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"Webtop" will give Linux fans a second mini-desktop when plugged into their Linux machine

With over 20 million active users worldwide, Ubuntu -- published by Canonical Ltd. -- is widely claimed to be the "fastest growingPC version of Linux.  A 2012 poll by LifeHacker saw 51 percent of respondents calling Ubuntu their favor Linux distro, well ahead of the runner-up Mint (16 percent).  Ubuntu remains one of the only Linux distros to be taken seriously by PC OEMs (i.e. offered in commercial products).

Thus, the recent announcements of Ubuntu on Android and Ubuntu smartphone OS may excite some, if not all of Android users.  Canonical kicked off the party in February 2012 announcing a native extension to Android. And Canonical this week announced the availability of test builds of an even more ambitious effort -- a full-fledged mobile operating system, which could one-day compete with Android.

Ubuntu on Android devices looks and feels like normal Android when operating in a mobile context.  But when plugged into a Ubuntu machine (PC) they become a "webtop" a second-desktop of sorts; mirroring the Unit user-interface (Unity UI) of the parent Ubuntu install.

While this may sound like a mere gimmick, the neat part for enthusiasts is that you'll get full (or likely close to full in release devices) control of the file system, allowing you to shuffle files onto and off of the devices more freely.

Further, all the desktop switch occurs natively inside a modified version of the Android kernel, so unlike other experimental efforts to put emulated Linux distros inside virtual machines on Android courtesy of the Java Virtual Machine (JVM), there should be little if any performance penalty.

The mini Ubuntu desktop will sync app settings (e.g. Thunderbird, browser) with those of their traditional Android equivalents.  It will also include some unique app, including one that lets the device act like a mini-Ubuntu TV, giving users access to Canonical's movie rental service.

Ubuntu's new smartphone OS takes things a step further, ditching the Android kernel altogether.  Engadget reports that the user interface relies heavily on edge swipes, similar to Windows 8.

Ubuntu on Android
Ubuntu on Android acts like normal Android until plugged into a Ubuntu PC.
[Image Source: The Verge]

 
Currently Canonical is offering a test image of Ubuntu on Android for developers that can be loaded on the Nexus 4 smartphone from Google Inc. (GOOG) and LG Electronics, Inc. (KSC:066570).  The finalized software is expected to be available sometime later this year, according to company founder Mark Shuttleworth.  

A test image for the full phone operating system will be released for the Nexus 4 in the next few weeks, according to Mr. Shuttleworth.  He commented that a proper "Ubuntu Phone" -- which offers a full-fledges Ubuntu operating system in a mobile context will be released from a "high-end" partner sometime in 2014.

Ubuntu on Android tablets may be in store for sometime in 2014 or 2015 as well, given Android's rising market share in that space.

(A humorous side-note: years ago Canonical and Google were rumored to be working together on a new distro called "Googbuntu".  Ubuntu on Linux is perhaps the real world realization of that rumored build, which at the time proved to be fantasy.)

Sources: Ubuntu [1], [2; PR via Engadget], The Verge



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an audience of
By Nortel on 1/2/2013 4:42:39 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
...when plugged into a Ubuntu machine (PC) they become a "webtop" a second-desktop of sorts; mirroring the Unit user-interface (Unity UI) of the parent Ubuntu install.

99% of users don't run Ubuntu so any mirroring or external-widget-desktop integration would be useless.

This OS obliterates compatibility with the existing Android appstore, which is quite the minus.

Regarding 'full access to the filesystem', I see this more of a security issue and again, 90%+ of people would never need this kind of access




RE: an audience of
By xti on 1/2/2013 8:54:35 PM , Rating: 1
you got rated down, which means you pissed off all 4 ubuntu users.


RE: an audience of
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2013 12:25:20 AM , Rating: 1
make that 5


RE: an audience of
By bupkus on 1/3/2013 1:07:06 AM , Rating: 2
Funny :)


RE: an audience of
By elleehswon on 1/2/2013 11:55:28 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
This OS obliterates compatibility with the existing Android appstore, which is quite the minus.


How do you figure that? Linux can't run java?


RE: an audience of
By Nortel on 1/3/2013 3:43:04 PM , Rating: 2
The existing appstore is not compatable since this is not working off the Google sanctioned Android branch.


RE: an audience of
By nafhan on 1/3/2013 11:09:07 AM , Rating: 2
quote:
This OS obliterates compatibility with the existing Android appstore
It'll run most Linux software, though. That counts for something, right?


RE: an audience of
By freedom4556 on 1/8/2013 5:51:30 PM , Rating: 2
...Not really?


RE: an audience of
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2013 9:30:37 PM , Rating: 2
Anyone read the press release on ubuntu's site? They have managed to come up with something completely unique and innovative, they out appled apple. It sounds interesting, will have to see if they get market share and a large app base. Coming up with a great phone OS doesn't seam to guarantee market share anymore, MS can't even get anywhere with the new windows phone OS's.


Ubuntu on Linux?!
By Newspapercrane on 1/2/2013 4:24:11 PM , Rating: 5
quote:
Ubuntu on Linux is perhaps the real world realization of that rumored build, which at the time proved to be fantasy.


Ubuntu on Linux? Witchcraft!




RE: Ubuntu on Linux?!
By maugrimtr on 1/3/2013 8:23:56 AM , Rating: 2
Yep, you boot Linux, create a virtual env, load Ubuntu, and then use it. No, wait, there's something wrong with that...


Need Mobile OS Desktop/TV integration...
By pugster on 1/3/2013 12:17:30 PM , Rating: 2
Personally, I would like to see any Mobile OS with Desktop/TV integration. IE, plug in your cell phone into a dock connected to a monitor/TV with a seamless experience. Android never did it, and companies like Motorola tried it with its atrix line and many Chinese companies putting android on a laptop platform but it looked more running a mobile phone on your laptop... I would also to see a true plug and play OS like Windows where you can install the OS on a phone like a computer. If any Mobile OS can do that, it is already one leg above the competition.




By Ammohunt on 1/3/2013 2:42:57 PM , Rating: 2
Google MK802 iii and your wish shall be granted.


By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2013 9:40:36 PM , Rating: 3
yes, this would be totally awesome if it was all wireless. Think you just drop your phone onto your inductive charging pad on your desk and it automatically links wirelessly to your 22" 1080p monitor and full size keyboard and mouse. This seems to me like a real possibility for the future of computing. The arm A15 chip is already fast enough for most full blown desktop needs.

Plus the icons are rectangular instead of square so apple cant sue. ;)


Two different products here...
By dbwells on 1/2/2013 5:44:36 PM , Rating: 4
It is forgivably confusing, but you are linking to two different products (or projects) here. "Ubuntu for Android" and "Ubuntu for smartphones" are different things. The first is what you describe (Android when undocked, Ubuntu when docked), but the second is that you show in the picture and link to at Engadget (Ubuntu with a new gesture-based mobile shell on top).

Please clarify! Thanks.




By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2013 9:48:51 PM , Rating: 2
Yeah, I got confused


unclear strategy
By Bubbacub on 1/3/2013 6:13:42 AM , Rating: 2
i've got to say that this approach from the fuhrer (mark shuttleworth) is confusing.

you've got ubuntu on android - first mentioned this time last year - a product that a LOT of geeks are interested in.

instead of executing the release of this potentially game changing solution they have kludged a new smartphone OS.

in doing so any hardware manufacturer/carrier that was even vaguley interested in ubuntu on android will now back away - the appearances (despite protestations to the contrary) are that canonical are backing away from the ubuntu on android concept.

further more by changing their strategy so capriciously they will have discouraged anyone else from adopting ubuntu on phones - who is to say they won't ditch this concept next year,

the solution - (apart from locking shuttleworth in a room and not letting him drag ubuntu down the toilet) - they have to merge the two products.

to do so they need to:
include a dalvik virtual machine in the 'ubuntu on phones' concept - thus you would get access to the entire android app ecosystem

partner up with asus (or anyone else) and get a version of this software running on hardware like the padfone.

what would be really amazing would be if they could get this into an x86 phone that can dock into a tablet that can dock into a keyboard.

i would quite happily ditch my current phone/tablet/light weight laptop for one device (i already run linux mint as my main OS so that isnt an issue for me)




RE: unclear strategy
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2013 9:43:22 PM , Rating: 2
If you look at the ubuntu press release it looks like a full blown OS to me. This article's description doesn't seem to match up with whats on ubuntu's site.


RE: unclear strategy
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2013 9:45:03 PM , Rating: 2
nevermind there looks to be two releases:
ubuntu for phone
ubuntu for android


Missing the point
By Ammohunt on 1/3/2013 2:50:10 PM , Rating: 2
I feel the take away from this is the attempt to merging desktop and mobile; the future of computing is a single mobile computing device that can double as a full desktop at home or at the office via a port expander. my hope is that they will have a bus interface that could hotplug devices like 3D processing hardware and storage integrated into an expandable dock.




RE: Missing the point
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2013 9:50:05 PM , Rating: 2
yeah, its a slick concept


RE: Missing the point
By Jeffk464 on 1/3/2013 9:51:10 PM , Rating: 2
slick enough that it could actually drive some marketshare, until apple and google hijack the concept and run with anyways.


Unity is terrible...
By SAN-Man on 1/2/2013 7:09:16 PM , Rating: 2
Why would I want it on my phone? I don't want it on my desktop.




RE: Unity is terrible...
By drycrust3 on 1/2/2013 11:56:59 PM , Rating: 2
I totally agree with your desktop comment, but if you look at the way a smartphone is currently used, things like multitasking aren't really the flavour of the month, so Ubuntu with Unity may actually do quite well.
I think the big problem for Ubuntu in the longer term is the lack of an application library. It may be that since Android uses a Linux kernel, and since Canonical helped develop Android, it may well be that developers won't have to do much work to put their products onto Ubuntu's application library.


It's a huge gamble
By bug77 on 1/2/2013 8:00:25 PM , Rating: 3
Last I checked, people weren't exactly raving about Unity. So Canonical has quite some work ahead of them to improve on their current offering. That, or hope the world moves to touch-only devices really fast.
And then they have to make sure their phones don't turn out to be "also ran" in an already crowded space.
They are probably aware of the above, so there may be some more features to be unveiled throughout the year.




Goobuntu
By cjc1103 on 1/3/2013 1:52:39 PM , Rating: 3
quote:
(A humorous side-note: years ago Canonical and Google were rumored to be working together on a new distro called "Googbuntu". Ubuntu on Linux is perhaps the real world realization of that rumored build, which at the time proved to be fantasy.)


Another blooper from Jason Mick. Do a little research, Mick. It's "Goobuntu", and it's in production at Google.
http://www.zdnet.com/the-truth-about-goobuntu-goog...




By maxxcool on 1/2/2013 4:16:20 PM , Rating: 2
But can it run aircrack-ng natively in monitor mode :) ? ... That would be fun !




By stm1185 on 1/2/2013 5:04:12 PM , Rating: 2
It's not Ubuntu on Android its Ubuntu with a Smartphone shell.




I still have and using HP Touchpad
By bupkus on 1/3/2013 1:36:33 AM , Rating: 2
I'd love to install Ubuntu on my TP although CM9 has been very nice.




Yeah but....
By Amiga500 on 1/3/2013 7:18:45 AM , Rating: 2
Can it play DOOM?

:-D




It certainly has potential
By mattscottshea on 1/3/2013 4:51:16 PM , Rating: 2
Ubuntu for Android is essentially just Android with Unity interface and a few custom apps when docked. This would work best with ARM processors to ensure that Android apps still work when in Unity mode.

Ubuntu phone on the other hand is full Ubuntu Linux with a different interface depending on usage (they have different interfaces for phone, tv and desktop). Something like an atom n2600 would be ideal for this (dual x86-64 @ 3.5 W) as it would allow for best compatibility with current software. Add in 64GB storage and an sdxc slot to double/triple the space and you got yourself a true mobile computer. A lapdock similar to the Atrix would also be better utilized.

I have been using ubuntu 12 LTS and win 8 as virtuals for awhile now and I personally find myself using Ubuntu a lot more. I'm not sure how their phone interface works, but I would welcome it and the full desktop dock mode from either version.




By wordsworm on 1/8/2013 3:41:13 PM , Rating: 2
Android for Ubuntu is already out there. I would rather operate Android as the virtual OS than vice versa. A more interesting article might investigate the two possibilities for kicks.




By Tony Swash on 1/3/2013 11:45:52 AM , Rating: 1
Brian Hall

http://www.brianshall.com/blog/ubuntu-best-iphone-...

Although I thought Gruber's pithy

quote:
I expect Ubuntu for Phones to be about as relevant as Ubuntu is on the desktop


was a close second.




"Folks that want porn can buy an Android phone." -- Steve Jobs

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