The fine folks over at Canonical have been hard at work on a mobile version of the popular Ubuntu Linux distro, and have announced that the final build will be making its way to smartphones later this year or early next year. Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth would not provide a specific date to PC World, instead indicating that announcements would likely be coming later this year.
Ubuntu for smartphones won’t follow the typical Ubuntu distribution channels, meaning it won’t be made readily available to anyone who so chooses to download it. Instead, the final build of Ubuntu will be made available to manufacturers who can then choose to offer the Ubuntu experience on their smartphones to run alongside an Android build.
At the Computex trade show, Canonical demonstrated Ubuntu OS for Smartphones dual-booting alongside Android on a demo unit. The phone itself booted into Android, but users could launch a fully featured Ubuntu OS when plugged into a dock hooked up to a monitor, much like the Webtop UI Motorola has been working on with its line of devices. When hooked to the dock, the smartphone-based Ubuntu UI provides the same Ubuntu experience you’d get on a desktop or laptop computer, complete with Ubuntu’s Software Center to download applications.
John Barnard, Canonical’s Global Market Manager is optimistic that smartphones featuring Ubuntu would take off as early as the beginning of next year, reflecting significant interest from manufacturers in the dual-boot product. This dual-boot option has reportedly been well received by manufacturers keen on offering a full computing experience in a multi-core Android handset.
Personally, I love the idea of a smartphone that can offer a full computer experience when connected to a dock and monitor. Motorola’s options to date have been buggy, with devices featuring significant lag rendering the computing experience relatively unusable. Perhaps Canonical, who have spent several years perfecting the desktop operating system with Ubuntu, can finally make a system that does the job well. We’re excited to learn more from Canonical in coming months.