4th gen Dell XPS 13 developer edition available!

April 9, 2015

I would first like to thank everyone for their patience and support as we worked through various bugs that crept up.  This has taken longer than we would have liked but I’m happy to say that as of today, the Dell XPS 13 developer edition is now available in the United States, Canada and Europe!

A short history

As many of you may known, the developer edition began its life as Project Sputnik.  Funded by an Image result for images sputnikinternal incubation fund set up to drive innovation within Dell, Sputnik went from open-ended exploratory project to official product within nine months.

The entire program was conducted in the open in order to identify what you — developers — demanded in an ideal Ubuntu-based laptop. It was also your interest and support that drove Sputnik from project to product.

At the beginning of the year we launched an expansion to the line, the Precision M3800 developer edition, and today we are announcing the availability of the 4th generation of the XPS 13 developer edition.

General specifications of new Dell XPS 13 developer edition (see configs below. Note we realize that some of the tech specs are incorrect, they are in the queue to be fixed.  We made the decision to go ahead launch since we have had so much interest and we wanted to make it orderable as soon as possible)

  • Ubuntu 14.04*
  • 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i5-5200U or i7-5500U
  • 13.3-inch infinity display
  • 8GB Dual Channel DDR3L at 1600MHz
  • Intel (R) HD Graphics 5500
  • 1 Year ProSupport with Next Business Day Onsite Service
  • 2.8 lbs

* We recommend that users use the factory shipped Ubuntu image with the XPS 13 with at least BIOS A02.  We do however recognize that users will want to use other Linux distributions, Ubuntu versions or kernel versions so we’ve assembled a list to indicate problems users should expect with other distros.  In general you will have the best experience on the latest in development distributions with newer kernels.  For more information and instructions please see the technical notes at the end of this post.

US/Canada configurations:

i5/8GB

  • 128GB, Non Touch FHD (1920×1080)
  • 256GB, Touch TL QHD (2560×1440)

i7/8GB

  • 256GB, Touch TL QHD+  (3200×1800)
  • 512GB, Touch TL QHD+  (3200×1800)

Europe configurations/Countries

The XPS 13 developer edition is available in both the consumer and business channels in the following countries:

  • Austria, Belgium, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, The Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, The United Kingdom

European configurations

  • i5/8GB — 256GB, Touch TL FHD (1920×1080)
  • i7/8GB — 512GB, Touch TL QHD+  (3200×1800)

A big shout out

I wanted to give recognition and a big thanks to the members of our small but mighty Sputnik core team: Mario Limonciello, Jared Dominguez, Amber Huang and Amit Bhutani.  These are the folks who have worked their butts off and made this a reality!

Technical Notes:

Updated April 16, 2015: new information with regards to current status quo from some people who have used Debian as well as 4.0 updates.

Updating to BIOS A02 or later

  1. Download the executable from support.dell.com and save it to a FAT32 formatted USB disk.
  2. Reboot the computer.
  3. At the Dell POST screen, press F12 to bring up the BIOS boot menu.
  4. Select the option to flash the BIOS.
  5. In the popup menu, select your USB disk and select the BIOS executable.
  6. Follow on screen directions.

Systems shipped with A01 or A00 BIOS

If you purchased the machine with Windows 7 or Windows 8.1 and it contains BIOS A00 or BIOS A01, please update the BIOS to A02 or later.  If you choose to run a kernel version earlier than 3.15 you should also append the following to your kernel command line:

psmouse.resetafter=0

If you machine was shipped with A02 or later, you will not need this kernel command line change.  The developer edition units will ship with A02 or later.

Ubuntu 14.04

Ubuntu 14.04 includes kernel 3.13.  The touchpad will run in PS2 mode and the soundcard will run in HDA mode.  Currently (4/15) out of the box the HDA microphone will not work, and you will need some packages from the factory shipped image to make it work properly.  The patches needed for microphone support are available here:

https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/tiwai/sound.git/commit/?h=for-next&id=e1e62b98ebddc3234f3259019d3236f66fc667f8

and

https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/tiwai/sound.git/commit/?h=for-next&id=f3b703326541d0c1ce85f5e570f6d2b6bd4296ec

Ubuntu 14.10

Ubuntu 14.10 includes kernel 3.16.

With BIOS A00 or BIOS A01 the touchpad will run in I2C mode and the sound will not function.  Please update to at least BIOS A02 and the touchpad will run in I2C mode and the sound in HDA mode.  Currently (4/15) the microphone will not work and you will these patches for microphone support: https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/tiwai/sound.git/commit/?h=for-next&id=e1e62b98ebddc3234f3259019d3236f66fc667f8

and

https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/tiwai/sound.git/commit/?h=for-next&id=f3b703326541d0c1ce85f5e570f6d2b6bd4296ec

 

Ubuntu 15.04

Ubuntu 15.04 includes kernel 3.19.

With BIOS A00 or BIOS A01 the touchpad will run in I2C mode and the sound will not function.  Please update to at least BIOS A02 and the touchpad will run in I2C mode and the sound in HDA mode.  (4/15) All of the relevant patches have been backported and all functions will work out of the box.

Fedora 21

Fedora 21 includes kernel version 3.17.  With BIOS A00 or BIOS A01 the touchpad will run in I2C mode and the sound will not function.  Please update to at least BIOS A02 and the touchpad will run in I2C mode and the sound in HDA mode.  Currently (4/15) the microphone will not work.  You can track the backporting of the patches here: https://bugzilla.redhat.com/show_bug.cgi?id=1188741

Debian 7.0

We recommend that Debian 7.0 users upgrade to a kernel 4.0 and apply those two patches.  The above notations will apply to Debian 7.0 then.

Debian 8.0

Debian 8.0 will use kernel 3.16.  With BIOS A00 or BIOS A01 the touchpad will operate in I2C mode and sound will not work.  The system will fail to suspend and resume due to a bug in the touchpad driver.  This patch: https://github.com/torvalds/linux/commit/109571cf3ec78a39477eedd6b11927f52cbcb1e8

Will need to be backported for it to work properly.

With BIOS A02 the touchpad will operate in I2C mode and the sound in HDA mode.  Currently (4/8) the microphone will not work.  The patches needed for microphone support are available here:

https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/tiwai/sound.git/commit/?h=for-next&id=e1e62b98ebddc3234f3259019d3236f66fc667f8

and

https://git.kernel.org/cgit/linux/kernel/git/tiwai/sound.git/commit/?h=for-next&id=f3b703326541d0c1ce85f5e570f6d2b6bd4296ec

We recommend for Debian 8.0 users upgrade to kernel 4.0 and apply the two extra microphone patches.

Also, there are some problems with the xserver-xorg-video-intel package today with Debian 8.0.  You’ll presently (4/15) need to backport from experimental to resolve them.  More details are available here: https://bugs.debian.org/cgi-bin/bugreport.cgi?bug=782690

Other Notes

Extra credit reading

  • Designed for developers – Dell launches two new Ubuntu-based systems — Ubuntu insights

Pau for now…


Available in Europe: Precision M3800 developer edition

February 16, 2015

At the end of January we announced the launch of the Dell M3800-ubuntuPrecision M3800 mobile workstation, developer edition.  This beefy complement to the existing XPS 13 developer edition is the direct result of feedback from the community who have been asking for a larger system.

Over the past few weeks we have been adding EMEA availability.   Here is the list of countries where the M3800 developer edition is available online.  For those countries that don’t appear here, the system is available offline by calling a sales representative.

M3800 developer edition — European online availability

We are currently working on rolling out the M3800 developer edition in the Asia Pacific/Japan region as well.  Stay tuned!

Extra-credit reading

  • Welcome the Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation, developer edition – Barton’s Blog
  • Update: Dell XPS 13 laptop, developer edition – Sputnik Gen 4 – Barton’s Blog

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…


Synaptics Touchpad drivers now in Test Kernels

May 14, 2014

Great news, yesterday the i2c Linux kernel drivers from Synaptics made it upstream and are in the proposed repository.  This is relevant for those Sputnik 3 users who have upgraded from Ubuntu 12.04 to either 13.10 or 14.04 LTS.

If you want to start kicking the tires before the drivers hit updates, you can enable the proposed repository and get to the test kernels by following  the instructions here:

https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Testing/EnableProposed

What the issue was

From 13.10 on there is better i2c support and since there weren’t any drivers, this caused the touchpad to operate in very basic i2c mode, meaning no multi-touch, tap-to-click, scrolling, etc.  Users were either left with a minimally-functional touchpad in i2c mode, or they had to end up blacklisting the i2c-hid modules as a workaround so the touchpad would come up in psmouse mode and operate similar to how it did in 12.04.

Going Forward

Canonical, who has been instrumental in this whole process, is  also doing their best to try and backport this functionality into 14.04 LTS so that users can take advantage of native i2c touchpad support.

Thanks 

I would like to give big shout outs to Synaptics, Canonical and Kent Baxley from Canonical for making this happen!!

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…


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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