Dell Unveils Ubuntu Ultrabook Targeted at Developers

Dell this week took the wraps off of a very special project that it's been working on in secret for the last few months. Unveiled at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Oakland, California, the project's name is Sputnik and it's based on one of Dell's already available XPS notebooks.

Dell's Barton George describes the project as a six-month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open source laptop targeted directly at developers. Sputnik is a Linux-powered lappy that's designed specifically serve the needs of developers in Web companies. Running the 12.04 LTS release of Ubuntu Linux, Sputnik is based on Dell's XPS13 laptop and the company is currently working with three developers to put together a tool that can go out to a github repository and pull down various developer profiles. Dell is targeting Android, Ruby and JavaScript first. After that, the idea is that the community would step in and start to develop their own profiles.

Dell says that when it first pitched the idea to Ubuntu's Mark Shuttleworth, he liked the idea but ultimately saw it as an opportunity for something bigger. "Where it got really interesting for him was when this laptop was optimized for DevOps," writes George. "In this scenario we would have a common set of tools from client, to test, to production, thereby tying Sputnik via a common tool chain to a cloud backend powered by OpenStack.  Developers could create 'micro clouds' locally and then push them to the cloud writ large."

What's more, it's something that developers seemed to want to. Dell says that as they talked to customers and developers, the topic of Ubuntu came up again and again.

"To my knowledge, no other OEM has yet made a system specifically targeted at devs and figured it was time to see what that might mean," said George.

This project is very much still in the development phase and, as previously mentioned, Dell has set itself a six-month deadline for this project. If things go well, it sounds like we might actually see these for sale in the future. We'd certainly love one.

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  • amdfangirl
    If anything, this laptop will,like in China be bought because it avoids the Windows tax. They'll probably install pirated Windows.

    People like me will buy it for Linux support, shame the screen is glossy.

    Hopefully it sets a precedent for Linux laptops. Would be nice to see Lenovo follow suit with some matte screened Thinkpad X1.
  • classzero
    Please more choices like this, we are ready to be freed from Microsoft. If you want to game get a xbox or playstation. As a developer I can't stand Microsoft.
  • jryan388
    As much as I love Ubuntu for deveoping, there are still a few too many compatibility needs for me to drop windows completely. Maybe just for work, but I can't abandon gaming and a few windows-only programs I use.
  • willard
    Yeah, because I totally want to use a 13" screen for development.
  • kronos_cornelius
    I am not too sure about the project's name... may be not for an American audience ?

    Why not call it Adolf ?

    As a developer, I build my system to be very fast. And I avoid the Windows tax by buying the parts.

    I agree you still need Window for gaming, but not for long !
  • kenyee
    willardYeah, because I totally want to use a 13" screen for development.
    Ditto...really needs at least 14" 1080p w/ 4 memory slots so we can run VMs and use a typical development editor that sucks up screen real estate like crazy :-P
  • K2N hater
    Though I support Linux and other alternatives to MS I don't think the 13" screen is suitable for development. George could have gone straight to the point by telling Dell is not letting MS run them out of business with their Metro craze.
  • voodoobunny
    Does it support multiple extra screens? Will it handle adding/removing screens gracefully? As a "development" laptop it really should, and that would alleviate some of the complaints about the screen resolution.

    Agreed about it needing space for as much memory as possible too - but it sounds like the "developer" part is software-only. Hey, maybe if it works they could apply the same concept to a 14" or 15" laptop which *does* have the extra power.
  • DroKing
    classzeroPlease more choices like this, we are ready to be freed from Microsoft. If you want to game get a xbox or playstation. As a developer I can't stand Microsoft.
    Ew no... Xbox and Ps3 is poor man's gaming platform. *vomits*
  • jhansonxi
    13in is enough for work in the field. Most developers I know that use laptops plug in a second monitor when they get back to the office.