Back in May, Canonical announced that shipments of PCs with Ubuntu Linux pre-installed were expected to crack 5 percent of the overall PC market this year. Part of that figure comes from the company's collaboration with Dell on "Sputnik," a project that slaps a developer-friendly, Dell XPS 13-optimized version of Ubuntu on -- you guessed it -- a Dell XPS 13 Ultrabook, complete with all the driver kinks worked out. That project isn't quite ready for the mainstream yet, but Dell recently rolled out a sign-up sheet for developers who want to get in on Linux-licious Sputnik beta testing.
The details about Dell's Sputnik Beta Cosmonaut program are actually pretty sparse; the company's only saying that it "A limited number of applicants will be selected to receive a discounted, beta version solution." There's no exact word on how much the laptop will cost or how many are available.
Some things are certain, however. The Dell XPS 13 notebooks involved in Sputnik run a developer-friendly version of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS -- aka Precise Pangolin -- that's fairly bare-bones. Canonical and Dell hope to eventually include environment specific repositories so that, say, a Ruby developer can quickly nab an appropriate set of tools and utilities, while Android devs can snag a second prepackaged kit. You can read a lot more about Sputnik on the lead developer's blog.
Interested in being a guinea pig? Hit that Cosmonaut link above and register with Dell to get your shot at pre-launching Sputnik.