Dell's Ubuntu Ultrabook goes on sale in the US

29 Nov 2012
Dell XPS Developer Edition with Ubuntu 12.04

Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition runs the long-term-support version of Ubuntu

Dell's first Ubuntu Ultrabook is now available to buy - and after a price drop, is now cheaper than the Windows edition.

As part of a "scrappy skunkworks project", developers worked on getting Ubuntu running on the Dell XPS 13, which picked up a PC Pro Recommended award when we first reviewed it.

Project Sputnik, as it was called, proved popular and Dell decided to release the creation as a product; the XPS 13 Developer Edition is now available in the US and Canada, and will be available from early next year in other markets, Dell said.

The idea is that developers are the kings of IT and set the agenda for web companies, who in turn, set the agenda for the whole industry

The price was initially listed as $1,549, but after complaints that it was more than the Windows 7 version, has now been dropped to $1,449 - a $50 discount on the Microsoft edition. The Dell XPS 13 comes preloaded with Ubuntu 12.04, the long-term support version of the open-source OS. The XPS 13 features a Core i7 processor, 8GB of RAM and a 256GB SSD.

The idea of the project was to create a laptop for developers, based around "the idea that developers are the kings of IT and set the agenda for web companies, who in turn, set the agenda for the whole industry", Dell said.

While making drivers work was a "big focus" of the work with Ubuntu-backer Canonical, the Sputnik Ultrabook also features a few key programmes to make it more useful for developers, said project leader Barton George in a blog post.

He highlighted two community software projects - profile tool and cloud launcher - but noted they were still in early stages.

"The idea behind the profile tool is to provide access to a library of community-created profiles on github, such as Ruby and Android, to quickly set up your development environments and tool chains," he said. "The cloud launcher enables you to create 'microclouds' on your laptop, simulating an at-scale environment, and then deploy that environment seamlessly to the cloud."

George said the next "big thing" for the XPS 13 Developer Edition is to make it available outside the US, which Dell said should happen early next year - although which markets it will be released in wasn't clear.

"The other direction we are looking at potentially expanding is offering a bigger, beefier platform for developers," added George. "The XPS 13 is perfect for those who want an ultra light and mobile system, but we have heard from a bunch of devs who would also like an offering that was more workstation-like with a bigger screen and more RAM."

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