Since we announced project Sputnik on May 7, we have been deluged with comments and suggestions both on my blog and the Sputnik Storm session and while there were plenty of people who said they would buy it now if it was available, we also received some clear direction on where people would like to see this offering go. Some of the key areas for improving the offering are:
We are making note of these suggestions as we plot our way through this six month pilot.
Click on ‘New Post’ below to share your experience with Project Sputnik.
Barton808, thanks for sharing.
I have not yet received by ultrabook (and eagerly await it!) but I can say, compared to my current development laptop, the resolution, 8GB+, and matte screen are very important.
I typically run 2 virtual machines, so ram quickly becomes my hardware bottleneck.
And having a high-quality screen just makes the laptop feel more like my desktop...I forget I'm working on my secondary dev machine.
somethingkindawierd - If you have not done so yet, check out the Storm Session we have set up to collect Ideas for Project Sputnik. Even if you do not want to post an idea you can still share your opinions and vote on the ones already posted.
IdeaStorm Project Manager
Social Media and Community Professional
Thanks, Cy. It's good to know where we can go to follow progress on this project.
Windows Insider MVP 2016 -
Microsoft MVP - Consumer Security 2006-2016
Social Media and Community Professional
I am not a Microsoft or a Dell employee. I am a volunteer.
Hi, I am really glad to hear about the project. Although I am in engineering, I use ubuntu extensively. In addition, I am using a Dell XPS L502X. Ubuntu 12.04 runs great on this machine. I would like to know how applicable the sputnik image would be to my machine as I have some touchpad and hotkey issues. Furthermore, any plans for sputnik to reach out to those in other communities (engineering, physics, applied math)? A large number of users in these areas (especially those in academia) would love an ubuntu based machine.
An academic user's experiences after 3 weeks...
I thought I'd just share my experiences with running Ubuntu on the xps13 for the 3 weeks I had my machine (before I sent it back!). First, I installed Ubuntu from the 12.04 stock distribution and added the sputnik PPA instead of using the Dell install image to avoid trashing the windows partition, luckily I noticed a user post about this right before I rebooted to install the Dell image.
From the first day, I ran into problems with the intermittent wifi connectivity. Under win7 wifi works 100%, but whether or not you could connect to a given access point under linux was almost completely random -- sometimes it appears be proximity, other times not; sometimes rebooting the machine fixes the problem, sometimes not, etc. I spent many evenings sitting on my couch at home trying to track this down assuming because of the randomness it had to be something I was doing. But it looks like this problem is still out there to varying degrees. Since wifi's the only network connection option out the box, I see this as a major problem. In the end I stopped messing around with wifi and switched to using a USB dongle.
Second killer problem I ran into was using an external LCD projector for giving talks. I've been running linux on laptops since the early days of slackware (when slackware was the only "distribution" around and had to be installed from a case of floppies), so I've come to expect messing around to get video drivers and external displays working. But honestly, part of the reason I went with the xps13 to replace my aging xps m1330 was that I figured this would work out of the box Dell was touting the system as a new flagship linux dev laptop. However, have three weeks of on and off fighting to get this working, I never managed to get to a point where I could be sure that when I went to give a talk I'd be able to reliably get output to the projector without rebooting to win7. In fairness, I suspect this is a combination of driver and unity problems, since unity automatically extends the desktop (breaking my full-screen presentation setup) instead of providing the option of cloning the display. And yes, I tried xrandr, arandr, disper and all of the other options for doing this manually. This is really the killer for me -- I need to be able to depend on my laptop for giving talks. I'm an academic and I write and develop code on the machine, but I can tolerate glitches with that, but if I stand up in front of a crowd to give a 1h talk and it takes 15m of messing around to connect to the projector, my talk is ruined. I think this is a major main reason academic types, who routinely use linux in the lab and at their desks, don't adopt linux for laptop use.
Third problem, not so much a killer, but incredibly annoying, was the lack of support for the touchpad. The touchpad drivers are clearly not ready for prime time, and located so close to the keyboard, there's no way to avoid contacting the pad while typing. Therefore, it's critical the touchpad drivers work properly. There are tools available in the ubuntu repos to freezing out the mouse when typing for a variable period of time, but in this day and age, it's kind of surprising that the solution ends up being a hack that locks out the touchpad for a half a second once you start typing and Dell couldn't score proper drivers from their supplier.
Fourth problem was that occassionally the machine wouldn't suspend properly when the lid was closed. As a result, occasionally I'd just the lid and toss the unit into by bag and not realized until a couple hours later that the machine was still running -- and usually insanely hot, since it was inside my backpack encased in shock-absorbing foam.
In think in all cases, I posted to the forum and/or the launchpad bug tracker and provided logs and dumps as requested, but never really saw much activity beyond other people saying "me too!". I definitely never saw any response from someone who appeared to be from Dell responding, although somone from Canonical contacted me and asked for more info and pointed me towards the launchpad site for the wifi issue.
Finally, (this one's pretty minor) isn't *anyone* else bothered by the fact that it requires two hands to hit page up/down? I use these keys all the time when reading document on-line. For god's sake -- put a second Fn key next to the arrow keys so you can page through text with one hand!
Anyway, so as not to finish on a low note, in the end I was sad to send the xps13 back. It's a nice piece of hardware and it's just what I was looking for in terms of performance and battery life. It took me almost 3 weeks to realize I was simply spending more time messing around trying to sort out problems with the machine than actually doing the work I'd bought it for. So, it just seems the linux support's not quite there yet. So close :-(
@tyto99 im sorry to hear about your experience with the XPS13. The wifi and touchpad issues are ones we are aware of and are working on. The problems with LCD projector are ones that I havent come across yet, were you able to submit a bug for that?
thank you for sharing experience and once again Im sorry it was a negative one.
As I said, it wasn't all negative -- I think it's a very nice bit of hardware -- it's just what I was looking for to replace my aging m1330. But there's still work to be done to bring the drivers etc into full functioning mode under ubuntu. It's close, but the bottom line is that in the 30 days I had available to get decide whether or not to keep the (relatively pricey) machine and be sure I could rely on it for daily use, I couldn't quite get there. Another week or two (or more free time on my part to mess around) might have made it a different story..
And yes, I did report the LCD projector problem -- I believe on both the forum and launchpad. Only response was from someone who said it worked for them, although I think his definition of "worked" was the same as what I was seeing, but that wasn't sufficient for giving a full-blow presentation (although fine for dual-headed coding etc).