Dell Announces A Linux Laptop Designed for Developers


Tux A few years ago Dell began offering the Ubuntu distribution of Linux on its desktops and laptaps, but quietly dropped the option from its online store in 2010 (though it’s still possible to order certain machines with Ubuntu). Today at the Ubuntu Developers Summit Dell announced that it is dipping its toes into back into the Linux laptop market with Project Sputnik, a developer-centric laptop running Ubuntu 12.04 on Dell’s XPS13 Ultrabook hardware.

If you already have an XPS13, you can find the install image here.

Project Sputnik, a product of Dell’s new internal incubation fund, features not just full hardware support for Ubuntu on the XPS13, but a notion of “profiles” for developers. Barton George, the lead on the project, writes:

Hardware enablement is table stakes but where Sputnik starts to get interesting is when we talk about profiles. No two developers are alike so instead of stuffing the system with every possible tool or app a developer could possibly want, we are trying a different approach. As mentioned above, the actual “stuff” on the install image is pretty basic, instead we are working with a few developers to put together a tool that can go out to a github repository and pull down various developer profiles. The first profiles we are targeting are Android, Ruby and JavaScript. […]

What I’d like to see is not only a gold-standard configuration, but also a meta-system to manage your developer configuration… The devops revolution is about configuration as code. How cool would it be if my laptop configuration were code that I could store in a source repo somewhere?

I talked to George today, and he said that although for now only download images are available “If we’re successful, we’d like to ship laptops with a basic configuration pre-installed, and then have the profiles available for download from a repository.” George also writes that Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth has some big ideas about tying Sputnik to OpenStack clouds to help build a true DevOps-centric laptop.

Developers can leave Dell feedback on the Dell IdeaStorm site.

Earlier this year it was reported that the Lenovo ThinkPad X1 Hybrid would dual boot Linux and Windows. It turns out it actually dual boots Windows and Android (which is based on the Linux kernel but is otherwise incompatible with Linux desktop operating systems). There are a number of other companies offering Linux laptops.