Ubuntu for Phones revealed, will be easily compatible with most Android devices [VIDEO]


Ubuntu for Android hasn’t turned out to be quite the “wide open” project we’d anticipated. That particular project, which would turn a smartphone and smartdock into a desktop PC, is still having its kinks worked out and deals are still attempting to be made. The future of that is still uncertain, but the folks at Canonical have something else up their sleeves worth showing.

Ubuntu for Phones is what the company has been keeping under wraps, and it’s looking to be an absolute doozy. What you’re getting is a full-fledged mobile operating system which was derived straight from everything that makes Ubuntu for Desktop so great. The security features, app integration and everything else that makes Ubuntu the cohesive Linux distribution it is will soon be packed into smartphones.

Canonical made the announcement in a lengthy video where we got a good overview of what’s to come. The company expressed its desire to marry web apps with native apps, and allow the two to live in harmony to create the most compelling suite of apps one could hope for. They will look to developers to fill the apps repository up, and in true, open fashion Canonical even takes submissions for system apps, like the calendar and notepad, to give the development community a chance to contribute to the construction of this new platform

Ubuntu for Phones will utilize a “four edge” philosophy where every edge of the display is significant. From the notification pane at the top to an always-present apps “tray” able to be swiped in from the left, you’ll traverse all four corners of your particular device’s display to access everything you need. A unique search experience will allow you to search the web and find the files, apps and media you want without having to tell the OS where to look.

The best part about Ubuntu for Phones is that it was built from the ground up with help from Intel and ARM, and uses the same drivers that can be found in Android — yes, that means this operating system will be compatible with virtually any Android device. We don’t expect users to be able to flash it over any piece of hardware, of course, but this could eventually allow developers to create Ubuntu ROMs for curious users to flash. That is wishful thinking right now, but it’s technologically possible.

Canonical will be showing the phone and operating system off at the biggest trade show in the world next week and you can bet Phandroid will be right, front and center to get a good look at it. Ubuntu’s eager to talk to anyone who wants to use Ubuntu for their next smartphones, and while we don’t expect the Samsungs and HTCs of the world to be on the bandwagon just yet we’re excited to see how the biggest Linux distro on the planet could look on some of these OEMs’ devices. Take a look for yourself in the video above.

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. interesting. very interesting

  2. Looked so awesome in the concept video! So much laggier in real life :/

    Can’t wait for an Android dev to kang these ideas and release it as a launcher/lockscreen combo :D

    1. Did you get to try it in real life?

      1. I’ve heard of people running debian on their android phones for years, actually. Ubuntu itself with an actual touch focused interface, not so much. I’m fairly sure that part is new.

    2. I was just thinking that… The settings shortcut, etc.

    3. Actually, if you look really carefully you can see some lag in the concept video. Things weren’t as smooth as they could be.

    4. uptil I saw the paycheck for $4409, I didnt believe that my brother woz
      really making money part time on their laptop.. there uncle started
      doing this 4 less than 11 months and by now cleared the morgage on
      there cottage and bought a gorgeous Infiniti. go to, jump15.comCHECK IT OUT

    5. Now, now, Chris we don’t need Android to “kang” anything from Ubuntu for phones. We honestly need Ubuntu to incorporate this, with what was supposed to be Ubuntu for Android. And have it be a smash hit if I might add. Android needs competition, badly, we all know Apple (our friendly neighborhood reality distortion provider) is no longer supplying it. And Windows Phone/BlackBerry aren’t mature enough to put pressure on Google to continue to innovate. So I say bring on the comp, I embrace it.

  3. Normally I would say that I don’t want to see mobile devices overrun by too many competing platforms. That makes it more difficult for developers to support everyone. But I am intrigued by the idea of an Ubuntu phone…

    Hmm… That phone looks an awful lot like my Galaxy Nexus…

    1. That’s because it is a Galaxy Nexus. They won’t have their own custom hardware until late this year, early next year. In the meantime it’ll run on Android hardware.

      1. Yeah, and this is what I really find interesting. I should be able to try it out with my current phone. Hopefully Ubuntu will make a ROM for it available on their site.

        1. Apparently it’s coming within a few days/weeks according to some rumors around the web. We’ll have to wait and see.

  4. For the longest time I thought I’d just stay on Android…if this is as good as it looks I might make a switch. I’ll have to try it out.

  5. Eh? But the ubuntu website said that it would be normal android, but when you connect it to a monitor and keyboard and mouse it gets ubuntu.

    1. Different animal entirely. You are looking for Ubuntu for android not Ubuntu for phones. http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/phone

  6. why is he so yellow

    1. think thats ur display…

  7. I’d buy a 32gb SD just for booting this off of. Hell, if I liked it enough, I’d just flash this over my phone.

  8. I’m hoping Google will use some of these ideas to make their platform even better, I really like what this seems to be able to do but don’t want to leave Android

    1. The idea of plugging it into a dock and having a full fledged desktop OS is what intriges me the most. I’d love the idea of carrying my PC around in my pocket, but having access to a large screen and mouse/keyboard if needed.

      1. Yea, that’s the nice thing about Debian. They’ve ported most of their apps to arm for a while now.

      2. I’m a Fedora guy, but if Unoobtoo — excuse me: Ubuntu — can pull this off, I’d consider switching distros for the whole integrated enchilada. Not very likely, though.

  9. Actually looks very nice. Im curious to see how this matures.
    Cant wait to get my hands on it. To bad im more partial to Fedora over Ubuntu as a desktop OS tho..

    1. Second that buddy. Fedora 17 is fantastic

      1. impatiently waiting on F18 :p

    2. Personally I use PCLinuxOS Gnome version myself. I love Gnome 2 hate gnome 3/unity/metro ui on desktops.

      1. Gnome 3 kind of grows on you after awhile (tho so can a tumor so……o_O) but I def miss Gnome 2.

        Id still take Gnome 3 over Ubuntus Unity Interface tho…

      2. Cinnamon for me is the perfect union.

        1. I am currently trying out mate and will be trying out cinnamon next via linux mint. So i can compare them to each other and to Gnome2 2.

  10. Looks interesting. I can’t wait to try it.

  11. But why would I want to take a risk of putting an inferior OS on my beloved Nexus4? Besides I like jelly bean…

    1. BOTH are based on Linux! And Ubuntu Phone runs C++ apps as well!

      1. android runs c# apps also

  12. Sweet. Now I just need phones to have 16 GB of RAM so I can load up GNS3 and emulate my full Cisco CCIE lab for practicing.

    1. Please post photos of the melted pile of slag if you get this working!! ;^)

  13. Ok, this looks cool and all but when he says there’s no lock screen, I really hope he doesn’t mean you CAN’T lock your phone. I would hate to switch to a more “secure” phone that anyone could get into. I use a lock screen for a reason.

    1. I would be baffled if they didn’t have an option for password protection somewhere in the settings.

      1. Me too. It just made me nervous the way he was toting a lack of lock screen as a good thing. I’m hoping for full disk encryption and password protected software install, just like desktop Ubuntu.

    2. I am sure they address this.

  14. Android should take a few design ques from both Windows 8 and Ubuntu and integrate those hidden menu bars and navigation controls into the sides of the phone, I’m tired of losing screen space to my search bar and home button. Ubuntu made that OS just look sexy as hell, about the only thing I didn’t like was the location of the home button. I also really hope they find a way to port Android apps directly onto this thing like the BB10 tablet did, because the real hinderance to any new OS is the lack of apps and if you’re already that close to Android by being in C+ and C++ you may as well create an emulator and superficially fill up your app content shortage immediately.

    1. I missed that part of the video, where was the home button implemented? Was it the bottom screen swipe?

  15. I wonder if the OUYA can be hacked to dual boot to Ubuntu and then use a blue tooth keyboard and mouse. gaming console/slash desktop pc in one. OUYA also has a USB host port, if you can plug a flash or usb hard drive into it, then the options are unlimited.

  16. Wonder if I can get gnome 3 on this. I love Ubuntu just dislike Unity.

  17. looks like someone played with Windows 8 and copied it… hmmm…….

  18. If steam for linux supported ARM…this would be super intruiging.

  19. let’s hope this can also run on the raspberry pi which also uses an ARM chip

  20. The laginess in the real hands-on videos is impossible to look over. Reminds me of those Windows Mobile days where a simple swipe across an HTC Manilla UI would be difficult to look at :/

  21. All I can see is NOKIA written all over this. If NOKIA has some kind of grudge against Android and they have seen that their Windows partnership isn’t paying off; this would make so much sense!

  22. huh very cool and promising! looking forward to more info!

  23. Love the ideas. Hate some of the execution. Don’t like the UI very much. The biggest problem Ubuntu will face is gaining traction and I’m afraid it will end up much like WebOS, except its backers will be more stubborn about letting it fail. I would love to see some of these concepts integrated into Android, specifically the App switching on the right edge. THAT was brilliant. I also like their “welcome screen”.

    Unfortunately, even though I like Ubuntu, I probably wont be switching from Android any time soon, at least not unless their UI is completely (and I mean completely) themable. That’s just ugly too me. Even still, it would need deep integration into Google and some Microsoft services, many are far too important to me in my daily personal and work life to ditch. I wish them all the luck in the world with this. They have the right idea about what people want/need in a smartphone. Hopefully the Big G is watching and taking notes.

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