Sputnik has landed! Introducing the Dell XPS 13 Laptop, Developer Edition

November 29, 2012

A little over six months ago we announced a scrappy skunkworks project to pilot a developer solution based on Ubuntu 12.04LTS and our sleek XPS 13 laptop.  Thanks to the amazing feedback and support we have received from the community, today we are announcing the availability of the resulting official product – the Dell XPS 13 laptop, developer edition.

What’s exactly is it?

Here is an overview of the components of this client-to-cloud solution and some key facts:

Hardware: XPS 13 laptop, high-end config

  • I7 CPU, 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD

Software

Price: $1,549 $1,449* (includes 1 yr ProSupport)

*Updated 11/30/12: the community pointed out we had not priced consistently across our online stores, this has been fixed.  This offering was always intended to be priced less than Windows.

Availability

  • Small office/consumer - U.S.
  • Enterprise – U.S./Canada
  • Outside the US  – early 2013

Community projects: Profile tool and Cloud Launcher

The profile tool and cloud launcher are beta open source projects that we have just kicked off on github.  These projects are quite nascent at this point and we are looking for more people to get involved and help get them going (hint, hint :) ) .

  • Profile Tool: The idea behind the profile tool is to provide access to a library of community created profiles on github, such as Ruby and Android, to quickly set up your development environments and tool chains.
  • Cloud launcher: The cloud launcher enables you to create “microclouds” on your laptop, simulating an at-scale environment, and then deploy that environment seamlessly to the cloud.  Today the launcher utilizes Linux Containers to model your environment on your laptop and then uses Juju to jettison that environment to the cloud.  The launcher project on github will allow for community expansion on this concept using different technologies and approaches.

How did we get here?

As I mentioned at the beginning, project Sputnik began as a skunkworks effort.  It was made possible by internal incubation fund designed to bring wacky ideas from around the company to life in order to tap innovation that might be locked up in people’s heads. 

Just weeks after the basic concept was greenlighted by the innovation team, it was publically announced as a pilot project at the Ubuntu developer summit.  The big focus of our efforts, particularly in the beginning, has been to work with Canonical to make sure that we had the appropriate drivers for all functionality including the pesky touchpad.

From the start, the idea was to conduct project Sputnik out in the open, soliciting and leveraging direct input from developers via our Project Sputnik StormSession, comments on this blog, threads on the Sputnik tech center forum as well as the project Sputnik beta program.  In fact it was the tremendous interest in the beta program that convinced us to take Project Sputnik from pilot to product.

I would like to give a special shout out to the beta cosmonauts who signed on.  They were an intrepid lot who were patient and diligent working through issues to help make sure that when we went to production we had a product that developers would want.

Where do we go from here?

The next big thing for XPS 13 developer edition is availability outside the United States.  We are working with teams inside of Dell to make this so as quickly as we can.  The other direction we are looking at potentially expanding is offering a bigger beefier platform for developers.  The XPS 13 is perfect for those who want an ultra light and mobile system but we have heard from a bunch of devs who would also like an offering that was more workstation-like with a bigger screen and more RAM.

Today is a very proud moment for our team, putting together an official Dell offering for developers with their input and suggestions through out the process.  Stay tuned for more to come!

 Pau for now…


Project Sputnik – Beta Cosmonauts chosen

August 27, 2012

First of all, I would like to thank all the applicants to the Project Sputnik beta program for their patience.  Since we announced the program last month we have been working on implementation, traveling mostly uncharted waters here at Dell.  After working through countless details and seeing what could actually be done in a timely and supportable manner, we have come up with our list of Beta cosmonauts.

The Beta Cosmonauts

We had hoped to make the beta program worldwide, but after digging in we found that the resources needed to execute on it turned out to be more than our little Dell/Canonical team could handle.  As a result we have decided to narrow our Beta effort to the United States.  From those applicants from the US, which represented close to half of the total number of applicants, we have selected 455 people.

It wasn’t easy to narrow the list but we picked people who represent a cross section of the developer population from start ups to large companies to universities.  They represent a wide variety of skills and experience and are the people who we feel will be most vocal and participatory and who best represent the Sputnik ethos.

What they get – Updated Aug 30

Tomorrow we will send out the emails to everyone in the program letting them know whether they have been selected or not.  Those selected, and who are still interested in participating, will be able to purchase the high-end XPS13 at $1,199 rather than $1,499*.   As the program continues we will continue to refine the software.  In return…

*Update Aug 30: We took the feedback re the desire for a deeper discount and went back to see if there was any more cost we could drive out the base price.  We found a couple of places and were able to lower the base price from $1,499 to $1,349.99.  Applying the 20% discount to this we are now able to offer the system to Beta cosmonauts at $1,079.99 ($120 less than before.  It’s not a huge difference but I assume every little bit counts).

What we are asking of them

  • Load the software: While we had hoped to be able to offer the beta systems with Ubuntu pre-loaded this has turned out to be a lot more difficult than we had thought and would require shifting resources from our launch in the fall.  As a result, unfortunately the systems will come with Windows pre-loaded.  All the Beta cosmonauts will need to do is follow the directions for installing Ubuntu as listed on the Canonical page.
  • Be vocal and transparent:  We want the cosmonauts to blog and tweet (hashtag #ProjectSputnik) about their experience as a beta tester, but if asked or when appropriate disclose that they received a discount from Dell.
  • Use it and contribute:  As beta testers we want the cosmonauts to use the system, try things out, file bugs and share their experience with us and each other on the project Sputnik Forum.  It would also be awesome if they could even contribute a profile or two when we make the profile tool available.
  • Support: given that this is a beta program we won’t have official support for the hardware or software.  That being said we will try our best to help out the cosmonauts via the forum and bug tracker.

Thanks again to everyone who applied to the program.  Dell and Canonical are very excited to hear what people think of the systems and learn what we can do to make them better.

Key links

Pau for now…


Quick Sputnik Update

August 21, 2012

I apologize for the radio silence since OSCON.   Since announcing that we would be delivering a product this fall, our little team has been working hard to get us locked and loaded on the roadmap.  We have also been focusing on the Profile tool that Canonical has been building for us.

The other big effort that has consumed a lot of our time is ironing out  the logistics for the Beta program we announced last month.   Stay tuned, we hope to have some news on this a little later this week.

Who knew?!

Turns out that taking Project Sputnik from incubation project to real product and launching a beta program at the same in a highly accelerated manner involves a lot of uncharted territory within the company.  We are learning as we go along.

Thanks everyone for your patience and stay tuned for more Sputnik news.

Pau for now…


Project Sputnik to go from Pilot to Product

July 18, 2012

A couple of weeks ago we announced a Beta program for the four-month old Project Sputnik — an effort to investigate creating a developer focused laptop based on Ubuntu and Dell’s XPS13 laptop.

Since the beta announcement we have received thousands of applications from around the world.  This tremendous response, on top of fantastic amount of input we have received on the Project Sputnik storm session, has convinced us to take this project from pilot to product.

This fall we will be offering an Ubuntu 12.04LTS-based laptop pre-loaded on Dell’s XPS13 laptop.

Going from skunk works to mainstream

Back in the Spring, project Sputnik was the first effort green-lighted by an internal incubation program at Dell.  Thanks to the incubation program we got a little bit of funding and some executive advisers.  This incubation program notwithstanding, project Sputnik  has been a pretty scrappy skunk works effort to date.

The idea behind the incubation program is to harness that scrappiness and inventiveness to explore & validate new ideas & products outside mainstream Dell processes. Thanks to the tremendous amount of support both outside (you, the community!) and inside Dell,  with today’s announcement, we will begin making our transition to an official, “mainstream” Dell product.

  I should also mention, if its not obvious, that we have not been doing the work alone. Canonical  has been “scrappin” right besides us, helping to drive the project and doing a ton of engineering on the software side.

Beta program

As I mentioned at the start we have been completely blown away by the number of applications we have received.  We’re currently working through logistics of how to handle the tons of applications, we’ll notify all applicants soon, and intend to keep that process and the future product aligned with the spirit of the program.

To make sure that we are listening to your ideas, please continue to post any thoughts about what you would like to see in a developer laptop on our Storm session.   If you have an XPS13 running Ubuntu and want to share your experience or report a bug or issue, see our forum on Dell Tech center.

For more information on the program see the Project Sputnik FAQ

Thanks everyone for all the interest and passion, stay tuned as we push forward!

Reference: current solution details

Hardware

The solution is based on the high-end configuration of the Dell XPS13 laptop.

Software

Available now

  • drivers/patches for Hardware enablement
  • basic offering of key tools and utilities

Coming soon

  • Profile tool: a software management tool to go out to a github repository to pull down various developer profiles e.g. javascript, ruby, android.
  • Cloud tool: will allow developers to create “microclouds” on their laptops, simulating a proper, at-scale environment, and then deploy that environment seamlessly to the cloud.

Extra-credit reading

  • Press release: Dell Demonstrates Commitment to Open Source Software, Developer Communities
  • Dell Tech Center: Sputnik wiki
  • PC World — Dell’s Ubuntu‬ Laptop Program Enters Beta, ‘Blows Away’ Expectations
  • Initial thoughts on Project Sputnik from O’Reilly’s Mike Hendrickson
  • Transcript from last week’s Sputnik chat on Tech Center

Pau for now…


Sputnik update: Touchpad driver now available!!!

June 20, 2012

If you’ve been following project Sputnik — a developer laptop pilot based on Dell’s XPS13 ultrabook and Ubuntu 12.04LTS — you’ll know that the biggest draw back in these initial weeks has been the lack of multi-touch support in the touchpad.  For some this has been annoying, for others this has been such a pain that they have put their system aside until the driver becomes available.  I’m happy to say that as of a few hours ago, a fully open source driver is now publicly available.

Here are the details from Canonical’s Kamal :

The Sputnik ISO image is pre-configured to use the PPA for updates so all systems which were previously installed with that ISO will automatically be offered the PPA update and their touchpads will just start working.  Furthermore, even systems which are installed now (or later) using that ISO will still automatically be offered the updated PPA kernel when they do their first software update.

There is also a link on the Sputnik PPA page to the Cypress driver patch (and also to the whole DellXPS patch set), so folks building their own kernels from source can get it from there.

Shout outs to…

A big thanks to Kamal from Canonical, Mario on the Dell side for driving this, and the vendor Cypress for doing the work!

Extra credit reading


Sputnik update: Profile tool and touchpad

June 18, 2012

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

We have captured a lot attention within the company and are trying to leverage that attention to help beef up our core team.  One of the areas outside the company we have gotten a great deal of support from is Canonical, the commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu.

Here are a couple of the areas we’ve been working on with Canonical:

The Touchpad

Probably the area we’ve gotten the most amount of inquiries into is the status of the driver being written for the touchpad to allow multi-touch support.  Last week Dell and Canonical received two code drops from the vendor and they are looking very good.  Its only a matter of time now before we have driver in the XPS enablement PPA.  Stay tuned.

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

The Profile tool

Over the last couple of weeks we had a series of calls with folks from Canonical to scope out the effort around the profile tool.

The basic idea around the tool is that instead of stuffing the system with every possible tool or app a developer could possibly want, we are keeping  the actual “stuff” on the install image  pretty basic.

Instead we are working with Canonical to put together a tool that can go out to a github repository and pull down various developer profiles e.g. Android, Ruby, Javascript…

After our conversations we decided to break the effort into two phases:

Phase I – “System Configuration”:

  • The first phase will focus on installing bundles of packages with a YAML-driven approach. This will allow developers to get installable components of the toolchains they need

Phase II – “User Configuration”:

  • The second phase is focused on automating the configuration of the developer’s toolchain and environment, using a model-driven automation tool like Chef, Puppet etc.
  • The idea would be to create an open community where developers can share these profiles, extend them, etc.
  • We are still figuring out the feasibility of this phase and gauging interest.

We’d be interested in any comments or thoughts you have around the profile tool, or anything else having to do with Sputnik.

I’m hoping to start providing more updates (keep you fingers crossed)

Extra-Credit reading:


Copper: Dell goes out ARMed

May 29, 2012

We’ve been watching the ARM market develop over the past few years as these highly efficient chips that have been driving tablets and cell phones have been finding their way more and more into hyperscale servers.   Well watch no more, today were are sallying forth.  Why now?  Because some of our biggest customers have told us that they felt the time is now to start working with these low powered, highly efficient chips for their servers.

HW + SW = Solution

Today we announced that we will be shipping the new Dell “Copper” ARM servers via a seed unit program to select hyperscale customers worldwide.  But a server does not an ecosystem make so we are doing what we can to help partners and developers get started building out applications for the platform.  Given that two of the key areas where the extreme efficiencies of ARM play particularly well are Web front-ends and Hadoop environments, we have “ARMed” key partners like Canonical and Cloudera with units.

Early days

At this point it is still early days in the world of ARM servers so we designed Copper specifically for developers and customers to create code and test performance, not for production.  To help developers get started we have struck a partnership between the Dell Solutions Centers and Texas Advanced Computing Center (TACC) to provide devs with remotely accessible clusters to develop and collaborate on.  And speaking of developers,  Dells own devs are working to deliver an ARM-based version of our open source infrastructure management software, Crowbar.

Speeds and Feeds

And in case your wondering about the specs of the hardware:

  • Dell Copper servers are a shared infrastructure design, which allows easy deployment and reconfiguration of the sleds.
  • Each ARM server node draws about 15 watts max power, so the total power draw for a full chassis is less than 750 watts.
  • The server nodes discover themselves and interconnect when deployed, so workloads can easily run across the entire 48 nodes.
  • And it’s still powerful, with four ARM server nodes per sled, and 12 total sleds, bringing a total of 48 server nodes to a single 3U C5000 chassis.

Stay tuned for more…

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Mark Shuttleworth part two: Developers, DevOps & the Cloud

January 13, 2012

As I mentioned in my last entry, Mark Shuttleworth of Ubuntu fame stopped by Dell this morning on his way back from CES.  Between meetings Mark and I did a couple of quick videos.  Here is the second of the two.  Whereas the first focused on the client, this one focuses on the Cloud and the back-end.

Some of the ground Mark covers

  • The cloud, Ubuntu and OpenStack involvement
  • The developer story: connecting the dots between app work on the client and testing and then deployment on the other end.
  • The world of DevOps and how JuJu fits in
  • Apple’s iOS as a developer platform and where Linux might have the edge going forward

Extra-credit reading


Hadoop World: Ubuntu, Hadoop and Juju

November 14, 2011

I’m always interested in what’s happening at Canonical and with Ubuntu.  Last week at Hadoop World I ran into a couple of folks from the company (coincidentally both named Mark but neither Mr. Shuttleworth).  Mark Mims from the server team was willing to chat so I grabbed some time with him to learn about what he was doing at Hadoop World and what in the heck is this “charming” Juju?

Some of the ground Mark covers

  • Making the next version of Ubuntu server better for Hadoop and big data
  • (0:34) What are “charms” and what do they have to do with service orchestration
  • (2:05) Charm school and learning to write Juju charms
  • (2:54)  Where does “Orchestra” fit in and how can it be used to spin up OpenStack
  • (3:40) What’s next for Juju

But wait, there’s more!

Stay tuned for more interviews from last week’s Hadoop world.  On tap are:

  • Todd Papaioannou from Battery Ventures
  • John Gray of Facebook
  • Erik Swan of Splunk
  • Nosh Petigara of 10gen/MongoDB.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now..


An Update from Eucalyptus’s CTO and Founder

June 8, 2011

Yesterday at Cloud Expo I bumped in to Dr. Rich Wolski, CTO and co-founder of Cloud player, Eucalyptus.  It had been a while since we had last talked so I grabbed some time with him and got him to give me the skinny:

Some of the ground Rich covers:

  • Eucalyptus’s major release which is coming out in the next 4 weeks
  • [0:40] The RightScale myCloud integration that they announced yesterday (linking Eucalyptus private clouds with various public clouds)
  • [2:01] Eucalyptus’s relationship with Canonical and how their interests are diverging
  • [3:15] Where specifically Eucalyptus is targeted
  • [4:25] What are some of their goals and product features they’d like to add over the next year

Extra-credit reading


Ubuntu cloud update — OpenStack, Eucalyptus, Ensemble & Orchestra

June 7, 2011

Today when I was walking the floor at the Cloud Expo here in New York, I ran into fellow Austinite Dustin Kirkland.  Dustin is the manager for systems integration team for Ubuntu.  I got Dustin to give me the low down on the most recent UDS (Ubuntu Developer Summit) that concluded a few weeks ago in Budapest:

Some of the ground that Dustin covers

  • The big areas of focus on the server side coming out of Budapest
  • Getting behind OpenStack as the Ubuntu IaaS platform
  • [1:09] The pioneering work they’ve done with Eucalyptus and how its use case differs from that of OpenStack
  • [2:05] The Ensemble project, a service orchestration framework for the cloud which is the brainchild of Mark Shuttleworth.
  • [3:59] Ubuntu Orchestra for cloud installation, provisioning and configuration management (using Puppet)

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Dell provides Ubuntu-powered IaaS-in-a-box

February 3, 2011

Yesterday, the announcement went out that the Dell | Canonical Enterprise Cloud, Standard Edition was out and ready for consumption.  What this cloud-in-a-box allows folks to do is to set-up affordable Infrastructure-as-a-Service (Iaas)-style private clouds in their computer labs or data centers.  The cool thing is that, because the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (UEC) software  is compatible with Amazon Web Services EC2 and S3 services, it enables IT admins and developers to move workloads between public and private clouds.

Who cares?

Application developers and IT service providers and admins who are setting up cloud POC’s are perfect candidates for this pre-configured testing and development environment.  With regards to industries, areas where there is a lot of software development work like Hosters, Telco & Communications, Media & Entertainment and Web 2.0 businesses are prime markets for the Dell UEC solution.

So what’s in it?

The solutions’ basic components are Dell PowerEdge C systems plus a Dell-specific download of the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (made up of the Ubuntu operating system and the Eucalyptus platform for private cloud computing).  To simplify getting the whole shebang up and running Dell and Canonical are providing the following:

Here’s a peak at the hardware that supports it:

The Dell UEC cloud solution pod.

  • Cloud Compute Server – PowerEdge C6100 that embeds four discrete compute nodes in a single enclosure
  • Cloud Front-end Server – PowerEdge C2100 server that acts as an all-in-controller and runs all shared UEC-related services
  • Infrastructure Server – PowerEdge C2100 that runs two components of the cloud infrastructure:
    • Cloud Deployment and Landscape Management
    • Cloud Storage
  • Network switch – PowerConnect 6248

And on the software side…

The architecture looks something like this:

The Dell UEC cloud solution architecture

The software components are:

  • Cloud Controller (CLC) – the cloud portal
  • Walrus Controller (W) – the cloud’s storage repository
  • Cluster Controller (CC) – the controller for a up to 1024 compute cores grouped together as a cluster
  • Storage Controller (SC) – the controller for cluster’s storage repository
  • Compute Node (CN) – cloud’s compute node

And on the support side…

If you’re looking for systems management and support services with your order, you are in luck.  Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, has put together UEC Assist, a support service built specifically for Dell customers deploying SE Edition and which is delivered by Canonical’s Global Services and Support team.

Its all about efficiency

From a Dell DCS (the group at Dell behind this) point of view, this offering fits in well with our strategy of bringing total solutions to market that optimize efficiency at every layer, from code to servers to storage.  The open source Dell UEC solution is tailor made to deliver a ready to go IaaS solution.

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now..


Ubuntu, the Cloud and the Future — Neil Levine

July 27, 2010

After the cloud summit last week at OSCON, I sat down with Neil Levine of Canonical to see what was in store for Ubuntu cloud-wise (Canonical is a partner of ours in our cloud ISV program).  Neil is the VP of Canonical’s corporate services division which handles their cloud and server products.

Here’s what Neil had to say:

Some of the topics Neil tackles:

  • The next Ubuntu release “Maverick Meerkat” and its geek-a-licious launch date: 10.10.10.
  • Look for Maverick to make Eucalyptus even easier to deploy and use.
  • Data processing and data analytics is one of the key use cases in the cloud and Canonical is looking to move up the stack and provide deep integration for other apps like Hadoop and NoSQL.
  • What are some of the areas of focus for next year’s two releases i.e. 11.04 and 11.10.
  • Project ensemble: what it is and what its goals are.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


OpenStack Compute – talking to the chief architect

July 18, 2010

Rick Clark used to be the engineering manager at Canonical for Ubuntu server and security as well as lead on their virtualization for their cloud efforts.  He’s now at Rackspace and is applying much of what he learned while at Canonical to his new gig as project lead and chief architect of the just announced OpenStack Compute.

Rick talked to me about what he brought with him from Canonical as well as the details behind OpenStack Compute.

Some of the topics Rick tackles:

  • What is the OpenStack Compute project (hint its a fully open sourced IaaS project)
  • Leveraging what Rick learned from the Ubuntu community, including a regular six month cadence.
  • Rick’s goals for design summit: develop a roadmap for the first release, spec out the software and spend the last two days prototyping and hacking.
  • Why they went with the Apache 2 license and why not AGPL?
  • The Rackspace API (NASA had already started to switch from the Amazon API before combing
  • The project’s core principles: open, open, open

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


PowerEdge C6100 – HPC & Cloud machine

April 8, 2010

As a follow on to last week’s PowerEdge C line overview, here is the first individual system overview:  the C6100.   Click below and let Dell Solutions Architect Rafael Zamora guide your thru the design and features of this densely packed machine targeted at HPC and cloud workloads.

Some of the highlights:

  • The PowerEdgeC 6100 holds the equivalent of 4 systems which have been packaged into “sleds,” each containing boards, RAM and microprocessors.
  • Upfront you can put a ton o’ disk drives, either 24 x 2.5″ drives or 12 x 3.5″ drives.
  • Great for markets like HPC clustering and search engines where compute density is key.  (This is not intended for running general purpose apps like Exchange, SQL or Oracle).
  • It will serve as the compute node in the Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud solution from our partner Canonical.

Still to come, overviews of the C2100 and C1100.

Extra-Credit Reading:

Pau for now…


Dell Unveils Cloud Solutions (Yippee!)

March 24, 2010

Today is the big day.  The one we’ve been working towards for a long time.  As a part of Dell’s quarterly launch “Solutions for the Virtual Era,” we are announcing the introduction of:

  • Dell Cloud Solution for Web Applications, our first Revolutionary cloud solution.  Partnering with enterprise-class cloud pioneer Joyent, we are offering a turnkey private PaaS solution comprised of pre-tested, pre-assembled and fully-supported hardware, software and services — all sold and supported by Dell.  This integrated solution is targeted at enterprise app developers who are looking to develop “new world” applications in the cloud to be deployed in the cloud.
  • The Cloud Partner Program Working with cloud ISVs we will be offering easy-to-buy and deploy cloud solutions and blueprints optimized for and validated on Dell platforms.  The first three partners we are announcing are Aster Data (providing web analytics), Canonical (offering an open source Infrastructure-as-a-Service private cloud) and Greenplum (self-service data warehousing).   (On the Evolutionary cloud side we will continue to work with VMware and Microsoft  and stay tuned for news on what’s happening on the Windows Azure front :).
  • A new line of hyperscale-inspired PowerEdge C servers including the PowerEdge C1100, C2100 and C6100 targeting HPC, data analytics, gaming and cloud builders.  These are based on the designs we have created for the some of the worlds largest internet companies and cloud providers.
  • A suite of cloud professional services to help customers assess, deploy, design and manage dedicated solutions.

This is just a quick overview of what we are announcing today.  Stay tuned for more details and info in the coming days and weeks.

Extra credit reading: Our Cloud solutions press release

Pau for now…


Ubuntu founder stops by Round Rock

February 19, 2010

My favorite cosmonaut-coder Mark Shuttleworth stopped by our offices this morning for a visit.  Mark is the founder of both the Linux distribution Ubuntu and its commercial sponsor Canonical.   Mark and I sat down in the lobby and caught up.  Here is a short interview we recorded.

Some of the topics Mark tackles:

  • Where Canonical is currently working with Dell
  • Ubuntu Enterprise Cloud (to build your “own little EC2″)  and how its doing
  • Passing the CEO mantle to Jane Silber in March
  • The 10.4 Ubuntu release Lucid Lynx and what to expect: a strong cloud focus on the enterprise side and a lot of shiny new bling on the desktop as well as making the desktop “social” (e.g. Tweet straight from your desktop)
  • What Ubuntu is doing in the Netbook space
  • What excites Mark the most in technology today and why cloud is like HTTP in the early 90′s

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Mark Shuttleworth on the Cloud, Ubuntu on Dell and more

September 24, 2009

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu and the head of Canonical, the commercial entity behind the popular linux distribution, is currently making his rounds in the States.  Yesterday he was quite busy,  taking the stage at both the Intel Developer Forum in San Francisco as well as at  LinuxCon up in Portland Oregon.

Today he popped by Dell here in Austin to chat.  I grabbed him for a few minutes right before lunch. Here is the result:

Some of the topics Mark tackles:

  • The release yesterday of Dell’s Mini netbook with Ubuntu Moblin Remix – Developer Edition. (More details on the release from the Dell blog.)
  • Mark’s keynote yesterday at Linuxcon and the themes of cadence, quality and design.
  • His kerfluffle with the Debian community around release schedules.
  • The cloud-related goals for next month’s Ubuntu 9.10 release, Karmic Koala:
    • To be able to deploy your own cloud across 5-10 servers in 15 mins to an hour
    • Be able to enable private clouds that are completely EC2 compatible
    • Ability to create a library of virtual appliances that will deploy on EC2 or private clouds
  • The announcement earlier this week of the 10.04 Long Term Support (LTS) release named “Lucid Lynx.”
  • Mark’s thoughts on Windows 7 or as he calls it, “the wonderful Service Pack for Vista.”
  • How long until profitability.

Pau for now…


RightScale part 1: Mickos joins and control moves up the stack

June 17, 2009

Yesterday I attended a webinar that RightScale put on entitled: How to Build Scalable Websites in the Cloud.  It was basically a welcome to RightScale, welcome to the cloud presentation but overall interesting and credible.

The presenters were their CEO, their head of marketing and a mini team of techies.  Below is part one of some of my thoughts and takeaways.  But first a slight digression…

Enter the Dolphin Master

One thing I noticed during the presentation and which warmed my heart was that MySQL played prominently in a bunch of the slides.  It was only today when I was poking around the RightScale site that I saw the press release from a few weeks ago announcing that Marten Mickos, former MySQL CEO and Sun employee joined the RightScale board of directors.  Its interesting but not surprising to note in the release that Marten calls out Sun and Canonical (the commercial sponsor behind Ubuntu) as two strategic partners helping to expand the RightScale ecosystem.

Where Right Scale fits within the tri-sected cloud.

Where Right Scale fits within the tri-sected cloud.

Where they play in the Cloud(s)

RightScale positions themselves as a cloud management platform or as I like to think of it “a cloud tamer.”  If you split the cloud in three — software as a service, platform as a service and infrastructure as a service — they play in the last space. Basically Right Scale sits on top of Infrastructure as a Service (IAAS) and can handle all the tricky bits so you don’t have to.

Choose or choose not to choose

For those who want more control over their infrastructure RightScale will allow you to “choose among a variety of development languages, software stacks, data stores and cloud providers.” For those less intrepid in the cloud they have server templates that you can start off with.

One of the key benefits they stressed was getting rid of vendor lock-in, “so that you never get locked in to a single provider.”  You’ll notice on the X axis above they show lock-in decreasing and portability increasing as you move to the right.  My question however is that with Right Scale aren’t you simply locked in to a different layer of the cloud?  Doesn’t the control point simply move up the stack?  Just wondering…

Tune in tomorrow for part deux!

Extra Credit Reading/Listening

  • What is MySQL founder Monty Widenius up to post MySQL/post Sun? The Open Database Alliance and his MariaDB – May ’09
  • An interview with Marten Mickos, the day the MySQL deal with Sun closed — Feb ’08.
  • An interview with Marten Mickos after he keynoted Canonical’s first (and last) Ubuntu Live — Aug ’07.

Pau for now…


Talking to Canonical’s KVM Kid — Dustin Kirkland

April 28, 2009

At Austin Cloud Camp on Saturday I ran into Ubuntu linux developer and Canonical employee, Dustin Kirkland.  Dustin is on the server developer team at Canonical and, as he explains it, focuses on various aspects of virtualization, the plumbing layer below cloud computing.  I grabbed Dustin for a few minutes and chatted with him about last week’s release and what he’s been working on.

Some of the topics Dustin Tackles:

  • KVM, Canonical’s hypervisor of choice
  • Ubuntu’s next release and its focus on Eucalyptus to enable companies to set-up their own EC2 compatible “private clouds” based on Ubuntu servers.
  • What Dustin likes most about cloud computing (hint: think green)
  • What he likes most about working at Canonical

Update: And on a related note — Eucalyptus goes commercial with $5.5M funding round

Pau for now…


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