You may recall a project launched by Dell (Project Sputnik)back in May to create an Ubuntu-loaded laptop specifically for developers. A prototype open source laptop based on Ubuntu Linux 12.04 “Precise Pangolin” and Dell’s XPS 13 hardware.
This month, the project entered beta stage and gaining rapid traction within Dell, according to a recent blog post from Barton George, Dell’s director of marketing for the Web vertical.
Dell is now recruiting volunteers for what it calls the “Sputnik Beta Cosmonaut program,” according to George, through which a limited number of applicants will receive a discounted, beta version of the laptop.
To apply, all you need to do is fill out a form on the Dell site; in return, you’ll be asked to use the system regularly and offer some honest feedback.
“We’ve been blown away by the number of people who have wanted to be beta participants,” George said.
George’s blog post introducing the project has garnered well over 50,000 page views, he said. “The amount of positive reinforcement was absolutely staggering.”
The project team is now working on a profile tool “that will let you go out to a GitHub respository and pull down developer profiles,” he explained. “We’re hoping the community will look to start building more profiles.”
The project is now more than halfway through its intended six-month duration, so “we need to make some decisions soon about the next steps,” George told me. “It’s looking pretty positive.”
One reason Dell hasn’t been as successful in the past as it could have been with Linux-preloaded desktop hardware “is that we made a consumer version of this without the proper support,” he explained. This time, “we’re targeting developers because they need the least amount of support plus they are extremely influential,” he added. Dell does currently sell Ubuntu-loaded hardware in China, India and other parts of the world.