Ubuntu for Android Hands-on Video [MWC 2012]


Canonical was one of our first stops inside AppPlanet here at Mobile World Congress. After hearing about Ubuntu for Android, my personal favorite flavor of Linux, I had to hunt them down. We were showed the app running on a Motorola ATRIX 4G 2. Ubuntu tells us that they do have a minimum spec recommendation. While they didn’t go into detail, we know that you’re most likely in the clear if your phone has video-out, 1GB of RAM and a dual-core processor.

The operating system is just as it is on desktop PCs. You’re getting that lovely Gnome-based user interface and suite of features alongside all of the preinstalled applications you’d expect. Out of the box, you can do things like edit photos, create documents, listen to music and more with very little hassle, if any at all. The greatest thing is that Ubuntu knows what a photo is and where they are on your phone. When you edit a photo on your in Ubuntu, it will automatically be transferred back to Android. It’s convenience like that which gets me excited.

You can do system-wide searches for documents and apps, and even use your Android apps while Ubuntu is running. Since both Android and Ubuntu are Linux-based operating systems Ubuntu said that it was the perfect first choice for their mobile aspirations.

They offer even more integration by pulling in your contacts and appointments. All of it is seamlessly synced between Android and Ubuntu so you won’t have to reach for your phone while it’s running. Everything ran smoothly and stably – not to be mean to Motorola when it’s being demoed on their own device, but it blows WebTop completely out of the water.

Ubuntu tells us that the operating system updates will happen side-by-side with PC and netbook updates. Android users also get full access to software repositories, Ubuntu One and other major features which make Ubuntu a great operating system to use. You can find our hands-on above and look forward to seeing this preinstalled on devices sometime soon. Hopefully Ubuntu will make a public release available for several phones down the line, but they could not confirm that they were working on that.

Quentyn Kennemer
The "Google Phone" sounded too awesome to pass up, so I bought a G1. The rest is history. And yes, I know my name isn't Wilson.

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  1. I’m still trying to figure out if this will work along side ICS or if you need a special version of Gingerbread to run along side this.

    1.  It will dual boot. Meaning it won’t matter what OS is running on side of it. Its only hardware dependent. Dual core 1gb or ram and better. It could potentially run along side WP7 if Ubuntu creators saw fit.

      The biggest problem I see with their business model is the Carriers. They will block this  and charge extra to have it unlocked. This is the reason why they do not allow tethering. They do not want you using a desktop via your phones data connection.

      Im sure it will also come with a data usage limit for desktop dock mode. You can shoot this down before it begins.

      1. Considering the carriers are all migrating to limited data tiers, I don’t think it will be much longer before this type of feature is not an extra fee. After all, if you go over your limit, you’ll pay more anyways. So why would they care if its through your phone interface or a desktop.

      2. it does not dual boot… the phone still runs in the background…
        and you do need a version of android, cause it requires USB hub support (android 3.1+)…

  2. Just to correct a major mistake ubuntu no longer uses gnome as their main GUI they use something they created called Unity and that annoying peice of shit doesnt work to well with Keyboard and mouse in my opinion but it would be fine for touchscreens like those found on tablets and smartphones but since it uses a keyboard and mouse instead of the screen from your device I honestly do not like it. I stopped using ubuntu after version 5 personally I just dont care for that particular flavor of linux. My distro of choice is PCLinuxOS Gnome edition and zenmini which is a lighter version of the gnome edition.

    1. But you know that as with any Linux distro you have the free choice, right? You can install Gnome 3 and uninstall Unity on Ubuntu with a couple of clicks via the Ubuntu software center or via aptitude.

      1.  Problem with that is I dont like Gnome 3 either and I just cant stand Ubuntu either its to mainstream and to much like windows I use linux to get away from Windows not to have more of the same.

        1. Do you hang out in coffee shops typing in public too?

          1. No thats steering towards Apple user behavior. This person just wants a more unique experience on PC, I’m not a fan of gnome 3 or unity either, but I’m okay with a windows like experience so I use Mint.

          2.  choose Gnome classic mode while logging on

          3. I do not like apple either and yes I do want a more unique experience out of my pc compared ot the one I get on both a tablet and a smartphone. I desktop is just that a desktop and ment for things a phone and tablet cant handle and the OS creators are starting to push the mobile onto the desktop which is a no no in my book.

            I use linux to get away from windows not to have the same experience as windows if i wanted the windows expereince i would stick to using windows. I use gnome 2 mainly and will stick with it as long as I am able to and once its not possible i will switch over to kde since they do not seem to be pushing the whole mobile look onto their product.

          4. hahaha good one

            i hate people like that

    2. unity is a gnome shell, and its very keyboard and mouse friendly, get your facts straight!

    3.  I perfer Open Suse 11.4 or 12.1 now. I stopped liking Ubuntu when they moved to the Unity UI. For a long time I like Gnome. I think Hardy Heron was my last distro.

  3. As an both an Android user (Samsung Galaxy Nexus) and an Ubuntu user (System76 Lemur UltraThin 2) I’d much be more interested in this in a laptop form factor vs a desktop. 

  4. I think this is pretty exciting and I’d like to play around with this.  The one part I don’t get… in order to get this to work you need some kind of dock right?  I need some way to get a keyboard and mouse input into my phone.  I have a Droid Bionic which meets the requirements and has an HDMI out… but I’m not quite seeing how this would work.

    1.  imagine a phone where its running android normally but when docked it runs normal windows desktop and all phone processes in the background. This is a proof of concept not a finished project, they are looking for manufacturers that want to bring this to fruition, it very might well end up on a lap top dock, pretty much its what motorolas atrix should of been.

      1. Windows on Android will NEVER happen.

        1. What do you mean on an Android? Because there is a Lenovo laptop coming soon that boots to Android (skinned and heavily handicapped) for low power use and boots to windows for general use. HTC HD -2 boots android and windows phone 7. Microsoft will not work with Android yes it will never come pre installed but with Android x86 stuff is just really a matter of time.

    2. That’s why this would be so perfect on the ASUS Padfone. The docks are available and portable. Now to go find a “Contact Us” link on Canonical’s website…

  5. What a bunch of cry babies…. All you people do is whinge!

    If you babies don’t like unity or think Ubuntu its becoming like Apple… its some advice….don’t use it!

    Now suck it up princess and stop complaining.

    1. Lots of people did stop using it.  I know I did.  Mint is the new hotness.
      Your exclamation points and name-calling certainly seems like a lot of complaining.  I’d like to complain about your complaining about complainers.

      1. Could you explain why they’re becoming like Apple? Or why you stopped using it? I’ve always used Windows but I’ve been wanting to try Linux recently.

  6. Anon, put down the crack pipe

  7. Ubuntu for Android is coming, so when the Android integrated Linux kernel comes out (and added to Android 5.0) we all will have a mobile desktop.

  8.  Hi, my name is John, and this is my first time comment trolling. I held out for a lot of years, but this is just too good.

    Seriously?! You’re going to hate on 2 or 3 of the most well-produced Linux distributions, tell us you use Linux to mostly “get away from Windows”, and that these alternatives are just too main stream?!?
    First off, there’s a band I like that has some awesome music about that mindset – but trust me you’ve never heard of them. Very avant garde and anti-fame. Born in Daft Punk robot disguises, they were.

    FOR THE LOVE OF GOD YOU ARE WALKING IRONY! (First-time caps user also)
    If it’s too main-stream, not your flavor, becoming too AppleFruity,…..
    Well, it’s Linux! It’s Avant Garde! Best of all….it’s $%^#$%^ open source!

    Stop bitching and wearing really tight t-shirts and dying your hair and do something about it. I know it’s probably not the first time you’ve chopped up a line or two….of code.

    So hop on, Pop! Worst case scenario you come back here whining that you ‘bricked’ your PC, and get to post all about it on the new device your parents bought you. I’d speculate what brand it might be but , oh, I’m sure…I’ve never heard of it.

    I just re-read your OP that spurred this rant on to make sure I let it all soak in, but I forgot to crack a joke about how authoritatively you correct someone as a platform to make your statement, only to be instantly set back down by someone requiring only a modicum of ‘nix knowledge to reseat you.
    I don’t really have a joke. Here’s a comparative:

    In this picture of a Civil Rights Peace Demonstration, you are represented by the flag-holding guy. Proud, backwards, and driven by half-ass rationality.

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