One of the best things about open source software is just that, it’s open and free. Android is an open source, and that explains why there are so many different versions of it, or “skins” if you will.
Android is based on Linux, an open source operating system and we’ve been hearing lots of chatter lately about Linux, especially since the release of Ubuntu Touch. Like many operating systems before it, Ubuntu Touch is based on different software of its own. More recently though, people started to point out that Ubuntu for Phones is based on a CyanogenMod custom ROM. It’s no surprise either with comments like this in the open:
“Indications for Ubuntu porting to other devices is quite simple since it has the same basis as CyanogenMod 10.1 with Ubuntu Interface Touch running in a container and accessed via chroot.”
Considering what a lot of us know about the Android mobile OS, it’s not a far cry to think that Ubuntu Touch is simply just a reskinned version of a CyanogenMod. This is hardly the truth, however as Ubuntu Touch is much more than just a skin.
Ubuntu Touch for phones uses a lot of the same code from the CyanogenMod repositories, but there’s a valid reason for it. CyanogenMod is based on AOSP. Because of that, most of the work has already been done for the Ubuntu team and seeing as both are open source projects, it doesn’t make sense for the team to start from scratch, especially when they don’t have to.
That doesn’t mean Ubuntu Touch is just a reskinned CyanogenMod ROM, nor does it mean it’s just another reskinned version of Android. In fact, Ubuntu Touch for Phones is an entirely separate platform.
Android apps won’t even work on Ubuntu Touch natively because the Dalvik VM and various components required to run Android apps have been stripped away. Interestingly enough, an emulator of some kind could be developed in the future that would allow Android apps to run on the Ubuntu Touch platform.
So to break it down in straightforward terms, Ubuntu Touch uses code from the Android OS and the CyanogenMod ROM, but it’s just a base or foundation for the real platform. While it’s true to announce that they’re all part of the same family, and they are because they all came from Linux. It’s wrong to state that Ubuntu Touch is just Android or CyanogenMod reborn. It’s not like the HTC Sense, Motoblur, or TouchWiz UI in any way. Instead, Ubuntu Touch for Phones is a new kind of animal altogether.