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Canonical (Nearly) Halts Development of Ubuntu For Android 55

Posted by timothy
from the go-all-the-way dept.
rjmarvin (3001897) writes "In a since-removed bug report on Launchpad, Ubuntu's issue tracker, Canonical's Matthew Paul Thomas stated that Ubuntu for Android is no longer in active development. In a statement, Canonical stated that while the project is not completely dead, Canonical is currently focusing on pushing Ubuntu for Phones. The company is open to working with partners on Ubuntu for Android, but will not proceed with further U4A development unless they can form a partnership with an OEM partner to launch it. The Ubuntu for Android project was first announced in early 2012."
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Canonical (Nearly) Halts Development of Ubuntu For Android

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  • by Richy_T (111409) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:19PM (#46893215) Homepage

    It would nice to be able to have a realistic alternative to Apple and Google. Unfortunately, signs are that Ubuntu will stand with them rather than apart from them with regards to privacy intrusions.

    If somehow the phones are not locked to Ubuntu, I'll count that as a win though.

    • by CastrTroy (595695)
      There's always Windows Phone. I haven't heard much bad about it other than the people who hate it just because it's from Microsoft. I suppose there are less apps, but as long as it can do what you need it to do, what does it matter how many apps there are?
    • It would nice to be able to have a realistic alternative to Apple and Google. Unfortunately, signs are that Ubuntu will stand with them rather than apart from them with regards to privacy intrusions.

      I'm a happy owner of a FirefoxOS device (the geeksphone revolution). Privacy and Softwarefreedom wise it is unbeatable. It is my first modern smart phone so I don't really feel the pain of the apps I am (currently) missing (never had an iOS/Android). I do think that the html5 platform has an interesting future.

    • by GNious (953874)

      Go for a Jolla, or install Sailfish on your Nexus :)

    • You can have a Google-free experience with Android. Android is developed by AOSP, not Google. If you flash an AOSP ROM, it will be almost completely FOSS as long as you don't flash the Google applications on top. You can use F-droid for the majority of your FOSS application needs, and/or side-load .apks. Further, if you are against blobs, Replicant is an AOSP based alternative but with firmware blobs removed (thought the supported hardware is extremely limited).
  • I use Ubuntu (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Dimwit (36756) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @04:21PM (#46893231)

    I use Ubuntu as my desktop, because while I like Arch and Slackware, I'm too old to spend time futzing with getting backups to work or writing custom trayer configurations or whatever. (And when I finally got everything I wanted on Arch, half of GNOME or KDE was installed anyway, so I didn't really see the point.)

    Anyway, you know what I wish Canonical would work on? Ubuntu for Computers. I don't need yet another mobile operating system; Android is there, iOS is there, Windows Phone is there, FirefoxOS is there. There's nothing that Ubuntu Touch is going to offer that isn't done better somewhere else. All it's doing is cannibalizing resources from Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server. Working on Mir just creates divisions within the open source community; there's nothing wrong with Wayland.

    So yeah, Canonical, don't just jump on the mobile bandwagon. You have a core product, focus on it.

    • Re:I use Ubuntu (Score:4, Interesting)

      by Dutch Gun (899105) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:28PM (#46893999)

      I use Ubuntu as my desktop, because while I like Arch and Slackware, I'm too old to spend time futzing with getting backups to work or writing custom trayer configurations or whatever. (And when I finally got everything I wanted on Arch, half of GNOME or KDE was installed anyway, so I didn't really see the point.)

      Anyway, you know what I wish Canonical would work on? Ubuntu for Computers. I don't need yet another mobile operating system; Android is there, iOS is there, Windows Phone is there, FirefoxOS is there. There's nothing that Ubuntu Touch is going to offer that isn't done better somewhere else. All it's doing is cannibalizing resources from Ubuntu Desktop and Ubuntu Server. Working on Mir just creates divisions within the open source community; there's nothing wrong with Wayland.

      So yeah, Canonical, don't just jump on the mobile bandwagon. You have a core product, focus on it.

      Wasn't the entire point of Unity that it was more mobile / touch focused? I think this is when they began to alienate a lot of their users, and spawned the rise of Mint. We've seen two companies now (Canonical and Microsoft) that have alienated many of their core desktop users by trying to slap on a touch/mobile focused desktop, replacing the more powerful and desktop-focused mouse+keyboard user interface that have been refined over the course of decades.

      I agree with you. Ubuntu/Linux offers a distinct and practical product in the PC world. I'm not really seeing what they would offer in the mobile space. Are they really thinking they can build up a unique ecosystem of their own to compete with Android or iOS? Hell, even MS can't seem to dent that market.

      We're moving to a stratified computing society, with big servers running the infrastructure, desktop PCs doing the bulk of the real production work or gaming, laptops for mobile or light work, and tablets and phones for casual computing or data consumption and communication. Eventually, people will figure out that you DON'T want to share the same user interface between a desktop computer and a tablet. Touch is fantastic for data consumption on small devices, but a disaster for production work on a PC.

      Hopefully the loss of market share of both Ubuntu and Windows 8 will make that fact clear to those making the decision. At least Apple has had the good sense not to discard their desktop operating system functionality in favor of an iOS-like interface.

      • The first versions of Unity weren't that nice, but recent iterations are quite usable and have maybe even slightly raised my productivity over the traditional desktop configuration. It was Microsoft and Gnome who didn't handle this whole mobile thingy gracefully.

        • Gnome Shell, in its default configuration, is good for neither desktop nor mobile. Proof the it's not the best UI for the desktop is the way RHEL 7.0 has Gnome Shell set up to look like a polished version of the Gnome 2 desktop.

          So in terms of usability, even the chief financial backer of Gnome thinks Gnome Shell needs serious work to be a pleasant experience for users other than its core developers and designers.

      • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

        Wasn't the entire point of Unity that it was more mobile / touch focused?

        No. Originally, Unity was designed for notebooks (cheap and small laptops, now obsolete for tablets), and it was shipped only as a special Ubuntu notebook edition. Then they decided to make it the official desktop shell. I have a touch screen and I can tell you Unity is not very good for those. Unity is very keyboard based (launching applications is particularly impossible to do by touch), and using the menu bar and even closing a wind

    • Re:I use Ubuntu (Score:5, Interesting)

      by xeno (2667) on Thursday May 01, 2014 @05:49PM (#46894243)

      Anyway, you know what I wish Canonical would work on? Ubuntu for Computers. ....... You have a core product, focus on it.

      That would be Mint Linux. [linuxmint.com]

      No soapbox, no high-minded reasons here, just pure practicality: One of the places I've volunteered for a long time is a shelter for abuse victims. This county-funded program receives and triages women (mostly) and children into appropriate programs and mid-term housing, and provides courses ranging from home-ec and job training to computer literacy and online privacy before sending them back on their own. For several years those who completed the computer literacy program were given a good-spec laptop with Ubuntu + many apps, configured for security and privacy in the same way we'd done the training. We saw them all: hopeless tweaker prostitutes who went back and gave everything to their pimps, to beaten trophy wives hell-bent on recovering their independence after disconnecting the GPS tracker on the mercedes. After the first few months, the success rate surprised even us: Of those who were given a modern-spec PC with Ubuntu, more than 2/3 were still in active use a year later (still with Ubuntu, and usually with separate accounts for the kids). We probably had 250 Ubuntu PCs in the field at any given time.

      Then Shuttleworth jammed Unity forward. Ubuntu's shift to a Metro-esque gui was a disaster with this novice audience. We had people decline a free computer because they couldn't make sense of Unity. Others installed XP over it and called us when it broke or they discovered you had to pay for Office. Others called over and over for basic navigation support. In general, the answer was "no thanks" to Ubuntu.

      Switching over to Mint (first with Mate, then Cinnamon) rescued our program, and was a huge hit with the end users. Several years of .deb and ubuntu-based config & tuning was re-usable on Mint, and the interface didn't scare off the novices. Similar enough to the older W95/XP/7/OSX interfaces that they knew were to start, but modern enough for good security and functionality. Just to be clear *I* like playing with the latest and weirdest geekery, my s.o. does malware reversing to calm her nerves (so hot!!), and my home has kids who think nothing of reflashing cyanogenmod on their phones and argue over whether to use Win8+visual studio or Mint+Eclipse for their homework. But that's not the world most people inhabit, and it's really important to recognize that /. readers are not the norm or a good baseline for what is useful and usable to the general populace.

      Clem's just a regular guy solving regular problems.
      Shuttleworth is a philosopher of the future, with some distinctly reality-adjacent ideas of what ought to be, and enough monetary thrust to make his pigs fly just fine.
      I'd rather live and help people in the present. So yeah.... "Ubuntu for Computers" is Linux Mint.

    • by steelfood (895457)

      Core product's probably not making them enough money.

      Mobile's the hot thing, and the "open" niche is actually turning out to be quite sizeable. A lot of small phone manufacturers would love to be able to put out products that are unencumbered by the policies of certain U.S. corporations. That's where these alternative mobile OSes fit in. They're trying to cater to these small manufacturers largely out of the BRIC nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China) who can't or don't want to afford the MS surcharge on to

    • by drolli (522659)

      I used Ubuntu (from 2006-2012). I used debian before and i use debian now. I could not agree more with you. What made me move away was that they stopped focusing on "Ubuntu for Computers".

      When Ubuntu started, they made "Debian" + "whatever it takes to get it running without pain". That was great.

      Then they continued to make small improvements which greatly improved usability (which was definitly great). I think the best releases where around 2010. Consistent, reliable, and yet compatible with most other FOS.

  • The inevitable (Score:1, Redundant)

    by Drunkulus (920976)
    Soon, the headline will read: "Canonical Halts Development of Ubuntu, Recommends Users Migrate to Windows 8"
  • by Anonymous Coward

    by Richard Stallman - Published on Dec 07, 2012 01:52 AM

    One of the major advantages of free software is that the community protects users from malicious software. Now Ubuntu GNU/Linux has become a counterexample. What should we do?

    Proprietary software is associated with malicious treatment of the user: surveillance code, digital handcuffs (DRM or Digital Restrictions Management) to restrict users, and back doors that can do nasty things under remote control. Programs that do any of these things are malware

  • Last I checked they hadn't released the code for all of us to play with ... if they aren't going to do anything with the code anyways, why not release it so I can break my phone trying to install it? err ... install it on my phone. I for one love the concept and would definitely be interested in the project.
    • by Lisias (447563)

      if they aren't going to do anything with the code anyways, why not release it

      Because if they do it, some other distro will use the code to itself and fatally will launch a Linux over Android disto that will, for sure, undermine the need for Ubuntu for Phones.

      • by sbditto85 (879153)
        What does Ubuntu for Phones offer that android doesn't? (honest question as I haven't used it)

        Well I can see the business reason behind not releasing, isn't Ubuntu built around the concept of open source? If they released it and it became super popular on another distro then that would prove the market for something other then just android/iOS/Windows and possibly pave the way for the Ubuntu Edge?
        • by Lisias (447563)

          What does Ubuntu for Phones offer that android doesn't? (honest question as I haven't used it)

          I don't have a clue.

          Linux on mobile devices are a mess since the good old times from PalmOS (see OPIE - interesting at that time, but slow as hell).

          Android was the single and best successful attempt to use Linux on mobiles (BADA and TIZEN are far from being successful - mainly BADA, I did some projects on BADA, and this thing is mainly a updated Symbian API!! Honest!). I just can't see how yet another Linux for mobile would get any traction.

  • The phones are plenty capable to pull light desktop loads, why not turn this effort into bringing a workable Ubuntu image to phones (read: doesn't require x11rdp/vnc) that works alongside the Android stack?

  • According to their link [archive.org] as of this posting:

    Pages matching "1313802" in Launchpad
    Bug #1313802 “Ubuntu for Android described as "must-have feature...
    3 days ago ... describes Ubuntu for Android as "the must-have feature for late-2012 high-end Android phones". Ubuntu for Android is no longer in...

    Since neither them nor Slashdot won't pick up the full content, here is the page content:
    Text: Pastebin [pastebin.com]
    Site: imgur [imgur.com]

  • That's too bad, but I expected it - they announced it, asked for partners, and then it was crickets until they started on the Ubuntu for Phones path.

    It's a damn shame, though, I bet it would ROCK on my Note 3, it's so crazily powered - 2.3 gHz quad-core CPU, 3 GB of RAM and 96 GB of storage. I would freaking LOVE to see Ubuntu run natively on this thing to a screen or a lapdock. Same for the new CyanogenMod phone, except it doesn't have MicroSD storage as an option.

    • by frisket (149522)

      Canonical is doing what Nokia did, and will pay the same penalty.

      I wrote some years ago [silmaril.ie] about how Nokia was missing the point, having developed a pocket computer before knowing what they had done. Their blinkers said "phone" on them, so they never saw the giant road sign that said "computer". As one veteran of a firm then free-falling out of the Fortune 500 put it in The Cluetrain Manifesto [cluetrain.com], "The clue train stopped there four times a day for ten years and they never took delivery."

      Now Canonical have develo

  • Does it provide you with an environment that replaces the Android UI, or is it launched as an Android application? Does it run Android apps or only Ubuntu apps in Ubuntu mode? Does it work only when the phone is "docked"? What are the Android versions supported or needed, and will I be left behind when the Android part inevitably doesn't get updates? What are the system requirements..

    That's too many questions and I don't think consumers want or can learn all the details. Only a small fraction of people woul

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