If you’ve ever been amongst a group of web developers, or are one yourself, you know the huge popularity the Mac OS X platform has amongst such a group. Speaking from personal experience, I took a training course recently and noted that at least 50% of the people in the room of 200 had a Mac based machine. Why is this? Because the Mac OS X is much more friendly for open source development. It has UNIX at its core and you can run the Apache web server and a PHP program right on a Mac, it’s built-in and easy to enable.
So what does that all have to do with Dell and the XPS 13 Ultrabook (which we reviewed might I add)? Dell wants to better serve the needs of developers in web companies and make their hardware as appealing to dev-heads as Apple’s hardware. And when it comes to developing, it’s really more about the software than the hardware – you have to have the right software tools at your disposal to get the job done. Since so many web developers rely upon the Linux platform and Ubuntu is specifically one of the more popular and usable flavors of Linux, Dell is pursuing a project (dubbed Sputnik) in which they’ll load Ubuntu 12.04 onto an XPS 13. For now if you own an XPS 13 you can simply download the install image Dell has put together. Dell notes that there are four known issues when using the XPS 13 with this Ubuntu image:
- The brightness of the screen isn’t what it should be
- The wi-fi on/off toggle key does not work as it should
- The touchpad can be finicky due to lack of palm recognition (used to prevent accidental swipes) and no multi-touch support.
The first two problems will be resolved soon but the touchpad issue is one that they indicate their touchpad vendor will have to help figure out, presumably that’s a Synaptics issue. If you use this Sputnik install image you can provide feedback on Dell IdeaStorm. Depending on how the feedback is and how the project goes over the coming months Dell may or may not pursue actually selling the XPS 13 configured with Ubuntu straight from Dell.com.