Dell’s Sputnik 3 Ultrabook Is An Ubuntu Powered Version Of The XPS 13 With Haswell

When Dell first began offering Ubuntu-flavored notebooks, it was unclear whether or not it was a venture that the PC builder would stick with. Admittedly, it seemed at first that Dell was just testing the waters, to see if the supposed demand was real. To date, the company hasn't littered its lineup with such offerings, and it's especially weak in the mainstream consumer side, but things have certainly gotten better since the initial release.

Where you'll have your best luck of scoring a nice Ubuntu-powered Dell notebook is on the business side, with the Latitude series. Or, if your goal is great performance in a small form-factor, there's been an XPS model available as well, dubbed "XPS 13 Developer Edition". Just this weekend, that model was updated to "Sputnik 3", which aligns the model with the Windows machine (but for $50 less).

The machine's specs are quite similar to the model we reviewed earlier this year, with the biggest upgrade belonging to the CPU, which transforms into the Intel Haswell-based Core i7-4500U, a dual-core model clocked at "up to" 3.0GHz.

Because it's not always safe to go bleeding-edge with what should be a stable machine, Dell is sticking to the aging Ubuntu 12.04 LTS release. We'd assume that when 14.04 LTS releases this April, codenamed Trusty Tahr, Dell will shift support over to that.

Other key specs include a 13.3" 1080p touch-screen display (which Paul remarked as being "gorgeous" in the aforementioned review), a beefy 256GB solid-state drive, 8GB of dual-channel DDR3-1600, Intel HD Graphics 4000 (5000 for enterprise builds), all within a 3.02lbs design. On top of all this, the $1549.00 price includes a 1-year ProSupport license, which includes onsite service "after Remote Diagnosis".

All in all, this machine looks fantastic, and potentially drool-worthy for Linux fans who want a well-supported performance notebook from Dell.