By Alexandra Burlacu | Jul 19, 2012 12:31 PM EDT
Dell announced on Wednesday, July 18, that it is officially back into the Linux laptop market. Project sputnik, which was first announced back in May, will now move out of Dell's internal incubator program and graduate into a real product. Starting this fall, Dell will be selling a special "developer edition" of its XPS13 Ultrabook, said project leader Barton George.
"Project Sputnik is a great example of the employee-driven innovation we built Dell's incubation program to enable," Nnamdi Orakwue, executive sponsor of the Dell incubation program and executive assistant to Michael Dell, said in a press release on Wednesday. "This project represents the first of many new ideas Dell employees will test with customers or partners through the program, and we look forward to supporting Sputnik to be successful as it becomes a product this fall."
The XPS13 Ultrabook will come pre-loaded with Ubuntu, a user-friendly version of open source Linux operating system. According to George, the Ultrabook will not be able to dual boot Windows. Instead, Dell offers an Ubuntu install image customized for the XPS13 so users could buy the Windows version and install Ubuntu themselves if dual booting is required.
The developer version will come as the high-end configuration of the XPS13, sporting 4GB of RAM, an Intel Core i7 processor and a 256GB solid state drive, noted George, adding that the Linux version will cost slightly less than the Windows version currently selling for $1,499.
Dell started offering systems with Linux pre-installed several years ago, back in 2007, in response to high demand on its IdeaStorm online suggestion box. In 2010, however, the company stopped advertising Ubuntu as an option on its online store, as it was too confusing to average users. "It wasn't reaching the right audience," explained George. Even so, the Sputnik project leader told TechCrunch that Dell still sells a lot of Ubuntu laptops outside the United States.
Although Linux may confuse the average user, the demand is still strong. Since the original announcement of Project sputnik back in May, Dell has received significant encouragement and feedback on IdeaStorm, enough to justify getting a Linux laptop back into production, said George. The project leader added that Dell has not made a definite decision on how to market the product, but it will definitely be clearer to buyers that it is a computer for power users.
© 2013 Mobile & Apps All rights reserved. Do not reproduce without permission.