Dell goes after devs with Ubuntu-based Sputnik

May 8, 2012 // 11:39 a.m.

Tags: #barton-george #canonical #dell #dell-project-sputnik #desktop-linux #linux #project-sputnik #ubuntu #ultrabook #xps13

Box-shifter Dell has announced that it's having another go at distributing Linux, releasing a special version of its XPS13 Ultrabook running software dubbed 'Project Sputnik.'

A product of the company's newly-announced internal incubation fund, which provides Dell employees with resources for new ideas, 'Project Sputnik' takes the Windows-based XPS13 and equips it with a customised version of Canonical's Ubuntu Linux.

It's not the first time Dell has cosied-up to Canonical: the company previously launched a series of netbooks featuring Ubuntu Linux, before branching out into desktops and laptops. Sadly, the experiment was short-lived and in 2010 the company withdrew the majority of its Ubuntu-based systems from sale with a few hard-to-find exceptions.

Dell's latest foray into the world of Linux is a bit different, however: previously, the company has been targeting consumers with low-cost hardware running the open-source operating system - an experiment which was not a huge success, it must be admitted. This time it's targeting a different class of user: developers.

Announced at the Ubuntu Developers Summit, 'Project Sputnik' is currently only available as an installable image which can be downloaded and used to replace Windows by existing XPS13 owners.

Speaking to DevOpsANGLE, project lead Barton George explained that, following feedback on the installable images, Dell could launch Sputnik as a real product. 'If we're successful,' George claimed, 'we'd like to ship laptops with a basic configuration pre-installed, and then have the profiles available for download from a repository.'

George's comments suggest that Sputnik could one day expand into a bespoke operating system deployment system, allowing users to buy a laptop and then choose from a variety of roles - gamer, developer, designer and so forth - to have their device customised for their individual needs.

For now, however, 'Project Sputink' is merely an experiment - albeit one that suggests Linux is once again gaining ground outside the server room.
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