Canonical Prepares Ubuntu for Smartphones, First Devices Expected in 2014 [Video]

NEW YORK | Wednesday, January 2nd, 2013 6:02pm EDT

Canonical, the company behind Linux-based Ubuntu OS, has announced that it is going to release a version of its popular OS designed specially to run on smartphones.

Ubuntu OS, long a favorite open-source platform for computing, is getting ready to move to the smaller smartphone screen.

Canonical, Ubuntu’s commercial sponsor, announced its new smartphone interface Tuesday. The company will be holding a press call later this afternoon, and showing off the OS at CES.

The Linux-based software will allow users to run desktop apps on their handsets, allowing them to double for PCs when docked to monitors.

Ubuntu is the most popular operating system to be based on the Linux kernel – the code that lets software and hardware work together.

The code will initially be released as a file which can be installed on Samsung’s Galaxy Nexus phone, replacing Android, says the BBC.

“We expect Ubuntu to be popular in the enterprise market, enabling customers to provision a single secure device for all PC, thin client and phone functions. Ubuntu is already the most widely used Linux enterprise desktop, with customers in a wide range of sectors focused on security, cost and manageability,” said Jane Silber, CEO of Canonical.

“We also see an opportunity in basic smartphones that are used for the phone, SMS, web and email, where Ubuntu outperforms thanks to its native core apps and stylish presentation.”

Ubuntu OS has support for both ARM and x86 processors. This means it could be made to run on most, if not all, of today’s Android-powered smartphones without too much effort.

Actually, Ubuntu’s Web site pushes HTML5 and native code apps, a benefit for developers who can create a single app for both the desktop and the PC, as the Cnet reports.

The OS favors swiping gestures to reveal navigation strips and overview pages, similar to RIM’s BlackBerry OS 10 and to the short-lived Web OS for Palm. Navigation is on the back burner, revealing and hiding with a tap.

At the same time, this isn’t just a smartphone operating system.

Jono Bacon, Ubuntu’s community manager, wrote on his blog that “Ubuntu for phones is not just limited to just the Operating System on the phone screen itself. Ubuntu also has the technology, as demonstrated with Ubuntu For Android, to boot a full Ubuntu desktop from the phone when it is docked with a screen.”

He continued: “This provides a complete Ubuntu experience in your pocket, for both your phone and your desktop, with a clean consistent look across both screens, and with all your content available on your phone and desktop using Ubuntu One. This is revolutionary.”

Some analysts question whether consumers really want the power of a fully-fledged computer on their phone. However Ubuntu is considered by many to be the best Linux distro out there, and it does enjoy a lot of developer/ community support.

Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu’s founder, said he was in talks with manufacturers for devices to be sold with the system pre-installed within the year.

“We’re taking advantage of that so for the first time in history you have the full consumer PC platform available on a phone,” – he said.

Phones running the software will be showcased at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas next week.

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