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New Video Gives Another Tease at Ubuntu for Android – What’s it All About?

November 14, 2012 - Written By Tom Dawson

I’m going to come right out and say it – I love Ubuntu, and there are a good many reasons why I do but I think the biggest reason why I love to use it day in, day out, is because it’s easy. There are a lot of things that make the use of Linux a little more difficult than they need to be but, for me, I’ve always had far more easier experiences in Ubuntu than Windows or Mac. I’m no stranger to Windows and regularly reboot to Windows to get some games played but, for the most part I’m all Ubuntu, all the time. This is why when we first heard of the Ubuntu for Android project I was mighty impressed, and pretty excited. While there is more information in the form a new video, the best I can describe it is, a tease. There’s little to no new info so, let’s go ahead and take a look at Ubuntu for Android in a nutshell.

What is Ubuntu?

I know that there are a lot of you out there that know what Ubuntu is so I won’t go on and on. For those of you that don’t know, Ubuntu is an operating system that runs on your PC or Laptop – just like Windows or Mac OS X – and is built entirely on open-source software, where the code is freely open and available to all. Basically, you get a desktop environment with everything you need to get started – an Office Suite, Web Browser, Photo Sofotware etc – and there’s access to thousands of extra programs. It’s fast, stable and best of all it’s free – always and forever, free. Not unsurprisingly, the official Ubuntu website can tell you a lot more.

Ubuntu is for PCs and Android is for Phones…?

This is of course true but thanks to the fact that Android runs on the same sort of Linux Kernel that Ubuntu is built around, the two can live in harmony on one device, on one set of hardware. This is because there is enough storage in Android phones now to hold the Ubuntu distribution, libraries and programs and thanks to the fact that they run on the same Kernel that Android does, it’s all seamless. While PCs are more commonly built with processors from AMD and Intel using the x86 instruction set, Linux and Ubuntu has been running on ARM for quite some time now, making the same chip inside your phone just fine for Ubuntu.

What Does This Mean for a Phone with Ubuntu on It?

A lot of you will remember Motorola’s failed lapdock project if you think of that, it has a lot in common with that but, there’s a little more to it as well. Where the lapdock was a few Linux based apps on top of the Android kernel in the Motorola phones, Ubuntu for Android is a full blown Linux distribution and runs on the Linux kernel that Android on your phone does. What this means is that when you plug it into a dock, output to a display and throw a mouse and keyboard in there is that you’ll end up with a computer. Perhaps not a fast computer but when you think about it, phones are more commonly coming with quad-core processors and upwards of 1GB of RAM, making a lightweight OS like Ubuntu run just fine. From here you’ll be able to do pretty much everything you would on a PC or Laptop running the OS and basically treat your phone like your PC and vice versa.

There are a couple of advantages to this in that you keep all the data on the phone so anything you work on your PC is on your phone and the reverse is true. Having a full-blown OS in your pocket can make it a lot easier to finish something off using a mouse and keyboard and getting those e-mails out a little quicker and the real joy of it comes when you just up and rip your phone out of the dock and you’re done. Genius. It makes for a truly seamless computing experience but, on the down side if you ever lost your phone you could well be losing a whole lot more than you normally would.

When Can I Have a Phone with Ubuntu on It?

This is where the real problem lies, there’s not a lot ofg official information on the subject and while we’ve seen video demonstrations from trade shows earlier in the year and now the below advertisement, that’s all we have. I wish there was more info but, right now there just isn’t any, making it a little hard to figure out when we’ll all get to enjoy it. I imagine that Canonical – the company behind Ubuntu – is having trouble getting manufacturers onboard just like they’ve had when it comes to getting Ubuntu on PCs. I hope that Canonical can get some partners onboard soon as having this is the next wave of Android phones is sure to make Apple and co take notice of Android for a whole new reason.