Dell's Project Sputnik is go for launch

July 20, 2012 // 11:43 a.m.

Tags: #barton-george #canonical #cloud #dell #developer #linux #project-sputnik #ubuntu #ubuntu-linux #ultrabook #xps-13

Dell's Project Sputnik, announced back in May as a downloadable software image for XPS13 Ultrabooks is now to become a real, commercial product as the company has another attempt at selling Linux.

Project Sputnik was born from the company's internal incubation programme, which provides cash funding to support employee's ideas. Sputnik itself is a customised version of Ubuntu Linux which is designed to appeal to developers by offering customisable 'profiles' that install particular applications according to individual need.

'If [Project Sputnik is] successful,' project lead Barton George claimed to DevOpsANGLE at the time, ''we'd like to ship laptops with a basic configuration pre-installed, and then have the profiles available for download from a repository.'

That hope for a formal release in product form appears to have come true, with Dell announcing that Sputnik is to become a shipping product this autumn. Under the Sputnik banner, Dell will sell an official 'developer laptop' pre-loaded with Canonical's Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, albeit in 'selected geographies' only.

'Since we announced project Sputnik a little over two months ago, we have continued to be amazed by the amount and quality of interest and input we have received,' claims George. 'By listening to developers, Dell can provide them with solutions and products to help make them more productive and allow for greater innovation.'

'Project Sputnik is a great example of the employee-driven innovation we built Dell's incubation programme to enable,' adds Nnamdi Orakwue, executive sponsor of the incubation programme at Dell. 'This project represents the first of many new ideas Dell employees will test with customers or partners through the program, and we look forward to supporting Sputnik to be successful as it becomes a product this fall.'

The commercial launch of Sputnik will concentrate on making cloud deployment as simple as possible for developers. The operating system will be tweaked and pre-loaded with a 'client-to-cloud' package that allows developers to create 'microclouds' on their laptops for testing before deploying their creations seamlessly to full-scale cloud server farms.

Sadly, there is little sign of Barton's original promise of customisable user profiles which tailor the laptop the individual needs - but, should Sputnik prove a success with the cloud crowd, these will hopefully follow as Dell tries to make the project appeal to a wider audience.

Pricing and a firm launch date for the Sputnik-based XPS 13 Ultrabooks has not yet been confirmed.
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