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…


Sputnik 3 online in Europe just in time for Holidays

December 20, 2013

Last month in the States we announced the availability of Sputnik 3, the XPS 13 XPS13-DEDeveloper Edition featuring the 4th generation Intel processors. This laptop, which is touch-enabled, is replacing the existing XPS 13 Developer Edition.

We had hoped to make the offering available online across Europe a couple of weeks about but a few online glitches kept us from making it so.

Various countries have been coming online recently and today I would like to announce that the XPS 13 developer edition is available (see below for the specs) in the following countries/languages:

Sputnik 3  (XPS 13 Developer Edition) Product specs :

  • Processor: 4th generation Intel i7
  • Display: 13.3″ Full High Definition touch display (1080p)
  • System memory: 8GB
  • Graphics: Intel HD graphics 4440 (HD 5000 in the case of the enterprise version)
  • Hard drive: 256GB SSD drive
  • Standard Service: 1 year Dell ProSupport and onsite service after remote diagnostics
  • Operating system: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
  • Community projects: Cloud launcher and Profile tool (for more info see the update from last week)

Thanks for your patience and happy holidays!

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Update: Project Sputnik Profile tool

December 11, 2013

About a month ago I blogged that, with renewed vigor and resources, we were tackling the Project Sputnik Profile Tool – a tool that enables a developer to quickly set up an environment without cluttering up their system. The announcement included a new collaboration with the folks from Docker and a request for feedback from the Community by December 3.

That date has now passed and Peter Owens, who is the project manager for the Profile Tool effort, has collated the feedback and mapped it against our vision for the tool and our minimum requirements.

(When not managing the profile tool effort Peter, as Director of Software Engineering in Dell Services, leads a development team responsible for the delivery of Managed-Private Clouds to global customers and expanding Dell’s OpenStack /DevOps development capability. Peter is based Dell’s Cloud Centre of Excellence in Dublin Ireland.)

Here is Peter’s  summary:

What we’ve learned

It is clear that you believe we are on the right track with the Profile Tool and that our plan to leveraging Docker will allow users to set up environments with minimum impact on system resources.

Where the feedback became very interesting was in the following areas:

1) project lifecycle

We need to define user stories for the following scenarios:

  • where the tool is re-run or a project has already been setup by a user
  • the project definition is changed
  • adding and removing packages
  • handling changes to languages or frameworks pulled into a project

2) User specific configurations

  • to avoid conflicts, profiles should not be keyed solely on username

3) Specifying language versions

  • we need to specify language versions within potentially multi-project environments
  • users should be able to specify the language version from within a project

It was generally felt that separating out usernames, packages and config definitions was the correct approach. There were also some useful comparisons with other tools such as Boxen which enables you to centralize your configs for an entire organization. This means a “template” can be created for new hires or groups of developers.

 A Big Thanks and Next Steps

We are very grateful to those who took the time to contribute, share this initiative with their respective communities and provide feedback. Based on the feedback we’ve received we have started working on user story requirements which we hope to have done by the end of the year.  After that we will start coding in January.

As you’d expect we will be using a GitHub central repository where all the code can stay in sync. Code changes will be committed to this and other developers will pull them (sync them to their local repository). To start with we will be providing read-only access to the central repository, so the community will be able to keep track of our progress!  Once we get a little further along we will open up the repository for others to jump in.

Stay tuned and thanks again!

Extra-credit reading

  • Dell aims for cloudy orbit with Sputnik Ubuntu developer project – The Register

Pau for now…


Introducing Sputnik 3 and its unofficial big brother

November 15, 2013

Sputnik3

Sputnik 3

First, a little background.  Nearly a year ago today we launched the first Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition.  This Ubuntu-based client-to-cloud platform was the result of an internal skunkworks effort, Project Sputnik.  Thanks to strong community input and support the project became a product.

Within a few months of launching the initial XPS 13 Developer Edition (Sputnik 1), we introduced “Sputnik 2” solving for the biggest issue with the first release, monitor resolution.

Today we are announcing the availability of Sputnik 3, the XPS 13 Developer Edition featuring the 4th generation Intel processors. This laptop, which is touch-enabled, will replace the existing XPS 13 Developer Edition.

ubuntu_black-orange_hexAnd since we’re talking about systems and Ubuntu, in response to the continuous requests for a more powerful version of the Developer Edition, we have taken the first steps by doing some testing on the Precision M3800 and posting the results.

This system news is on the back of our announcement earlier this week about the relaunching of the Profile Tool effort and our request for input from you all.

The Sputnik 3 Product specs are as follows:

  • XPS13-DEProcessor: 4th generation Intel i7
  • Display: 13.3″ Full High Definition touch display (1080p)
  • System memory: 8GB
  • Graphics: Intel HD graphics 4440 (HD 5000 in the case of the enterprise version)
  • Hard drive: 256GB SSD drive
  • Standard Service: 1 year Dell ProSupport and onsite service after remote diagnostics
  • Operating system: Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
  • Community projects: Cloud launcher and Profile tool (for more info see Tuesday’s update)

Availability of Sputnik 3

Starting today the updated XPS 13 Developer Edition is available in the

Pricing for the system will not increase and will remain $1,549.99

Early next week the Developer Edition will be available in Canada.

For North America, the US and Canada, in addition to the i7 configuration, there will also be an i5/128GB config  that will be available on a build-to-order basis and priced at $1249.99.

By the end of November, the Developer Edition will be available in

[Update 12/20/13: Sputnik 3 now available in Europe]

  • United Kingdom
  • Ireland
  • France
  • Germany
  • Austria
  • Spain
  • Netherlands
  • Italy
  • Switzerland

Europe – Wave 2:  Available in December

  • Belgium
  • Denmark
  • Norway
  • Sweden

Testing Ubuntu on the Precision M3800 mobile workstation

While the XPS 13 has proven to be very popular with developers, since we started

Dell Precision M3800

Dell Precision M3800

project Sputnik there has been a group in the community that has been asking for a “big brother” for the XPS 13 developer edition, i.e. a system with 16GB of RAM that offered a larger screen and more horsepower.

With the above in mind, when Project Sputnik team member Jared Dominguez learned about the sleek new  Precision M3800 that was coming out, he finagled his way into getting a system to do some testing.

You can find Jared’s detailed results here but the net is “For the most part, everything [he] tested works,” the one exception being the SD card reader.   The resourceful Jared then shipped his system to Chris Ball, a buddy of his that maintains the SD/MMC/SDIO subsystem of the Linux kernel, and who graciously agreed to volunteer time debugging the Linux driver for this card reader.  We will keep you updated on the progress.

So while Jared’s testing is not official it should be enough to get most devs going running Ubuntu  on the M3800.  And like the initial project Sputnik offering, if we get enough positive feedback, we might be able to offer it as an official pre-installed offering.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Project Sputnik Profile Tool: Dell commits engineering resources, Docker joins the cause and we want your input!

November 12, 2013

Sputnik_Sticker_FinalWhen we first introduced Project Sputnik over a year ago we talked about two community projects: the profile tool and the cloud launcher.  We garnered a fair amount of attention and made some progress but unfortunately not as much as I would have liked.  I am very happy to report therefore that recently we have put together an intrepid group of developers and architects within Dell to pick up the profile tool charge.

While we’ve had a few false starts in the past, besides the addition of committed Dell resources, there are a couple of other things that set this time apart: 1) we are starting from an internal use case and 2) we are working with and leveraging some of the work of Docker.

And just like when project Sputnik originally kicked off, we want to get your input and feedback on the Profile Tool and its direction (see a few paragraphs down for what specifically we are looking to you all for).

Internal need

Scratching your own itch is a key component to any self-respecting open source project. Read on to see where ours came in. A group within the Enstratius team, which we acquired back in the Spring, is switching to Sputniks (Dell XPS 13 developer edition) as their primary laptop. One thing that team member John Vincent was tasked with doing was getting these new systems set up quickly for the team. He was looking for a way to automate the process when his boss suggested he check out what we were hoping to do with the profile tool.  John liked what he saw so much that he joined the team.

Besides this representation from the Enstratius team, the Sputnik team also includes members from Dell Services’ office of the CTO and the Dell Cloud Services development and architecture team.

Working with the Docker crew

DockerRather than re-inventing the wheel, and to help provide perspective, we are now working with the folks from Docker.  They will be giving us their feedback, helping with integration and creating a Go profile.

As their CEO Ben Golub said, “The Dell team has delivered real benefits for the developer community through Project Sputnik and we expect same from the profile tool. We’re committed to working with their team to provide the best possible integration with Docker so those benefits continue to grow.”

Profile tool: Some details and a quick POC

The idea behind the profile tool is to enable a developer to quickly set up an environment without cluttering up their system.  This applies whether it is a “clean” computer for a new hire or a new project for an existing team member where the developer needs to use a new language or tool-chain.

A profile is basically a collection of simple YAML files, stored in a pre-determined directory structure, which specify one or more of the following:

  • Language:  a programming language e.g. Python, Ruby, JavaScript
  • Framework:  a language-specific software platform which simplifies the programming task (e.g. Django, Rails, Node.js)
  • Library:  an additional software component, such jinja2 or numpy for Python
  • Service: a software service used by the project, such as a database or message queue

To use a profile, it is downloaded to the developer’s machine, and an isolated environment (Linux container) is automatically created using Docker if it is part of the profile.

Input from the community

Here is the Profile Tool repository on Github and to give you a feel for how the profile tool might work, here is a quick POC (note that these actions aren’t actually being executed. We’re just logging them as if we were).

We would love to get your input. Some of the different ways you can contribute are as follows:

  • Open issues on this repository with suggestions on proposed definition syntax
  • Fork the repository and propose your own definition for a language
  • Share this initiative with your respective communities
  • Offer insight into how your community or company can use this
  • Be honest and tell us what works and what doesn’t

While almost everything is open to modification, we have a few small requirements.

  • The definition format MUST be YAML. YAML was chosen because it allows the appropriate data structures, is both human- and machine-readable and allows comments
  • Respect the goals of minimalism and composition defined above
  • This is based on Ubuntu 12.04 amd64 (for now) as the primary use case is for inclusion in the Sputnik laptop

We will be soliciting feedback for the next three weeks so please get us your thoughts by December 3.

What about the cloud tool?

We haven’t forgotten about the cloud tool, which allows you to deploy your applications to the cloud.  While you can currently use Linux containers and JuJu to get your apps into the clouds, we are working on a version that will provide even greater automation.  This will be phase II after we get the profile tool a bit further along, stay tuned!

But wait, there’s more…

If you’re interested in Project Sputnik you’ll want to watch this blog which will be bringing some more news in the not too distant future. :)

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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