Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

Summary: In Canonical's latest move, the company purposes bringing its Ubuntu Linux desktop to high-end Android phones.

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You may soon be seeing Ubuntu Linux on your Android smartphone.

You may soon be seeing Ubuntu Linux on your Android smartphone.

You have to give Canonical, Ubuntu Linux's parent company credit for thinking big. Today Canonical is unveiling Ubuntu for Android. What is in the world is that? It's bringing the Ubuntu Linux desktop to to multi-core Android smartphones docked with a keyboard and monitor. With it, Canonical claims you'll be able to use Android on the phone and Ubuntu as your desktop, both running simultaneously on the same device, with seamless sharing of contacts, messages and other common services.

The company states that the phone experience will be pure Android--it’s a normal Android phone. When the device is connected to a computer screen, however, it launches a full Ubuntu desktop on the computer display. It’s exactly the same Ubuntu Unity desktop many of you are already using and it will include all of Ubuntu's current applications, from office productivity to photography, video and music.

These hybrid Android/Ubuntu smartphones and tablets will share all data and services between the environments. Both Android and Ubuntu run simultaneously on the device. So Android applications such as contacts, telephony and texting are accessible from the Ubuntu interface.

The idea is that Ubuntu for Android will gives mobile workers a company phone that is also their enterprise desktop. Canonical contends that “The first PC for the next billion knowledge workers could be a phone - but they won’t just want to use it as a handset. They will want all the flexibility and productivity of a full desktop, as well as the convenience of a smartphone on the move. Ubuntu for Android represents the first opportunity for handset makers and network operators to address this growth opportunity in emerging markets.” In a statement, Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical and Ubuntu's founder said, “The desktop is the killer-app for quad-core phones in 2012. Ubuntu for Android transforms your high-end phone into your productive desktop, whenever you need it”

Just don't plan on downloading it any time soon. Ubuntu for Android is directed at “manufacturers targeting the corporate phone. The customized version of Ubuntu drops in cleanly alongside the rest of Android, and the necessary Android modifications are designed for easy integration. Hardware requirements include support for HDMI and USB, standard features in high-end handsets planned for late 2012.”

In an attempt to persuade OEMs and carriers that Ubuntu for Android is a good deal, Canonical also states that “Ubuntu for Android justifies the cost to enterprise customers of upgrading to higher bandwidth 4G connections and contracts. Cloud apps like Google Docs work best with a full desktop, and shine with the lower latency of LTE. Network operators can deliver their own branded applications and services as part of the Ubuntu desktop, in partnership with Canonical.”

At the same time, Canonical still has its own plans for purely Ubuntu-powered smartphones, tablets, and TVs. This new effort seems to fit in nicely with Canonical's recently announced plans for a more aggressive push towards the business desktop.

Other companies are already  exploring the use of smartphones and tablets with the desktop. This is, after all, Windows 8 Metro's plan, Apple will be bringing Mac OS X and iOS even closer together in Mountain Lion, and Google is integrating Chrome and Android. Canonical, though, as I recently worried, is trying do to much with too little.

Can Ubuntu work with Android on high-end phones and tablets? Technically, sure. No problem. But commercially.... I can't see it. I hope I'm wrong, but as either a standalone mobile operating system or in partnership with Android, I don't see a lot of room for Ubuntu on smartphones or tablets.

Related Stories:

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Shuttleworth: Don’t blow a gasket over enterprise Ubuntu remix

Mint’s Cinnamon: The Future of the Linux Desktop? (Review)

Linux users cautiously optimistic about Ubuntu’s Head-Up Display desktop

Ubuntu plans shift to mobile

Topics: Smartphones, Android, Software, Operating Systems, Open Source, Mobility, Linux, Laptops, Hardware, Google, Tablets

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  • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

    Wow, now you can have the same crappy experience on your desktop on your phone. Who would want that? When your phone gets hacked because of the open telnet port on it you are going to be racking up some pretty high charges as the hackers download the data through it and reroute the calls from your cell. I would never ever take a chance on using ubuntu on any phone. The risk is just too high. And you need a keyboard and mouse? Defeats the whole purpose of having a mobile device. Does anyone at Canonical have any idea of what they are doing? If there was an award of doing things the wrong way they would win.
    Loverock Davidson-
    • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

      @Loverock Davidson-
      Agreed. Now I can get my own back on Stevie boy.
      Stevie Boy Ubantu on a phone is crap.
      Blogsworth
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        @Blogsworth

        So when's the last time you used a smartphone/tablet for actual work instead of just dicking around? How did you justify the purchase of a 700-dollar toy (as almost all uses for mobile OSes are)?

        I can't see the point in doing that; smart devices cost too much money for what little they do.

        Having a desktop operating system installed on a smartphone/tablet is actually a pretty good idea for a couple of reasons:

        First, you can actually get work done; you can't type on glass but you can type on a keyboard; and you can install applications the normal way if you need something; downloading resources is an area at which every mobile OS is a miserable failure- so are office apps which don't have the full feature set you need.

        Second, you can build 'hybrid' devices that take advantage of both a laptop's usability and a tablet's portability. Pull the tablet out of the case, and it becomes the screw-around machine you bought it for. Put it into the case, and suddenly you have a laptop with a netbook screen (the size of the keyboard is up to the manufacturer, of course) that has a 24-hour battery life and running a real-work-capable desktop OS.

        There have been a couple of devices that have already tried this: for example, the Motorola Atrix; and ASUS' Transformer line. They both run Android when they're docked to a keyboard and so are effectively useless for actual work.

        Android's a great system, don't get me wrong. So is iOS, to the extent Apple allows.

        But in terms of a serious work platform? Don't make me laugh- and if I'm buying a 500-dollar device it must perform 110% of the tasks that cheaper computers already do; otherwise, no sale, I'll buy a netbook instead.

        You do need official programs for Ubuntu, though; or programs "given ascendance" that ship stock with the thing. LibreOffice is a given, of course; you'll also want a 10-foot interface depending on what you're hooking the tablet up to, a few games compiled for ARM, a web browser that comes with an effective ad-blocker (so you can surf the web at decent speed and not require so much bandwidth downloading crap) such as Firefox (it needs a new interface though).

        But once you have that I don't see a reason why this is a bad idea. Unlike @Loverock Davidson, who just made up false concerns.
        R220
      • @Blogsworth

        You wrote: So when's the last time you used a smartphone/tablet for actual work instead of just dicking around? How did you justify the purchase of a 700-dollar toy (as almost all uses for mobile OSes are)?

        --------------------

        To answer you question, I use my TF101 quite often for work. Using the Citrix Reciever I have a platform that is always available to me. I work in Information Services in the Healthcare sector. And supporting numerous secure, facilities, and clinical systems means I have to be available on short notice to perform "triage" when a system is experiencing problems.

        My tablet, which cost $400, not $700, is either in standby and is instant on or from a cold start is ready in less than a minute, then using the Citrix Reciever I am in my networks and "dicking around" with systems that affect patient safety, environmental conditions, and assisting with user issues.

        When it comes to performing these sorts of after hours function, a traditional desktop or laptop is simply not necessary.

        The tablet has saved me a bunch of time, there is no doubt about it. Plus, it can operate for about six hours, maybe longer, it is highly portable, and is quite rugged.

        I used to feel the same way, that was until one day I needed some help from our Citrix Administrator who was out of town. He grabbed his Gen 1 iPad and fixed the problem via Citrix and the Pad.

        Others have told me that they have used BB and smartphones to resolve basic issues that would otherwise have required a PC (Mac, Linux, Windows....a PC).

        These tablet and mobile platforms are proving to be highly valuable in IS/IT.
        Raid6
    • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

      @Loverock Davidson-

      "Wow, now you can have the same crappy experience on your desktop on your phone"

      That must be the reason why no one wants windows phone.
      guzz46
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        @guzz46
        Good luck with your ubuntu one - lol
        Have you still got your betamax tapes???
        Blogsworth
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        @Blogsworth

        I don't use Ubuntu, and I don't have betamax tapes, do you?
        guzz46
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        Duplicate
        guzz46
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        @guzz46

        Amen. That and the FUGLY Metro UI means Doom for Windows Phone. You know you suck when the BADA OS from Samsung has more marketshare than you.
        itguy10
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        @itguy10 You mean we will play Doom on Windows Phone? Which version? ;)
        jsargent
    • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

      @Loverock Davidson-
      Another total failure from Linux. This OS, even on server side, is now so obsolete, ready for the trash bin.
      SylvainT
    • I Know It's a Parody

      @Loverock Davidson-
      I know that the anti-Linux posts are basically a parody at this point. I still wonder if the "open telnet port" line is really worth it, though. It's getting pretty old, and everybody knows that it's not true. I guess that it does serve the purpose of making it very plain that the post is not serious.
      CFWhitman
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        @CFWhitman : everything he/she does is "old" and very very very repetitive, there must be a job for him/her flipping burgers at macdonalds if he/she could find her way out of her mum's basement
        deaf_e_kate
  • I want to say this is innovative, but it won't fill an unmet need.

    Steve,
    Let's be honest. How many people have a 'burning desire' to do their PC work on their smartphones? There are some (gear heads possibly like me), but it isn't going to create a groundswell of interest.

    I still prefer to do certain things on my PC and others on the smartphone.
    There is a division and the real world doesn't work the way Canonical has envisaged.

    I am sorry Steve but this is not going to bolster Canonical's bottom line in a significant way.
    Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
    • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

      @Dietrich T. Schmitz You're living in the past. The move for many from the desktop paradigm to the smartphone/tablet paradigm is all about escaping from complexity. This includes having multiple devices to manage.<br><br>No one claims that Canonical's concept is a workstation replacement. However, for those with light desktop needs, it will be a winner. For crying out loud, how many computers do ordinary people need anyway?! It's also environment-friendly on the resource side as well as on the disposal side.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • How many devices I think I need...

        @Rabid Howler Monkey <br>For me it is 3. Smartphone, Tablet, and Desktop/Laptop/Desktop-Server/something that sits on my desk that allows me to use a full size keyboard, monitor, and mouse, that everything (printer, scanner, ext.) can connect to.
        CPPCrispy
      • RE: How many devices I think I need...

        @CPPCrispy wrote:
        [i]For me it is 3. Smartphone, Tablet, and Desktop/Laptop/Desktop-Server/something that sits on my desk[/i]

        You're lucky. Most people in the world today cannot afford such luxury. Nor can the environment.
        Rabid Howler Monkey
      • Living in the past

        @Rabid Howler Monkey

        Anybody know where I can find 5/14" double-sided, double-density floppy diskettes?
        I need more to do my hard drive back up. :/
        Dietrich T. Schmitz *Your
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        @Rabid Howler Monkey Let me know how editing that 30 page document goes or using GIMP or something else goes. This time DTS is dead-on the money. It's not the past it's reality, as far as multiple devices to manage now days it's a no brainer so easy even you could do it.... Sorry DTS is right this time.
        ItsTheBottomLine
      • RE: Ubuntu for Android: Linux desktop on a smartphone

        @Rabid Howler Monkey For me, environment-friendly is continuing to use a 6 year old desktop (Linux, of course, not its original XP).
        james.vandamme