a second beefy config that would have 16GB. Stay tuned…

      • Allyn says:

        16GB! As a computer scientist that is often bemoaning the lack of RAM for my VMs, I’d pull the trigger on a 16GB model in a heartbeat!

      • Janne says:

        “Janne, if successful we are hoping to offer a second beefy config that would have 16GB. ”

        Sold! Just tell me how much money to send and where to.

        Seriously.

      • raka says:

        You should do it the other way around.

        Linux users are over represented among those who would fork out money for big memories, big screens and big disks. And if you are going to do a dangerous experiment, doesn’t it make more sense to start in the low-volume, high profit end of the market? Especially when there is a small but keen base of existing customers?

      • tupshin says:

        With that one change, I would buy one tomorrow.

      • Alan says:

        It must have better screen resolution. Developers need vertical pixels.

  11. [...] Ubuntu Developer Summit, Dell said it was getting back into Linux-running laptops with Project Sputnik, “a 6 month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open-source laptop targeted [...]

  12. [...] At today’s Ubuntu Developer Summit, Dell said it was getting back into Linux-running laptops with Project Sputnik, “a 6 month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open-source laptop targeted directly [...]

  13. [...] George, director of Dell’s web vertical, unveiled the project on his blog and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth showed off the Dell XPS13 laptop laptop running Ubuntu [...]

  14. Karan Misra says:

    I am currently working in a software development heavy company (ThoughtWorks) and the general first choice for developers is a MacBook Pro 15. If Dell wants to bring out a developer centric laptop, and succeed at it, it needs to do more than just work on the software.

    A few attributes which would make us rethink:

    - SSD options as standard (256 GB with a 512 GB as a easy to go to upgrade)
    - High resolution screen (non 16:9)
    - Non Matte screen
    - 8 GB ram as minimum with ability to go up to 16 GB
    - Sleek looks (after all we developers are proud of what we develop, and our tools need to be nice and shiny as well)
    - Good battery life
    - Quad Core options

    • Karan, that sounds reasonable, stay tuned!

    • k says:

      agree on everything except non matte screen, make it matte for dogs sake

      • Wyatt says:

        I agree re matte vs glossy. Glossy is pretty for when showing off to your friends, but useless when you are trying to do work in the harsh lighting conditions of a typical office.

      • Gerry says:

        AGREE Matte!!! I’m buying a portable so that I can code outside, that’s the whole reason for an ultrabook! I wanna get away from my stupid uninspiring desk. That’s why I’m currently looking at the Samsung Ultrabooks (if only they worked better with Ubuntu).

        But seriously…. Glossy? Are you mad?

    • marky says:

      “Sleek looks (after all we developers are proud of what we develop, and our tools need to be nice and shiny as well)” —

      Amen to that and this one other thing.. .. Please don’t make me see text during logout, switching users or shutting down. Please. 10 years of that and still Linux has been that way since they invented boot splash. Please shut up the kernel and the init and spit it all into logs. There should be no fugly looking text seen unless the user is booting to recovery or any other mode other than a regular ‘to desktop’ boot. That’s what logs are for anyway, right, otherwise why keep logs?

      • Gerry says:

        Agreed, but I think this is really something you should be telling Ubuntu, not Dell. I also imagine it’s already on Ubunut’s todo list, just not at the top.

  15. Janne says:

    “Non Matte screen”

    As a developer I would never touch a glossy screen. I need to see what I’m working on, not the reflection of my own face and the office ceiling lights.

  16. giancarloangulo says:

    Waiting for something like this for a long time. Hope you succeed!

  17. I think some open source IDE(netbeans/eclipse) should be pre-installed available for developers in this project.

    • Gerry says:

      That’s great for you (and me because I also use those two) but what about the people who use Aptana, gmate, Sublime, Komodo, phpStorm, RubyMine or any of the may other IDEs?

      Developers tend to be pretty unique in their choices, so I think having tested packages available would be much better than installing this stuff by default. That way you can install exactly what you want (and be sure it will work) and but not have your system bloated up with crap that you don’t need. Think of what a Windows machine is like when you first buy it from a store, because this is the path you are talking about heading down. Sure for netbeans you might be lucky, but I’m sure there are many tools where you perfer something other than the default they happen to choose.

      • As we are talking about developers. So I think some best and opensource development tools will be great for any developer.
        Definitely any one can use his one interest.

  18. [...] Linux-variant van de ultrabook is het resultaat van een intern stimuleringsfonds bij Dell. Werknemers kunnen ideëen pitchen en krijgen dan zes [...]

  19. vilmantas says:

    The hardware is too low, specifically:
    - Screen resolution: 1440×900 is the lowest I would look at;
    - 8GB RAM at minimum.

    For the software – I see no point in pre-installing dev-specific software as long as it is available in repositories. After the new ubuntu installation I do not care to install all necessary software at once – I install it when I actually need it – this is so simple and fast in ubuntu.

    I would prefer the minimum system to the pre-installed stuff I never need. For example, you list git and bzr but I use svn and hg. You will never ever find a combination what fits all developers unless you install everything!

    I don’t care if dev tools are pre-installed, but I do care that they are available and *up to date* in the repositories!

    • Gerry says:

      Could not agree more! This is the sort of hand holding that you would do for a Windows noob, not a developer and especially not on a system that has easy to use software repositories. We know how to “sudo apt-get install” or open the software center and with a SSD the install process takes almost no time.

      It would be great to see a company that actually understood us.

  20. Rob says:

    I’m a developer who uses Ubuntu on an Alienware MX-17 that I found in the scratch and dent “bin.” I had avoided the Alienware line in the past, because I’m not interested in laptop gaming.

    This is, hands down, the best development laptop that I have ever had: a nice responsive, high quality, full-sized, back-lit keyboard, a quality metal case, a large high resolution screen, 2+ hours of actual battery life, the option of switching to dual gpu for graphics power, no problems with over heating, a full array of ports, and a slot loading DVD drive.

    Even so, it’s embarrassing when I have to take it to meetings with a glowing alien head on the back on the screen. If you could scrub it of the alien theme, this would the the ultimate non-Mac development machine. Because of the “gamerz” marketing, I did not even realize that this is a Macbook Pro competitor.

    • Cezar Cocu says:

      I have thought about the same thing. How does well does it run Linux?

    • Gerry says:

      Using the machine for development and as all the software is available via network (or usb for Ubuntu install), what do you use the optical drive for? I can’t remember the last time I used an optical drive.

  21. [...] Ubuntu Developer Summit, Dell said it was getting back into Linux-running laptops with Project Sputnik, “a 6 month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open-source laptop targeted [...]

  22. santiagobasulto says:

    Awesome. I’ll be waiting for this.

  23. [...] de los directivos de Dell llamado Barton George ha anunciado una interesante iniciativa con el nombre de Project Sputnik que tiene como objetivo ofrecer a los [...]

  24. [...] von: caschy Mit dem Project Sputnik geht Dell gezielt auf Entwickler zu und will diese anscheinend für sich gewinnen. Dell hat momentan testweise das Ultrabook XPS 13 mit Ubuntu Linux ins Programm genommen, welches [...]

  25. Reblogged this on Anand Jeyahar's blah..blah..radio static…. and commented:
    Interesting.. already i keep a lot of my config as code in repositories. But an OS integrated app might be interesting i suppose.

  26. [...] Ubuntu Developer Summit, Dell said it was getting back into Linux-running laptops with Project Sputnik, “a 6 month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open-source laptop targeted [...]

  27. Michael Schmid says:

    Oh yeaaahh! Please make the touchpad work like a charm! :-) If Dell starts to support GNU/Linux (or at least Ubuntu) really honestly, I would a Dell machine be my next notebook!

  28. grav0ntar says:

    Hi,

    My only concern is, will you try to push your drivers/patches upstream to the Kernel? It seems like the effort is mainly focused on Ubuntu.

    Thanks.

  29. [...] di potervi aggiornare con altre informazioni nei prossimi giorni. Trovate altri dettagli nell’blog di Barton George.Via: venturebeat – ultrabooknewsTags:Canonical dell Dell Sputnik Dell Ultrabook Intel [...]

  30. We’ll need an amazing Android IDE to seal the deal

  31. akismetuser792662128 says:

    Reblogged this on Whisky+ and commented:
    Une très bonne idée: créer un portable qui intéresserait d’emblée les développeurs.

  32. [...] Dell has been pushing its XPS 13 ultrabook hard with seductive television ads accompanied by generally positive reviews. Now the firm has really thrown a spanner into the works as it announced that for the last six months it has been working with Canonical to bring full support for the XPS 13 hardware to Ubuntu 12.04. [...]

  33. This is interesting news. I’m not a developer, but I’d gladly buy the device as a fallout from this project. So good luck, I hope this works out.

  34. [...] effort to explore the possibility of releasing a laptop aimed at developers. The effort is called Project Sputnik, and right now it’s still in the planning stages. But if everything goes smoothly, you may be [...]

  35. [...] Projekt “Sputnik” möchte Dell die Chancen eines “Open Source Notebooks” für Web- und Mobil-Entwickler [...]

  36. [...] One of the company’s open-source geeks has announced Project Sputnik, a six-month venture that will marry the tech titan’s XPS 13 Ultrabook, Canonical’s Ubuntu 12.04 and cloud-based user profiles. Barton George, Dell cloud computing group evangelist, wrote about Sputnik here. [...]

  37. Hi,

    I think this is awesome idea!!! I give my +1 for Karan Misra and Janne, as developers we need sexy looking hardware with “work station” specs :) It will be great to see Ubuntu versions of Precision M4600/M6600 !!!

    I need to say that Sputnik looks like Eclipse now days :) How can I make my build for C++\Qt development?

  38. [...] in Web companies,” explained Barton George, director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, in a blog post on Monday. “We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as [...]

  39. roenbaeck says:

    Disk i/o performance is of utmost importance to me, as a data warehouse developer. I would love to see a thunderbolt port with linux drivers. Space for two internal disks would also be great.

    I would also like there to be an option to buy the laptop with no disks installed.

  40. wyvern25 says:

    Whilst I commend your efforts. I’d like to remind people that this will be at least the third “Linux desktop” from Dell. All have been dropped after less than a year IIRC. None were worth buying before due to being more expensive than windows variants and a restricted model range.

  41. [...] Barton George, who described the concept this week in a blog post, hinted at the potential for a more ambitious follow-up effort if the initial experiment succeeds. [...]

  42. Wyatt says:

    Very excited to see this post. I had been pretty disappointed by previous Dell + Ubuntu offering since you could by Dell w/ Windows then install Ubuntu and end up with a machine that was cheaper and more powerful. This looks like it could be actually comparable to a Windows based machine.

    However, I do have some suggestions on the hardware.
    - An ssd: for many projects disk speed can be a limiting factor.
    - More ram.
    - Bigger display. 1050 tall would be nice, but 9xx could work too. It is always nice to get more lines of text on the screen. Please consider how little room you would have running something like Eclipse on a 720p screen.
    - Non-glossy screen: Many people here have Macs, and the glossy screens are simply glarefests.
    - VGA and HDMI-out that works well.

  43. Carlton says:

    If you do go with an SSD though, you would have to disable the swap partition and use the ext2 file system, which would end up bringing in more issues than bonuses. Just stick to a nice SATA III 7200rpm drive, and the speed should be fine. RAM increases wouldn’t really be needed on a dev machine, and anyway buying an 8GB upgrade is usually cheap. Sadly, glossy screens have become the standard, regardless of their lack of usability. Anyway, how would someone acquire one of these? I’ve been working on a few multi-platform projects and it would be great to have dedicated hardware.

    • akismet-c138fef67d4fac38ffd36b45444f620f says:

      Why would you have to disable the swap and use Ext2?

      Are you sure you’re talking about modern SSD’s and not ancient low mileage SSD’s?

      - ikt

      2 x SSD’s, in 2 computers, used over 3 years, running Ext4 with a swap partition…

    • akismet-c138fef67d4fac38ffd36b45444f620f says:

      You don’t need to disable the swap and use ext2.

      Modern SSD’s don’t have low mileage anymore, at least not since 2009.

      - ikt

      (2xSSD’s in 2 desktops for over 3 years running ext4 with a swap partition)

  44. raka says:

    This is nice, I hope!

    At arstechnica: http://arstechnica.com/business/news/2012/05/new-dell-ubuntu-ultrabooks-a-step-in-the-right-direction-for-linux-support.ars Ryan Paul has pretty much nailed what you guys should be thinking of if you want to make “a system that somebody might actually want to purchase.”

    But I am concerned:

    [...]Developer profile management

    Hardware enablement is table stakes but where Sputnik starts to get interesting is when we talk about profiles. [...]

    My first instinct is to say “don’t do it, APT is already better than anything you can come up with.” That said, it seems you have much bigger plans. If you really can bring about the age when we all share our configuration fixes over GitHub so that every sysadmin becomes a distro developer, that’s a Big Deal. But it is not really relevant to the success or failure of Sputnik.

  45. Anthony says:

    Nice! Please make this affordable for computer science students such as myself! ;)

  46. fdschoeneman says:

    Barton, may I suggest putting a link where developers like me can sign up to be notified if and when this machine becomes available?

  47. [...] in Web companies,” explained Barton George, director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, in a blog post on Monday. “We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as [...]

  48. Viktor says:

    Dear DELL,
    Dear Mr. George,

    stop deluding yourself. Nobody is interested in a single computer where Ubuntu 12.04 runs without any big problems.

    What you need to do is simple: make sure that all the hardware you offer is supported flawlessly in Linux (note: Linux! Not Ubuntu). Problem solved.

    If that involves giving the slightest push to hardware manufacturers, if that involves DELL and Canonical doing kernel work (what a novel concept!) or working together with kernel hackers, then so be it.

    But please stop throwing us bones. That goes for your buddy Shuttleworth, too.

    Regards,
    Viktor

  49. [...] publica en su blog personal George Barton, marketing de Dell, “a medida que continuamos hablando con los clientes y [...]

  50. My bet:
    ## Hardware
    * 8GB ram
    * 13”
    ## Software
    * Homebrew-like system.

    There’s no point in having a fully configured environment because there’s no such thing in the first place :-)
    With an Homebrew-like approach you can easily install the package you like, without depending too much on the underlying OS package system and by making the formulas open, the overall system is able to keep up with the updates.

  51. [...] will have one common set of programming tools on their laptop to quickly bring applications online, Barton George, the director of Dell’s web vertical business, told CIO Journal. “The longer term vision is that we serve as a launch pad for cloud [...]

  52. michele filannino says:

    My credit card is ready. :)

  53. [...] explained Barton George, director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, in a blog post on Monday. “We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as [...]

  54. [...] и неподходящи. Сега има новина, че DELL щели пак да започнат да опитват с Ubuntu, но става дума за инсталиран Ubuntu Precise Pangolin 12.04 LTS [...]

  55. chris says:

    Hi Barton George,

    I have a few comments on your project. I am very excited about this idea and I hope you take my comments not as criticism but as constructive feedback.

    I currently work with a development team using Linux on Dell laptops. We have several D630s ( about to be replaced ) and several Lat E5510s.

    -Hardware support is good. Trackpad support with full configuration options would be amazing.
    -Please, if you are going to support the hardware, do it all the way with source. Don’t just provide binary drivers from the hardware manufacturer otherwise something new ( kernel, x-server, who knows what ) is going to come out in half a year and your special binary driver is going to break and we’ll be back at square one.
    -If you go the binary driver route, you are going to wake up in 6 months and there will be a horde of pissed-off programmers demanding to know why they can’t use the new version of the software that depends on the new version of the x-server that doesn’t work with the binary driver.
    -Please don’t get too hung up on pre-installing Ubuntu with your own special software package. 99% of the people I know who really actually do development in Linux are going to want to take the machine out of the box, wipe the drive and install their on favorite system on it. I know developers who use ubuntu, debian, mint ( all based on debian/apt ), slack, fedora, the list goes on.
    -The screen resolution of almost every modern laptop is inadequate. 1440×900 minimum for a 13″ laptop, 1680×1050 minimum for a 15″ laptop. Minimum!
    -I understand that with a small project like this you probably don’t have control over the hardware in the machine, but I think there is a case to be made that a developer looking at this machine would be unlikely to buy it instead of the 13″ MacBook Air with the 1440×900 screen. The value of the screen on the laptop cannot be understated.

    • Eric says:

      Excellent post, I got to agree with all your points. While the XPS 13 looks a lot better than the Lattidude I use now, I would never consider it as a dev machine as I want a 15ish inch monitor (preferable with high resolution) and SSD (I could never go back, and don’t store that much locally anyway) and a lot of ram (I work with programs that peak at just over 5GiB of memory requirement. gah!).

    • aharoni says:

      I searched for “hardware” in the existing comments to this post to find whether anybody posted anything about complete open source support for hardware. I was very happy to find this comment. These are my thoughts exactly. Thank you, Chris, for posting this. Dell, please do as this comment says.

    • Gerry says:

      Yeah open source drivers would be greatly appreciated and it would help Dell in the long run.

  56. [...] Android, Ruby and JavaScript from a github repository, Dell web marketing director Barton George said in a blog post on [...]

  57. [...] Dell представила проект Sputnik, в рамках которого подготовлен прототип [...]

  58. [...] George, Director of Marketing, Web i Tech Vertical w firmie Dell ogłosił projekt Sputnik. Jest to wynik 6 miesięcy współpracy z firmą Dell, a przeznaczeniem projektu są deweloperzy [...]

  59. Bob Harvey says:

    I’m very keen on this, but why the miserable vertical screen resolution? I had something like 1200 vertical pixels on a dell in 2004.

    I’ve been in the market for a new laptop for some years, having bought the ubuntu version of the mini-10V without realising what a miserable experience 600 vertical pixels would be.

    I like everything about this proposal, except the looking-at-the-world-through-a-letterbox screen.

  60. Sorry but dell is one of the primary reason Why Ubuntu cannot resolve bug #1 . they support microsoft in forcing you to Buy the MS OS. I would never again encourage nor help them for dell ubuntu hardware.

    We should help other vendos like Asus or Small on like system76 to grow Up and force Dell to change on the Windows Tax

  61. [...] explained Barton George, director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, in a blog post on Monday. “We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as [...]

  62. [...] Ubuntu компания Dell заявила о возобновлении работ над проектом Sputnik — это ноутбук Ubuntu 12.04 с базовым набором [...]

  63. [...] Ubuntu компания Dell заявила о возобновлении работ над проектом Sputnik — это ноутбук Ubuntu 12.04 с базовым набором инструментов [...]

  64. [...] Barton Blog] Ulrich Gero Class&eacute comme:Dell Dell XPS 13 Linux News Open Source Ubuntu Element sous: [...]

  65. [...] Projekt, um das Potenzial eines Ubuntu-Notebooks zu erforschen. Der Hersteller deutet weitergehende Pläne zumindest an: “Wenn erfolgreich, haben wir große Pläne [...]

  66. [...] drivers and functionality developers want, but without the performance-draining bloatware, according to Barton George, Cloud Computing Group evangelist at [...]

  67. Eric says:

    Love the idea of a dev oriented laptop but there is SO much more fruit on the tree. Please go further! Drop me a line if you are trolling for ideas. :)

  68. [...] marketing for Dell’s Web vertical reveals information about ‘Project Sputnik’, a laptop tailored for developer needs in web companies. ‘We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as possible. [...]

  69. [...] Barton George’s blog __spr_config = { pid: '4e37daabc2b219252b00015d', title: 'Dell plans Ubuntu laptops for web [...]

  70. testman says:

    Good move from Dell … only miss an opensource Java stack by default (aka OpenJDK + Eclipse say …)

  71. [...] Barton George, who explained the idea this week in a blog publish, hinted at the likely for a far more formidable stick to-up effort if the original experiment [...]

  72. Webmaster G says:

    The only thing that would amaze me is if Dell gets nVidia to supply proper linux graphics drivers! If Macdonald was able to change the UK egg market from caged hens to free-range, I believe a major player like Dell could get nVidia to stop skirting around Linux!

  73. bemis says:

    1920×1080 is the minimum screen
    8GB is the minimum RAM
    128GB SSD recommended
    Core i7 or better recommended

    Basically any of the mid/higher end Latitudes already meet this…

  74. [...] is also a blog post with much more information on Project Sputnik, which notes: "To put it in context, Sputnik is [...]

  75. Mike says:

    Wishlist for Linux developer laptop
    - Hires screen (seems to be a common ask)
    - 16GB memory
    - Excellent power management
    - Flawless Virtualization using VirtualBox
    - Intel SSDs

  76. [...] Barton George, who described the concept this week in a blog post, hinted at the potential for a more ambitious follow-up effort if the initial experiment succeeds. [...]

  77. A;exander says:

    George, please look at slashdot discussion:
    http://news.slashdot.org/story/12/05/09/1431204/dell-designing-developer-oriented-laptop

    Main point that worries everyone is display resolution.

    I’d also add that most developers will likely set up a linux flavour of their choice (I’d like to have Debian for example). So all devices should be supported by mainline versions of linux kernel and userspace programs.

  78. [...] Dell представила проект Sputnik, в рамках которого подготовлен прототип [...]

  79. I’m soooo gonna get this if it becomes available.
    Finally something for us

  80. Sander says:

    As a developer, I’m ready to put down any amount up to $2500 for a laptop that has the following specifications, in descending order of importance:
    Weight: less than 1.5kg (~1kg ideal)
    Resolution: more than 1000 vertical pixels. (1600×1050 would be my current ideal.)
    Size: No larger than 14″, no smaller than 12″. (14″ ideal)
    Optical drive: Must include. (I know I’m atypical with this, but making offline backups on a non-overwritable medium is kinda essential to me.)
    Screen: non-glossy.
    Battery life: More than 4 hours (not too fussy here actually; the only times I need more are at conferences).
    CPU/Disk drive/Memory: Current day middle-of-the-road standards.
    OS: Pre-installed Ubuntu is nice to have, but I’ll probably reinstall from scratch anyway. I’d pay a premium not to have money end up at Microsoft or Apple, though.

    I currently have a Toshiba Portege R500, which fulfills all of that (including the pricetag), except for the resolution and the OS. In four years I haven’t seen a laptop come closer, which is incredibly sad.

    • Gerry says:

      You don’t have a network where you can set up a regular desktop to do your backups? What are you backing up? I would think remote versioned backups would be far safer than local unwriteable ones, but I suppose it depends what your doing.

      But an optical drive in a linux laptop… well you’re correct when you call yourself atypical :)

  81. Sander says:

    Oh, and keyboard: standard size keys, with standard layout having brackets and everything regularly accessible! (This goes almost always okay, but some otherwise valid attempts were completely worthless because of it.)

  82. [...] director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, announced that Dell is working on creating an open-source laptop targeted directly at developers. It is based on the brand new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 [...]

  83. [...] director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, announced that Dell is working on creating an open-source laptop targeted directly at developers. It is based on the brand new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 [...]

  84. Darren says:

    I am in the market for a laptop to replace my mbp. I planned to put Linux on it. But, if I could buy quality with Linux installed (insuring good compatibility), I’d be very interested. But, it has to be good hardware (including a good screen for photo editing) like I have come to expect from my mbp.

  85. woofmeong says:

    great news! I have been using ubuntu for development for years and the problem is everytime I need to get a new laptop I need to do very careful research which laptop would work well (so far the thinkpad has served me well), sometimes I thought of just getting a mac for my next laptop, so I don’t have to worry if something won’t work on the new laptop, or spend a whole day trying to make something work.
    So if there is a big player like dell supporting ubuntu then I know where to go for my next laptop.

  86. hasselmm says:

    Please provide an option to have a track point instead of a touch pad: It is so much more natural for people typing a lot. No matter how good typing detection gets, at least I constantly trigger touch pads by accident while typing. Also I highly appreciate you don’t have to even lift your hands from typing, when you got a track point. It’s just so much more natural for developers!

  87. [...] Mer information hittar du på Barton Georges blogg. [...]

  88. woofmeong says:

    I’ve been using ubuntu for years but the lack of hardware integration and support sometimes make me want to just get a mac. this might change my mind.

  89. Roland Kaufmann says:

    Why… just WHY save something like $3 and completely ruin the machine by using a crappy touchpad? My first Dell laptop had a Synaptics touchpad which worked as advertised. The second one has a touchpad from Alps. And for that reason it is probably the last as well. If you want to win some mindshare then for goodness sake don’t let the accounting department write the specs.

  90. Linux Thinkpad says:

    When are these available, was about to order a linux config Thinkpad but will wait for a while

  91. [...] Barton George, who described the idea this week in a blog site publish, hinted at the possible for a a lot more bold follow-up energy if the preliminary experiment [...]

  92. nate7723 says:

    Sounds like progress. About 5 months ago I shopped for a laptop and wanted Linux – none of the usual suspects was offering anything useful. I bought a Bonobo from System76 and am quite happy with it.

  93. _Geek says:

    Please use a Unix style keyboard layout akin to this: http://docs.oracle.com/cd/E19253-01/806-4743/images/keyboard_a.tif.gif, I find it much more ergonomic than the Windows equivalent

  94. [...] director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, announced that Dell is working on creating an open-source laptop targeted directly at developers. It is based on the brand new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 Ultrabook.A first look at Ubuntu [...]

  95. Richard Neill says:

    Speaking as a developer myself, the most important thing is the screen and keyboard. For the screen, the important thing is *vertical* size. My current machine is a T60 (thinkpad) upgraded with a high DPI screen: 4:3 at 2560×1536. Please try to build a full-height screen, not a shortscreen.

    As for the keyboard, the thinkpad-style pointing stick is useful for ease of combined typing/mousing without moving the hand position. Also, have a big Ctrl-key and get rid of the Windows key (or at least move it out of the way).

  96. [...] Experimental Sputnik project has been launched by Dell according to Dells George Barton’s blog. Company plans to deliver tailored solution for software developers in form of new Dell XPS 13 [...]

  97. Vishnu Rao says:

    Great to hear that Ubuntu machines are making a comeback at Dell. I think I will bite this time, if the price is right. hopefully the Dell coupons will be applicable to the Ubuntu models too!

    BTW, any chance of an Ubuntu Laptop with an AMD Trinity APU. (Have to admit being an AMD fanboy in addition to being an Ubuntu fanboy)

  98. [...] Mais ce n’est pas tout. Dell compte également raccrocher son environnement à des services de Cloud (reposant notamment surOpenStack). Objectif : “permettre aux développeurs de créer des mini-clouds en local, puis de les basculer dans le cloud public du groupe”, indique George Barton, expert Cloud chez Dell sur son blog. [...]

  99. [...] Barton George, who described the concept this week in a website post, hinted at the possible for a a lot more formidable stick to-up effort if the preliminary [...]

  100. [...] drivers and functionality developers want, but without the performance-draining bloatware, according to Barton George, Cloud Computing Group evangelist at [...]

  101. [...] Barton George, who explained the notion this week in a weblog post, hinted at the likely for a much more ambitious comply with-up energy if the initial experiment [...]

  102. [...] espérons que la communauté s’emparera des choses et créera des profils de son crû », appelle Barton George, responsable marketing chez Dell, dans un billet de blog détaillant le projet. [...]

  103. [...] director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, announced that Dell is working on creating an open-source laptop targeted directly at developers. It is based on the brand new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 [...]

  104. Geordie says:

    Does it use NVIDIA Optimus ?
    Optimus = No graphics acceleration in Linux

    No-one seems to have mentioned it here, bit of an oversite don’t you think ?

  105. [...] a required drivers and functionality developers want, though but a performance-draining bloatware, according to Barton George, Cloud Computing Group preacher during [...]

  106. Craig Ringer says:

    The vendor that makes the touchpad (Presumably Alps, Dell’s main non-synaptics touchpad vendor), has been consistently producing total garbage that barely works in Windows let alone Linux. “Palm rejection” only works with the Alps software driver, and that driver introduces massive cursor lag under heavy CPU load as well as – last time I checked – not working properly under x64 Windows 7. After my Vostro 3550 experience I won’t be buying another Alps-based laptop.

    To get my Win7 x64 Vostro 3550 to work properly I had to purge all traces of the Alps drivers, install the generic Microsoft pointing device drivers, and then add a 3rd party program that disables clicks for 200ms after keystrokes. Under Linux I never even had that much success, I was always getting phantom clicks even when my hand was quite far from the touchpad bezel.

  107. Gerry says:

    Australian PHP and Rails Developer here who has now been using Ubuntu since 8.04 and has been looking for an decent Ubuntu compatible ultrabook for MONTHS! As you’re creating this for developers I have a few comments.

    - Going down your list I use git python tmux puppet vim chromium and firefox, however I don’t need or want you to install that stuff for me. I can do that myself with a simple
    sudo apt-get install git python tmux puppet vim chromium firefox
    I’m a developer not a noob, I don’t need your help to install basic programs, you are only causing me hassle as I now have to remove all the other bloat you also added. Give me a bare bones install of Ubuntu.

    - Now if you are going to install something you should install something that is going to be annoying for me to get working by myself. Xen Paravirtualisation! Get that running and working well with Virt-manager and you will be saving a lot of developers a lot of hassel while at the same time getting them off inferior solutions such as virtualbox will will only make their VMs far slower than they need to be. Ease of install is the number one reason to use VirtualBox over something like Xen PV, so if you guys did the hard work there, we wouldn’t have to make that sacrafice.

    - 4GBs sux for virtualisation, which every experienced webdeveloper will be doing. I’ve seen the comments from others asking for 16 but with a PV install I’d be happy with 8.

    - Why is your target Ruby and not PHP. I know a lot of Ruby and PHP developers. Just about every ruby developer I know (other than me) uses a Mac and there is no way in hell you will ever get them to change from that. On the other hand out of the three PHP companies I recently interviewed at two were almost exclusivly using Ubuntu on their workstations (the other was on Windows). I love Ruby but I doubt your biggest market is there.

    - The Australian dollar has had parity with the US dollar for close to a year and a half now however most of the major Australian retailers (Harvey Norman, JB Hifi etc) tend to sell laptops that are a year or more old for twice the price of the latest laptops. This works on the ignorant masses, however I don’t know any developers who shop at these places. We have been pretty much restricted to buying online in order to get a fair price, so if you try selling your development machine in the bigger retailers over here I doubt it will go anywhere.

    This is all just advice though. If you had a fairly priced 8GB Ubuntu ultrabook that reviewed well (and that was at least “capable” of running on xen pv, which I can’t see why it wouldn’t be) I’d buy it in a heartbeat as I’m sick of typing on this unsexy, heavy, slow, noisy, overheating acer. :)

    • “Me too!” I was going to post a comment but all the points I was going to make, you made (except the last about the AU dollar).

      LAMP developers use Ubuntu

      Help us out by making the hard stuff easy, not the easy stuff already done. I know how to do the easy stuff.

      I think the idea of “profiles” is kinda retarded. “No two developers are alike…” so you are going to make profiles that won’t fit *any* developers? Makes no sense.

      And well said on the Ruby/Mac thing. I’ve seen that as well.

      Dell! Spend your time making ALL THE HARDWARE work seamlessly. The devs will take care of the software setup/tweaking. No dev wants to futz with setting arcane kernel commands to get suspend to work, or a shitty touchpad driver.

      Thanks

  108. [...] Barton George, who described the concept this week in a blog post, hinted at the potential for a more ambitious follow-up effort if the initial experiment succeeds. [...]

  109. [...] espérons que la communauté s’emparera des choses et créera des profils de son crû », appelle Barton George, responsable selling chez Dell, dans un shelter de blog détaillant le [...]

  110. S says:

    We, developers, dont need yet another glossy shit-screen. You know, developers are people, who read and write text all the day, and need to see the text, not the mirror.

    If you target developers MATTE screen is a must.

    And if you really want a hit, make it NON-WIDE 15 and 17”
    This will be best for reading-writing the text. You wont have any competition in this sector.

  111. Jacky says:

    Cool, You may keep Ubuntu but if the hardware comes with proper Linux support then this looks like my next laptop.
    Please hurry and get it done ;)

  112. Dan says:

    omG! I so wish DELL could replace my XPS L502X graphics to something more supported in Linux. I would love to use XPS system for multimedia tasks, especially when Editshare is going to release Lightworks video editing system to run native on Linux, this could turn DELL into multimedia portable workstation of choice for many video editors.

    Good to know DELL is going to support Linux more again! Just a question, once DELL launches the project, could this affect older DELL computers too? because now I am using Linux on my XPS L502x. Could the drivers for new ultrabooks be generic to support older laptops?

    Anyway thanks for the good news. :)

  113. [...] drivers and functionality developers want, but without the performance-draining bloatware, according to Barton George, Cloud Computing Group evangelist at Dell.Notably, this isn’t Dell’s first foray into [...]

  114. [...] Ultabook. Barton George (Direttore Marketing per Dell Web/Tech vertical) ha annunciato sul proprio blog il “progetto Sputnik” che, in sei mesi, studierà la possibilità di creare un laptop con [...]

  115. Fred says:

    I want open source firmware, open source device drivers, and open source hardware. A open computer.

  116. [...] explained Barton George, director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, in a blog post on Monday. “We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as [...]

  117. Anonymous says:

    No point stick, no buy. Plenty of developers aren’t going to tolerate having to reach three inches to use the trackpad.

  118. [...] explained Barton George, director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, in a blog post on Monday. “We want to find ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as [...]

  119. Stuart DeGraaf says:

    So… How do I buy an XPS13 WITHOUT paying for LoseDoze 7 ???

  120. Marcus Kempe says:

    8 GB ram is some kind of minimum requirement, I would agree.

    The heat issues with this laptop needs to be resolved as well.

    And finally, you need to make sure there are linux drivers working perfectly for the targus usb 3.0 docking station. Any serious software developer only uses the laptop when on the go. At the office everyone needs a great docking solution, like the e-port.

  121. [...] Barton George, who described the concept this week in a blog post, hinted at the potential for a more ambitious follow-up effort if the initial experiment succeeds. [...]

  122. [...] director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, announced that Dell is working on creating an open-source laptop targeted directly at developers. It is based on the brand new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 [...]

  123. sinus9x says:

    it’s really good news to me. interesting. i like ubuntu.

  124. [...] información en Bartongeorge Dell, desarrolladores, Ubuntu 12.04, ultrabook Dell [...]

  125. Alan says:

    I am a developer in the market for a laptop. I currently have a Dell Vostro, bought when for a non software related consultancy project and I am ready for a replacement.

    Having read through most of the comments I can relate to most of them. Money isn’t much of a worry, the right spec for hardware is. The important issues are in decreasing importance:-
    * At least 1024 pixel Vertical screen resolution
    * Good screen visibility in high ambient light (matte)
    * Built in mouse moving facility which doesn’t accidentally operate when you are typing
    * Long Battery Life
    * Light weight
    * Robust build (I made the mistake of buying a Dell mini 12 with Ubuntu, which failed on me just after the warranty was up – although it was pretty useless in that I couldn’t get a driver for the screen working due to the lack of open source and my desire to run Debian)
    * Sensible keyboard, with useable arrow keys and function keys. (ideally with something that prevents bits falling down between the gaps)
    * 8GRam
    * Wireless & Wired Ethernet port
    * 2+ USB (high speed)
    * 128GB SSD
    * keys that I can see the markings on in the dark (or with optional lighting).
    * Optional Docking Station (which I wouldn’t want – I do have a separate desktop) for anything else.

    It is far more important to me that you use hardware that has open source supported drivers than you preconfigure it with development software. I know how to use aptitude (apt) and I want it to only have MY requirements installed (which vary over time). But software moves on, and I want to have some guarentee that I can keep up to date if I need to (see above at being let down by my Dell Mini 12).

  126. [...] publica en su blog personal George Barton, marketing de Dell, “a medida que continuamos hablando con los clientes y [...]

  127. [...] executive of selling for Dell’s Web vertical, announced that Dell is operative on formulating an open-source laptop targeted directly during developers. It is formed on a code new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 [...]

  128. serge says:

    And how about a 3G, 4G option? It’s an ultraportable at last!

  129. Mehran says:

    this is the best move ever kudos to dell, i’m really looking forward to buy this product

  130. ldng says:

    Non-Wide Matte screen is a must have !
    Anything else pretending to be a _developer_ laptop would be a real disappointment.

    We’re coding all day long, not playing movies …

  131. trebonius says:

    Finally! Take my money, already!

  132. Chandana De Silva says:

    I would have thought a 15″ laptop would suit better, with a bit more screen real estate for multiple windows

  133. Cezar Cocu says:

    Please fix the touchpad!!! ahhhhh! I am dying!

  134. [...] allez pouvoir retrouver plus d’informations sur le projet Spoutnik ici, et si vous avez déjà un Dell XPS13, vous allez pouvoir retrouver l’image d’une [...]

  135. [...] base software. Le aziende si sono date 6 mesi per vedere cosa ne può uscire. Se vi ho incuriosito, leggete i dettagli.Detto questo, passiamo al test. La iso avviata in modalità Live su un Dell XPS 13 si comporta [...]

  136. [...] Director of Marketing Barton George announced in a blog post this week that Dell has launched a new effort called Project Sputnik that aims to [...]

  137. [...] Introducing Project Sputnik: Developer laptop :: Barton’s Blog To put it in context, Sputnik is part of an effort by Dell to better understand and serve the needs of developers in Web companies. We want to finds ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as possible. And what better way to do that than beginning with a laptop that is both highly mobile and extremely stylish, running the 12.04 LTS release of Ubuntu Linux. [...]

  138. Thomas "DigitMan" Boqvist says:

    I am dying to buy this computer option. Give me a deadline, please!

  139. [...] Introducing Project Sputnik: Developer laptop :: Barton’s Blog To place it in perspective, Sputnik is part of an effort by Dell to better know and serve the desires of developers in Web companies. We want to finds ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as possible. And what better way to do that than beginning with a laptop that is both highly mobile and extremely stylish, running the 12.04 LTS release of Ubuntu Linux. [...]

  140. [...] Ubuntu компания Dell заявила о возобновлении работ над проектом Sputnik — это ноутбук Ubuntu 12.04 с базовым набором инструментов [...]

  141. [...] as a company, their current high-level strategy (according to Cote). Also, the recently launched Project Sputnik and [...]

  142. What options will be made available to Australian buyers?

  143. [...] : bartongeorge.net ← Un Micro serveur HP Proliant 4 emplacements SATA à [...]

  144. [...] director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, announced that Dell is working on creating an open-source laptop targeted directly at developers. It is based on the brand new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 [...]

  145. avatar42 says:

    A 1080p (1920X1080) screen just makes sense. It is the size everything is going to for desktops and TV so why use something odd for a laptop? As far as power goes it needs to be able to run Firefox, at least 1 Eclipse and Tomcat and have plenty of RAM and CPU to spare. Graphics should be able to support a second 1080p display as well. USB 3.0 lets you move stuff off you don’t need while moving to save battery life while keeping most of your speed when docked.

    Bottom line going cheap on a dev box is a false economy. Chances your developer’s time is the priciest part of any project. Any time not spent watching an hourglass is money in the bank. Like other posters said you might be better served by starting with the baddest laptop you can build and then make some cheaper models for the mass (non dev) market.

  146. [...] vient tout juste d’annoncer qu’il souhaite l’utiliser pour équiper son nouvel ultraportable XPS 13. window.___gcfg = {lang: 'fr'}; (function() { var po = document.createElement('script'); [...]

  147. Netlord says:

    This is all great, but when can students of computing science and digital forensics get our hands on it? I don’t want to wipe my Inspiron 1764 to install Ubuntu, but I want a small, highly portable laptop with 12.04 on it. Why bother to announce the sputnik project as a 6 month test and not make it available to testers in the field instead of your controlled lab environment? Come on guys! Maybe I am on the wrong website, but I would like to stick with Dell. Let me check and see what the competition is offering that people can actually get their hands on.

  148. New Laptop says:

    [...] Dell XPS 13? http://liliputing.com/2012/05/first-…ntu-linux.html Reply With [...]

  149. [...] many of you are probably aware Dell launched Project Sputnik which is a short 6-month pet project in which Dell will take a crack at making a laptop for [...]

  150. [...] many of you are probably aware Dell launched Project Sputnik which is a short 6-month pet project in which Dell will take a crack at making a laptop for [...]

  151. [...] Ubuntu-based ultrabook aimed specifically at developers. Dell Director of Marketing Barton George announced in a blog post this week that Dell has launched a new effort called Project [...]

  152. thesenshikaze says:

    any news on this? I have my credit card on standby. ;-)

  153. [...] that they are. For example, George commented on his blog that one of the next versions, if the project makes it [...]

  154. carlos says:

    The machine I was dreaming off for years. For sure I agree with the majority (higher hardware specs. 14″ screens, 512 SSD, 16GB RAM, video resolution, USB 3, HDMI, no Optimus, etc). I would carry 1/2 kg more with a happier face with all those specs.
    I’ve used DELL laptops (now an old Vostro 1700 that needs a replacement in weeks) and workstations (now a high end Precision T1500) in the last 10 years. And in the majority of them I’ve installed various Linux flavours (Ubuntu, Mint, Fedora, Debian, Mandriva, …) with minor problems that I’ve always solved (no optimus – thanks).
    Wathever configuration – dual boot, VBox, KVM – they have always worked. Now I’m with Ubuntu for many reasons (comunity support, version upgrade, Unity, Mark S., … and a large list more).

    This is not true for other machines (Vaios, Lenovos, envys) for not talking about names.
    But it true that with DELL I was always able to buy the machines configured almost the way I wanted, in particular without MS-W on it in the majority of the cases.

    In summary, this is a very good bet from DELL. More and more the market is asking for an OS “option”.

    Conclusion: I will wait a few more weeks for the new SPUTNIK.
    In Spain I hope.

  155. seumas says:

    Just downloaded it to test out. I should mention that the bzip2 compression seems to be a bit pointless as the ISO appears to be compressed already: it only saves 1MB in a 1.4GB file. Will give further feedback when we’ve tried it out!

  156. Yaroslav Halchenko says:

    Since the majority of Ubuntu is developed actually by Debian developers, it would have been nice if “developers laptop” actually was “compatible” with Debian. And now it is the best time to assure that since Debian is about to freeze within a month, so ironing out of few of the remaining bugs could allow next stable Debian being stable on this baby, thus providing the developers with the system they could use reliably.

  157. Leejjon says:

    I’d buy it. All the linux laptops that are being sold in my country are old and huge. And they still have compatibility issues. Right now I don’t want to buy one and pay for the included Windows license and then find out that the battery life sucks compared to Windows. And that I have to go through a lot of tweaking to get things as the touchpad, sound and wifi working.

  158. Tweeks says:

    Cool! I work in a group of Devs and a Linux engineers. I know one of our devs just recently bought this (or a similar Dell bus-class.laptop), paid the M$ tax, and then went on to nuke it and install a linux tiled window dev setup.

    Many a linux geek, and now more just general IT geeks, and even librarians and grandmas are looking for preinstalled linux laptops (for obviously differing reasons ;). Offering a wide range of “pick your hardware” and “pick your OS” systems would be welcomed by MANY! Although I’m sure the the M$ licensing/sales contracts that Dell and other OEMs have signed has their hands tied (surprise surprise ;)

    Good luck with this project! Hope it strikes gold. I’ll sure tell MY Dev & IT friends about it!

    Tweeks
    (Pardon typos. On my Galaxy Epic4)

  159. [...] issues such as whether the screen should be shiny or not. In addition, 35,000 people visited Barton George’s Web posting about the new laptop — 10 times more than any other posting he’s ever made, he said. [...]

  160. Andrew says:

    I installed this on my Dell XPS 13 yesterday via a USB using the Universal USB Installer (http://www.pendrivelinux.com/universal-usb-installer-easy-as-1-2-3/).

    Took over my entire hard drive. This badly needs a proper installer like the vanilla Ubuntu 12.04.

    Also when I updated the OS the brightness fix stopped working. Was overwritten by an update or something.

    Needs more work & possibly a software repository or two so updating is more functional.

  161. Kek says:

    Do you know if it is possible to buy the dell xps13 without windows now (I am living in Germany)?
    cheers

    • Right now, the XPS13 always comes preloaded with Windows around the world. Project Sputnik is looking at the possibility of changing this :)

      • Dennis says:

        Is it also possible to install the mainstream 12.04 LTS and add a few channels for the XPS-specific updates? I’m getting a XPS 13 in a few weeks (was forced to choose a non-Apple laptop) and as a Linux administrator/developer I have no intention of running the Windows OS-es. Is there a timeframe or roadmap or some kind of milestone planning on when to reach a certain point?

        I’d love to have a fully functional Ubuntu on my yet-to-come XPS 13, but not the way Andrew described in hist post a few ones up.

      • paolo muratore-ginanneschi says:

        I salute the effort by Sputnik Project to make available to consumers a fully functional ubuntu XPS13. I am planning the purchase of a very portable laptop in the coming few months.
        I have been using Linux for about 15 years and I have nor use for Windows neither intention to make donations to Microsoft. Given the offer current available on the market, I am increasingly considering buying a MacAir. Even making available in a simple transparent way the option to buy FREEDOS may definitely affect my final decision.

      • Paolo, thanks for your support! Stay tuned, this project is moving quickly :)

      • paolo muratore-ginanneschi says:

        A further observation if I may. For many development/scientific applications (FORTRAN, C, TeX etc.) the US or the US Intl. keyboards are much more suited than European keyboards.
        Unfortunately Dell seems to have removed the keyboard option
        in the xps13 configuration interface, at least in those European countries I could check. I would like to recommend Project – Sputnik to offer by default that option globally.

      • Alan says:

        I wouldn’t want a US keyboard to be the default for me in the UK. I know the UK layout.

      • paolo muratore-ginanneschi says:

        Maybe I wasn’t sufficiently clear. I was *not* advocating offering by default the US layout. I was only suggesting that buyers be given the *option* of choosing US (or US intl, also UK for the purposes I was mentioning would do) layout if they need it.
        In the past Dell used to offer this option from the “configure” web-site. Not anymore (or at least not in all countries) for the xps13. Apple instead does it for the MBA.
        I hope I was now sufficiently clear.

  162. Aldi says:

    I hope that Dell sincerely goes the Ubuntu way. IMHO, Lenovo is very succesful with its Thinkpad line attracting Linux users (some of the Thinkpad models are Ubuntu certified and run greatly under Ubuntu). I hope that Dell learns from Lenovo and even goes further in Ubuntu/Linux support.

  163. kenjirukun says:

    So where can I buy one? I’ve been using Ubuntu on a Sony Vaio for 2 years now, and I can say the experience is terrible..

    Dell laptops are famous for their relatively good hardware support for Linux. It would be nice to see more explicit support from Dell.

    • Hi, At this point this is still a pilot so although you can purchase the XPS13 off dell.com today XPS13 it will come preloaded with windows. You can get the image from Canonical

      thanks for your support and stay tuned for more info! :)

      • kenjirukun says:

        In that case, Dell should offer a way to refund for the licenses of Windows 7, MS Office and whatever software comes preloaded on the device.

        The idea is to clearly support Linux, without paying a tax to Microsoft in order to do this..

  164. Simone says:

    This is very cool. I am a long time linux user (many “flavors”). I got my xps 13 just 2 days ago, and 12.04 is already on it. I am not a developer, but it’s exciting to have the opportunity of such a strong support from a big company like Dell. I am a little bummed by the touchpad issue, but I am confident it will be solved soon. Can’t wait to show those Mac people! xD

  165. [...] is working on Project Sputnik which aims to produce a laptop for developers. It’s based on Dell’s XPS 13 ultrabook [...]

  166. David Edwin says:

    I would be great to get Bluetooth 4.0 on the sputnik so it can drive the development of Bluetooth Low Energy applications, makes more sense as a developer platform

  167. Mary says:

    It’s about time! I bought an Ubuntu XPS four years ago when they were available. I buy a new laptop every three years and when it came time to replace my Dell in 2011, no Dell XPS Ubuntu was to be found. Consequently, I went to Zareason, a Linux laptop manufacturer. I am overall satisfied with my Zareason purchase, but I will give Dell another chance when it’s time to get a new laptop.

    Although I am not a developer, per se, I am a heavy power user.

  168. John Q says:

    I think this is great, but one thing that any of these systems need to have if they are going to be considered “Pro” or “Developer” models is an ethernet port. The place where I work has unstable wireless. Ethernet connectivity has to come built into the system. I don’t care if the port is foldable and is stuffed inside a small space in the laptop housing, it has to be a part of the machine. Not some nonsense dongle.

    Also I hope that Dell arranges the sharing of any fixes that come down for making Ubuntu work with the various hardware components with the upstream developers. While the XPS13 isn’t the right model for me because of lack of ethernet I am definitely keeping my eyes on this for some other larger screen models with ethernet ports.

  169. [...] Dell hat das Projekt Sputnik ins Leben gerufen und will das Ultrabook voll Ubuntu kompatibel machen. Leider gibt es momentan noch wenige Punkte die leider nicht funktionieren: [...]

  170. Carlos Zubieta says:

    If nVidia Optimus is shiped with, have you been thinking about bumblebee? I know it’s not official but it works pretty well for me (I own an XPS 15 l502x), i use it with CUDA and a lot of CV libraries.

    PS. Sorry about my english :P

  171. [...] update: Profile tool and touchpad I’ve meant to blog more frequently around Sputnik but it’s been crazy busy marshalling resources within Dell for our little skunk works [...]

  172. [...] meant to blog more frequently around Sputnik but it’s been crazy busy marshalling…» [...]

  173. [...] more about software packages than 3D graphics hardware specs, you may be the target demographic for “Project Sputnik,” a Dell initiative to create a “developer laptop” based on Ubuntu 12.04 and [...]

  174. Aaron says:

    Great to hear! Reading the comments, it seems nearly everybody is excited about Dell providing decent hardware support in Gnu/Linux, not the primary innovation of the project (the profiles).

    I agree. I’m very excited about the project, too, because I’m looking for a nice laptop that works with FOSS drivers. Being frank, nearly all developers could apt get what they need, but they can’t improve hardware support. Dell, by contrast, could use FOSS-friendly hardware and upstream driver fixes.

    I just about purchased an XPS machine a couple of months ago, but stopped when it wasn’t on the Ubuntu Certified list. If you’ve been working with Canonical on this, why is there nothing about the laptop on the certification page?

  175. The XPS 13′s bigger siblings — XPS 14 and 15 — were just announced. Can we get hardware support on those, too? Pleeeease!!!!! The XPS 13 is nice and all, but it is not a Macbook Pro killer. The XPS 14 and 15 might be.

  176. Prasad says:

    Amazing….Can’t wait…please make this available in india….

  177. Dave H says:

    My Dell XPS laptop just broke and need to get one of these things NOW! Ready or not, where can I get one?

  178. ronjohn63 says:

    No one in my family needs a developer laptop, but my daughter gets great use from a $200 Meego-powered ASUS X101-EU17 for YouTube and various other web sites she likes to visit, and my wife from a slightly older ASUS netbook. And my Uncle called me last week asking about something cheap with a keyboard, since tablets are hard to type on. Next day an ASUS netbook. They have my mind-share because the original netbook was ASUS and ran Linux, and they continue to see Linux-powered kit.

  179. [...] Some things are certain, however. The Dell XPS 13 notebooks involved in Sputnik run a developer-friendly version of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS — aka Precise Pangolin — that’s fairly bare-bones. Canonical and Dell hope to eventually include environment specific repositories so that, say, a Ruby developer can quickly nab an appropriate set of tools and utilities, while Android devs can snag a second prepackaged kit. You can read a lot more about Sputnik on the lead developer’s blog. [...]

  180. [...] Some things are certain, however. The Dell XPS 13 notebooks concerned in Sputnik run a developer-friendly chronicle of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS — aka Precise Pangolin — that’s sincerely bare-bones. Canonical and Dell wish to eventually embody sourroundings specific repositories so that, say, a Ruby developer can fast seize an suitable set of collection and utilities, while Android devs can obstacle a second prepackaged kit. You can read a lot some-more about Sputnik on a lead developer’s blog. [...]

  181. [...] Some things are certain, however. The Dell XPS 13 notebooks involved in Sputnik run a developer-friendly version of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS — aka Precise Pangolin — that’s fairly bare-bones. Canonical and Dell hope to eventually include environment specific repositories so that, say, a Ruby developer can quickly nab an appropriate set of tools and utilities, while Android devs can snag a second prepackaged kit. You can read a lot more about Sputnik on the lead developer’s blog. [...]

  182. evodevocog says:

    ~hope I can get an ubuntu xps before the end of the year.

  183. [...] of the initial thinking that went into the project’s ideas -For more information check: Barton George’s Blog and Dell’s Project Sputnik Website Tags: Barton George, dell, Dell Project [...]

  184. [...] Sputnik to go from Pilot to Product A couple of weeks ago we announced a Beta program for the four-month old Project Sputnik — an effort to investigate creating a developer [...]

  185. [...] Dell announced its official re-entry into the Linux laptop market. Project Sputnik, first announced in May, is graduating from Dell’s internal incubator program into a real product. According to [...]

  186. [...] Dell announced its official re-entry into the Linux laptop market. Project Sputnik, first announced in May, is graduating from Dell’s internal incubator program into a real product. According to project [...]

  187. [...] Dell announced its official re-entry into the Linux laptop market. Project Sputnik, first announced in May, is graduating from Dell’s internal incubator program into a real product. According to [...]

  188. [...] Dell announced its official re-entry into the Linux laptop market. Project Sputnik, first announced in May, is graduating from Dell’s internal incubator program into a real product. According to project [...]

  189. [...] que son los consumidores principales a los que se destina este equipo, tal y como apuntaba en su blog uno de los responsables del mismo. El terminal ofrecerá además a los desarrolladores la [...]

  190. [...] 本日(米国時間7/18)Dellは、Linuxラップトップ市場への再参入を公式に表明した。5月に発表されたProject Sputnik〔スプートニクプロジェクト??〕がこのほど、Dell社内のインキュベータ事業を卒業して、実際に製品化されたのだ。プロジェクトのリーダーBarton Gerogeによると、Dellは同社のXPS13 Ultrabookの特製“デベロッパエディション”を秋から売り出す。 [...]

  191. [...] que son los consumidores principales a los que se destina este equipo, tal y como apuntaba en su blog uno de los responsables del mismo. El terminal ofrecerá además a los desarrolladores la [...]

  192. [...] principio, tal y como apunta Burton George, director de Project Sputnik en su propio blog, los portátiles serán una versión para desarrolladores, con lo que como siempre pasa en estos [...]

  193. [...] questo progetto è stato avviato (a maggio scorso), Dell aveva detto che avrebbe tenuto in essere un programma pilota per poter valutare il suo [...]

  194. Pieter says:

    I want Dell’s XPS13 laptop….some one please give me one…hahahah

  195. Chétoi says:

    Please for France !!!!

  196. [...] Dell announced its official re-entry into the Linux laptop market. Project Sputnik, first announced in May, is graduating from Dell’s internal incubator program into a real product. According to project [...]

  197. [...] Barton George from Dell will be dropping by to talk a little bit about Project Sputnik, Dell’s new developer laptop initiative. [...]

  198. Lee says:

    The 3 most important features in a laptop:

    1. BATTERY LIFE!!!!! (It is mobile after all)
    2. Screen… need a nice one if you want to compete with Apple
    3. keyboard / touchpad.

  199. [...] more at Technoholik and on Barton George’s blog, here and here (you can also follow him on [...]

  200. [...] his blog posting introducing the project, Barton George writes: “Made possible by an internal innovation fund, project Sputnik is a 6 month effort to [...]

  201. I’m very excited about the project, and am so looking forward to the day I can order a full size high end Dell laptop with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS fully pre-installed, and not Windows of any flavor. Keep up the good work. I am currently running eight of you laptops and one tower as a server, all now with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS. The inprovement over Windows 7 and NT is simply amazing. I tried to customize a new laptop at your site tonight, but after getting all the hardware as I want it found it only came with Windows pre-installed…

  202. Gordon Sun says:

    This is awesome. I come back just after a few month I first saw this project and it’s done by now! I’ll give it a try on my xps 13. This may save Dell, who knows.

  203. I just purchased an XPS *14* Ultrabook. I know — this isn’t the XPS 13 mentioned here, but rather its slightly larger sibling. The 14 is the perfect developer laptop. Not the 13. Why all the focus on the 13?

    Anyway, I have a serious problem — the laptop, currently running Ubuntu 12.04.1, freezes spontaneously every so often. Complete lockup requiring a hard reset.

    Has anyone else seen this? How about you or your team, Barton?

    Just so you know, I am also running the Sputnik kernel, which I installed via the PPA.

    > uname -a
    Linux jsilverman1-XPS-L421X 3.2.0-30-generic #47+kamal6~DellXPS-Ubuntu SMP Thu Aug 16 20:31:49 UTC 2012 x86_64 x86_64 x86_64 GNU/Linux

    I really like this computer, but I’d really like this resolved. I am going to call Dell this week about it but I’m concerned the answer will be “you are running an unsupported OS”

    Thanks,
    JDS

    • Sorry its taken me awhile to respond. Are you still having issues with lock up?

      With regards to our choice, we started with XPS13 because at the time that was the coolest laptop we had available. Going forward, if successful, I would like to have a “beauty and the beast” line up with a lighter weight system like the XPS13 at one end and a beefer machine at the other.

      thanks!

      • Hi. Yes, I am still having problems. In fact, it is bad enough that I am actually using (shudder) Windows 7.

        The XPS 14 Ultrabook is the perfect laptop for me in terms of physical size, weight, screen resolution, and performance (actually, the performance is poor considering what I expect). Perfect. Also, Ubuntu runs perfectly on it. HOWEVER, there is this annoying bug whereby Ubuntu 12.04 just totally freezes — no mouse movement, no keyboard response, no magic SysRq response — nothing but total lockup. There isn’t anything in any system logs, either, so pretty hard to debug. I haven’t been able to capture any data from the event since it happens apparently randomly, but it does seem to happen more when I access certain kinds of web resources (YouTube vids, for example).

        Also, there is another problem, which is that I can’t stand Unity. I think Unity is just plain awful. I can go into details, but they are outside the scope of this comment. I had installed Linux Mint 13 instead — but Mint suffers from the exact same total system lockup problem. (I only installed Ubuntu in the hopes that the problem would go away)

        To try to fix the problem I tried Mint, Ubuntu (stock), and the Ubuntu/Sputnik kernel. All three have this issue. I tried several remedies I found online to no avail.

        Finally, there is one last very annoying problem. The trackpad. The trackpad features work, for the most part. Two-finger scrolling works well, for example. However, there is a very annoying “jittery” effect when you touch the trackpad for a “click” — the cursor jumps just a few pixels here and there. Jittery. Also, the trackpad jumps the cursor abruptly from one side of the screen to the other if you touch it the wrong way. It is hard to do this on purpose, but by accident, it happens all the time. Finally, the trackpad “disable while typing” does NOT work, and one will get the cursor jumping all over the place, on occasion, while typing.

        I can live with the trackpad problems — frankly, the trackpad operation in Windows is not much better (but it isn’t jittery and it doesn’t jump all over while typing). Unfortunately, the lock-up issue is a non-starter. I can’t do actual work on an unreliable system.

        So Windows it is, for now. . I installed Cygwin and that has helped a bit, but Cygwin is not without its own set of quirks, to be sure.

      • I pinged the team with your issue to see if anyone has come across it. That being said, our resources are predominantly focused on XPS13.
        thx!

      • I have loaded Fedora 17. Hardware support in Fedora on the XPS 14 Ultrabook is flawless. Everything appears to work perfectly. Fedora itself is far from flawless, though — it took a lot of tweaking and massaging to get to be close to as usable as Linux Mint is out of the box. However, that is all an aside — the real point is that I’ve been running F17 for three days now with no hard-freezes. So something different in the Ubuntu/Debian kernel from the Fedora kernel is causing this.

        I wish I had more information to provide.

        Also, FWIW, there is at least one bug report in Launchpad that describes, almost exactly, the issue that I’m having. The only thing different from the Launchpad bug is that one or two reporters have a way to reproduce the freeze behavior. However, I tried those, and have been unable to reproduce.

        Here it is: https://bugs.launchpad.net/ubuntu/precise/+source/linux/+bug/999910

        Thank you,
        JDS

      • Howdy. Great news (well, great news for *me* at least) — I upgraded my DEll XPS 14 L421X Ultrabook to Ubuntu 12.10. And no more freezing problems! (Although, admittedly, I have only been running this way for four days — Ubuntu 12.04 would freeze on a daily basis, so it is looking good so far)

        Ultimately, I couldn’t take Fedora — Ubuntu’s overall implementation of an OS is just plain better. Things work better, there is less things to configure manually, and the things that do require manual intervention are easier to do.

        In any case, Ubuntu 12.10 on the XPS 14 L421X works, and works well.

        On a side note: the touchpad on this laptop is awful. Just awful. And I mean hardware-wise: it is just as awful in Windows, using the Windows drivers provided by the manufacturer (that’s you, Dell). I don’t understand this insistence on “no buttons” trackpads, but that isn’t the issue. The issue is that the implementation just sucks. The rubberized surface is not appropriate for a touchpad; the click pressure required is *much* too great; the separate right-left “fake” button areas are too hard to hit without actually paying attention. Copying Apple with no buttons is not the thing — if you are copying Apple, pay attention to the details. Apple’s buttonless trackpads work because they pay attention to the details.

      • @pool-pog glad to hear you got the XPS14 running well! thanks for the feedback on the trackpad I will pass it along

  204. naterockhold says:

    Have you added mini displayport support to the kernel?

    • Just checked with one of our developers, his response: The minidisplayport works fine. I’ve used it with both minidisplayport->hdmi adapters and minidisplayport->vga adapters.

  205. Greetings! This is my first visit to your
    blog! We are a group of volunteers and starting a new project in a community
    in the same niche. Your blog provided us beneficial information
    to work on. You have done a marvellous job!

  206. Terry says:

    4:3 screen is a must! I can’t develop on these idiotic wide screen ratios.

  207. I choosed to buy a brand new XPS 13 just for the Project Sputnik (: in fact I was going to buy a Macbook Air, thank god there’s a new option for us, the humble developers.

  208. Patrick says:

    Hi,
    Does anybody have some info on the Kensington Notebook Station Dock which can be bought on the Dell website with the XPS 13 … Does it work with Ubuntu, especially for adding an external monitor ? Up to which resolution can we have on the external monitor ?
    Thx for the efforts and your reply,
    Patrick

  209. San says:

    I have the same question as Patrick, with the Targus USB 3 docking station proposed on the US Dell site.
    Will it work in Ubuntu ?

  210. I dont know about the Kensington dock but in looking around in regards to the Targus dock, unfortunately it seems that there aren’t any Linux drivers for it.

    • San says:

      thanks a lot for the reply. Well, that’s too bad. Anyway I’ve just ordered the XPS 13!

    • Patrick says:

      Concerning the Kensington Dock (sd400), I’ve just posted a question on ubuntuforums.org. If I get some conclusive answers I’ll post them here …

      • Patrick says:

        For your info, I found this : http://www.geardiary.com/2009/11/18/review-kensington-k33926us-universal-notebook-docking-station-with-vgadvi-and-ethernet/

        It dates back to 2010 and is for another docking station from kensington. The only issue is the DisplayLink graphics.

        On an ubuntu forum, a guy suggested me to do the following home-made dock :

        - a mini-display adapter with DVI (of course, you can use a VGA one)
        - a 4-ports USB hub with mouse and keywbord plugged
        - an ethernet cable with USB adapter

        I’ll order the kensington dock, and the other adapters and let you know how it turns out ;-)

      • Patrick says:

        As promised, some updates on the Kensington Dock sd400 :

        I finally got my XPS13 and installed the latest Sputnik iso. Everything worked out of the box, wow!

        For the Kensignton dock : ethernet and USB worked out of the box, and for the video display, I found out that it uses the DisplayLink technology.

        I installed the right driver for xorg :

        > apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-displaylink

        Then I added a new configuration in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d named 52-dl.conf, which contains the following (hopefully the formatting will keep this readable) :

        Section “Device”
        Identifier “internal”
        driver “intel”
        EndSection

        Section “Device”
        Identifier “kensington”
        driver “displaylink”
        Option “fbdev” “/dev/fb1″
        EndSection

        Section “Monitor”
        Identifier “monitorDell”
        EndSection

        Section “Monitor”
        Identifier “monitorXPS”
        EndSection

        Section “Screen”
        Identifier “externalDell”
        Device “kensington”
        Monitor “monitorDell”
        DefaultDepth 16
        EndSection

        Section “Screen”
        Identifier “internalXPS”
        Device “internal”
        Monitor “monitorXPS”
        DefaultDepth 16
        EndSection

        Section “ServerLayout”
        Identifier “multihead”
        Screen 0 “externalDell” 0 0
        EndSection

        This allows me to use my external monitor while the XPS13 screen is “black”. I did not manage to find a satisfying configuration to have both screens on (with Xinerama, there are some strange behaviours with the mouse pointer when I switch from one screen to another).

        Unfortunately, on my external monitor I now have to use Unity2D (which activates itself by default. I did not have time yet to see if I can activate a window compositing manager to return to my classical interface.

        I’m waiting for a minidisplayport to vga converter to see if that solution is better.

        Hopefully this can help some people …

      • Thanks Patrick for posting this!

    • San says:

      right, I just saw this: http://www.displaylink.org/forum/showthread.php?t=1748

      so for the Targus USB3, which used DL-3900, I guess we have to wait…

      • Patrick says:

        As promised, some updates on the Kensington Dock sd400 :

        I finally got my XPS13 and installed the latest Sputnik iso. Everything worked out of the box, wow!

        For the Kensignton dock : ethernet and USB worked out of the box, and for the video display, I found out that it uses the DisplayLink technology.

        I installed the right driver for xorg :

        > apt-get install xserver-xorg-video-displaylink

        Then I added a new configuration in /usr/share/X11/xorg.conf.d named 52-dl.conf, which contains the following (hopefully the formatting will keep this readable) :

        Section “Device”
        Identifier “internal”
        driver “intel”
        EndSection

        Section “Device”
        Identifier “kensington”
        driver “displaylink”
        Option “fbdev” “/dev/fb1″
        EndSection

        Section “Monitor”
        Identifier “monitorDell”
        EndSection

        Section “Monitor”
        Identifier “monitorXPS”
        EndSection

        Section “Screen”
        Identifier “externalDell”
        Device “kensington”
        Monitor “monitorDell”
        DefaultDepth 16
        EndSection

        Section “Screen”
        Identifier “internalXPS”
        Device “internal”
        Monitor “monitorXPS”
        DefaultDepth 16
        EndSection

        Section “ServerLayout”
        Identifier “multihead”
        Screen 0 “externalDell” 0 0
        EndSection

        This allows me to use my external monitor while the XPS13 screen is “black”. I did not manage to find a satisfying configuration to have both screens on (with Xinerama, there are some strange behaviours with the mouse pointer when I switch from one screen to another).

        Unfortunately, on my external monitor I now have to use Unity2D (which activates itself by default. I did not have time yet to see if I can activate a window compositing manager to return to my classical interface.

        I’m waiting for a minidisplayport to vga converter to see if that solution is better.

        Hopefully this can help some people …

  211. DanielM says:

    I have been following this project for some time. We have one XPS 13 in use in the office now and the admin loves it. His only complaint is he wishes for a larger screen and maybe a little better battery life. Otherwise if functions flawlessly. He’s so happy with it he wont give it back and has chucked his MacBook.

    I currently have an order out for an XPS 14 and 15. I received the 15 (L521z) today and Ubuntu 12.04 installed with no issues but it seemed to have issue with the Nvidia card as it could not detect what type it was so it could not give different driver options, so I’m not sure if it just defaulted to the Intel built in one. I do have an issue of it locking up so the XPS15 doesn’t look ready to go at least not initially.

    However given how Intel’s video card just works and Nvidia has not made the proprietary divers as functional as Intel I could actually use a high end XPS15 that just had the intel graphics card.

    NOTE: My work horse is an Dell Latitude E6420 and it works very well. Main issue is the touch pad is a little sensitive but not nearly as sensitives as ubuntu on the XPS15 (L521z)

    That all said I think the XPS13 is great with Ubuntu and look forward to more official support for other larger models.

    • Daniel thanks for the feedback! Hoping to expand this to beefier models if all goes well. Glad to hear you and your admin are enjoying they XPS13!

      thanks

    • The XPS 14 is excellent, but I had a very important issue with it with Debian-based distros — it locks up, completely, no mouse keyboard or anything, and it does this apparently randomly, on the order of once per day.

      Please! Let me know if you suffer this issue. I’m dying to see it resolved, as I really like Deb-based distros. (Mint, in particular). Right now I’m using Fedora 17 and it has worked perfectly (hardware wise), although it took some massaging to get configured how I like it.

      Finally, the XPS 14 Ultrabook has the NVIDIA Optimus chip in it, which is not supported on Linux. But you might want to look at this: http://bumblebee-project.org/install.html

    • DanielM says:

      Little update. I had been intending to do a write up on getting the XPS 15 (L521z) working. For the most part works like a champ. Bumblebee resolves the video issue and gives me the best of both worlds so I look forward to project bumblebee moving into the kernal.

      At this point my XPS 15 is working well. It’s been a little while since I saw a lock up but I haven’t been using it as much lately since I do not have all of my work stuff moved to it (and waiting on the 4 core version to come in for testing and I’ll give my 2core version to another admin.)

      Biggest complaint at the moment is the track pad. My hands are somewhat large and I keep grazing the edge of the darn thing while typing. Wish there was some better support of the “disable track pad while typing”. I’d like to change the sinsitivity of it.

      @POOL-POG, good to hear about the XPS 14 and the lock up issue. Wonder if that is just a kernel problem and will hopefully be resolved the next round of kernel updates?

  212. [...] issues such as whether the screen should be shiny or not. In addition, 35,000 people visited Barton George’s Web posting about the new laptop — 10 times more than any other posting he’s ever made, he said. [...]

  213. Patrick says:

    A few weeks ago I promised to update you with the minidisplayport solution to use an external display : it works out of the box. Just use the “Displays” application in Ubuntu to decide where to put this external screen (on the right, on the left, …,, or even as a clone). Well done.

    BTW I would have liked to know if there is no problem in upgrading to Ubuntu 12.10 ? I couldn’t find a lot of info on this subject. Thanx for any news on this.

  214. Избиране на лаптоп…

    Отново съм изкушен от идеята да работя отдалечено (от офиса – иначе близко, тоест вкъщи). Темата е обширна, но не ми е за това думата сега. А и не съм обсъждал възможността с настоящия работодател, така че всичко е само на етап обмисляне. Това, за коет…

  215. [...] much more credible reading comments directly from users anyway. (There’s lots more great reviews and comments on Barton’s [...]

  216. Liselore Vermeulen says:

    I’m surprised nobody looses sleep over “going to” and “waking up” (if possible almost instantly). (this might be covered by the proberly debuged ACPI mentioned earlier, however I fear that would not cover all of it). This desirefull instantly sleep and wake up, I haven’t encountered on a linux laptop, but also not (repetitively) on any windows either.

  217. [...] the time of this writing the Ultrabook with Ubuntu 12.04, which originally had been announced as Project Sputnik, was offered for a base price of $1,449. The Ultrabook comes with 8 GB memory and a i7-3517U. There [...]

  218. [...] auf Ausstattung als auch Design alles andere als ansprechend. Als Dell im Sommer dieses Jahres das Projekt „Sputnik“ vom Stapel ließ, um ein Oberklasse-Linux-Notebook zu entwickeln, war der Zuspruch der Community enorm. Das Resultat [...]

  219. [...] positive reception that yesterday's introduction of the Dell XPS 13 developer edition (formerly project Sputnik) received. Tons of feedback has already started to pour [...]

  220. [...] reception that yesterday's introduction of the Dell XPS 13 developer edition (formerly project Sputnik) received. Tons of feedback has already started to pour [...]

  221. [...] Barton George from Dell will be dropping by to talk a little bit about Project Sputnik, Dell’s new developer laptop initiative. [...]

  222. [...] preloaded with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS (Long Term Support) aimed at developers.  You can see the original blog post [...]

  223. [...] the most cumulative views I’ve had of a blog entry before Sputnik was 2,700.   My post introducing Sputnik, as of tonight, has had over 42,000 views!  And the news has been carried by a [...]

  224. [...] couple of weeks ago we announced a Beta program for the four-month old Project Sputnik — an effort to investigate creating a developer [...]

  225. [...] meant to blog more frequently around Sputnik but it’s been crazy busy marshalling resources within Dell for our little skunk works [...]

  226. [...] since we first announced that we were launching a project to explore the creation of an open source developer laptop, we [...]

  227. [...] The busiest day of the year was May 9th with 15,457 views. The most popular post that day was Introducing Project Sputnik: Developer laptop. [...]

  228. [...] little over six months ago we announced a scrappy skunkworks project to pilot a developer solution based on Ubuntu 12.04LTS and our sleek [...]

  229. [...] at developers pre installed with Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 laptop. This news comes from a blog post from Barton George, Dell’s Director of marketing for [...]

  230. [...] This Dell XPS 13 Ubuntu Edition was released early this year globally and this month it became available in Finland. It is actually already the second generation in a Dell-Canonical-cooperation on creating the ultimate laptop for web developers. [...]

  231. Is this laptop here:
    https://www.dell.com/au/business/p/xps-13-l321x-mlk/pd?refid=xps-13-l321x-mlk&baynote_bnrank=0&baynote_irrank=0&~ck=baynoteSearch&isredir=true

    Exactly the same hardware?

    If so, what are current links to set up this laptop with the latest Developer build?

  232. […] ottimizzate e pronte all’uso di questo sistema e ora ha avviato un esperimento denominato Project Sputnik con il quale spera di stuzzicare gli sviluppatori offrendo un computer completo di strumenti […]

  233. […] director of marketing for Dell’s Web vertical, announced that Dell is working on creating an open-source laptop targeted directly at developers. It is based on the brand new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 […]

  234. […] director of promoting for Dell’s net vertical, introduced that Dell is engaged on developing anopen-supply laptop centered instantly at builders. it is in line with the brand new Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 […]

  235. […] we first introduced Project Sputnik, the client-to-cloud solution for developers, over a year ago we talked about two community […]

  236. jack says:

    Processor: Intel Core i5 4 1.3 GHz / 2.6 GHz / Dual-Core / L3 cache – 3 MB/ Intel Turbo Boost Technology 2.0, Integrated memory controller

    RAM: LPDDR3 SDRAM 4 GB / Supported 8 GB

    Display: 11.6 in / LED backlight / 1366 x 768 ( HD ) / Widescreen / Glossy

    Storage: 128 GB, Flash storage SSD /

    Connectivity: Wireless / Bluetooth 4.0, 802.11ac

    Operating System: Apple OS X 10.8 Mountain Lion

  237. […] Introducing Project Sputnik: Developer laptop | Barton’s Blog […]

  238. […] at developers pre installed with Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 laptop. This news comes from a blog post from Barton George, Dell’s Director of marketing for […]

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