Linux Ubuntu is the latest OS for smartphones
Canonical, the company behind Linux-powered Ubuntu OS, today announced a new mobile compatible variant that will allow Android phones to run like computers.
Ubuntu’s phone version or Ubuntu Touch is more of a “smartphone interface” adapted to run on smartphones/tablets and act as a “thin client“ than a whole new operating system built from scratch. With this, Canonical aims to create an operating system meant commonly for smartphones, personal computing, servers, cloud and beyond. Users will be able to run desktop applications and control the file-system on their Ubuntu Touch phones when docked to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse.
The Ubuntu for phones will be initially tested with Samsung Galaxy Nexus in the next few weeks and should be available by the year end or in 2014. You can register here to to know when the first Ubuntu phone will be released.
Smartphones running the Linux-based software will be displayed at the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas between Jan 8 – 11.
The Ubuntu for phones variant has been developed to work with current Android-based handsets, which have the Linux kernel, but not necessarily relying on Android. Ubuntu is also compatible with a typical Android Board Support Package, meaning Ubuntu is good-to-go with most of the existing cost-efficient chipset designs. With all-native core apps and no Java overhead, Ubuntu suits entry-level smartphones too. That in a way means developers can use existing software drivers for the phone hardware.
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Canonical is ready to provide development services and customization options to operators and manufacturers adopting Ubuntu for phones. Canonical’s cloud service, Ubuntu One, will be part of the support. It will provide storage and media services, file sharing and a secure transaction service, enabling partners to converge their own services easily – branded offerings such as apps, content, and services. A QML toolkit and sample application are available for developers to download. Ubuntu SDK is out for developers to start adapting or developing their apps.
Ubuntu Touch for handsets interface introduces the following features:
Edge magic: thumb gestures from all four edges of the screen enable users to find content and switch between apps faster than other phones.
Deep content immersion—controls appear only when the user wants them.
A beautiful global search for apps, content, and products.
Voice and text commands in any application for faster access to rich capabilities.
Both native and Web or HTML5 apps.
Evolving personalized art on the welcome screen.
Seen with skepticism and promise at the same time, the new Ubuntu for phones could prove to be a key player in a market already dominated by the iPhone and Android-run devices. Ubuntu is Linux’s most popular distro. Its USP is that it’s free unlike Microsoft’s Windows or Apple’s OS X and could bring the prices of smartphones further down. Plus it could open the door of possibilities for quality and affordable computing as it turns people’s smartphones into computers.