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Dell's Ubuntu Ultrabook goes on sale in the US

Dell XPS Developer Edition with Ubuntu 12.04

By Nicole Kobie

Posted on 29 Nov 2012 at 16:00

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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User comments

"scrappy skunkworks project"

But why should Dell kit (or any kit) need a specially modified version of Ubuntu?

By seagull on 29 Nov 2012

How can they justify charging more for software that's available for free?

By rowanparker_uk on 29 Nov 2012

@rowanparker_uk

They won't sell as many so they have to get the costs back quicker I guess

By TimoGunt on 29 Nov 2012

No way

I am a developer and I love Ubuntu, but... the Dell XPS 13 running Windows 7 64bit sells online for $1,200. I don't see why I should pay the extra $300 for Ubuntu.

By tr00don on 29 Nov 2012

But ...

Why would the target audience not just buy the Windows version and install Ubuntu themselves? They save some money and they have a Windows licence too.

Or have Dell managed to lock this down by close-sourcing the drivers? Would Canonical let them do this? A bit of a betrayal of the open-source ethos if they have!

By JohnAHind on 30 Nov 2012

Services

I noticed in a video announcing the launch of Project Sputnik as an official product, that one of the services through the laptop was JuJu, a Canonical product. My guess is the reason it costs a little more than it's Windows counterpart is that a Developer who buys the Ubuntu version is paying for the Canonical services included with the laptop. Anyways, even though the Ubuntu version is a bit more expensive, I would still buy it over the Windows laptop. If we support our Linux, then maybe we could get some consumer products down the line too.

By 1roxtar on 30 Nov 2012

Services

I noticed in a video announcing the launch of Project Sputnik as an official product, that one of the services through the laptop was JuJu, a Canonical product. My guess is the reason it costs a little more than it's Windows counterpart is that a Developer who buys the Ubuntu version is paying for the Canonical services included with the laptop. Anyways, even though the Ubuntu version is a bit more expensive, I would still buy it over the Windows laptop. If we support our Linux, then maybe we could get some consumer products down the line too.

By 1roxtar on 30 Nov 2012

Pricing has been corrected.

FYI, Dell has corrected the pricing, now *less* than the equivalent Windows version at: $1,449.00

By RobbieW on 30 Nov 2012

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