Mark Shuttleworth on how the Ubuntu Edge dream lives on in the iPhone

Mark Shuttleworth on how the Ubuntu Edge dream lives on in the iPhone

Summary: Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu leader Canonical talks about mobile-desktop convergence and how Apple's A7 processor in the iPhone 5s shows where the smartphone industry is going.

TOPICS: Mobility, Hardware

The Ubuntu Edge was designed to be the only computing device you'd need: to serve as a phone in the hand and a PC when docked with a monitor.

Ultimately the Edge failed to win enough funding to get made, but the man behind the device, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth, claims the vision of having a single device serve as a PC and mobile lives on in Apple's iPhone 5s.

Upon launching the iPhone 5s Apple described the 64-bit Arm-based A7 processor at the heart of the system as "desktop class".

For Shuttleworth, Apple's decision to draw parallels between the phone and a desktop PC echoes Canonical plans to give the Edge PC-level performance.

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth shows off Ubuntu on a Nexus 10 tablet. Photo: Ben Woods / ZDNet

"I think it [the Edge] may have accelerated the idea of convergence," he said: "You saw Apple's description of their new mobile CPU as 'desktop class' and I don't think that's accidental."

What's next for Ubuntu on phones?

The first release of the Ubuntu operating system for phones, Ubuntu Touch 1.0, will be available on October 17, following on from the developer's preview released earlier this year.

Version 1.0 of Ubuntu Touch supports simple phone functions: basic phone and messaging capabilities, web browsing and support for data being swapped between apps.

No handset manufacturer has announced plans to ship phones with the Ubuntu Touch OS, but Canonical is aiming for Ubuntu to be available on two "mid-range" and two "high-end" phones in 2014.

Shuttleworth believes that a phone running Ubuntu will be available to buy in the first half of 2014, and a "tablet will take us another six months or so"

"A number of carriers have expressed interest. The handset manufacturers are putting time and effort into understanding Ubuntu and evaluating its performance on their hardware," said Shuttleworth.

"In due course we'll pick partners for a launch."

One Ubuntu to rule them all

Ultimately, in line with Canonical's vision of a having a single computing device to serve as a phone and desktop PC, Canonical plans to merge the code base for every version of the Ubuntu OS, across desktops, phones, tablets and servers.

The desire for a converged OS has led Canonical to shift Ubuntu to a new display server software stack called Mir. Display server software plays a key role in supporting an OS's graphical user interface, and Shuttleworth contends the move is necessary to provide a "fast, clean" graphics software stack that works well on a broad range of devices.

That move towards a single code base suffered a setback this month when Canoncial decided not to go ahead with plans to use Mir as the default display server for Ubuntu 13.10 on the desktop, citing reliability issues with the X server compatibility layer XMir.

At present Shuttleworth estimates that a converged OS code base will be in place after Ubuntu 14.04 is released around April next year, but not later than the release of Ubuntu 15.10.

Topics: Mobility, Hardware


Nick Heath is chief reporter for TechRepublic UK. He writes about the technology that IT-decision makers need to know about, and the latest happenings in the European tech scene.

Kick off your day with ZDNet's daily email newsletter. It's the freshest tech news and opinion, served hot. Get it.


Log in or register to join the discussion
  • Mark Shuttleworth on how the Ubuntu Edge dream lives on in the iPhone

    Mark Shuttleworth is so full of it and trying to spread it all across IT because his project failed. Everything he touches fails. The ubuntu edge failed, linux failed, canonical failed. With that many failures and disasters under his belt I can't take anything he says seriously.
    • Re: I can't take anything he says seriously.

      Then you have a lot in common with him.
    • Mr. Davidson: "Everything he [Mark Shuttleworth] touches fails"


      Mark Shuttleworth 'failed' to the tune of $575 million U.S. (or 4.5 billion R, South Africa's currency) when he sold Thawte to VeriSign in 1999.
      Rabid Howler Monkey
      • True, but no successes since then

        And now he tries to piggyback on Apple's ideas. Does he really think he was the first one to want to converge desktop and mobile?

        The truth is, investors think Google, Apple, and gasp, even MS have a better chance of succeeding than Ubuntu does.
        • piggyback on Apple's ideas

          So he uses Apples idea. Show me their one for all systems like the Ubuntu phone.What happened in your life to be so negative.
          • I'm quite positive

            On google and apple!

            Ps: show me where a can buy a working Ubuntu phone?
          • I have to go with LD on this.

            Shuttleworth talks a good talk, but really just to skirt his way around the fact that his idea isn't working out.

            So now he name drops Apple in connection with Ubuntu, hoping people will somehow think it's on equal footing with the very popular iOS, hoping for a success by association.
    • At least every time you access an Ubuntu machine

      It doesn't phone home to NSA like your precious Windows...
      • How do you know?

        Ram U
        • Because the code is open, duh....

          There are thousands of eyes checking Ubuntu's code.

          What's the one you use look like? Can you tell me what is on line 4,678?
      • who cares what OS you use

        If you live in the USSA, then your ISP is already cooperating with the NSA to monitor your traffic for interesting items.
      • As seeing that many an outlet and government have shown that is does not

        Why does one like you persist in still attempting to spread an idea you yourself know to be false?

        It really does not make any sense.
        John Zern
    • HA HA

      HA HA. He runs Ubuntu, one of the bigest Linux OS. Now let us hear what have you achived besides moaning and being negative and britchy without the r. Millions like Ubuntu so go back to your Windows and maybe you will take Bill Gates serious.
      • It's ironic, heldemanpieter

        That many a ABMer like yourself criticize Ballmer, and the fact that He runs Microsoft, the largest software company in the world meant nothing to you.

        Oh, Shuttleworth runs "Canonical". Ubuntu is just a product, the company is Canonical.

        Now let us hear what have you achieved besides moaning and being negative towards anything MS.
    • HA HA

      HA HA. He runs Ubuntu, one of the bigest Linux OS. Now let us hear what have you achived besides moaning and being negative and britchy without the r. Millions like Ubuntu so go back to your Windows and maybe you will take Bill Gates serious.
      • wait, i thought android was linux

        If so, then it is the largest linux distro, not ubuntu.

        Do you take Stallman seriously?
    • Care to list your achievements?

      It would hard for me to say that a guy who has a net worth of over 500 million is much of a failure. What have you done lately?
      Techyard Dog
      • Juast a thought

        If he is worth 500m, then why didn't he fund it himself, or is he not convinced either?
        Paul Smith-Keitley
    • I guess you could call him a Steve Ballmer...

      Although that would be like calling Hitler to Obama... he might be bad but he's not THAT WORSE...
    • Re: "I can't take anything he says seriously..."

      Wow...jealous much?