HackDFW and the project Sputnik story

March 10, 2015

Last week I attended HackDFW, a student hackathon in Dallas.  The event, which was put on by Major League Hacking, was a 24-hour event featuring students from around the country.  Besides getting to go around and talk to the students during the event I was fortunate enough to be asked to give the closing keynote.

I presented on Project Sputnik and how we crowd-sourced the development of a developer laptop.  Here are the slides I presented.

The Judges and Winner

After the preliminary judging, seven teams presented to impressive panel of judges with included, among others, Mark Cuban, the CEO of American Airlines and the Mayor of Dallas.

The winning team used Oculus Rift which connected to engine that rendered an ever evolving world of dinosaurs.   This would allow students to get a feel for the enormity of the dinosaurs and watch them as they grew and die from disease and predators

Here a few pics from the event.

Looking down on one of the groups

Looking down on one of the groups

 

Hackers and Hammocks

Hackers and Hammocks

Taking a "short" nap

Taking a “short” nap

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Update: Dell XPS 13 laptop, developer edition – Sputnik Gen 4

February 5, 2015

We have been getting a ton of questions around the 4th generation Sputnik (XPS13 Sputnik_Sticker_Finallaptop, developer edition) and when it will be available.  As you may have seen, last week at Sundance we broke the news of our brand new Dell Precision M3800, developer edition pre-loaded with Ubuntu.

The XPS 13 isn’t far behind. We’re getting close and will have more to share soon but ultimately are spending time making sure everything works to provide the best customer experience possible.  A word of caution, if you purchase the Windows version of the new XPS 13 and try to load Ubuntu on it you will run into a few issues that we are currently addressing.

Please realize this DOES NOT AFFECT the Windows version of the XPS 13 laptop that recently launched.

Stay tuned for more updates soon.

The Reviews are in

XPS 13:  For your reference here are just a handful of awesome reviews that the Windows version of the recently launched XPS 13 laptop has garnered.  (The developer edition is based off this.)

  • Dell’s New XPS 13 Laptop Makes Me Seriously Regret My MacBook Air Purchase – Forbes
  • The MacBook Air Meets its Match – Wall Street Journal
  • Stunning screen, compact design make XPS 13 the first great laptop of 2015 – CNET
  • Dell’s Gorgeous New Windows Laptop Has An Amazing Screen And Is Cheaper Than The MacBook Air – Business Insider
  • Dell puts Apple’s MacBook Air on notice at CES – FOX News
  • Dell XPS 13 Boasts Thinnest Screen Bezel Ever – LAPTOP Mag
  • Dell’s New XPS 13 Sounds Like The Laptop Of My Dreams – Gizmodo

M3800 developer edition: Also for your reference, here is a bit of the press coverage the M3800  developer edition received

Extra-credit reading

 

Pau for now…

 


Welcome the Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation, developer edition

January 27, 2015

Update March 17:  Great  review in Network World — Review: Dell’s Ubuntu-powered M3800 Mobile Workstation is a desktop destroyer

Since the planning stages of project Sputnik over two years ago we wanted to offer two versions of our developer-focused systems.  The idea was to have both an ultra mobile laptop and a beefier workstation offering, a beauty and the beast line up if you will.  Due to the need to focus our resources however, we worked with the community to first build out the laptop, delivering the XPS 13 laptop, developer edition.Soyuz

Moving towards the beast

The first year after launching the XPS 13, we got a steady stream of requests for a bigger system.  This wasn’t lost on team member Jared Dominguez who decided to work on his own time with the Dell Precision M3800 mobile edition and put together instructions on how get Ubuntu running on the system.

A little over a year ago with the launch of the 3rd generation of the XPS13 developer edition we also announced its “unofficial big brother” and provided Jared’s instructions.  We received a lot of great feedback but there were also folks asking when we were going to deliver an officially supported version of the M3800.  What we told the community was — like the initial project Sputnik offering, if we got enough positive feedback — we might be able to offer it as an official pre-installed system.

A thread was started on the Sputnik Forum for people to express their interest in an official system.  We got a tremendous amount of positive feedback and as a result we listened to our customers and have added the M3800 to our developer edition lineup of Ubuntu-based systems.

Introducing the Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation, Developer Edition

One of the main features people were looking for in the Precision M3800 was 16 GB of RAM.  The new Ubuntu-based M3800 introduced today, has that and a whole lot more:

Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation, dev edition – Key features

  • Preloaded Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Next generation of the world’s thinnest and lightest true 15-inch mobile workstation
  • Starting weight of just 4.15lbs (1.88kg) and a form factor that is less than 0.71 inches (18mm) thick
  • Fourth generation Intel Core i7 quad-core processor, professional grade NVIDIA Quadro K1100M graphics, and up to 16GB of memory
  • 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) screen option
  • Availability: worldwide

Unfortunately, one of the features that wont be available right out of the gate is thunderbolt support.  As Jared explains in his blog:

Because our factory Ubuntu installs only ship Ubuntu LTS releases, we were not able to ship with Thunderbolt support. However, thanks to the hardware-enablement stack in Ubuntu, starting with upcoming Ubuntu 14.04.2, you will be able to upgrade your kernel to add some Thunderbolt support. We plan to be working with Canonical to recertify the Precision M3800 with official Thunderbolt support.

How do I get one

You can get to the M3800 developer edition by going to the Dell Precision M3800 Mobile Workstation page: www.dell.com/create and choosing the system labeled “Fully Customizable” on the far left.  Or you can go directly to configurator, where under “Operating System” you can select Ubuntu 14.04 SP1 and away you go!

M3800Menu

What about the additional software?

This time around we went with the vanilla image of the most recent LTS release (14.04).  A vanilla image was actually one of the top requests when we gathered input on our initial Storm session.

Since the original launch we have been working on a profile tool and Cloud launcher.  We are still working on these but it’s been a bit more difficult than we originally thought :).  Stay tuned for more news on this.

Will there be a new XPS 13 developer edition?

You bet!  The 4th generation of the XPS 13 laptop, developer edition will be available soon.  It will based on the the new XPS 13 laptop that debuted earlier this month.

A Big Thanks

Thanks to everyone in the community for the tremendous support of the Sputnik program.  Without your support, this program would not be possible!

 Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Installing Debian 8 on a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

January 3, 2015

Over the break, Eric Mill put together great step-by-step instructions showing how to install Debian 8 (Jessie) on a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition.  Eric also had some great things to say about the laptop and program themselves:

Dell calls their program Project Sputnik, and it is managed by a friendly team of Linux engineers inside Dell who partner with Ubuntu to ensure that your computer will Just Work with Linux.

The Dell XPS is also used by multiple Debian team members, so your pain points will be theirs, and they’re likely to quickly fix things.

Supporting Dell’s program is a wonderful thing to do, and it’s also just a great goddamned laptop.

Check out Eric’s Instructions and away you go!  Installing Debian 8 on a Dell XPS

Pau for now…


Developers share experiences running Ubuntu on Dell M3800 and XPS 15

May 12, 2014

Back in November when we  launched Sputnik 3, we also announced its “unofficial big brother,” the Dell M3800 Precision workstation and the Dell XPS 15.  This announcement was based on the after-hours work that Dell Linux engineer Jared Dominguez did to test and document the system.

Quite a few developers have referenced Jared’s work, taken the plunge and installed Ubuntu on these beefier systems.

M3800 Precision workstation

Here is a video that Rudy Vissers from Belgium created last month.  Rudy walks us through his new M3800 Precision including touchscreen and graphics.

XPS 15 laptop

Web developer Matt Woodward, who is a Principal IT Specialist for the US Senate and one of the original Project Sputnik beta cosmonauts, decided on upgrading to the XPS 15.  He shared his experience running Ubuntu on the XPS 15 on his blog earlier this month.  Here is an excerpt:

…Once Ubuntu is installed everything works out of the box. The screen runs at the full, mind-blowing 3200×1800 resolution, and even the touch screen works. No issues with sound card, WiFi, or anything else. Awesome…

If you need something a bit bigger and beefier than the XPS 13 developer edition, you just may want to check out either the M3800 or XPS 15.

If you’d like to see these as official products that come with Ubuntu pre-installed add your voice here:  Gathering interest on official Ubuntu support for Precision M3800  No promises but who knows!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


24 Hours of Pizza-fueled Innovation

March 7, 2014

RevoltTV

Postponed:  Over the weekend, due to circumstances beyond our control, we have had to postpone our first hackathon.  Stay tuned for more details.

Im very psyched to announce Dell’s first Hackathon which will be happening next week right here in Austin.

The Dell Center for Entrepreneurs and Dell Software Information Management Solutions are teaming up with music and entertainment television network, Revolt TV  for this 24 hour code-battle.

The event, which will take place at the #DellVenue, kicks off on Monday, March 10th and ends 24 grueling hours later at noon next day.

The Challenge

The task at hand is for the developers to create an app against the Revolt API that is based around Music, Videos, and/or Artists and their data.  Revolt has put together their wish list of apps and functionality they’d love to see created, but sky’s the limit (within 24 hours ;)

Applications that can be used

  • Windows Phone 8
  • Xbox
  • Android
  • Node.js
  • .NET

Databases that can be used

  • MS SQL Server
  • MySQL
  • MongoDB
  • Redis

The competition is limited to 50 developers who can form teams of up to five people.  At noon on March 11th the teams will present their work to a panel of judges and 3 team-finalists will be chosen.  All panelists will receive a badge to the Fader Fort for the preview party that night, with the winning team announced at the event.

The Reward

The top finalists will receive products and swag from Revolt and Dell.

  • The grand prize winning team receives $2,500 and the chance to work with Revolts’ team to integrate their app.
  • XPS13Im also particularly proud to say that each member of the winning team will receive the Ubuntu-based XPS13 developer edition aka Project Sputnik.  But wait, there’s more…all developer finalists get a free 1 year license of Dell Software’s Toad Data Point.  :)

Want in?

If this sounds like something you like to take part in, we are taking the first 50 devs who sign up here.  Who knows, you could be one of Dell’s first ever Hackathon champions.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Sputnik 3 — Great Reviews from the Blog-o-sphere

January 29, 2014

At the end of last year we launched the third generation of the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition, aka Sputnik 3, which features the 4th generation Intel processors.  This Ubuntu-based laptop is the third in a line of developer focused systems which began life as the internal skunk works effort, “Project Sputnik.”  Thanks to strong community input and support the project became a product a little over a year ago.

Over this past month there have been three great reviews that have come out that I wanted to share.

1) Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition review (Haswell, late 2013 model)

This first review, from J’s blog, is quite detailed and comprehensive.   It has great photos and got nice traction on Hacker News.  Here is the opening paragraph

The XPS 13 Developer Edition, aka “Project Sputnik”, is a laptop with a FullHD 13-inch screen, backlit keyboard, SSD, 4th gen intel CPU and comes pre-installed with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS.

What makes this machine so interesting is not so much that Ubuntu comes pre-installed on it (it would be easy for anybody to install it him/herself, after all), but rather that Dell put some extra-work in making sure everything works right out of the box and supports running Ubuntu on it. WiFi, keyboard backlight, screen brightness control, sleepmode, etc. are guaranteed to work. [read more]

2) Guide to Leaving Your Mac Laptop

Carin Meier not only reviewed the XPS 13 developer edition but walks folks who may be interested in leaving their Macs behind how she set up her programs that she uses on a daily basis.  This blog too has great pics.  Carin’s blog starts,

I felt like I was in a controlling relationship headed downhill. After two custom laptops returned for defective hardware, I wanted to leave. But leaving didn’t seem so easy after living in the walled garden of Apple all those years.

This blog post is about how to leave your Mac and return to OSS.

There are quite a few nice alternatives to the Mac Air out there. I decided to go with the new Sputnik 3. Some of my reasons:

  • Powerful – New Haswell processor
  • 13.3 inch touch display with 1920 x 1080 resolution
  • Ships with Ubuntu 12.04 (64 bit)
  • Nice design (yes looks are important) [Read more]

3) Got me a Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition

The third review, by David Pollack, is actually a twofer in that he posted a follow on entry,  Still Liking the XPS 13 Developer Edition, two weeks after the first.  David’s posts are succinct and well laid out and I love his concluding paragraph :-)

Just buy one

If you’re doing development like Clojure and Java, then the XPS 13 Developer Edition is a better choice than the MacBook Pro. It’s less expensive and just as impressive hardware-wise. And I like Linux a lot more than OS X. [Read more]

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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