Sputnik 2 is here: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition goes 1080p and lands in Europe

February 18, 2013

source: greatbigcanvas.com

Sputnik 2 & Laika source: greatbigcanvas.com

When we launched the Ubuntu-based XPS 13 developer edition at the end of November we got a lot of great press.  That being said, the two complaints we heard loud and clear were 1) the resolution is too low, and 2) it needs to be available outside the US and Canada.  Since that time we have been working hard to address both.

As of today the XPS 13 developer edition comes with a Full HD (FHD) display (1920 x 1080) and has begun rolling out in Europe.

On beyond North America

ubuntu_black-orange_hexFor those in the USA and Canada Sputnik 2, the XPS 13 developer edition with the FHD display, is now available online.  Across the pond Sputnik 2 has started rolling out and will be available online next week.  I will post the links when they become available but here is the list of the countries where Sputnik 2 will be landing:

  • Available online – France, Germany, UK, Austria, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Norway, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland
  • Available from your Dell rep – Israel, Luxembourg, Morocco, Russia, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Turkey, UAE

With regards to the Asia Pacific region, we are currently evaluating options to introduce the XPS 13 developer edition in Australia and other countries in Asia, but don’t have details to share at this time.  That being said, if you would like to help with the introduction, share your opinion in the comments :)

XPS13-DEProduct specs

The new FHD version of the XPS 13 developer edition will replace the existing unit.  All other specs of this client-to-cloud solution will stay the same.

Here are the highlights:

  • Processor: 3rd generation Intel i7
  • Display: 13.3″ Full High Definition (1080p)
  • System memory: 8GB
  • Graphics: Intel HD graphics 4000
  • 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

To reflect the upgrade to the improved display the new price for the solution will be $1,549.

What about the Cloud Launcher and Profile Tool?

Ever since we first announced that we were launching a project to explore the creation of an open source developer laptop, we talked about two associated community beta projects: The Cloud Launcher and the Profile Tool.

  • 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.

With the mad rush to get Sputnik and then Sputnik 2 out the door we haven’t focused as much attention on the associated projects as we would have liked.  Now that the systems are going out the door we are looking to kick them up a notch.  We will soon be taking the Profile Tool effort off of pause.

With regards to the Cloud launcher, we have big plans for it (its what puts the “cloud” in “client-to-cloud” solution).  Today the launcher uses Juju to jettison application environments from the laptop, to the cloud.  Recently though we have been working with Opscode to create another version that leverages Chef and that will connect to the Dell Cloud on Demand.  We should have a demo and more available soon!

Links and Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Talking about Project Sputnik and the importance of Devs to Dell

January 15, 2013

At Dell World I was interviewed about Project Sputnik, the resulting XPS 13 Developer Edition we launched and the importance of developers.

Here’s the interview (notice my fashion forward blue Dell shirt ;)

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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…


Initial thoughts from the Project Sputnik Beta Cosmonauts

October 2, 2012

The Project Sputnik Beta program has been going for several weeks now.  We have an intrepid group of cosmonauts and there have been a bunch of blogs posted, tweets tweeted and a flurry of activity on the forum.

In general the feedback has been very positive with some folks having issues around wifi and the touch pad.

So far four of the cosmonauts have posted detailed entries around their Sputnik experiences.   Here are excerpts from the postings.

The Sputnik Out of Box Experience

For a good look at the OOBE, complete with photos, check out Theron’s “#ProjectSputnik – first impressions“.  Here’s the summary at the end:

After initial load and getting my standard working environment up and running, I’ve got to say this little beast is pretty amazing. From the tight OS integration to the feel of the laptop, it looks and feels like a solid build. I’m going to be busy working with OpenStack over the coming months and I’m excited to see how closely integrated I can get my build envionment on this laptop to the ubuntu server I’m using for testing. After watching Mark Shuttleworth talk this year at Oscon about JuJu and #ProjectSputnik, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be amazing. More blog posts to follow.

One man’s journey back to Linux

This next blog kicked off a huge discussion on hacker news around developer laptops, OS’s and the merits of their various incarnations.  Geoffrey Papillion wrote about his odyssey through time and across various OS’s which has led him to the present and Linux once again.

Here is how he concludes his post “Thanks Mr. Jobs, But it seems I can use a linux laptop now

Two days ago I got my Dell XPS 13 as part of a Dell beta progam called project Sputnik. I got a special version of Ubuntu, with some kernel patches, and some patched packages for sleep and hibernation. After an hour of struggling with making a bootable USB drive from my Mac for my Dell(turns out it was an issue with the USB drive), I had a working computer. By 8pm I had my development enviroment setup, I had chef up and running, and even my VPN was working. I was amazed.

So, far its been good; most apps I use are web apps. I spend 70% of my time in a terminal, and 30% of my time in a web browser. Honestly its the perfect computer for me right now. So, I’m waving goodbye to the ecosystem Mr. Jobs built, and moving to the world of linux full time.

On Beyond ThinkPad

Matt Urbanski who is coming from a linux mint based Lenovo ThinkPad x220 that he has been really happy with, gives his initial thoughts in Project Sputnik Beta Day one. He concludes his post with:

I sound much like a crochety old man who dislikes change. I’m going to give this a go and see what happens. I’m now embarking on the always annoying task of getting my homedir and configurations from one machine to the other. I’ll report back after some real usage.

The Woodward Trilogy

The most prolific cosmonaut award goes to Matt Woodward who has been putting his project Sputnik laptop through its paces and written three entries about it.

Dell Sputnik: Initial impressions

Conclusion: The Dell XPS 13 is a huge winner in my book. It’s exceedingly well built, light, quiet, and has all the bells and whistles you need in an ultrabook — particularly one aimed at developers — and Dell made intelligent omissions across the board with the possible exception of the amount of RAM pre-installed.

If like me you’ve had Dells in the past and hadn’t thought about Dell in a while, this machine may well change your mind about Dell. After only a few hours of using it it’s certainly starting to change mine, and I can already see myself gravitating to the Sputnik as my go-to machine.

Dell Sputnik: Battery life test

Results: The results are quite impressive, with a run time of about 8 hours 20 minutes in my usage

A week at a conference with Dell Sputnik

Summary: After living with the Sputnik as my only machine for a week I continue to be extremely impressed. Particularly in a developer conference situation where power isn’t available at every seat and you have to fight for the few outlets that are available, the Sputnik’s fantastic battery life let me focus on the conference instead of worrying about whether or not my laptop was going to conk out.Other than the occasional issues with the trackpad I thoroughly enjoyed using the Sputnik at DjangoCon — it makes a great conference companion!

So that’s the initial round up.  Stay tuned for more!

Extra-credit reading/Resource links

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…


OSCON: Tim O’Reilly chats with Mark Shuttleworth

August 7, 2012

Here’s the last of my posts from OSCON.

The conversation below took place right after Mark Shuttleworth’s keynote.  Tim and Mark start off by talking about Mark’s persistence of vision and what keeps driving him.  At the 2:00 minute mark they talk about Project Sputnik, the buzz around it at OSCON and where it has the advantage over Mac OS.  From there they talk about bringing the cloud right to the desktop via Juju.

Enjoy!

Extra-credit reading:

Pau for now…


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