Dell puts Sputnik open-source laptop on launch pad
Drivers engaged, set course for Planet Github
Dell is building a laptop loaded with open-source software ideal for developers.
One of the company’s open-source geeks has announced Project Sputnik, a six-month venture that will marry the tech titan's XPS 13 Ultrabook, Canonical's Ubuntu 12.04 and cloud-based user profiles. Barton George, Dell cloud computing group evangelist, wrote about Sputnik here.
The idea is to put together a viable GNU/Linux machine that works out of the box, saving punters the bother of embarking on a driver download safari just to get things working.
Two of the top three driver issues with the XPS13-Ubuntu system have already been solved, George says, these being screen brightness and the Wi-Fi hotkey. Improved touchpad and multi-touch support is in progress now that Dell has contacted the touchpad manufacturer to solve it. The PC maker is also working with Canonical to iron out problems.
This isn't the first time Dell has touted Linux: the company sold its Mini 10v, Inspiron 15n and XPS M1330n kit with Ubuntu pre-installed. Since about 2010, though, it stopped selling these machines.
Of course rival OEMs sell computers that can run Linux, with varying degrees of hacking, but these are often netbooks that are not powerful enough for developers - and hardware support goes only so far; WiFi, for example, being a big problem.
For most companies, flogging anything bigger than a pint-sized portable with Linux has not been a goer. It’s made little sense commercially and risks antagonising Windows-developer Microsoft. In many cases, PC makers have simply lacked either the ability to change manufacturing processes or the resources to make Linux work on their hardware - it takes working with a distro biz like Canonical to sort out that fiddly stuff.
Sputnik is not going to change this, so what is Dell – a PC and server maker first and foremost - up to?
George says: “Sputnik is part of an effort by Dell to better understand and serve the needs of developers in web companies. We want to finds ways to make the developer experience as powerful and simple as possible.”
The story of how Apple's Mac laptops became developers' weapon of choice at the expense of Windows is well written. This is not a mass market but it is a strong niche.
George reckons Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth buys into this, and his outfit already has a track record of working with Dell, tuning its hardware to the manufacturer's machines.
“We would have a common set of tools from client, to test, to production, thereby tying Sputnik via a common tool chain to a cloud backend powered by OpenStack. Developers could create “micro clouds” locally and then push them to the cloud writ large,” George said. Dell is a member of OpenStack and has already published a reference architecture for OpenStack and its servers.
“We see a lot of potential in Sputnik to provide developers with a simple and powerful tool,” George added. ®
They're not listening
Hi resolution 4:3 screen. Wide screen is useless. I'd take 2048x1536 plz (talk to Samsung).
Full size escape key. We don't all use Visual Studio.
Removable, washable keyboard.
10 hr battery life/ARM powered (same difference)
Re: IdeaStorm not up to much then?
"Neither suggestion has ever been taken up by Dell for fear of loss of their Windows volume licensing I reckon."
And this is why the regulators need to act. The major OEMs need to be forced to provide "No OS" as an option (they caveats/warnings about support and needing licenses if needs be).
This Is Just a Ploy
..to get leverage over Microsoft for the next $$ negotiations. "See, we could sell client machines with Ubuntu pre-installed - you did read our press release. Now please give us some fucking discount or we will actually do it".
DELL has done the same with AMD and Intel. And when they got CA$H from Intel, they duly stopped using AMD processors. With capacitors this approach does not work, so they use the crappiest ones they can get if they get a 0.01cent rebate. You, the customer(I mean Dumb Fuck), will be left with the problem anyway.
I've installed Linux on laptops
~6 averaging about 3-4 versions each machine over the years and wifi has been the only problem and that only on some and that seems to have gone away in the last few years.
Mostly OpenSuse and Kubuntu
Windows centric nonsense
Driver download safari?
This is generally not the Linux problem. Completely unsupported devices included in the machine by a Windows vendor that couldn't give a rat's *ss about desktop Linux is the problem. So are borked quasi-custom Linux versions.
You solve the actual Linux problems by catering the hardware to what Linux supports and supports well.
Dell? Don't make me laugh. Find a proper Linux vendor instead.