Dell Launches its Third "Sputnik" Ubuntu Ultrabook

Looking for a new notebook with Ubuntu already installed? Dell announced the availability of its third XPS 13 Developer Edition, codenamed Sputnik 3, over the weekend. This Ultrabook follows the second model launched earlier this year that fixed a monitor resolution problem found in the first Sputnik, which was released at the end of 2012. This latest version now provides a touch screen and Haswell processors.

"Nearly a year ago today we launched the first Dell XPS 13 Developer Edition," writes Dell Services' Director of Cloud Developer Programs, Barton George."This Ubuntu-based client-to-cloud platform was the result of an internal skunkworks effort, Project Sputnik. Thanks to strong community input and support the project became a product."

A skunkworks project is defined as "a project developed by a small and loosely structured group of people who research and develop a project primarily for the sake of radical innovation." That definitely describes the Sputnik project, which uses components typically associated with a Windows-based device.

The new XPS 13 Developer Edition arrives in two configurations with starting prices of $1249 and $1549, both featuring the 64-bit version of Ubuntu Linux 12.04 LTS and a 13.3 inch LED backlit touch display with a 1920 x 1080 resolution. Both models also sport 8 GB of dual channel DDR3 SDRAM at 1600 MHz, and Intel HD Graphics 4400.

According to the specs, the cheaper model has a fourth generation Intel Core i5-4200U processor with 3M cache, a clock speed up to 2.6 GHz, and a 128 GB mSATA solid state drive. The more expensive model has a fourth-generation Intel Core i7-4500U with 4M cache, a clock speed up to 3.0 GHz, and a 256 GB solid state drive.

Outside of those two features, everything else seems to be the same. Both Ultrabooks come with Intel Dual Band Wireless-AC 7260 and Bluetooth 4.0, one USB 2.0 port on each side, a headphone jack, and a 55 WHr 6-Cell Battery. The customization aspect merely allows customers to pick a warranty, accidental damage service, accessories and additional complimentary devices like tablets.

The two Ubuntu XPS 13 Developer Edition Ultrabooks are available now in the United States and Canada, but the cheaper $1249 model will be available on a built-to-order basis. By the end of November, Sputnik 3 will be made available in the United Kingdom, Ireland, France, Germany, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, Italy and Switzerland. Then in December the Ultrabooks will become available in Belgium, Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

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  • rodbowler
    Looks good, except for the weak GPU. Come on guys, a Iris 5200 should be available, and perhaps a discrete GPU option.
  • JD88
    Awesome notebook. Quality on the XPS 13 is top notch and it looks like they got the specs right as well. Ubuntu is just icing on the cake. I wish we would start seeing a "developer edition" on across Dell's entire line of products, perhaps with a slight price advantage over Windows based units.

    If the average consumer had any idea Ubuntu existed, how good it is, and that it's free, I think units running it could be really desirable. This would especially be true if every price tag had an "Ubuntu or Windows" option in which the Ubuntu version was about $40-50 cheaper to reflect its free nature.
  • rodbowler
    Looks good, except for the weak GPU. Come on guys, a Iris 5200 should be available, and perhaps a discrete GPU option.