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Cellphones Communications Handhelds Open Source Operating Systems Ubuntu

Hands On With Ubuntu For SmartPhones 127

Posted by timothy
from the looking-slick dept.
adeelarshad82 writes "Ubuntu for smartphones may be pretty late to the smartphone ecosystem, but as the hands-on video demonstrates, Canonical has been paying attention. The operating system is just called Ubuntu, allowing the company to complete their illusion that this operating system offers everything that desktop Ubuntu runs. If you're a fan of the Unity UI you will find yourself right at home with this interface since every bit of Ubuntu has visual cues that come straight from Unity. As the video shows, the animations looked great, and the phone feels incredibly fast. The top bar of the OS has several icons across it, offering a quick glimpse into things like battery life, messages and others. Settings for every app are available by swiping up from the bottom of the screen, in a gesture that is quite similar to the one used in Windows 8 to access the menu. Given that it's early days for the OS, Ubuntu is far from perfect. For instance, their welcome screen allows for way too many apps to be rapidly accessible without a pin lock of some kind."
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Hands On With Ubuntu For SmartPhones

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  • Oh No (Score:5, Funny)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:31PM (#42521747)
    I wanted 2013 to be the year of the Linux desktop, not the Linux phone. Now I'm going to have to get this tattoo changed again.
    • Re:Oh No (Score:5, Interesting)

      by oodaloop (1229816) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:39PM (#42521895)
      At the time, I considered 2010 to be the year of the Linux phone, and had a signature that said such. From the beginning of the year to the end, there was a huge rise in numbers of available handsets running Android and proportion of users using Android compared to iOS and other OSs. 2010 also saw phones running Android 1.5-1.6 (which is terrible in retrospect) in the beginning to 2.3 (which is decent and still widely used) at the end. It was a rather impressive evolution in a single year. I'd love to see another popular Linux distro on the phone that could actually compete in the marketspace. Maybe this will be it. But we've already seen the year of the Linux phone.
      • It is really 'hands-on' if the sales person has to demo it for you [as opposed to you actually working the device yourself]?

        Arstechnica says they weren't allowed to operate the device because Canonical was still working on the 'experience'.

  • Wat (Score:5, Funny)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:32PM (#42521759)

    I heard you have to use a terminal to dial the phone.

    >call -n 8005551234 -calrid 0 | foneaudapp -spkr 1 -micr 1

    • Re:Wat (Score:5, Funny)

      by girlintraining (1395911) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:40PM (#42521915)

      >call -n 8005551234 -calrid 0 | foneaudapp -spkr 1 -micr 1

      Typical noob...

      cat ~/mail/contacts/* | grep "[CONTACT_NAME]" | grep [0-9]???-[0-9]???-[0-9]???? | awk BEGIN { FS="," } { print $2 } | call -calrid 0 -n & ; foneaudapp -spkr /udev/audio/default/out -micr /udev/audio/default/in

      • Re:Wat (Score:5, Funny)

        by realmolo (574068) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:53PM (#42522129)

        Emacs can already make cell phone calls. It's been built-in since 1980.

        • Emacs can already make cell phone calls. It's been built-in since 1980.

          Yup, and its implimentation inspired Mick Jagger to scream into the microphone "You make a grown man cry" a year later.

        • However, it hasn't been tested yet because no responsible emacs user uses a cell phone (because it can track you). Nevertheless, cell-phone.el works just fine if you configure and patch it correctly.

      • Re:Wat (Score:5, Insightful)

        by Inf0phreak (627499) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @02:00PM (#42522235)

        Typical noob...

        cat ~/mail/contacts/* | grep [...]

        You earned yourself a Useless Use of Cat Award [partmaps.org]!

        • You earned yourself a Useless Use of Cat Award!

          for i = 0; i++; i But more seriously, when you get used to pipes in UNIX, you'll do this too. Everyone does because like many UNIX commands, 'cat' is dead simple and easier to remember than whether it was -f or --file or --directory or consulting the man page to figure out what will convince the next command (in this case, grep) to read one or more files. So stop flogging a decades-dead horse and just smile and enjoy the geeky 1UP.

          • by kwark (512736)

            You never noticed that just about all *nix commands reads input from a file (without any arguments to point out the file)?

            • You never noticed that just about all *nix commands reads input from a file (without any arguments to point out the file)?

              Yes, but that's beside the point. All of this comes down to bitching about style... and frankly, I could give a damn about style. Does it work? Good! That's all that matters.

              • by kwark (512736)

                How is it beside the point if you claim to use cat because you can't remember what argument to give to read from file? There is no argument to read from file, every last string not preceded by an option is to be parsed as file to read input from (after -- if you want to read file named "-x" or "--foo"). You absolutely want to a extra program to do stuff the second one can already do, you should use dog. It is a better than cat.

                • You're forgetting command line development and editing
                  time. If I need to do something like:

                  head -n 120 FILE | grep foo

                  and on first run it doesn't turn out what I was expecting, I
                  may well edit the previous command line changing it into:

                  cat FILE | grep foo

                  Plenty of seeming redundancy there too, but not when you
                  take the actual editing into acount as well.

                  • by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @04:24PM (#42524229)

                    Good lord what have I started?

                    • Haha. I never did grok command line scripting. But it's heartening I can learn more in a Slashdot discussion than in a 300 page 'Ubuntu for laypeople' paperback. :)

                    • "Some people, when confronted with a problem, think 'I know, I'll use regular expressions.' Now they have two problems." --Jamie Zawinski

                    • I'm a hardware engineer by day, but a lot of the tools I use on our Linux cluster have command line and batch mode interfaces. I don't know what it is, but the *nix world, especially in the high end engineering tool sphere, has bottom of the barrel piss poor GUI design to the point where scripting is actually easier, so I learned out of survival necessity. Also, using scripts is sometimes the only way to get some tools to take advantage of the fact that there is a whole cluster available.

            • by multi io (640409)

              You never noticed that just about all *nix commands reads input from a file (without any arguments to point out the file)?

              Strictly speaking, that's a violation of "one job one tool". Using cat is the more generic approach. cat's job is reading files given on the command line and printing their contents to stdout, and all other tools would read their input from stdin and write their output to stdout, and ideally you'd have to have something like "stdin2file" that's the opposite of cat and writes its stdin to a file given on the command line. That way, one could even pretty much do away with the shell's redirection operators, wi

              • one could even pretty much do away with the shell's redirection operators, with the pipe operator being the only one that's fundamentally necessary (if you really want to be ideologic about this).

                You can have my redirect operators when you pry them from my cold, dead fingers. Many redirects can occur within a single command, which allows for some interesting shorthand. Eliminating redirects forces many interactive one-liners to be written as scripts with temp files, which is a PITA for exploration.

                Per
          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            for i = 0; i++; i But more seriously, when you get used to pipes in UNIX, you'll do this too. Everyone does because like many UNIX commands, 'cat' is dead simple and easier to remember than whether it was -f or --file or --directory or consulting the man page to figure out what will convince the next command (in this case, grep) to read one or more files. So stop flogging a decades-dead horse and just smile and enjoy the geeky 1UP.

            Shell redirection man, shell redirection.

            Since it's a pipeline that's linking

            • The original command line we're flaming about started with " cat ~/mail/contacts/* | grep [...] ", so assuming there's more than one file in that directory, you can't just use
              Also, "cat ~/mail/contacts/* | grep [...] " produces different results than "grep [...] ~/mail/contacts/* " - either RTFM or try it. Pay attention to the filename: at the beginning of each line. Maybe you want it, maybe you don't.

          • Everyone does because like many UNIX commands, 'cat' is dead simple and easier to remember than whether it was -f or --file or --directory or consulting the man page to figure out what will convince the next command (in this case, grep) to read one or more files.

            You can feed files to the stdin of a program using the '<' operator.

            For example: grep Gottfried < phonebook.txt

        • by 0123456 (636235)

          You earned yourself a Useless Use of Cat Award [partmaps.org]!

          When did using cat (aka 'concatenate files and print on the standard output') to concatenate multiple files and print them to the standard output as input to another command become 'useless use of cat'?

          • Re:Wat (Score:4, Informative)

            by VGPowerlord (621254) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @03:20PM (#42523377)

            You earned yourself a Useless Use of Cat Award!

            When did using cat (aka 'concatenate files and print on the standard output') to concatenate multiple files and print them to the standard output as input to another command become 'useless use of cat'?

            Any time you use cat to send one or more files' contents to grep is a "useless use of cat" because grep already supports that directly:
            grep [options] PATTERN [FILE...]

        • Re:Wat (Score:4, Insightful)

          by Cinder6 (894572) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @02:59PM (#42523085)

          While cat is superfluous there, structuring the command in that way can make what's happening more obvious to the novice. Personally, grep's argument handling has always seemed backwards to me. I tend to think of it as "search this file for this pattern" (grep ), not "search for this pattern in this file" (grep ), so when I was first using Linux, I often used cat | grep because I kept getting the command wrong.

          • by Vaphell (1489021)

            grep works just like most cli tools processing files: [command] [fluff] [files]
            i guess that's because it's easier to parse fixed parameters first and potentially unlimited list of input at the end.

        • by jw3 (99683)

          You earned yourself a Useless Use of Cat Award [partmaps.org]!

          I would not agree with that. Yes, very often, cat is not necessary, strictly speaking; for example, the list of arguments could be directly passed to grep in this case. However, personally I consider it to be bad style. A verbose cat (i) doesn't cost anything in terms of memory or CPU (if it does, then 1981 called, they want their computer back), (ii) facilitates or invites additional filters, for example adding sort -u (or sort | uniq, as I would rather have it), (iii) makes the whole pipeline more readabl

      • Re:Wat (Score:4, Insightful)

        by fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @02:12PM (#42522389) Journal

        It looks to me like somebody forgot to specify the network device over which the call is supposed to go out, as well as failing to specify the tty that the SIM is listening on...

        • It looks to me like somebody forgot to specify the network device over which the call is supposed to go out, as well as failing to specify the tty that the SIM is listening on...

          It's not forgetting if they're in environment variables that the system sets when it enumerates radios and SIMs.

          • True enough. I figured that, if they had to specify the speaker and mic that most of that wasn't being handled automagically(though, in retrospect, it wouldn't be a huge surprise to learn that networking is rock solid and pulseaudio is fucked again...)

      • When the noob replies that that command didn't work on his system, remember that you have to scoff and tell him to compile his own drivers, or go buy a mac, or somesuch.

      • by tepples (727027)

        cat ~/mail/contacts/* | grep "[CONTACT_NAME]" | grep [0-9]???-[0-9]???-[0-9]???? | awk BEGIN { FS="," } { print $2 } | call -calrid 0 -n & ; foneaudapp -spkr /udev/audio/default/out -micr /udev/audio/default/in

        And almost immediately, some Python hotshot would probably whip up a wrapper script that assumes sane defaults and constructs the appropriate environment and command line when called as call-contact Staisy

    • by ssam (2723487)

      someone wrote a emacs interface to the telephony system on the openmoko phones
      https://github.com/paulfertser/fso-el/wiki [github.com]

    • This is how the first types of the OpenMoko phones worked. AFAIK, picking up a call was similar weird.
  • by CFBMoo1 (157453)
    Tablets and phones are where Unity should be, it seems like it would function best on those devices.
  • by Anonymous Coward

    I would take APT over play.google.com any day.

  • There's still tons of room for improvement in the mobile market, example: better networking features for wifi networks aka the whole desktop experience on a phone, which is what this is all about, so right on ubuntu!
    • by loufoque (1400831)

      are you implying that wifi networking works well on desktops and laptops?

      • by Synerg1y (2169962)
        I'm more referring to stuff like file sharing across the network & streaming media kind of stuff. I'm sure it might be possible with enough research, but it's not something that's easily attainable with current ios / android capabilities.
  • by scorp1us (235526) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @01:57PM (#42522179) Journal

    I'm on board with this Ubuntu-on-a-phone idea. But I want to know how it works. Is the phone itself one display (display 0) and when you plug in another display (conventional monitor) you get a traditional Ubuntu desktop on display 1? Two display managers on one system? How does the window manager work? Can I drag windows to my phone screen?

    • It cannot possibly provide the fimiliar full Ubuntu Desktop on (display 1). Since it isnt.
      • by scorp1us (235526)

        Why can't it? it's just Ubuntu compiled for arm.

        • by gl4ss (559668)

          Why can't it? it's just Ubuntu compiled for arm.

          it should do that though. it's in their pr material too.

          current phones wouldnt allow for multi-head though.

    • by Patch86 (1465427)

      I believe the "Ubuntu for Android" scheme (which was running on at least the Motorola Atrix 2) killed the phone's screen when it was in desktop mode- so only one desktop manager at a time.

      Presumably a full Ubuntu phone will basically be using the "Ubuntu for Android" code to handle the docking functionality. Indeed, I've been wondering if that was actually the whole point of the "Ubuntu for Android" project- just an incidental benefit of their Ubuntu Phone project proper.

      Anyway, I found a somewhat vacuous v

      • by scorp1us (235526)

        From what I could tell, that's just a hypervisor.

        • by Patch86 (1465427)

          I remember the marketing fluff at the time promising that Ubuntu For Android was all native- no virtualization or emulation.

          I don't really know though, so maybe you're right; I've never looked into it too closely.

    • by loufoque (1400831)

      It's just Ubuntu on your phone.
      Of course you can plug an external display, just like you can plug an external display on a laptop.

      • by scorp1us (235526)

        I think you missed the point. What happens when you get a call on your phone and you've got a 2nd display plugged in? You click a mouse to answer? You use speaker phone? etc. There are usability questions...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Nothing seems to be stepping up to replace Symbian. An operating system is needed for baseline devices. Not all phones need a camera, accelerometer, smooth window transitions, but these features are expected with every smart phone, and hence app developers expect them also.

    Feature phones and dumb phones do not receive the spotlight often, however many users do not need or want a 600 dollar computer in their pocket all the time, but still need the functionality of email and web browser. If a dedicated low re

  • Ubuntu sacrificed usability on the desktop for usability on a phone OS that, ironically, no-one is likely to use at all.

    Shuttleworth can sprout all the design language he wants. Fact is, he completely missed the most simple of principals when breaking Ubuntu with Unity - make sure the audience exists before you design for it.
    • by Rogerborg (306625)

      The Canonical story makes me imagine someone throwing a "free pizza" party, then after it's good and busy, swapping all the pizza for lutefisk [wikipedia.org] because that's what the host likes, and everyone else should Goddamn love it as well.

  • by EmperorOfCanada (1332175) on Tuesday January 08, 2013 @02:43PM (#42522851)
    I don't want a Shuttleworth phone, I want a linux capable phone. I want a phone so controllable that if the phone is capable of doing it then I or someone else is doing it. The ideal phone would be one so controllable that some hardcore dude would instantly cobble together a complete command line interface to the phone:

    phone-dial 5551234
    sms-message -u5551234 'I will be 5 minutes late'
    list-recent-calls
    I am sick of phones that are missing features that would tick off the telcos. I want to block text messages from certain users (I'm looking at you Telus) I want to have a list of people who can and can't call me at certain times of the day. I want to block calls from certain callers. I want an easy button to turn my cell data on and off. I want to delete any app that I don't want. When (not if) I reinstall the OS I want to strip out everything and then put back only that I want (I'm looking at you NewsStand). Whereas I see an Ubuntu phone as being Shuttleworth trying to get his piece of the appstore pie. I want a phone that cannot be locked to a carrier.
    • by ptaff (165113)

      The ideal phone would be one so controllable that some hardcore dude would instantly cobble together a complete command line interface to the phone

      GTalkSMS [google.com] (for Android) can already do most of what you ask for, via XMPP.

    • by ssam (2723487)

      i guess you missed the openmoko

      • by Sigg3.net (886486)

        Got one, put debian on it, lying in the drawer.. it didn't handle calls well.

          But I will turn it into an SMS gateway for my PC. Gotta love Linux and F/OSS!

    • Well, get an unlocked, open, Android phone, such as a member of the Google Nexus family, and load whatever operating system you want on it.

      Your complaint may have been justified five years ago, when pretty much all phones were entirely locked down, and every phone OS was burdened with carrier customizations, but you now have choices, you don't have to buy those things. Yes, they're what the carriers continue to push. But even Verizon carried the Galaxy Nexus.

    • by Nivag064 (904744)

      yes! Yes!! YES!!!

      My first mobile phone allowed me to delete games, pictures, and menu items I did not need.

      My current mobile phone offers the choice of 2 distracting images for the home page, with no option to make it plain. The menu is a 3 by 3 array of icons for different features - I would like to delete all except 3, and to chose the default. I would also like to control how long it rings when a call comes in. I would be quite happy if it did not have a radio or a torch - features I never use.

      I am si

    • I don't want a Shuttleworth phone, I want a linux capable phone.

      I don't want a phone at all.. I want a cellular computer device that makes calls over the data link, so that I can use any protocol I want, and talk to anyone anywhere I want.

  • I for one am in high anticipation of the 1000 paper cuts.

  • If you're a fan of the Unity UI you will find yourself right at home

    I hear he feels right at home.

  • Just when the nerd hodes scorn and berate Microsoft for bringing the desktop to the mobile, suddenly the FOSS think it makes sense... shit, make up your minds. Can I have a desktop on my phone or not?
    • by asdf7890 (1518587)
      Actually, most of the hate is the other way around: people berating MS for forcing mobile optimised elements on the desktop.
  • it doesn't run Android apps (not most of them, anyway) and it doesn't run Linux software. So really, what's the advantage here?

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