Ubuntu, now on your smartphone

Earlier this week, Canonical teased the world with a countdown clock on its main Ubuntu website, with the reveal to be made today. Well, the website got so much traffic today it basically collapsed before the clock ran down to zero. Thankfully, Canonical also decided to hold a real press event in London today for its big announcement.

And what did that turn out to be, pray tell? As expected, Canonical revealed that it has developed a touchscreen-based version of its free Ubuntu Linux-based OS. The new version was made specifically for both high end and budget smartphones. Engadget reports that a version of the OS was demoed on a Galaxy Nexus smartphone at the press event.

The main difference between Ubuntu and other touchscreen mobile operating systems is that it apparently uses edge swipes a lot more than just buttons like iOS and Android. Canonical claims " ... thumb gestures from all four edges of the screen enable users to find content and switch between apps faster than other phones." In some ways, this makes the Ubuntu smartphone OS similar to Windows 8 in terms of its interaction.

Canonical is pushing for this new version of Ubuntu to be installed on smartphones for enterprise markets, and employees in theory could have one OS that will work with PCs, smartphones and servers. However, Canonical made no announcements on which smartphone makers or carriers will begin to sell Ubuntu-based phones.

Source: Engadget | Image via Engadget

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Android's userspace apps and libraries are not your typical GNU/Linux, so it's not compatible with GNU/Linux apps (just using the GNU bit there to differenciate with the fact that Android does also indeed use the Linux kernel).

Ubuntu for phones should be compatible with current Ubuntu (ie. Linux) applications.
You sure wouldn't want to run a full desktop app on your phone screen, but most Linux GUI apps are just frontends for CLI programs anyway.

Looks nice. Kinda reminds me of Mac OSX a little but with it's own touch. Looks way better than Windows 8 and Chrome OS. Hopefully it will be a great alternative to Windows Phone and Crapdroid.

I can't wait to get my hands on this. I love Ubuntu and I think it could really take off (if managed properly).

After watching the video my mind changed to begin with I thought eh how mad are they but I see their vision. Fingers crossed this all evolves as hoped (esp the games support etc), could be a viable alternative to others on market, esp if it is backported to diff handsets n makers (id love to see my Note Gt9700 running it) will be watching this keenly

very windows 8 inspired nature, in which "convergence" between all device make sense...

Too bad that in a real world things wont work that way, we all know how bad its UNITY overall in desktop, and microsoft its suffering the same thing with windows 8 which for desktop its completely useless, limited, dumbed down and not keyboard and mouse friendly.

The main difference its so far that ubuntu its going down from desktop to phone and tablets microsoft on other hand its going from phone and tablets to desktop.....

Lets hope execution wise canonical do what microsoft couldnt seemless application compatibility between desktop and mobile.... Microsoft screwed up here with windows RT uncompatible with x86 windows and windows phone..... backward compatibility its a factor to have a COMPLETE computing experience without starting over. Lets hope canonical deliver.

In the end i dont see this its a bad but do we really need another mobile OS, we have enough with TIZEN, Open webOS, Sailfish, firefox and now this.... All of them its dead on arrival

Will it blend ?

Id give this a spin for sure.Think it looks really nice and will work well on phones. Very interested in Ubuntu for Android. Im sure a lot of devs will be trying to port stuff across both ways. Think Android already has a sidebar type thing in development over on XDA Obviously it will need killer market place to compete.

I actually think its good news in general for smartphones as a whole.

They will have a very hard time competing with the heavily ingrained android, but I must say the interface looks very slick, I hope it does well.

certainly a copycat of Windows 8 gestures and the Microsoft approach of one OS to rule them all. And what about that ugly and bogus-java-powered UI? looks like a work of a 1st grade student, you know, those n00bish opacity circles. As one wise man said: ugly, slow, cheap looking, bug ridden, overhyped and unethical OS.

Funny, 1 OS for all it was first used by Android..... And gestures, did Microsoft invent those? Nope. You're hillarious.

Windows 8 how many people are using it? Not alot, and if the video is right about 24 hours downloads. Ubuntu is the largest by far.

I must have missed something. Where is the Android desktop OS? The tablet OS is basically a blown up phone experience

Princess Chica Ami said,
Funny, 1 OS for all it was first used by Android

What are you talking about? I can install MSDOS on my phone, tablet, Xbox, and PC, obviously Microsoft came out with this "1 OS" thing first!

Just because it's possible after a crapload of tinkering to get an OS to run correctly 50% of the time on 4 different devices doesn't mean that whatever company is behind it had that in mind when they were developing it.


..... And gestures, did Microsoft invent those? Nope. You're hillarious.

They didn't invent gestures, and neither did anyone in recent history (IIRC, the first forms of human language were gesture-based). What the OP is saying is that a few of the gestures used in Ubuntu for phones are reminiscent of the gestures used in Windows 8, which was, AFAIK, the first major operating system to use an "all edges" approach. Not to mention the fact that Microsoft Research has done a fair amount of important research into gesture-based computing.
Windows 8 how many people are using it? Not a lot

Yeah, the fact that they sold 40 million licenses in, what, the first month, totally means it's not selling well. You must be like a highly paid mathematician or something!

, and if the video is right about 24 hours downloads.

what in the world does "about 24 hours downloads" mean?

Ubuntu is the largest by far.

I have no idea what you're trying to say by these last few parts, but it seems to have something to do with how many people downloaded Windows 8 vs. whatever the latest version of Ubuntu is.

Ubuntu = a Linux distro.
Linux = 1.19% market share (the percentages get so tiny that NetMarketShare doesn't even report Ubuntu's percentage)

Windows 8 = a version of Windows
Windows = over 91% market share
Windows 8 = 1.72% market share

Windows 8 has been out for only a few months and it's already surpassed the market share of all Linux distros combined. Your statement simply doesn't make any sense whatsoever. Of course, you could be trying to say that Windows 8 has only been adopted by like a tenth of windows users, wheras the latest Ubuntu versions get adopted by nearly 100% in the first few days, but it's a hell of a lot easier to get a tiny group of 1% of dedicated Ubuntu users to update than it is to get 90% of Internet users, most of whom couldn't give less of a damn about the latest version of an OS (if they even know what an OS is at all), to update.

Guess who's hilarious?

Personally, at first glance I love this "Ubuntu for phones" thing and plan on downloading it once it's released, but I think it's pretty obvious that a lot of the thinking behind it was inspired in part by Microsoft.

I think that it would be hilarious if it was introduced to the market, and had faster adoption than Windows Phone. I would giggle at the possibility of little Canonical doing what big Microsoft couldn't do in the mobile market. Time will tell if this mobile version of the OS has legs.

thum swipes from all four corners. so either you need a 3 inch phones of freakishly large thumbs, or it has to be used two handed...

Arguably iOS and Android put the most used gesture (pull down) right at the top of the device. Especially a problem on the Android hero devices with 5" screens!

At least the most used gestures on this OS can be used one handed (although they are sort of assuming everyone is right handed unless that's configurable)

Looks good, but he sounded kind of oblivious (at least in the 5 - 7 minute mark) that Microsoft is doing the same 3-screens approach that they're just now starting. But I'll probably install it on my Android tablet anyways

Lol he said other platform uses different interface of thesame thing... And that seems bizarre because they are from same company. Yet the dude release Ubuntu phone with different interface from Ubuntu pc and tv or whatever...

I will tell you why Ubuntu will fail:
a) drivers. If Ubuntu is able to give aways the OS including (most) of the current drivers then, Android will be in a trouble. However, it will not happen.
b) patent trolls.

Brony said,
I will tell you why Ubuntu will fail:
a) drivers. If Ubuntu is able to give aways the OS including (most) of the current drivers then, Android will be in a trouble. However, it will not happen.
b) patent trolls.

He said towards the end that developers can use existing android drivers, making it easy to get started

The guy in the video is good, keeps it to the point and gives Linux a nice fresh feeling. Hope they use him more often good sales man.

Still wont be using it though ^^ but yeah good vid, nice looking OS would be nice to know if its just an android replacement that works on most android devices and if it can use google play / its apps. I don't see why it would not be capable the kernel will be similar if not the same to the android one, and I am sure the framework around it will support android apps (it would not take much work to do this)

I am thinking of this as android without the bloat (but that will be put in later I am sure) and with a new UI.

Will this version of Ubuntu be able to be forked? Say, Mint or whatnot decides to create its own version, like it did with Linux Mint.

One of the strongest features of Linux is that it can be made into different versions, but one of the weakest things about Linux is that there are a lot of versions of it.

Woot! Finally I can haz terminal on a phone to reprogram it and link it to the "old Satcoms". Like "hackers" who "surf 'em all the time"!

I'm at work, so I can't watch the video, so not sure if it answers my question or not...But can it use apps from the Android play store?
Looks interesting, I'll be keeping my eyes on it

Very excited!! I'm happy with Ubuntu as second OS, I'll be happy to have it in my phone

Edited by Draken, Jan 2 2013, 7:52pm :

Meh, what a waste of time/effort/resources on behalf of Canonical. It won't have the app/game ecosystem of Android, which makes it more or less useless. Why not put all the resources back into making Ubuntu (and multitude of variants) better? Because, for one it really needs it, and it'll make Ubuntu (+ Variants) a better free OS. I don't see how these companies think it's easy to get into the smartphone OS business. Canonical just doesn't have the resources to make something worthwhile for your average Joe consumer.

Traditional OS'es will be a thing of the past in a decade my bet. Everything will be touch screen, mobile oriented by then. It's good to see Canonical jumping on the bandwagon now than playing catch up in 10 years. I suspect very different players in the OS market by then. I'm waiting to see when Apple will merge it's iOS software with "regular" products. Won't be long I bet.

Is he trying to do a similiar event to those steve jobs used to do? If so, he's not doing a very good job of it.

n_K said,
Is he trying to do a similiar event to those steve jobs used to do? If so, he's not doing a very good job of it.
Are you seriously talking about press events?

No, just the annoying thing of showing screenshots but not showing the device or how it functions at all, being deceitful.

SharpGreen said,
I saw a device and how it functioned in that vid....sure we're watching the same one?

You must be watching something completely different because at NO point in that video does he get a physical device out and show it functioning, there's artists renders <-- READ: RENDERS, not ACTUAL DEVICE. There's simulated images of a device <-- READ: SIMULATED, not ACTUAL DEVICE.

n_K said,

You must be watching something completely different because at NO point in that video does he get a physical device out and show it functioning, there's artists renders <-- READ: RENDERS, not ACTUAL DEVICE. There's simulated images of a device <-- READ: SIMULATED, not ACTUAL DEVICE.

Not on that video, but he shows it here: http://www.viddler.com/v/ac8413f3

HawkMan said,
Linux is a kernel, NOT an OS.

If the GUI / OS is built on the Linux kernel it's still Linux any way you spin it . If my iPhone can install .deb files it's also Linux . The world looks at it like this.

I do like how they tie in the status icons with functionality.

This is a smart move for Ubuntu. They're trying to be like MS: i.e. one kernel across all devices. But we'll see how they do. Every year is the "year of Linux", but they're still an enthusiast's OS (or server OS), and nothing more.

from the people who brought you unity the new evolution of mobile: from it just works to well at least it works

The way he talks about Ubuntu is like everyone is moving to this OS. Ubuntu is really sluggish on my PC for some reason.

The phone OS concepts look ridiculously close to Windows Phone, don't you think?

Anooxy said,
The phone OS concepts look ridiculously close to Windows Phone, don't you think?

I'd say it looks close to Unity.

Take out all of Unity's window manager stuff (windows decorations, etc...) and this phone is basically running a bunch of Unity lenses.

It looks awesome, but at the same time I am such a big Android user I don't know if I could give it up for it.

Don't rule out the prices, as soon as your current devices feels sluggish you can throw it away and get a new one easier than with android because its meant to be a lot cheaper

ShareShiz said,
Move over Android, there's a new player in town.

Unless you can install it on any current Android phone as an option, I just don't see it effecting Android much if at all.

A new player, sure. But will they be an actual threat to Android's userbase?

If we take a look at that video, they mention that 70% of the manufacturer's devices are compatible with Ubuntu. Yet if we look at the overall marketshare of Ubuntu compared to the other big players, it still isn't widely used. I could imagine the same thing happening with Ubuntu's mobile OS, but we'll have to wait and see.

People love different colors and different designs at different stages of their life, search Google for Statistics on Favorite Colors.

If you are slim, exercising, have freedom of movement at work (can go or can skip a day), and live in a sunny area, then the Ubuntu colors are maybe ok, but for the rest of us at work all the day, sitting at chairs and not moving much, then Blue and Green are the colors of freedom, even if we are not realizing it.

But no one thinks at Ubuntu or Microsoft or Google anyway.

vcfan said,
looks ugly as ****. same old story with Linux based anything. ugly,slow,cheap looking.

Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to save me typing exact same message.

vcfan said,
looks ugly as ****. same old story with Linux based anything. ugly,slow,cheap looking.

I completely agree with you regarding Ubuntu, this mobile version of Ubuntu seems a bit better. Seems more polished. Hopefully it does well.

TheDogsBed said,

Just wanted to thank you for taking the time to save me typing exact same message.

Yet your reply is as long as his ...

You know what they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some of us think it looks quite nice (myself included) and others don't. I'd be interested in knowing what exactly you guys think looks ugly compared to any other the other OS UI's out there.

vcfan said,
looks ugly as ****. same old story with Linux based anything. ugly,slow,cheap looking.

I think it looks pretty good actually. I think it takes the best parts of the 3 main mobile players and puts them together in quite a nice package.

These are only examples though, we need to see it in action at CES to determine if it's actually any good.

Edited by Majesticmerc, Jan 2 2013, 9:08pm :

I think it looks pretty nice and it has done features I really hope Android gets. But right now the inevitable lack of apps will keep me on Jelly Bean.

Intrinsica said,
You know what they say, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Some of us think it looks quite nice (myself included) and others don't. I'd be interested in knowing what exactly you guys think looks ugly compared to any other the other OS UI's out there.

If we're talking about Ubuntu for desktop, I hate the application bar on the side, I hate the icons' shapes, I REALLY hate the font. The font is what makes me not want to use Ubuntu. I look at my Windows computer and my Mac computer and reading is a breeze, but on Ubuntu, for some reason the fonts are hard to read, they seem fuzzy, etc.

Stuff just seems to be thrown together.

Compare the taskbar on Windows 7 (or 8) to the application bar on Ubuntu.

LaP said,

Yet your reply is as long as his ...

Damn, you're good. I'm going to make sure I never mess with you again. You're just too powerful with your incisive put downs.

I've always been flabbergasted by people who's only complaint about anything is the looks. Just means they have no other reason to say anything, which they basically are anyway, and a very shallow mind! Hey! That sounds exactly like the people in our government!!

With as often as ubuntu's updates have totally screwed up my computers, I'd be scared to death to try this on my phone!!

erikpienk said,
looks good but still looks like something ive looked before, nothing new here

Getting a full desktop on your TV/monitor when you dock your phone is not something you're seeing on your average device.