Ubuntu plans to bring desktop Linux to smartphones


Just after news that some manufactures are planning to put the tablet-friendly Windows 8 on smartphones, Mark Shuttleworth of Canonical announced that the company will be bringing their popular Ubuntu Linux distribution to smartphones. This full-on desktop OS could result in some more very cool UMPC-like smartphones that can still capitalize by the light processer and battery load of Linux.

For those who don't know, Ubuntu is a desktop based on the Linux operating system, and the most popular distribution in the world. This also makes it the third most popular desktop OS, behind Windows and OSX. Ubuntu works much like any other desktop OS, with many browser options, office suites, free applications, and interfaces. Ubuntu is based on Linux just like Android is, but the difference is that Android has been customized by Google for mobile use. 

While Android does have an advantage for now in terms of UI, the Ubuntu team has been working to make their offering more effective for mobile devices. Implementation of multitouch support is almost complete, and a new, more touch-friendly interface called Unity has been implemented. Shuttleworth also said that although the OS will maintain a coherent look and feel throughout PC and mobile versions, smartphone and tablet versions would also receive form-factor specific tweaks.

Ubuntu also has a number of advantages over other mobile operating systems, especially Android. For one, Canonical says that they will be in charge of updates using their Ubuntu One service, which would alleviate many of the fragmentation problems that other open OSs like Android have. Also, Ubuntu already has an application database and even commercial store for the desktop, which would likely transition to the mobile side as well.

Along with the transition to Unity, the Ubuntu team has already released an experimental version of the OS that will run on ARM processors. As a desktop, it also already has support for the x86 processors that Android is just getting. 

Conforming with what seems to be the new norm, Shuttleworth released no official timeline for the mobile version of Ubuntu, but hopes to have it ready by early 2014, Developers and testers will likely get to see the product early as well, so adventurous users could run it early. For those who worry about the potential problems with mobile Windows but still want desktop capabilities on their devices, mobile Ubuntu just might be the answer.

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Aaron Orquia

Aaron Orquia is an associate editor at Pocketables. He has been using Android and Linux since he bought his first computer years ago, and his interest in technology, software, and tweaking both to work just right has only grown stronger since then. His current gadgets include a OnePlus One, a Pebble smartwatch, and an Acer C720 Chromebook.

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