How does Ubuntu Touch, the version of Ubuntu Linux, compare to Android? Well, you can finally find out for yourself. The first official, public bootable Ubuntu Touch images are now available.
Nicholas Skaggs, a Canonical software engineer and quality assurance community coordinator, wrote, "I'm happy to announce the Ubuntu touch images are now available for testing on the isotracker. And further, the images are now Raring based! [That is to say, they're based on the soon to be released Ubuntu 13.04 codebase.] As such, the Ubuntu Touch team is asking for folks to try out the new images on their devices and ensure there are no regressions or other issues."
Specifically, there are four officially supported devices and images for each of them: Nexus 7, grouper; Galaxy Nexus, maguro; Nexus 4, mako; and Nexus 10, manta. These are all early releases and I recommend that only power Ubuntu and smartphone/tablet users try them at this point.
To install them, you'll need an Ubuntu-based computer and to follow the installation instructions closely. If, as is almost certain at this point in development, you find a bug, Skaggs said, "use the instructions to report them and add it to your result. Never used the tracker before? Take a look at this handy guide or watch the YouTube version".
"Once all the kinks and potential issues are worked out (your feedback requested!), the Raring based images will become the default, and, moving forward, the team will continue to provide daily images and participate in testing milestones," concluded Skaggs.
Don't have a Nexus device? In a note, Skaggs added that while there are "No official images, people have been busy porting! Have a look here: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/Devices". These devices range from the Dell Streak 7 to the Kindle Fire to Motorola Droid 4 to a wide variety of Samsung Galaxy smartphones and tablets.
More supported devices will be coming. On Google Plus, Jono Bacon, Canonical's community manager, wrote:
As part of our Ubuntu Touch community growth and outreach, the codebase has been ported by our community to and working on 40 handsets, with 25 handsets in progress, and across 19 different brands. There are 4,800+ posts in the XDA Ubuntu Touch forum, and our app developer community has already grown to 1,650 members here on Google+ with a huge variety of apps in development, and we have only just got started.
The revolution is getting its wheels rolling, come and join us and be part of building a world class convergent platform. Together, we can do this.
Starting today, independent developers and fearless early adopters can judge for themselves if Ubuntu will indeed be able to succeed on smartphones and tablets.