Ubuntu headed for mobiles and tablets

Ubuntu Linux, which was the great white hope of getting Linux onto the desktop, is now headed towards mobile phones, tablets and smart tellies.

Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, which makes Ubuntu Linux, is set to tell the Ubuntu Developer Summit that instead of going back to their computers and prepare for Office, they should be looking at porting Ubuntu Linux to smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

According to Zdnet, Shuttleworth said that he has a cunning plan to make Ubuntu 12.04, the next long term support (LTS) of its Linux distribution, as stable as possible and to give the Unity desktop interface.

After that, however, Canonical will be expanding its popular Linux desktop to all computing devices.

He claimed that this was a natural expansion of his idea as “Ubuntu is Linux for human beings”. Shuttleworth said that punters have moved from desktop to new form factors for computing, it’s important for Canonical to reach out to its community on these platforms.

Fortunately for those who hate it, Canonical is not going to export Unity, its GNOME-based desktop, beyond the desktop. This is a little odd as when it was shipped it was seen as a component for a future Ubuntu tablet.

Shuttleworth said that Canonical had been talking to partners for eighteen months about bringing  Ubuntu to smartphones and tablets. We assume he did not mean their significant others, but it seems to us that the market is starting to get crowded with operating systems that do not talk to one another.

Android would be Ubuntu’s primary competitor, but he thinks that Google’s acquisition of Motorola Mobility has meant that hardware vendors are looking for non-Android alternatives.

There does not appear to be a production version of multi-device Ubuntu until April 2014. In fact there is not even any alpha code. Moreover, Shuttleworth wouldn’t say when the first code would appear.

He said the new code will be touch-enabled and available on all the architectures that Ubuntu currently runs on. One of the crucial players in Shuttleworth’s cunning plan is ARM.

Ubuntu is already working with hardware partners to bring products to market and these chats seem to be slowing things down a bit.

He wants Ubuntu to take the device-specific code, open source it, and roll it into standard Ubuntu.

He replied, “The device world is highly competitive and highly dynamic, while Android and iOS dominate handheld devices, disruptive elements could still establish themselves.” Therefore, “Ubuntu and Windows can still be a real force.”