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…


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…


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…


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…


Shuttleworth raves about Dell XPS13 developer edition

May 24, 2013

At the OpenStack summit last month we caught up with Ubuntu and Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth.

Below is a quick snippet taken from our chat with Mark where he talks about the Dell XPS 13 developer edition aka Project Sputnik.  Mark dubs the system “freakin’ awesome” and the “environment of choice for anyone doing web or cloud development.”  :)

Extra-credit reading

  • Laptop Week Review: The Dell XPS 13 Developers Edition With Ubuntu – TechCrunch
  •  It just works: Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition Linux Ultrabook review – Ars Technica

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