Ubuntu Looks To Give Android Some Open-Source Competition – Makes A Push Towards Mobile Devices


Linux distribution, Ubuntu, may soon be making its way off your desktop/laptop and into the connected device space. During the Ubuntu Developer Summit the founder of Canonical (company that funds Ubuntu development), Mark Shuttleworth, issued a challenge to the Ubuntu developer community to begin pushing beyond the traditional PC form factor and onto tablets, phones, in-dash car stereo units, and smart televisions.

While no products were ready to be announced, Mr. Shuttleworth is confident the OS and its Unity interface will be ready and shipping inside consumer electronics by the time version 14.01 is released in April 2014. Can’t say I’m much of a Linux guy but I know some of our readers definitely are. Do you guys think Android has something to worry about? Would love to hear your thoughts.

[MarkShuttleworth via Engadget]

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. Android is owned by Google. So the answer is no.

    1. Exactly. Google is larger and has way more resources and connections than Canonical. They will need some major players backing them or this will go no where. Of course they could probably do like RIM and just throw in an Android emulator so it can run Android apps. Instant app store, which would give them a start.

  2. Aren’t we all practically Linux users anyway?

    1. No practically about it. An android user is a Linux user. Android is just another distro, targeted to specific ARM devices, lacking a bunch of typical utilities and including a bunch of proprietary-ish layers.

    2. If you use Android, you are a Linux user.

      If you do a Google search, you are a Linux user.

      If you have either a Tom Tom or Garmin GPS Navigator, you are a Linux user.

      If you have a TiVo, you are a Linux user.

      Try this experiment. Indulge me.
      Follow this link to Sony’s Open Source Code Distribution Service.
      Click on Television.
      Stop and catch breath. Wow, that’s a lot of television models that have Linux since 2003. And that’s just Sony brand televisions.
      Pick a television model. For instance, let’s pick the model KDL-37M4000. Click it.
      That takes you to where you can download the Linux source code for that model of television set.

      Sony is not the only maker of TV’s with Linux inside.

      I could go on and on telling you where Linux is inside . . . Roku, WebOS, home WiFi routers, personal media players, Kindle (not just the Android kindle), DVD players, VCRs (can you say “on screen display”, I knew you could), digital cameras, digital photo frames (can you say SD card support, Internet WiFi, BlueTooth, etc, did you think they did all that engineering on their lonesome just for a digital photo frame?).

      Anything with an embedded web server.
      example: printers with a web-based setup interface. (Just what do you think is running that web server inside that printer or fax machine?)

      Linux isn’t your dad’s hobbiest OS anymore.

      Just for the Kernel alone, there are 330 paid corporate developers.

      That doesn’t count corporate contributions for QT, GTK, and much more.

      Even Microsoft has a GPL licensed Kernel driver because they can no longer deny that Customers want virtualized Linux systems and Microsoft wants to virtualize them on top of Windows (whether or not this is a good idea).

      Red Hat in the S&P 500, so is Linux mature enough? Wall Street uses Linux extensively for its systems.

      IBM is a major proponent of Linux from PC’s to giant mainframes.

      Server farms
      * Google
      * Amazon
      * Hollywood massive render farms

      * Nasa 10240 node Linux supercomputer cluster
      * 85% of all Top 500 supercomputers

      Stock Exchanges:
      * NYSE
      * Nasdaq
      * London stock exchange (after Windows based system major flop and is being abandoned and replaced with Linux)

      Other uses:
      * Countless embedded systems. (Just follow LinuxForDevices.com)
      * Aircraft in-flight entertainment systems

      50 Places Linux is Running That You Might Not Expect

  3. Pretty sure some phones and tablets can already boot Ubuntu. Though as far as being useful as a mobile phone at this point it probably is far from viable.

    Though some people would probably love it, it would take a 100% overhaul to make it user friendly for the mindless drones that are most smartphone users.

  4. Ubuntu is a FORM of linux. Nothing to worry about here. Just someone tryin to milk androids successes

    1. that’s exactly what Apple said about Android and is not a good attitude

  5. 2014?


  6. Android is free and the market is already saturated. If you have iOS, Android and RIM, where is there room for a 4th? Has there ever been room for a 4th? If a Ubuntu (linux) developer was going to code an application, why wouldn’t they just code using the Android SDK?

    1. Well, RIM is out of the game, which only leaves WP7, Android, and iOS

      1. LOL RIMM is out of the game? You’re an idiot.

        1. If you think RIM is still a player you’re an even bigger idiot than I gave you credit for.

          1. Sigh.

            RIM is still a major player and popular in international markets. They are seeing good growth in those areas. The US market is not the only smartphone market in the world. They have a healthy amount of cash, and no debt.

            Just because talking down on the company has been cool for a year plus, doesn’t make it true. Go read their annual reports and study the financials of the company before you make uninformed opinions. I have done this for RIM. I can safely assume you haven’t.

          2. I used to think that John was the undisputed champion of the most ignorant, uninformed fandroids. But now I think we have a new champ: ladies and gentlemen, meet ScottColbert!!

          3. Do you have a rebuttal or did I just shut you the hell up?

      2. Let’s see at the sales. If RIM is out then WP7 were never there )))… So there only two players.

  7. Wouldn’t version 14.01 come out in January of 2014?

  8. 2014? Lmao.

  9. Android *is* linux based.

    and yes, the release will be 14.04, not 14.01

    1. Exactly what I was going to say. Why would an OEM choose Ubuntu over Android? The reason people choose Linux for computers is because it’s free while Windows costs $$. Android is already free and is mature; the only reason I could think of is Ubuntu could be lighter-weight, for lower-spec devices, but we already see Froyo and Gingerbread running on low-spec hardware…

      As king james said, non issue.

      1. Because it would be TRULY open and open source, which is NOT what Android is.

        1. You have a point there – it could be better for proprietary applications – education, enterprise, etc.

        2. Don’t you have an Apple to suck on?

          1. Don’t you have an Android doll to **** on? Pricks like you give Android fans bad name!

      2. I’m no expert, but Ubuntu is also free and I recently switched from windows to Ubuntu for my main home computer.

        I would say that Ubuntu is much more powerful than Android, though not as streamlined and easy to use. You can do nearly anything with Ubuntu that you can with Widows XP/7/etc.

        1. Zero mobile-specific apps means Ubuntu would spend a LONG time playing catch up. I like desktop linux, but it’s not hard to see why it’s never taken off. There’s no reason to think it would be any different in a mobile form factor (other than the success of Android, which I see as working against Ubuntu rather than for it).

          Besides, the infighting in the desktop linux community is ridiculous. There needs to a major company (and I don’t mean Canonical) backing this and making the important decisions or it’s a non-starter.

          1. Yeah, I guess I was picturing it more for tablets, etc which would have enough screen real estate that desktop apps would probably work fine. But yeah, it doesn’t sound very appealing on a phone.

          2. Why would you need Mobile apps when you could run more powerful Linux or cross-platform programs?

        2. Not Quickbooks….

          1. Based on some quick Googling it sounds like Quickbooks can be made to work on Ubuntu with Wine or VirtualBox or by using the online version of Quickbooks. But yeah, not as easy for this program as Windows…

      3. Android is made for mobile spaces and handling low-end hardware or low power limits, like other mobile OSs. There’s no way in hell ubuntu can compete with that unless they create a kernel specifically for that. And then most Linux applications wouldn’t be compatible unless they were fudged with. There are serious differences with how reources and processes are managed, not to mention how that affects security. The only thing I could see is tablets. No phones or other handheld devices though. Not efficiently anyway.

        1. Android runs on the Linux kernel…Ubuntu runs on a Linux kernel…

          1. So what? My laptop uses a Linux kernel. So does my tv. Two very different beasts. Just read about how Android handles resources and you’ll understand.

      4. Quite frankly, we have no idea what the mobile version of Ubuntu will have over Android. Who knows, it could end up being tons better with more features, more reliability, and less of a footprint. On the other hand it could be complete crap the way windows mobile compared to desktop windows when it first came out. No point in speculating based on the desktop version, because it’s likely not going to be the same.

  10. Non Issue…

  11. I’m all for it. I’ve already played around with Ubuntu on N1 and NS. More options are good.

  12. Laugh all you want about 2014, but you have no idea how long a complete mobile OS takes to build. As an example Android Inc was founded in Oct 2003, then bought by Google in Aug 2005 and it took until Oct 2008 to see the first Android equipped phone. With that said, April 2014 seems pretty ambitious. More competition will only breed better operating systems for consumers.

  13. Dual boot

  14. Look with eyes open… What if you were a manufacturer of farm equipment in Des Moines and you needed to make a tablet to control your crop-inator3000. Would you build an OEM platform on:

    IOS? (Nope, Apple says NO you can’t)
    RIM? (Maybe, but probably not cost effective)
    WebOS? (Are you Samsung?)
    WP7? (Tough to say, they busy alienating most win embedded devs)
    Android? (Only vendor that says Hells Yes)
    Tizen? (Seems to be it’s reason for existing)
    WindRiver, et al. (custom flavors… joy)
    Ubuntu? (least amount of restrictions, commodity hardware, +support options)

    Separately, there is money in that there cloud thing as Apple’s iCloud is shooting for too. Ubuntu ONE is a dandy little cloud that is well integrated with Ubuntu. Take a huge infrastructure/support load of Mr Robot Tractor maker.

    As a user though I’d certainly try it out, especially since I could probably run Android Apps on it too. :)

  15. Just one thing to say: TOO LATE!

  16. Any one who seen the Unity will say That this is the worse thing that could happened with Ubuntu (and by the way I am Ubuntu fan).

    So I don’t think that Android in any danger. Moreover after what what they did to GNOME 3… I do not see any good Linux window manager.

    Maybe, this is the time for Android to move towards the desktops ;)

  17. Ubuntu destroyed itself on the desktop in pursuit of this mobile chimera. Unity is just horrific on the desktop. So maybe it’ll be OK on a tablet. Who knows?

    (Former Ubuntu devotee, now a Linux Mint guy.)

    1. Here is a very good suggestion for those who dislike Unity & for Ubuntu users who liked the ‘good old’ Ubuntu: Install Cairo / AWN Dock 

      Ubuntu 11.10 + Cairo / AWN Dock = Awesome!

      This way you have the eye candy of Unity & Cairo Dock. I find Cairo Dock has some functionality & accessibility that has yet to come to Unity.

       I run it on Unity & am very pleased.

      I have installed Compiz Config Settings Manager & Selected “Autohide” in the ‘Hide Launcher’ option.

      So when the computer boots you only see the Cairo Dock. But Unity is always there when you need it (Mouse over Left border of the screen).

      In fact, some “Themes” in Cairo are like the screen shots I saw when I Googled images of Gnome 3. (Clock in the top & Center).

  18. Alright, who’s got the bad photoshop skills???! LOL

    1. Dang, I wanted to be the one to point this out

  19. Ubuntu had this goal for a bit now anyone who actually follows Ubuntu before this announcement knew this hence this new unity interface which fucking sucks. New comers to Linux and Ubuntu wont know but Ubuntu been working with Intel on this subject just problem is locked bootloaders. So Ubuntu can’t keep the platform they have. I personally would love a tablet with a gnome desktop optimized for a table any day over Android. But gnome and Tablets I don’t think ill ever see unity and Tablet Shit I for sure see that :(

  20. I think it would be more of a threat to windows mobile phones. I think android would welcome the kindred competition. It will definitely drive innovative thinking unlike windows and apple who just want to own and control it all

  21. Funny Ubuntu will be facing locked bootloaders on both platforms , PC robber baron Micro$oft wants locked bootloadere on all new Winders8 PCs .
    Not a Ubuntu fan , but it is Linux so it is okay .

  22. Whoever did the photoshop work for your image there needs to check the reflection.

    1. hahaha, sharp observation!

  23. I’d love to install BackTrack 5 on this!

  24. Moving on…

  25. Yeah PS Chris its 14.04 Ubuntu version numbers go year and month of release

  26. For my laptop, Ubuntu isn’t even that great when compared to OS X.

    I would never want to use Ubuntu on my phone or tablet when we have Android as an option, and Android will probably always be a lot more advanced than Ubuntu.

  27. This will be a very big competition will be. Android is linux based, will compete with Linux-based elders as well.

    I do not believe that Ubuntu will use it on a smartphone, but I strongly believe if the tablet. and I am very interested in the tablet ubuntu using Gnome-Shell (not unity).

    this is called linux is the future.

    .. and for Chris Chavez: You are part of PHandroid, the site is always preaching about the android is linux based and you do not know about the version of ubuntu?. oooh Chris, you so sad n like iFans

  28. Android is linux but has restricted lots of stuff to conform to the telephony regulations, a true open source phone platform wherein all audio streams to one /dev location would be awesome. And rooting would be a thing of the past if you install stuff as sudo already

  29. Ubuntu is awesome and i’d love to see some Ubuntu love on a smartphone. More competition = More Innovation

  30. I removed widows 7 and now am stuck with Ubuntu. Personally it is the biggest sack of shit I have ever used. I will cut my nephews throat for talking me into doing a full install next time I see him. I’m not green to.computing either which makes it even worse.

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