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!


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:


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.


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…

Introducing Sputnik 3 and its unofficial big brother

November 15, 2013


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…

Talking to the Docker Dudes

September 12, 2013

This morning a group of us here at Dell met with Ben Golub, Jerome Petazzoni and Nick Stinemates of dotCloud, the company behind the wildly popular open source project, Docker, “the Linux container engine.”  They came to sample the great barbecue and to chat about how Docker might potentially work with Project Sputnik, the Crowbar Project and a few other efforts.

Docker, which went live in March already has 150 contributors, 60,000+ downloads and 1000s of applications containerized and uploaded to their registry.   Given the fact that the company only has 18 employees, quite a bit of this work has been done by the passionate community that has formed in the first six months.

Overview and Tech talk

I did two interviews with the gents from Docker, a higher level overview with Ben their CEO and a more technical talk with SRE manager Jerome and Nick, their sales and deployment engineer.  Enjoy!

Some of the ground Ben covers:

  • What is Docker?
  • How it developed out of dotCloud’s PaaS efforts
  • How Ben got involved with the project and his background
  • What are dotCloud’s plans for Docker and who is integrating with it?

Some of the ground Jerome and Nick cover:

  • How long they’ve been involved and what they focus on
  • How Docker works with LXC and how it might work without LXC
  • Ubuntu is recommended but all you need is AUFS support
  • In next release they plan to offer official support beyond Ubuntu
  • Holy DevOps batman, Docker has something to offer Devs, QA Engineers, Continuos  integration and Sys Ops.

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


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