Ubuntu comes to the Windows desktop — OpenStack summit

April 26, 2016

Recently an announcement was made that took a lot of people by surprise.  Canonical and Microsoft announced that Ubuntu was now able to run on the Windows desktop.

Ubuntu Goes to Microsoft’s Windows 10 Bash – LinuxInsider

Dustin Kirkland was the main man on the Canonical side who drove this.  I caught up with Dustin at the OpenStack summit to learn more about this seemingly strange move by Microsoft.

Take a listen

Some of the ground Dustin covers

  • Ubuntu and Azure and the Microsoft partnership
  • Microsoft approached Canonical about bringing Ubuntu to the Windows desktop (looking to attract developers using Linux)
  • The Microsoft kernel team has built the Windows subsystem for Linux – Translates Linux systems calls to Windows system calls – Canonical asked to deliver the userspace
  • When users type bash they end up in an environment which is essentially Ubuntu minus the kernel
  • What have been the reactions to this move from the various constituents

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…

Live in Europe: Next gen XPS 13 developer edition

March 31, 2016

[Update — April 8: Offline country URLs added]

A couple of weeks ago we announced the worldwide release of the Ubuntu-based mobile Precision mobile line as well and the US availability of the next gen XPS 13 developer edition.

Today I’m happy to announce that the Skylake-based XPS 13 developer edition is now available in Europe!

Background: As you may remember, as a part of Project Sputnik, these systems began as an open-ended exploratory project to identify what developers wanted in an ideal laptop. With the community’s input, Project Sputnik became an official product and continues to evolve.

Next gen XPS 13 developer edition specsDino

  • 6thGeneration Intel® Core™Processors
  • Preloaded with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Augmented with the necessary hardware drivers, tools and utilities
  • InfinityEdge™ display, FHD and QHD+ versions available


The following configurations will be available both online and offline in Europe.  All of three of the XPS 13 developer edition configurations come with the Intel wireless card.

  • i5/8GB: 256GB, FHD, Intel 8260
  • i7/8GB: 256GB, QHD+T, Intel 8260
  • i7/16GB 512GB, QHD+T, Intel 8260

OTA (Over-The-Air) Fixes

There were several minor fixes that were not available in time for launch but have been made available as over the air updates so make sure to run all Ubuntu updates.  (These fixes pertain to both the XPS 13 and Precisions.)

Where to order your system

The following, URLs will take you to the product pages for the developer edition in the various countries.  The countries listed below will offer the XPS 13 online.

There is a second group of nations where the developer edition is available by contacting your local Dell representative.  We will be adding that list, along with URLs, in the next couple of days. – Update: added April 8

Available online

United Kingdom www.dell.co.uk/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Ireland www.dell.ie/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Germany www.dell.de/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Austria www.dell.at/XPS13DeveloperEdition
France www.dell.fr/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Italy www.dell.it/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Spain www.dell.es/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Switzerland (German) www.dell.ch/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Switzerland (French)  www.dell.ch/fr/XPS13DeveloperEdition
The Netherlands www.dell.nl/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Belgium (Dutch) www.dell.be/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Belgium (French) www.dell.be/fr/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Denmark www.dell.dk/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Norway www.dell.no/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Sweden www.dell.se/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Available offline

Estonia http://www.dell.com/ee/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Ghana http://www.dell.com/gh/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Croatia http://www.dell.com/hr/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Israel http://www.dell.com/il/en/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Iceland http://www.dell.com/is/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Finland http://www.dell.com/fi/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Lithuania http://www.dell.com/lt/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Latvia http://www.dell.com/lv/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Libya http://www.dell.com/ly/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Nigeria http://www.dell.com/ng/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Slovenia http://www.dell.com/si/XPS13DeveloperEdition

South Africa http://www.dell.com/za/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Democratic Republic of the Congo http://www.dell.com/cd/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Congo http://www.dell.com/cg/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Algeria http://www.dell.com/dz/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Ivory Coast http://www.dell.com/ed/fr/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Gabon http://www.dell.com/ga/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Moroccο http://www.dell.com/ma/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Senegal http://www.dell.com/sn/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Tunisia http://www.dell.com/tn/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Bahrain (Arabic) http://www.dell.com/ae/ar/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Morocco (Arabic) http://www.dell.com/ma/ar/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Tunisia http://www.dell.com/tn/ar/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Algeria http://www.dell.com/dz/ar/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Russia http://www.dell.com/ru/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Belarus http://www.dell.com/rs/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Ukraine http://www.dell.com/ua/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Czech http://www.dell.com/cz/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Greece http://www.dell.com/gr/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Hungry http://www.dell.com/hu/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Israel http://www.dell.com/il/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Portuguese http://www.dell.com/pt/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Romania http://www.dell.com/ro/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Slovakia http://www.dell.com/sk/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Turkey http://www.dell.com/tr/XPS13DeveloperEdition



The entire Sputnik team would like to thank everyone in Europe for both their patience and support!  Happy hacking!

Extra-Credit reading

Pau for now


Containers, VMs and Joyent’s Triton — how they relate

January 5, 2016

While I was in San Francisco back in November, I stopped by Joyent’s headquarters.  The main purpose was to talk about the Docker/Triton platform we are setting up in the CTO lab.

While I was there I chatted with Joyent’s Casey Bisson, director of product management.  Casey took me through a couple of white board sessions around containers and VMs.  This first session talks about how containers and VMs work together, how they’re different and where Joyent’s elastic container infrastructure, Triton, fits.

Some of the ground Casey covers

  • Linux allows you to build containers on your laptop and push them, as is, to the cloud.  For other OS’s you need to use VMs
  • Containers in the cloud within VMs and the affect on efficiency
  • Running containers on bare metal, security concerns and how Joyent addresses these concerns
  • How Triton virtualizes the network into the container

Extra-credit reading

  • KubeCon: Learning about Joyent and Triton, the elastic container infrastructure – Barton’s blog

Containerizing an old school Dell application

November 24, 2015

About a year ago Senior Linux engineer Jose De la Rosa had heard so much Docker and container-mania that he thought he’d find out what the fuss was all about.  Jose started looking around for an app within Dell that he could containerize and came across Dell’s OpenManage Server Administrator (OMSA).  In case you’re wondering, OMSA is an in house application used to manage and monitor Dell’s PowerEdge servers.  Rather than being a micro-service based application, OMSA is an old school legacy app.

To hear how Jose tackled the task, why, and what he learned, check out the following video (also take a look at the deck below that he presented at the Austin Docker meet up).

Here’s the deck Jose presented at the Austin Docker Meetup back in September.

For more info about what Jose and the Dell Linux engineering team are doing in this space, check out linux.dell.com/docker

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…

Meet the project Sputnik team + Case Study

July 29, 2015

The other day Canonical came to Dell for a show and tell.  The Sputnik team, normally located in various buildings in Austin and Round Rock, all found ourselves in attendance at the event.  Here is a quick meet-the-team video introducing ourselves, saying where we’re from and declaring our favorite TV show.

Additionally,  here is a short case study giving the Project Sputnik history.

Pau for now…

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:


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


  • 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:


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:




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




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:




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…


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