Project Sputnik – Beta Cosmonauts chosen

August 27, 2012

First of all, I would like to thank all the applicants to the Project Sputnik beta program for their patience.  Since we announced the program last month we have been working on implementation, traveling mostly uncharted waters here at Dell.  After working through countless details and seeing what could actually be done in a timely and supportable manner, we have come up with our list of Beta cosmonauts.

The Beta Cosmonauts

We had hoped to make the beta program worldwide, but after digging in we found that the resources needed to execute on it turned out to be more than our little Dell/Canonical team could handle.  As a result we have decided to narrow our Beta effort to the United States.  From those applicants from the US, which represented close to half of the total number of applicants, we have selected 455 people.

It wasn’t easy to narrow the list but we picked people who represent a cross section of the developer population from start ups to large companies to universities.  They represent a wide variety of skills and experience and are the people who we feel will be most vocal and participatory and who best represent the Sputnik ethos.

What they get – Updated Aug 30

Tomorrow we will send out the emails to everyone in the program letting them know whether they have been selected or not.  Those selected, and who are still interested in participating, will be able to purchase the high-end XPS13 at $1,199 rather than $1,499*.   As the program continues we will continue to refine the software.  In return…

*Update Aug 30: We took the feedback re the desire for a deeper discount and went back to see if there was any more cost we could drive out the base price.  We found a couple of places and were able to lower the base price from $1,499 to $1,349.99.  Applying the 20% discount to this we are now able to offer the system to Beta cosmonauts at $1,079.99 ($120 less than before.  It’s not a huge difference but I assume every little bit counts).

What we are asking of them

  • Load the software: While we had hoped to be able to offer the beta systems with Ubuntu pre-loaded this has turned out to be a lot more difficult than we had thought and would require shifting resources from our launch in the fall.  As a result, unfortunately the systems will come with Windows pre-loaded.  All the Beta cosmonauts will need to do is follow the directions for installing Ubuntu as listed on the Canonical page.
  • Be vocal and transparent:  We want the cosmonauts to blog and tweet (hashtag #ProjectSputnik) about their experience as a beta tester, but if asked or when appropriate disclose that they received a discount from Dell.
  • Use it and contribute:  As beta testers we want the cosmonauts to use the system, try things out, file bugs and share their experience with us and each other on the project Sputnik Forum.  It would also be awesome if they could even contribute a profile or two when we make the profile tool available.
  • Support: given that this is a beta program we won’t have official support for the hardware or software.  That being said we will try our best to help out the cosmonauts via the forum and bug tracker.

Thanks again to everyone who applied to the program.  Dell and Canonical are very excited to hear what people think of the systems and learn what we can do to make them better.

Key links

Pau for now…


Announcing project Sputnik Beta program

July 2, 2012

Last week project Sputnik got an official presence on dell.com.  While the project is still a skunk works effort rather than a product, we are rapidly gaining traction within the company.

If you’re not familiar with project Sputnik, its a laptop pilot targeted at developers and based on Dell’s XPS13 ultrabook and Ubuntu 12.04LTS.

The new page points you to where you can buy an XPS13 (unfortunately still pre-loaded with Windows at this time), where you can get the image to load, where you can offer suggestions, read about people’s experiences and where you can sign up for a beta unit.

Be a Beta Cosmonaut

If you are interested in getting your hands on a project Sputnik beta unit we are now recruiting volunteers for the Sputnik Beta Cosmonaut program (and yes we know the original Sputnik was unmanned, we’re taking artistic license here).  A limited number of applicants will be selected to receive a discounted, beta version solution (Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook with Ubuntu 12.04LTS pre-loaded).

If selected, all we ask is that you use the system regularly and give us your honest feedback on the project Sputnik forum.  It will be interesting to see if we get five people applying to be cosmonauts or 5,000.  Stay tuned…

To apply, please fill out this form.

Project Sputnik forum and wiki

Along with a landing page on dell.com, we recently launched a project Sputnik presence on Dell TechCenter.  On TechCenter, you can find a Sputnik wiki as well as the forum I mentioned above to share experiences with Sputnik and file bugs.

BTW both Dell and Canonical will be at OSCON and one of the things we’ll be talking up is project Sputnik.  Stop by and say hi if you’re there.

Key links

Pau for now…


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