Sputnik 1 was the first artificial earth satellite. Launched by the Soviet Union in October of 1957 it ushered in the Space Age. It stands to reason that if someone were to adopt that seminal name for a modern product then it should be equally revolutionary.
Project Sputnik is a new initiative from Dell though I’m not certain it rises nearly to the level of the Russian satellite. In fact, after reading all the press on this project, I’m still scratching my head.
In his blog posting introducing the project, Barton George writes:
“Made possible by an internal innovation fund, project Sputnik is a 6 month effort to explore the possibility of creating an open source laptop targeted directly at developers. It is based on Ubuntu 12.04 and Dell’s XPS13 laptop”.
I get that the project is geared towards developers who want to use a small (13-inch) laptop with Ubuntu. There must be at least a hundred of them? But the goal of the project is nowhere near as curious as its implementation. Best I can tell, you buy a specific laptop from Dell then install Ubuntu’s Linux distribution yourself, using a specially crafted ISO that takes advantage of most, but not all, of the laptop hardware features.
How that’s significantly different from the way any 13 year-old gets Linux on their own PC is unclear.
Years ago Dell introduced a laptop and a desktop that was available with Ubuntu pre-loaded. That effort must have fizzled because it stopped being available shortly after its release. But at least those machines came with the OS pre-loaded and certified to work with Ubuntu.
As this project has matured from IdeaStorm to reality, Dell now says they intend to ship the laptop later this Fall with Ubuntu pre-loaded.
It will be interesting to check back on this project at the end of the year and see if Dell will deliver on yet another promise to offer PC’s with Linux pre-loaded. I’m guessing that’s not very likely especially given that the launch of the next version of Microsoft Windows, their bread-n-butter, will be at fever pitch just in time for the holidays.
Meanwhile, if you want to purchase innovative hardware with the latest version of Ubuntu pre-installed, visit System76. They got this all figured out without having to hype a special project to get it done.