Project “Sputnik”…this isn’t your daddy’s laptop!

I don’t remember when exactly, but it was sometime in 2007 that that Dell began supporting Linux on laptops.  I mean, it was the bomb…and Dell was everyone’s favorite PC and laptop manufacturer, literally overnight.  Then something happened…Linux grew up, and EVERYONE supported Linux.  There was only one problem, well…a couple actually.  First, the wireless cards in many laptops of that time did not work with Linux without a lot of “special” help…customer drivers, etc. that didn’t come from the manufacturers.  Secondly, not all versions of Linux ran on all hardware.  Fact is, unless you were pretty sharp with Linux, your laptop would not completely function with Linux on it.  Fast forward…to Project Sputnik, starring the Dell XPS13 Ultrabook and Ubuntu Linux 12.04LTS (Long Term Support).

So I was sitting in my office and I got this email from Barton George, Dell’s Director of Marketing for the Web vertical.  There was this idea…what if we created a laptop that “just worked” with Ubuntu Linux as the base OS, and then added some unique tools and targeted it at developers for the Cloud and Mobile Apps.  The key in my mind, of course, was that it just worked, because that was what turned people off about Linux…they felt it was too clunky…and that you had to be an uber-geek to run it.  Maybe back in the late 1990’s, but no longer.

In this video by Barton George, you’ll notice a couple of things.  First, he mentions that Canonical did a lot of the development work for this project.  Dell and Canonical have had a long history of working together, and this is just another example.  Secondly, Mike Hendrickson, O’Reilly’s VP of Content Strategy talks about his use of the system and how not only does it provide screaming performance, but that the desktop was simple to use.

Another thing that Mike really liked was the idea that we delivering a “bare-bones” box minus any of the bloatware that we see on most other operating systems (I’m staying neutral…I won’t name names).  Instead, When you get Sputnik you then go out to Github and download the “profiles” that you want to work in.  Initially, we’re focusing on Andriod, Javascript and Ruby profiles, but we will be expanding this as we go.

The initial feedback we have gotten is quite solid, and we’re excited to be able to offer this to our customers that have development needs.  Will it come to the consumer market?  Who knows.  With people discovering that Linux doesn’t suck (thanks to the Android devices), who knows where this will go.  All I know, I can’t wait to get my hands on one!

Look for Project Sputnik to be shipping this fall.

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