Dell ships lightweight XPS 13 laptop with Ubuntu Linux

The laptop has the frame of an ultrabook, and is priced at $1549 with a year of on-site support.

After months of experimenting, Dell took the wraps off a thin-and-light XPS 13 laptop with the Ubuntu Linux 12.04 LTS, an OS that is code-named Precise Pangolin.

The XPS 13 with Ubuntu was developed as part of an internal Dell project called "Project Sputnik." Over six months, Dell worked with the open-source community to develop tools, drivers and software for the OS to work on XPS 13, which has the frame of an ultrabook.

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The laptop has an Intel Core i7 CPU, 8GB RAM and 256GB of storage. Priced at US$1549, it comes with one year of on-site support as part of the package. The laptop is now available in the U.S. and Canada, and will become available in other countries next year.

The XPS 13 laptop has a 13-inch screen. The company did not immediately provide the weight or battery life of the laptop.

Dell is already selling the XPS 13 ultrabook with Windows 8 starting at $999, making the Linux-based cousin much pricier. Dell mostly sells laptops with Windows, and ultrabooks with Linux are not yet available from PC makers.

The company has described the new XPS 13 with Ubuntu as a developer edition, but will sell the product to enterprises and consumers as well.

The XPS 13 with Ubuntu gives developers the "essentials they want while staying true to our core values of openness and affordability," said Nnamdi Orakwue, vice president of Dell Cloud, in an emailed statement.

Development of the laptop was led by Barton George, web vertical director at Dell. Working with Canonical and other open-source developers, Dell created the drivers and tools for the Linux OS to work on XPS 13.

The joint development effort has also led to some new features unique to the laptop. One is called the "profile tool," which enables developers to easily set up software development environments via quick access to tools for Ruby, JavaScript and Android in the github repositories.

Another feature on XPS 13 is the "Cloud Launcher" which Dell said allows for simulation of cloud environments on the laptop. The simulated environment can then be deployed directly to the cloud.

Dell has sold laptops and netbooks with Ubuntu Linux in the past, but the company has larger plans with XPS 13 and Ubuntu. Typically Dell provided install images of the Ubuntu OS, but has not collaborated with the open-source community on a wide scale.

The company is committed to open source, and development around Linux and the laptop will continue, Orakwue and George said in separate statements.

Agam Shah covers PCs, tablets, servers, chips and semiconductors for IDG News Service. Follow Agam on Twitter at @agamsh. Agam's e-mail address is agam_shah@idg.com

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