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.
Dell’s XPS 13 certainly isn’t wanting for style. Sporting a slick wedge profile that measures .24–.71 inches front to back, the XPS 13 is all matte-silver, machined aluminum up top, with a carbon fiber base. A soft-touch surface on the bottom makes the device easy to grip and two rubber “feet” that run horizontally along the underside will surely hold it in place on any surface and promote airflow. Dell even took care to construct a thin metal door on the XPS 13’s underside to hide the Windows certificate of authenticity sticker and sundry other unsightly logos.
An embedded magnet keeps the lid securely attached to the base when the laptop is closed, but opening it can be a challenge—it’s a two-handed affair. Inside, the XPS 13 continues its logo-free theme (save for the “XPS” on the screen bezel). The black, soft-touch palm rest is void of third-party branding. It’s kept company by a black magnesium clickpad and a shiny black island keyboard, which is backlit. The screen consists of edge-to-edge Gorilla glass. As with the HP Folio 13, it’s 13.3 inches with a 1366x768 resolution. The TN panel displays all the typical weakness—move your head or the screen beyond the narrow sweet spot and see contrast and colors diminished.
Another ultrabook release seems to be close at hand, with manuals for the Dell XPS 13 making a premature appearance on the company’s website a couple of days back. Even though the said manuals have since disappeared, their emergence seems to be in keeping with the company’s U.S. launch plans for the ultrabook. Hit the jump for more.