Portland, OR: Sputnik started, Barton George, Dell's project Sputnik lead and director of web vertical marketing, told me at OSCon as a six-month exploratory pilot to create an Ubuntu Linux-based developer laptop, It's not just an idea now. Dell is taking Project Sputnik from pilot to product this fall.
This official developer laptop is based on the Dell XPS 13 with Ubuntu 12.04 Long Term Support (LTS) This PC will offer developers a complete client-to-cloud solution. The Sputnik will allow developers to create “microclouds” on their laptops, simulating a proper, at-scale environment, and then deploy that environment seamlessly to the cloud. George explained it would use LXC virtual environments containers for the microclouds. These cloud applications can then be deployed to Ubuntu instances running on the Amazon, OpenStack, bare-metal with Management as a Service (MAAS), and, eventually, Microsoft Azure clouds.
A first look at Ubuntu 12.04 (Gallery)
The Sputnik won't be just for cloud developers. George said that there has been an incredible amount of interest in the project. “When I first put the word out I thought it would be a success if I got 4,000 hits on the proposal. It's now over 50,000 hits.” Since then developers have been telling Dell in great detail what they want from a developer's laptop and Dell has been listening.
Canonical, Ubuntu's parent company, has been working with Dell on the program from the start. Indeed, the project really got going, said George, after Shuttleworth visited Dell's office and gave the notion his blessings... and his own ideas on what he'd like to see in a best-of-breed developer laptop.
The Sputnik, which according to George may eventually be named the XPS 13 Developer Edition or open-source Edition, will be based on Dell's high-end XPS 13 laptop. The Sputnik will have a 13.3 inch screen with edge to edge glass with 1366x768 resolution, i7 2GHz Intel Core2 Duo processor, 4GB of RAM and 256 GB SSD, all in a 0.88 x 12.56 x 9.3 inch frame and weights in at 2.99 lbs.
In the engineering sample I saw the system was, as you might expect, extremely fast. The keyboard, while a chiclet style, had a good response and the touch-pad worked well. The matte screen was quite usable even in a very bright environment. Personally, I would have been happy to walk away with and start work.
George couldn't give me an exact price but said it would be in the ballpark of the current top-of-the-line Dell XPS 13, about $1,500.
The Ubuntu team is excited about it. Jono Bacon, Ubuntu's community manager told me, “I am delighted to see Project Sputnik going to production. We have had a long and positive relationship with Dell, and in Ubuntu we are increasingly focusing on developers and their needs, so Project Sputnik forms an ideal partnership. What excites me about Project Sputnik is that it brings elegance in software and hardware together and empowers developers to do great work on not only a powerful platform, but one underlined with this sleek and enjoyable software and hardware experience.”
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