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The Dell XPS 13 laptop, developer edition began life as “Project Sputnik” a scrappy skunkworks project to pilot a developer solution based on Ubuntu 12.04LTS and our sleek XPS 13laptop.  Thanks to the amazing feedback and support we received from the community it has resulted in official product .

Solution overview:


  • XPS 13 laptop, high-end config
  • Processor: 3rd generation Intel i7 (now 4th generation i7 with an additional i5 option in the US)
  • Display: 13.3″ Full High Definition (1080p) (Sputnik 3 has a FHD touchscreen)
  • System memory: 8GB
  • Graphics: Intel HD graphics 4000 (Sputnik 3 has the 4400)
  • Hard drive: 256GB SSD drive


  • Ubuntu 12.04 LTS
  • Basic set of drivers, tools and utilities (complete list)
  • Community projects: Profile tool, Cloud launcher -  currently "under early-stage construction" at 

Standard Service

  • 1 year Dell ProSupport and onsite service after remote diagnostics

US Pricing: i7 version: $1,549; i5 version: $1,249 (i5 available in US only)


North America


Additional Info

Community projects: Profile tool and Cloud Launcher

The profile tool and cloud launcher are beta open source projects that we have recently kicked off on github.  These projects are nascent at this point and we are looking for more people to get involved and help get them going.

  • Profile Tool: The idea behind the profile tool is to provide access to a library of community created profiles on github, such as Ruby and Android, to quickly set up your development environments and tool chains.
  • Cloud launcher: The cloud launcher enables you to create “microclouds” on your laptop, simulating an at-scale environment, and then deploy that environment seamlessly to the cloud.  Today the launcher utilizes Linux Containers to model your environment on your laptop and then uses Juju to jettison that environment to the cloud.  The launcher project on github allows for community expansion on this concept using different technologies and approaches.

How did we get here?

As I mentioned at the beginning, project Sputnik began as a skunkworks effort.  It was made possible by internal incubation fund designed to bring wacky ideas from around the company to life in order to tap innovation that might be locked up in people’s heads. 

Just weeks after the basic concept was greenlighted by the innovation team, it was publically announced as a pilot project at the Ubuntu developer summit.  The big focus of our efforts, particularly in the beginning, has been to work with Canonical to make sure that we had the appropriate drivers for all functionality including the touchpad.

From the start, the idea was to conduct project Sputnik out in the open, soliciting and leveraging direct input from developers via our Project Sputnik StormSession, comments on this blog, threads on the Sputnik tech center forum as well as the project Sputnik beta program.  In fact it was the tremendous interest in the beta program that convinced us to take Project Sputnik from pilot to product.

I would like to give a special shout out to the beta cosmonauts who signed on.  They were an intrepid lot who were patient and diligent working through issues to help make sure that when we went to production we had a product that developers would want.

Where do we go from here?

With the mad rush to get Sputnik and then Sputnik 2 out the door we haven’t focused as much attention on the associated community projects as we would have liked.  Now that the systems are going out the door we are looking to kick them up a notch. The other direction we are looking at potentially expanding is offering a bigger beefier platform for developers.  The XPS 13 is perfect for those who want an ultra light and mobile system but we have heard from a bunch of devs who would also like an offering that was more workstation-like with a bigger screen and more RAM.

Video: Overview of the project

Here is video done for the launch of the XPS 13 developer edition.  It talks about the solution, how the project evolved and where its heading.

Chat: 7-10-2012 - Project Sputnik Chat