What to expect from Ubuntu in 2014

What to expect from Ubuntu in 2014

Summary: Ubuntu 2014: One Linux codebase to rule them all: smartphone, tablet, and desktop.

SHARE:

You won't see an Ubuntu Edge at CES this week. Ubuntu's parent company, Canonical, raised $12.8-million on Indiegogo to develop and build this Ubuntu Linux/Android-powered Ubuntu Edge combination smartphone and PC, but it still fell far short of its $32 million goal. So what?

Ubuntu Unity Design Vision
Ubuntu's Unity design vision.

To gadget hounds, what Canonical has planned for 2014 may not be as tasty as the all-in-one Ubuntu Edge, but if its plans come to fruition they'll be more important than just another sexy device.

After, finally, shipping Ubuntu Touch in October 2013, Canonical's version of Ubuntu for smartphones, the company's partners will start shipping smartphones in major markets. In the United States, T-Mobile and Verizon are expected to ship Ubuntu smartphones.

Ubuntu Touch: The next hot smartphone operating system (Slideshow)

Canonical hopes to become the number three mobile operating system, after Android and iOS. To make this happen, the company is depending on Ubuntu’s good looks, the Ubuntu Touch's eye-candy interface. The business is also betting on an improved software delivery system that gives developers a fast way to deliver updates while preserving user security.

Rather than using a permission at installation mechanism, such as that used by Android, noted Marc Deslauriers, Canonical's security tech lead, "users get to make decisions on sensitive actions at the moment they are needed, instead of at application installation time. This is performed by system components called "Trusted Helpers.'"

Ubuntu Touch applications can only access their own directories, and their own data. Instead of granting permissions to access generic user data, Ubuntu grants access to request user data using Trusted Helpers. This allows applications to access specific data as approved by the user instead of granting permissions to access all of it.

"For example," Deslauriers explained, "instead of granting permission to directly access a user’s complete contact list, an application can request access to a contact. The system address book will display a list of contacts and only the specific contact selected by the user will be sent to the application. The application only has access to the contact which was specifically authorized by the user."

Once given, a user can either grant an app the right to use Trusted Helpers to always pull data from that one resource in the future or to continue to ask permission each time. Thus, "Trusted Helpers allows users to specify which private information can be accessed by applications. The decision to grant these permissions is done at the moment the access is needed, giving the user the appropriate context for making an informed decision."

The end result: Users get more control and developers get their app updates pushed to users very quickly. This should make Ubuntu Touch popular to both.

Ubuntu 13.10: A desktop tour (Slideshow)

On the software side, Jono Bacon, Ubuntu Community Manager, wrote recently on Google+ that by "This time next year we will have a single platform code-base for phone, tablet, and deskto that adapts to harness the form-factor and power of each device it runs on. This is not just the aesthetics of convergence, it is real convergence at the code level. This will be complemented by an Ubuntu SDK (software developer kit) in which you can write an app once and deliver it to any of these devices, and an eco-system in which you can freely publish or sell apps, content, and more with a powerful set of payment tools."

Bacon continued: "These pieces will appear one phase at a time throughout 2014. We are focusing on finishing the convergent pieces on phone first, then bringing them to tablet, and then finally bringing our desktop over to the new convergent platform."

The end result will be one Linux-based operating system for smartphones, tablets, and desktops and single applications that will work on all three platforms.

And that, friends, is more exciting to me than the hottest new hardware to makes its appearance at CES this week.

Related Stories:

Topics: Mobility, Linux, Open Source, Smartphones, Tablets, Ubuntu, PCs

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

Talkback

15 comments
Log in or register to join the discussion
  • 2014 really looks to be a BIG

    year for Ubuntu.

    Can't wait to get my hands on a new Ubuntu Touch here in the US. It's good to see T-Mo and Verizon will be selling them.
    WhoRUKiddin
    • yeah they said that before

      Any solid launch dates on the phones? I didn't think so. Ubuntu is all about giving Shutty a microphone. He just talks and talks and talks.

      Besides, they say Android is Linux, so why do we need another Linux mobile os?
      otaddy
  • Great Idea

    If Canonical can pull it off they will have the first truly integrated ecosystem across all devices. They appear to understand that different devices represent different use cases.
    Linux_Lurker
  • Ubuntu will fail, Google will make it and Linux has already won

    The idea being "community" and money maker has already failed. Big industry has not been interested in ecosystem of Mark Shuttleworth. But you know what - Ubuntu is just small, small fraction of Linux ecosystem. Not vital at all. Industry believes the vision of Google, ChromeBook, Android, cloud. That is the future of IT.

    It's Shuttleworth, Canonical and remnats of those loyals of Ubuntu have created the myth that Ubuntu is so important to future of Linux. It isn't. It has never been.
    Napoleon XIV
  • Perfect.

    "users get to make decisions on sensitive actions at the moment they are needed, instead of at application installation time."

    I love this idea! Who remembers what permission they granted an app when they installed it? I actually read (strange concept I know) the permissions these apps ask for, and since I started reading them I install fewer apps.
    2low_tech
  • History shows that

    Users won't accept an interface on their desktops that is the same as their smartphones, I don't believe that Ubuntu's Unity interface is going to change that. Thank you Microsoft for showing how bad an idea that is. There are good, understandable reasons for the difference, and users can understand and use different paradigms on each.
    SeanBlader
    • Right size fits all

      "Users won't accept an interface on their desktops that is the same as their smartphones"

      Which is precisely why Ubuntu isn't going to present them the same interface on their desktop as on their smartphone. If you look at what was offered in Ubuntu 13.10 on those two form factors, you see familiar but a slightly different interface on each that is tailored to that form factor. However, underneath that top later, they are the same platform, and will in fact be the exact same code in 14.10.

      Apps too, if using the Ubuntu SDK, will take this approach, they will have one codebase but present an interface that is different enough to be suited to the form factor it's running on, but similar enough to be familiar to the user and have all the same features.
      mhall119
      • It's all about the SDK

        As a developer I've noticed this has been the biggest overlooked part. I've used the Android SDK, IOS (3-7), and now the Ubuntu SDK. I can tell you, if I could code against one SDK for Mac and IOS devices, the news would be all over that! Yet, here we can do that right now with Ubuntu and some people just disregard it.

        Responsive Websites are all the rage (and rightly so), but here you have responsive applications!
        Michael Christenson II
        • Bingo - you got it!

          It is all about the SDK and the approach taken with Ubuntu Touch is exactly what will make it work.
          WhoRUKiddin
  • Linux looks outdated

    Don't get it. This OS Ubuntu looks more ancient than Windows XP. Yet it gets treated great. The interface of XP is way better than Linux which looks old as the Windows 95 interface. I'll stick with my "dinosaur" XP. I just have to use Zorin as a backup OS. Maybe dual boot. Only because Microsoft forced us XP users to make a choice. And I certainly won't take over-hyped Windows 7. Or stupid big tiles 8.
    jackie33
    • Windows XP looks outdated

      You have no idea were you are talking about. Ubuntu is beautiful and great, many times better than the old XP and the 'ugly' windows 8 metro/modern ui
      Markcortbass
    • Re: Linux looks outdated

      Friends should not let friends make such uninformed statements as the one you made.

      "Linux looks outdated"

      What distro are you even talking about, jackie33? You say you are using Zorin as a backup OS, do you have it skinned to look like XP?

      As far as Ubuntu being compared to Win 95, I have to ask... Are you taking the crack?
      WhoRUKiddin
    • Re: Linux looks outdated

      Either you don't know what you're talking about, or your comment was simply trolling.
      I don't know what rock you crawled out from under, but anyone who has kept up with Operating Systems over the past 10 years can attest to the fact that there is *no* operating system today that looks like Windows 95, unless you specifically install a retro style desktop environment, such as FVWM.

      Gnome 3 is completely modern, as is KDE 4, Unity, Cinnamon, and even Mate-Desktop has become more polished than the Gnome-2.32.x source that it was forked from.

      As far as what an OS looks like... if you strip away the shell on any OS, Windows included, nothing is left besides a text based interface. Even Windows uses a *shell*. In XP, that shell was "Luna". In Windows 8, that shell is Metro. In all of these instances, the shell stems from "explorer.exe" to a deeply integrated degree, which is a large part of why you can run a web address from within Windows Explorer and the system will hand the MIME type off to Internet Explorer (by default, unless you've replaced IE) to be opened. The reverse is also true. If you type in a local filesystem address, IE will hand that off to Windows Explorer.

      Microsoft didn't force anything. No one put a gun to your head to force you to use a computer in the first place, much less one running Windows.

      Zorin... OMFG! You really use that garbage? Let me guess... you actually paid for it, didn't you? LOL!!!

      The funniest part of your comment is your obvious assumption that *all Ubuntu users* stick with the installation defaults for their desktop environment. Some do, but a great many of us tend to use Ubuntu Server as a skeleton and design our own choice of desktop (if any) on top of that. Personally, I tend to build on top of Ubuntu 12.04.4-LTS Server, and combine that with Mate-Desktop, XRDP, LightDM, and a few other tools to create terminal servers that are both nice to look at and very productive to use. But then, what do I know? I'm just a systems engineer with over 30 years of industry experience, and 17 years of Linux experience.
      twist@...
  • Finally.....

    The "mad scientists" at Canonical are almost ready to release their "Frankenstein"!....Looking forward to getting this and USING it on a daily basis!
    Knighthawk5193@...
  • twist comments about linux

    Evidently having the experiance I was looking for is what I have found with twists comments.
    I am one of the those XP users that are getting the micro-pooch like the rest.
    Im not tek-savy. but I do us PC's everyday for bizz.
    I had a multi-licenced micro-I.T. Geek if you will for several years that kept my PC humming.
    always boosting my PC......LOL and my wallet. He went awol. so now im in limbo like so many others. Im trying to figure out what to use? Ubuntu,Kubuntu.Linux, Mint Cinnimum, Kabloowey,
    balogna, peperroni, ETC. I want to keep XP I guess. I can always go out and buy win7 and do a clean install and reload files hopefully from my external hardrive. I dont know.
    I think Im looking for a little proffesional tutoring. considering that all the crap that comes up on the IT search engines.. I use Win -7 for Bizz but I dont have to maintain any of it my office geek does it for me.
    But for home use I need to try out one of these other operating systems.

    Proffesional advise is welcome.. Thanks All
    Dabogeyman