Project Sputnik is a six month experiment Dell is undertaking to design a notebook running open source software aimed at developers. While there’s no Sputnik laptop available for purchase yet, Dell has started by creating a custom build of Ubuntu 12.04 Linux designed to run on the company’s XPS 13 ultrabook.
You can download the disk image and try it out today. It includes most of the drivers necessary to let Ubuntu work on the XPS 13.
The folks at Netbook News.it took the disk image for a spin, and aside from lack of support for multitouch gestures on the touchpad, it looks like everything works great.
The video is in Italian, but even if you don’t speak the language you can get a good idea of how Ubuntu performs on the laptop. Everything seems very fast and responsive, and YouTube video playback is smooth.
My favorite part of the video comes at the very end. That’s when you see what happens when you close the lid on the XPS 13, wait for it to fall asleep, and then open the lid again.
The ultrabook springs back to life in just two or three seconds — about the same amount of time it takes to resume from sleep on a good ultrabook running Windows 7 software. Clearly this isn’t a Windows-exclusive feature.
The Dell XPS 13 has a 13.3 inch, 1366 x 768 pixel display, Sandy Bridge processor, and a speedy solid state disk for storage, which is part of the reason the laptop can resume from sleep so quickly.