Sputnik turns 6! Presenting the folks behind it

November 29, 2018

Six years ago today the first Project Sputnik system appeared on dell.com.

It all started at the beginning of 2012 with a pitch to an internal innovation committee.  A month after the pitch, on the ides of March, the committee gave the go ahead for an exploratory project to test out the idea of a developer laptop.

The original XPS 13 developer edition

Thanks to the interest and support of the community, eight months later, the project became a product.

On November 29, 2012 the Dell XPS 13 developer edition was born.

 

It takes a village

Beyond the developer community, the reason why Project Sputnik is alive and thriving today is because of the support, both official and unofficial, from dozens of people across Dell.

These individuals have come from marketing, engineering, sales, finance, PR, operations… Here are some of the key contributors over the last six years

From then to now

With help from the folks above, Project Sputnik has continued to evolve.

The XPS 13 developer edition, which debuted with only one config and Ubuntu 12.04 LTS, is now in its 7th generation, comes with Ubuntu 18.04 and boasts multiple configurations.  Along the way the project also expanded when the Linux-based mobile Precision workstation line joined the effort.

This year was a particularly busy one for the project with new versions of all five Sputnik platforms launching:

Thanks

Thanks once again to the community and everyone within Dell who has driven Project Sputnik from idea, to product, to product line.

Stay tuned and see where we go next!

 

Project Sputnik timeline

2012

  • Project Sputnik announced — May 7, 2012
  • Project Sputnik to go from Pilot to Product — July 18, 2012
  • 1st gen Dell XPS 13 developer edition in the US — November 29, 2012

2013

  • 2nd gen developer edition in US and Europe — February 18, 2013
  • 3rd gen developer edition in US along with instructions on getting Ubuntu up and running on a Precision 3800 mobile workstation — November 15, 2013
  • 3rd gen developer edition in US and Europe — December 20, 2013 

2015

  • Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation joins Project Sputnik  — January 27, 2015
  • 4th gen Dell XPS 13 developer edition in US and Europe — April 9, 2015

2016

  • 5th gen XPS 13 Developer Edition in US, Ubuntu-based Workstations (5510, 3510, 7510, 7720) available worldwide — March 3, 2016
  • 5th gen XPS 13 developer edition in Europe — March 31, 2016
  • 6th gen XPS 13 Developer Edition in Europe and US — October 04, 2016

2017

  • Next gen Ubuntu-based Precision line-up announced, 5520 and 3520 available — January 9, 2017
  • Precision 7520 and 7720 available — March 18, 2017
  • Precision All-in-One available – April 18

2018

  • 7th gen XPS 13 Developer Edition in Europe and US – January 4
  • Next gen Precision line announced, 3530 available – March 24
  • Precision 7530 and 7730 available – July 2
  • XPS 13 developer edition upgrades to 18.04 – July 27
  • Precision 5530 available – August 31

(For a detailed project history please see last year’s 5th anniversary blog)

Extra-credit reading: news and reviews

Overall program

  • An update from Dell’s Barton George on their Linux initiative Sputnik – Linux Unplugged (starts at 40min)

XPS 13 developer edition

 

Precision xx30 developer edition line

  • Dell Precision 5530 with Ubuntu Review – Linux Unplugged (review starts at ~36min and goes to ~52min)
  • Dell Precision 5530, Ubuntu Pre-Installed – This Week in Linux  (13:44)
  • Dell Unveils New Ubuntu Laptops — OMG!UBUNTU!
  • Dell Precision ‘Developer Edition’ mobile workstations run Ubuntu Linux and are RHEL certified – betanews
  • Dell refreshes Precision laptops with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed – ZDnet
  • Dell stuffs Intel Coffee Lake CPUs and Ubuntu into latest Precision workstations – The Inquirer
  • Dell launches new Precision mobile workstation line-up powered by Ubuntu – Softpedia
  • Dell Precision 5530 sale a la venta con Ubuntu y certificado para RHEL » MuyLinux
  • Welcome the new Dell Precision developer editions – Barton’s blog
  • Developer Editions of Precision Workstations Now Available — Direct2DellEMC
  • Introducing the Dell Precision 7530 and 7730 with Ubuntu — Ubuntu blog
  • Precision Developer Editions 7530/7730 now online — Welcome the power pair – Barton’s blog

Pau for now…


XPS 13 Developer Edition — the 7th gen is here!

January 4, 2018

-> Updated June 22, 2018 – Three 16GB/FHD configs added to the line up in the US

-> Updated Jan 26, 2018 – Added list of countries that offer the XPS 13 developer edition offline.

Today I am excited to announce the availability of the 7th generation of the Ubuntu-based XPS 13 developer edition.  Project Sputnik’s latest and greatest system is now simultaneously available in Europe, Canada and the United States.

The new XPS 13 developer edition (9370) features the 8th Generation Intel Quad Core, a brand new chassis, an improved display and smaller borders.

The 9370 is even thinner, lighter and smaller than its already svelte predecessor, the 9360. (Note, the 9370 does not replace the 9360, as the two will coexist.)  If you want more detailed specs, please scroll down dear reader. Before we get to the product details however, here’s a quick Project Sputnik backgrounder.

Project Sputnik, a recap

It all started back in 2012 with the wacky idea of creating a high-end Linux laptop targeted at developers.   An internal innovation fund gave the scrappy project team a little bit of money and six months to see if this idea would fly.

From day one, project Sputnik publically solicited input from the developer community.  It was this input and the tremendous community support that pushed the effort from project to a product.

The initial XPS 13 developer edition, available only as one configuration, debuted on November 29, 2012.  Fast forward five years and not only are we announcing the 7th generation of that initial product but the project itself has now expanded to become a full line of developer-targeted systems.

US and Canadian configurations

In North America, as mentioned above, the new XPS 13 developer edition is available in both the US and Canada.  The following are the available configurations in the two countries (Note: the links below point to the US configurations).

CPU | Memory | Storage | Display

Available as of April 3, 2018

European configurations

The new XPS 13 developer edition is available online in Europe in the following countries:

Online: UK, Ireland, Germany, Austria, France, Italy, Spain, Switzerland (French and German), Belgium, Netherlands, Sweden, Norway, Denmark.

In the following countries you can get a hold of the XPS 13 developer edition offline (phone or chat):

Offline: Czech Republic, Denmark, Emerging countries , Finland, Greece , Luxembourg, Poland, Portugal, Russia, Slovakia, Turkey, South Africa.

The following configurations are available both online and offline.

CPU | Memory | Storage | Display

  • i7 | 16GB |      1TB | UHD touch (3840 x 2160)
  • i7 | 16GB | 512GB | UHD touch (3840 x 2160)
  • i7 | 16GB | 512GB | FHD non-touch (1920 x 1080)
  • i7 |  8GB | 256GB | FHD non-touch (1920 x 1080)

9370 Specifications

Here’s a bit more detail behind the system specs.  These options are available as noted above.

  • 8th Generation Intel® Quad Core™, i5 (US and Canada only) and i7 versions
  • Memory options: 4GB, 8GB or 16GB Dual Channel SDRAM
  • Storage options: 128GB, 256GB, 512GB or 1TB
  • Ports
    • 2x Thunderbolt™ 3
    • Noble lock slot
    • Headset jack
    • DC-In & DisplayPort 1x USB-C 3.1
    • MicroSD card reader
  • Display options
    • UltraSharp 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) InfinityEdge touch display
    • FHD (1920 x 1080) InfinityEdge display
  • Ubuntu 16.04 LTS preloaded
  • 1 year ProSupport

Who’d a thunk it

I gotta admit that five years ago the team and I would never have thought that we would be posting a blog announcing the 7th generation of the XPS 13 developer edition.  The thought of even a third generation would have bogled our minds.

Five years ago, thanks to the support of the community, Project Sputnik reached escape velocity.  This support, input and direction has not only continued but has grown over the last five years, enabling the Sputnik team to stop focusing on survival and instead focus on supporting a broader range of developer needs.

As we go forward, please keep driving us by sharing your input and experiences, be they be good, bad or ugly. 🙂

Thanks!

Barton

Extra-credit reading

  • 2018 starts with the best Linux laptop by Dell – Swap and I discuss the new system – VIDEO
  • Meet the New XPS 13: Stylish, Powerful and Better by Every Measure – Direct2Dell
  • Line up — New XPS 13 developer edition —  (9370)
  • Line up — XPS 13 developer edition — (9360)
  • Project Sputnik Turns Five! – November 29, 2017
  • 2012 — year one

Pau for now…


Project Sputnik Turns Five!

November 29, 2017

It was five years ago today, on November 29, 2012, that the first Project Sputnik system was launched.  Who would have thought we would have made it this far.

The reason why Project Sputnik is not only still around but keeps growing is because of the developer community.

In fact, without the input and support of the community, Project Sputnik would have been an interesting idea that disappeared after six months.

So how did we get here?

In the beginning

The project began back in early 2012 when I pitched the idea of creating a Linux-based developer laptop.  My audience was three guys in Dell who had put together an innovation fund and were asking employees to bring them their ideas.

When I made my pitch I stressed that in order to be successful, equally as important as what we created, was how we created it.  Development of the system needed to be in the open, and based on input directly from the developer community.  The committee asked me a few questions and told me they’d get back to me.

Ready, set, go

A month later I heard back from the committee.  They had given me the thumbs up, a little pot of money and six months to see if the idea of a developer laptop would fly.  From there I recruited some top and passionate talent and we had ourselves a team.

We started by cobbling together an initial install image that people could test.  In parallel we also sanity checked the idea with a local developers and a couple of web companies.  Since nobody threw up on the idea, on May 7, 2012 we went public.

The power of the community

In the blog post that introduced Project Sputnik we explained that project was “a six month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open source laptop targeted directly at developers.”  We pointed people at our rough install image and asked them to head to the Storm Session we had created and submit feedback, comments and ideas.

The amount of interest and input our initial post generated far exceeded anything we expected.  From there interest kept growing.  The tipping point however, came in response to our beta program.  We asked interested individuals to submit an online form.  We expected a few hundred responses, we got over 6,000.  Senior management was convinced and from there it was the march to launch.

 

Lift off and beyond

On November 29, 2012, a little over 6 months after the initial blog post, the first XPS 13 developer edition became available.  This first system, which came preloaded with Ubuntu 12.04 LTS and 1 year pro support, was available only as one configuration.  We chose to go with the highest end config we offered:  3rd gen Intel core i7 (Ivy Bridge), 8GB RAM, 256GB SSD and a screen resolution of 1366×768.

Less than two months later the second generation XPS 13 developer edition was launched.  From there the line has continued to grow and grow (see timeline below).  We will soon be introducing the 7th generation XPS 13 developer edition and over this past year we have rolled out four Ubuntu-based Precision mobile workstations as well as the new Precision All in One.

Thank you

On behalf of myself and the whole Sputnik team we would like to thank the developer community for making project Sputnik possible.  Over the last five years you have let us know what you’ve liked and where we could do better.  It’s because of this amazing support that we are still here today.

Thank you!

Project timeline

2012

2013

  • 2nd gen developer edition in US and Europe — February 18, 2013
  • 3rd gen developer edition in US along with instructions on getting Ubuntu up and running on a Precision 3800 mobile workstation — November 15, 2013
  • 3rd gen developer edition in US and Europe — December 20, 2013 

2015

  • Dell Precision M3800 mobile workstation joins Project Sputnik  — January 27, 2015
  • 4th gen Dell XPS 13 developer edition in US and Europe — April 9, 2015

2016

  • 5th gen XPS 13 Developer Edition in US, Ubuntu-based Workstations (5510, 3510, 7510, 7720) available worldwide — March 3, 2016
  • 5th gen XPS 13 developer edition in Europe — March 31, 2016
  • 6th gen XPS 13 Developer Edition in Europe and US — October 04, 2016

2017

2018

  • 7th gen XPS 13 developer edition to become available

 

Extra-credit reading

  • Original input from the community with regards to what they wanted in a developer laptop – Dell Idea Storm
  • Dell, Developers & Desktop Linux: the story of Dell’s project Sputnik – Video interview
  • How Dell’s Project Sputnik came to life – CIO.com
  • Project Sputnik News & Reviews, 2012 – 2017

 

Pau for now…


Video Walk thru of the Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition (9350)

December 15, 2016

Last night as I was surfing the interwebs, I came across a “Tech Pills” video that covers the XPS 13 developer edition (9350).  [The 9350 is the generation that proceded the current offering (9360) which came out in October.  The two systems utilize the same chassis and the former features the Skylake processor whereas the latter comes with Kabylake.]

The host does a great job of running through the developer edition from both a hardware and software perspective.  In his case, his distro of choice is Arch and the review was originally posted on the Arch Wiki.

Check it out:

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Of Linux Laptops, Open Source and Hawaiian Food

August 8, 2016

In the last two weeks I’ve had the opportunity to participate in two podcasts.  The first was the wild and wacky Lunduke & Whatnot (with Matt) show where System76 founder CEO, Carl Richell and I talked with our hosts about pre-loaded Linux laptops.  

In the second, which was recorded last week at SpringOne platform, Michael Cote hosts me as we talk about the evolution of Free Software/Open Source as well as the history of Hawaii and it’s foods.

Check them both out below.

Some of the ground Lunduke, Matt, Carl and I  cover:

  • [First I video bomb the intro by mistake]
  • How long System76 and Dell have been selling Linux preloaded on laptops
  • Mandriva as Lunduke’s favorite Linux distro
  • How System76 went from Carl’s basement to an office and a portfolio of 60 offerings
  • Why both companies went with Ubuntu first and why only Ubuntu
  • What are the biggest issues that System76 and Dell face when producing Linux laptops

Podcast #2

Open source and devs at Dell and the changing nature of OSS

The second podcast is audio only and, like the one above, is chock-a-block full of information and zaniness.  Here’s how Cote describes the occurrence:

“I’ve had a theory that the hard-line philosophy of open source has softened in recent times. Rather than thinking closed source is to be avoided at all costs, I think most developer types are a lot more willing to accept closed source bits mixed in with open source bits. That is, open core has “won.” I discuss this topic with my long time pal, Barton George, while at SpringOne Platform, plus the work he’s doing in the developer and OSS worlds at Dell.  We also talk about Hawaiian food.”

Take a listen

Extra-credit reading

  • Cuisine of Hawaii – Wikipedia
  • The XPS 13 Developer Edition THE best Linux laptop. Dell’s fifth-generation open-source developer laptop isn’t just good, it’s great — ZDNet
  • The XPS developer edition: Dell continues to build a reliable Linux lineage – Arstechnica 
  • Dell XPS 13 Skylake (2016) review: A lot for a Linux user to like – CIO
  • Review: The Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition laptop is nearly perfect – Network World

Pau for now…


Dell at DockerCon — Config guides, developer laptops, plugins and more

June 29, 2016

Today you would have to be under an IT rock if you haven’t at least heard of containers.  Containers, which have recently been made easily usable by a wide audience, allow applications to flow in a uniform package from development, to test, to production.  Containers also allow applications to be moved between public and private clouds as well as bare metal environments.  All of this increases agility and reduces friction in the overall development to deployment cycle, increasing the speed that organizations can deliver services to customers.

The 800 pound gorilla in the space is Docker which makes the most widely used container format and is building out additional offerings in the greater container ecosystem.

DockerCon

Last week in Seattle Docker held DockerCon 2016, its fourth conference promoting the general container ecosystem.  The event featured dozens of participating companies as well as a plethora of talks.  There was a ton of energy and the event even included a “full on kitty laser death match” on the main stage:

Laser cats

I attended the show and while there I attended sessions, conducted a bunch of interviews (see below) and spent time working at the Dell booth supporting Dell’s presence.

Dell Booth

At our booth we showed off four major offerings/projects in the Docker and container DockerCon Dell boothspace (here’s a video I did giving a brief overview what we were featuring).

We showed:

 

  • BlueData configuration guide:  BlueData’s platform provides customers with Big Data as a service, giving them the ability to leverage one pool of storage across multiple versions and distributions of big data tools.  The platform leverages Docker to deliver bare-metal performance with the flexibility of virtualization.  The configuration guide details the configuration set-up for BlueData’s Big-Data-as-a-Service (BDaaS) platform on Dell’s PowerEdge Servers.
  • Developer laptops: In the booth we showed off our line of Ubuntu-based developer laptops (Project Sputnik). These Linux-based systems provide a native platform for Docker-based development and allows developers to push their container-based apps to the cloud.  On the second day we gave away a “Sputnik” laptop (see below for the crowd on hand for the drawing).
  • Flocker plugin: This plugin allows ClusterHQ’s Flocker to integrate with the Dell Storage SC Series. This allows developer and operations teams to use existing storage to create portable container-level storage for Docker.
  • Docker Swarm plugin: This plugin, which is in the proof of concept phase, connects Docker Swarm with Dell’s next gen networking operating system, OS10.  The plugin automates configuration of vlan & routers for Docker’s Macvlan/Ipvlan driver orchestrated using Docker Swarm.

All in all a great show, helping to raise Dell’s presence in the space and providing us with greater insight into customer needs and the ecosystem evolution.

Waiting in front of the Dell booth for the Sputnik drawing

Waiting in front of the Dell booth for the Sputnik drawing

Video interviews:

 

Extra-credit reading

Pau for now…


Live in Europe: Next gen XPS 13 developer edition

March 31, 2016

[Update — April 8: Offline country URLs added]

A couple of weeks ago we announced the worldwide release of the Ubuntu-based mobile Precision mobile line as well and the US availability of the next gen XPS 13 developer edition.

Today I’m happy to announce that the Skylake-based XPS 13 developer edition is now available in Europe!

Background: As you may remember, as a part of Project Sputnik, these systems began as an open-ended exploratory project to identify what developers wanted in an ideal laptop. With the community’s input, Project Sputnik became an official product and continues to evolve.

Next gen XPS 13 developer edition specsDino

  • 6thGeneration Intel® Core™Processors
  • Preloaded with Ubuntu 14.04 LTS
  • Augmented with the necessary hardware drivers, tools and utilities
  • InfinityEdge™ display, FHD and QHD+ versions available

Configurations

The following configurations will be available both online and offline in Europe.  All of three of the XPS 13 developer edition configurations come with the Intel wireless card.

  • i5/8GB: 256GB, FHD, Intel 8260
  • i7/8GB: 256GB, QHD+T, Intel 8260
  • i7/16GB 512GB, QHD+T, Intel 8260

OTA (Over-The-Air) Fixes

There were several minor fixes that were not available in time for launch but have been made available as over the air updates so make sure to run all Ubuntu updates.  (These fixes pertain to both the XPS 13 and Precisions.)

Where to order your system

The following, URLs will take you to the product pages for the developer edition in the various countries.  The countries listed below will offer the XPS 13 online.

There is a second group of nations where the developer edition is available by contacting your local Dell representative.  We will be adding that list, along with URLs, in the next couple of days. – Update: added April 8

Available online

United Kingdom www.dell.co.uk/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Ireland www.dell.ie/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Germany www.dell.de/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Austria www.dell.at/XPS13DeveloperEdition
France www.dell.fr/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Italy www.dell.it/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Spain www.dell.es/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Switzerland (German) www.dell.ch/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Switzerland (French)  www.dell.ch/fr/XPS13DeveloperEdition
The Netherlands www.dell.nl/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Belgium (Dutch) www.dell.be/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Belgium (French) www.dell.be/fr/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Denmark www.dell.dk/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Norway www.dell.no/XPS13DeveloperEdition
Sweden www.dell.se/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Available offline

Estonia http://www.dell.com/ee/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Ghana http://www.dell.com/gh/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Croatia http://www.dell.com/hr/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Israel http://www.dell.com/il/en/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Iceland http://www.dell.com/is/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Finland http://www.dell.com/fi/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Lithuania http://www.dell.com/lt/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Latvia http://www.dell.com/lv/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Libya http://www.dell.com/ly/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Nigeria http://www.dell.com/ng/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Slovenia http://www.dell.com/si/XPS13DeveloperEdition

South Africa http://www.dell.com/za/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Democratic Republic of the Congo http://www.dell.com/cd/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Congo http://www.dell.com/cg/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Algeria http://www.dell.com/dz/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Ivory Coast http://www.dell.com/ed/fr/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Gabon http://www.dell.com/ga/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Moroccο http://www.dell.com/ma/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Senegal http://www.dell.com/sn/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Tunisia http://www.dell.com/tn/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Bahrain (Arabic) http://www.dell.com/ae/ar/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Morocco (Arabic) http://www.dell.com/ma/ar/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Tunisia http://www.dell.com/tn/ar/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Algeria http://www.dell.com/dz/ar/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Russia http://www.dell.com/ru/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Belarus http://www.dell.com/rs/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Ukraine http://www.dell.com/ua/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Czech http://www.dell.com/cz/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Greece http://www.dell.com/gr/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Hungry http://www.dell.com/hu/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Israel http://www.dell.com/il/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Portuguese http://www.dell.com/pt/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Romania http://www.dell.com/ro/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Slovakia http://www.dell.com/sk/XPS13DeveloperEdition

Turkey http://www.dell.com/tr/XPS13DeveloperEdition

 

Thanks!

The entire Sputnik team would like to thank everyone in Europe for both their patience and support!  Happy hacking!

Extra-Credit reading

Pau for now

 


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