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Open Source Ubuntu Android Cellphones Handhelds Operating Systems Software Linux

Canonical Puts Ubuntu On Android Smartphones 155

nk497 writes "Canonical has revealed Ubuntu running on a smartphone — but the open source developer hasn't squashed the full desktop onto a tiny screen. Instead, the Ubuntu for Android system runs both OSes side by side, picking which to surface depending on the form factor. When a device — in the demo, it was a Motorola Atrix — is being used as a smartphone, it uses Android. When it's docked into a laptop or desktop setup, the full version of Ubuntu is used. Files, apps and other functionality such as voice calls and texting are shared between the two — for example, if a text message is sent to the phone when it's docked, the SMS pops up in Ubuntu, while calls can be received or made from the desktop." ZDnet has pictures; ExtremeTech has a story, too, including some words from Canonical CEO Jane Silber.
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Canonical Puts Ubuntu On Android Smartphones

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  • by Culture20 ( 968837 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @02:04PM (#39113647)
    Why was there a big push for Unity if you're not going to use it in a small form factor? Why not just stick with a real desktop?
  • Unity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Sarten-X ( 1102295 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @02:05PM (#39113657) Homepage

    So let me get this straight...

    The Unity desktop was arguably intended for tablets and phones... so it's only active when connected to a full-size monitor?

    I appreciate the concept of a single computing device for everything, and having that device be tiny... but couldn't somebody other than Canonical do it? Please?

  • Not ready (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @02:08PM (#39113691)

    It's the right idea, but Ubuntu on ARM is nowhere near ready. It's crazy buggy, and you're going to miss out on hardware accelerated graphics for the vast majority of applications, because most apps still expect OpenGL, and can't take advantage of OpenGL ES.

    The other problem is that devices like the Atrix, while an interesting concept, aren't really ready to host desktop Linux yet. The performance just isn't there yet. I suspect that the next crop of smartphones, with dual core A15s or quad-core A9s, those will probably do a decent job at it.

    Disclaimer: my experience with playing around with this is limited to various versions of Ubuntu on a pandaboard, which is a TI OMAP dev board with similar specs to the Atrix.

  • by arisvega ( 1414195 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @02:16PM (#39113827)

    the Ubuntu for Android system runs both OSes side by side

    Nice trick. Anyone knows if this scheme respects battery life?

  • WM8650 (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Windwraith ( 932426 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @02:21PM (#39113903)

    I wonder if this can be made to run in a low-grade "Wondermedia" Chinese tablet? If so, would be a totally nice thing to make the most of the hardware. I'd get it installed like right now.
    It's mostly because I get mixed feelings for Android. While it certainly works for little things to do with a phone or tablet, I can't help but feel it lacks stuff to make it productive. It'd be so convenient to have a little bash+sed+awk+etc environment to do little scripts on the road, or a working python terminal**...and the market is convenient, but a lot of the stuff takes me back to the bad aspects of shareware. So I would really want to run Ubuntu on it, and use familiar apps like Pidgin with OTR, a bash scripting environment...etc. And I think Unity in a tablet is a good thing to have, even if just Unity2D.

  • by Phat_Tony ( 661117 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @02:33PM (#39114049)
    I've been saying that this is where Apple's going for a while. Either the iPhone 5 or the one after it will only have a Thunderbolt port, no other dock connector (the Thunderbolt port can take a USB2 or Firewire to Thunderbolt cable for everyone with old computers/pc's and all.) And I be that after Mountain Lion, about two years from now, iOS and OSX will merge into one OS. The OS will know what hardware it's on and provide an appropriate user interface.

    Phones will have all the power and storage most users need for everything they do. All many people will need is their iPhone and docking monitor, and the phone will behave like a phone when it's not docked, and like a computer when it is docked. At that point, yes it will cannibalize their PC sales, but the writing has been on the wall for PC sales since before the PC as we know it was even invented -since 1965 when Gordan Moore formulated his law. It's been inevitable that all the computing power and storage the average user needs will eventually be cheap and tiny, it's just amazing how long we've managed to come up with higher needs for power and storage space. But for the past 10 years usage requirements haven't kept pace with progress. Lower and lower end machines increasingly handle everything most users do. Apple is a smart enough company that they'd rather cannibalize their own sales and be the market leader in something than hold back on selling an inevitable progression for fear of cannibalization, like Kodak.

    I wish Ubuntu luck with being first to market here, but I think it's a little early (not quite enough power and memory in this generation phone to be a good desktop), not a complete solution (this doesn't let you run the monitor off the phone and replace the guts of the computer entirely, it just lets you use a desktop interface for the phone when it's docked to a computer), and probably not going to be hugely successful.
  • Re:Unity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by GameboyRMH ( 1153867 ) <> on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @02:44PM (#39114165) Journal

    So close yet so far. I'd buy a phone running Ubuntu but I have no use for Android. I'd have it run the same OS all the time, just using a mobile GUI (Unity or preferably Hildon) on the small screen and a traditional desktop GUI (I'm thinking XFCE) on the large screen.

    If I can make a Droid 4 run Ubuntu I'll buy one ASAP. Once you can run a regular GNU/Linux distro you can customize it to do anything the hardware is capable of. That's the only problem with my N900, the hardware's old and out of date.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:05PM (#39114407)

    Since the Nokia N770 (2007), Linux has been on ARM - maybe even prior to that. I have a N800 and it runs Debian/Maemo happily. No rooting needed.

    I've moved to Android for work requirements on both phone and tablets. In comparison, Android sucks unless you are an end-user and do not care about privacy at all.

    You can run Debian inside a chroot under a root'ed Android today. There are many how-to guides out there. This is less than ideal in my testing because a single 'apt-get update/upgrade' fracks with the nice Firefox. The other issue is that Android doesn't have X/Windows, so you connect over VNC to the chroot debian/ubuntu on the same device to gain GUI access. For me, the mouse/keyboard don't quite work. I have a USB keyboard, but every time I press 'm', the damn email app gets launched. Yes, I've rebooted, like that would help.

    "Terminal IDE" and a few ported CLI GNU tools has brought most of the the things I missed about Maemo to Android, but I still miss the crontab for lite scheduling needs of rsync.

    Outside development, I haven't found a use the the Android phone besides games. I prefer a $20 motorola for 7+ day battery life and the N800 for real-GPS (not assisted). The N800 has user swappable batteries too.

    Google, Apple, Amazon, Rim, B&N and other vendors are so afraid they will lose control over the platform (like microsoft) that they are doing everything they can to block other solutions and calling it a "security measure." I'm calling bullshit.

  • by hawguy ( 1600213 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:06PM (#39114425)

    Unity/Gnome debate is silly and you're really missing the point.

    I don't think he's missing the point - Canonical pushed the small touch-screen friendly Unity on everyone, and now that they have Ubuntu running on a small formfactor touch screen that is supposed to be exactly what Unity is good at, what do they do? They dump Ubuntu entirely on that small screen and only run Ubuntu on the big monitor with no touch screen.

    So tell me again what the point of Unity is if it's not for touchscreen devices?

  • Re:Unity (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Jonner ( 189691 ) on Tuesday February 21, 2012 @03:10PM (#39114469)

    Canonical first officially released Unity as part of Ubuntu Netbook Remix. Currently, they call it "A powerful desktop and netbook environment that brings consistency and elegance to the Ubuntu experience." I don't think Canonical has said it was intended for tablets and phones, but others have incorrectly assumed that.

    I don't hate Unity as so many others seem to, but neither have I found it particularly useful. What I'd like to see is a way to run arbitrary Free *nix apps on an Android system in as seemless and integrated way as possible. At a bare minimum, this would require an X11 server, but integration of notifications would be another obvious thing to do.

...there can be no public or private virtue unless the foundation of action is the practice of truth. - George Jacob Holyoake