Sign in with
Sign up | Sign in

Ubuntu For Android to be Shown Next Week at MWC 2012

By - Source: ExtremeTech | B 21 comments

Ubuntu for Android is making an appearance next week at Mobile World Congress.

On Tuesday Canonical revealed Ubuntu for Android, a release the company says will bring a full desktop computing experience to a docked Android smartphone. But don't expect to install this software on your current device (legally): it will only be available on new devices provided by participating manufacturers.

Canonical has reportedly combined the Ubuntu architecture with Google's 2.3 "Gingerbread" AOSP build at the kernel level. As the name indicates, it won't be out to compete with Apple's iOS, Microsoft's Windows Phone or even Android itself as a standalone OS, but serve as a "value-add" service that Canonical hopes will reduce the number of devices carried by Android consumers.

"Why carry two devices, when you could carry only one?" reads the Ubuntu for Android website. "Your next high-end smartphone has far more horsepower than you’ll need on a phone, and more than enough for a laptop. So we’ve brought Android together with Ubuntu, the world’s favorite free operating system, to give you a full productivity desktop that fits in your pocket. Android for the phone experience, Ubuntu for the desktop, all on one device, running at the same time."

According to Canonical, the software requires "minimal" custom hardware enablement, meaning it will be installed at the manufacturer level, and won't be possible to install on existing handsets. However since both Ubuntu and Android will share the same Gingerbread kernel, both will run concurrently when the device is docked. This allows both mobile and desktop functionality to co-exist in different runtimes.

"Shared services and applications are delivered using a Convergence API module which ensures the tight integration between desktop and mobile environments," Canonical reports. "Work is balanced across the cores of the phone. When the handset is not docked, both CPU cores transfer their full power to Android."

Hardware requirements for Ubuntu on Android include an ARM-based dual-core 1 GHz SoC (x86 may be possible in the future), 512 MB of RAM, HDMI output with a secondary frame buffer device, 2 GB of storage for the OS disk image, USB host mode, and video acceleration (shared kernel driver with associated X driver; Open GL, ES/EGL).

Consumers with Ubuntu installed on their Android smartphone won't notice anything different outside the typical Android experience, making calls, surfing the web and playing Angry Birds like any other Android smartphone user. But once the gadget is docked, users will get the full Unity desktop environment on the big screen. And based on screenshots, it appears that several Android apps will appear in a window, granting access to emails, SMSes, contacts and more without having to undock the phone. Even more, phone calls can be sent and received while the phone is still docked.

"Manage and view photos stored on your smartphone using the Ubuntu Gallery application. Then edit them on the Ubuntu desktop and save them back to the phone. Create, edit and consume, all on one device," Canonical states. "All your Android social network account credentials are synchronised seamlessly, using the Ubuntu social networking client to provide easy access to your online communities."

Ubuntu for Android is expected to make an appearance next week at Mobile World Congress in Barcelona. To learn more about this piggy-backing OS, head here. Canonical is providing the software only, so we may see manufacturers like Samsung and whatnot showcase compatible docks and smartphones during the show too.

Display 21 Comments.
This thread is closed for comments
  • 5 Hide
    d-isdumb , February 21, 2012 11:13 PM
    I like the new Unity Desktop that Ubuntu started with 11.04. I fought it at first, still preferring Gnome but it quickly grew on me and now I see why they switched. It will run on smart phones too, shows how low profile it really is. The new Unity desktop of Ubuntu is allot like OS X with the default menu bar on the left side of the screen instead of the bottom that OS X uses. Both are switchable, OS X being much easier to switch.
  • 9 Hide
    kj3639 , February 22, 2012 12:57 AM
    A true, all in one computing device. I want this.
  • -1 Hide
    Anonymous , February 22, 2012 12:57 AM
    Why the hell is single core not supported ?? as far as not being able to root the phone and install it on your own, we will see about that :) 
  • 1 Hide
    kenyee , February 22, 2012 1:44 AM
    You know Unity core isn't ready for prime time when you can't do full screen with it while hiding the status bar :-P

    Excited about this phone/desktop combo though :-)
  • 4 Hide
    indian-art , February 22, 2012 2:36 AM
    Very smart move by Ubuntu. Just read this month "IDC report says smartphones outsell computers for the first time". http://www.gsmarena.com/idc_report_says_smartphones_outsell_computers_for_the_first_time-news-2303.php

    In many parts of the world convenient, affordable & portable computing & broadband is thanks to smart phones.

    Full points to Canonical / Ubuntu for being so innovative & moving ahead quickly with the times.

    Google should support this. Chrome OS is great but I feel a bit ahead of its time in the sense too reliant on being online. In today's world broadband is yet to be universal like air, water, electricity etc. This is where they can support Ubuntu for now. Android can do all the light work & Ubuntu the heavy lifting. Chrome OS can step in later.
  • 2 Hide
    indian-art , February 22, 2012 2:42 AM
    indian-artVery smart move by Ubuntu. Just read this month "IDC report says smartphones outsell computers for the first time". http://www.gsmarena.com/idc_report [...] s-2303.phpIn many parts of the world convenient, affordable & portable computing & broadband is thanks to smart phones.Full points to Canonical / Ubuntu for being so innovative & moving ahead quickly with the times.Google should support this. Chrome OS is great but I feel a bit ahead of its time in the sense too reliant on being online. In today's world broadband is yet to be universal like air, water, electricity etc. This is where they can support Ubuntu for now. Android can do all the light work & Ubuntu the heavy lifting. Chrome OS can step in later.


    Sorry, this is the link I wanted to send: http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/article2880913.ece
  • 1 Hide
    LuckyDucky7 , February 22, 2012 3:44 AM
    So we can finally have a real work-capable OS environment on a smartphone.

    This is good news for those who actually want to get things done on a tablet; we can have full office apps instead of the very feature-limited "office" apps that Android offers.

    Now, people can actually replace netbooks and laptops (assuming someone offers a dock like the Motorola Atrix; which while cool was still useless for real work because it still ran Android while docked)- so that tablets and smartphones will actually be worth the purchase as a full computing device.
  • 4 Hide
    Darkk , February 22, 2012 5:15 AM
    This actually makes alot of sense. Same as it was back in 1995 when the public was finally aware of the existance of the internet. It quickly became the hottest topic for several years and now smartphones has restarted that interest again. Current smartphones won't entirely replace your PC just yet but it is nice to have all your information, pictures, documents, files, e-mails and music stored on the same device and always available to you on the go. Dedicated devices such as MP3 players are quickly becoming anicent way of doing things. Now smartphones can do just about anything thanks to the thousands and thousands of apps and instant access to the internet.

    Soon we will able to pull up the app on the smartphone to check with the fridge to see if anything needs to be picked up the store before heading home from work. There is already an app that lets you check on the garage door. It's pretty much limitless as to what these things can do now.

  • -3 Hide
    __-_-_-__ , February 22, 2012 9:35 AM
    so, how will they manage the proprietary drivers from all hundreds of devices?
    this will not work.
  • 3 Hide
    Milleman , February 22, 2012 9:43 AM
    Wow! Me like!!
    A complete computer inside a handheld device!
    I had problems in the beginning with getting accustomed to the Unity interface. But now I just love it and will never go back to the old menu system.
  • -2 Hide
    razor512 , February 22, 2012 10:24 AM
    The main issue with bringing the desktop to the mobile device is that it cant be done with current hardware.

    For example My x86 or x64 exe files (eg I really like miro) apps will not work on my ARM based mobile device

    What the makers of ubuntu want to do is basically bring the ubuntu UI to a mobile device (which will be an improvement if it can be either the gnome or KDE UI but not the unity crap.

    What we need is to get rid of ARM and move to chips that can handle the same code as a desktop or laptop CPU that way you can truly have an environment where the same programs on your desktop will run on your mobile phone and the makers of said programs can have multiple UI's like what they do now with android where the same program will look differently whether it is run on a tablet or a small screen smartphone.

    The way it is now seems like the windows 8 crap where the Amish or other groups not too experienced with smartphones and tablets, will think that their desktop applications will run on their tablet but in reality, you will only get a similar UI but thats where it ends, the applications on the desktop PC will not work on the ARM tablet
  • 3 Hide
    Milleman , February 22, 2012 10:46 AM
    Razor512The main issue with bringing the desktop to the mobile device is that it cant be done with current hardware.For example My x86 or x64 exe files (eg I really like miro) apps will not work on my ARM based mobile device...


    Who runs exe files on Ubuntu, besides those using Wine? 90% of the Linux software is Open Source and can easially be compiled/ported to ARM.
  • 2 Hide
    mobrocket , February 22, 2012 11:37 AM
    i wonder when and what devices will offer this...

    i hope the big boys like motorola and samsung are on the boat

    and i wonder what google thinks about this
  • 0 Hide
    digiex , February 22, 2012 12:37 PM
    like...
  • 2 Hide
    g-thor , February 22, 2012 1:02 PM
    I wonder where the Android 4 ICS version is. Android is moving on, striving to unify their OS. Since they've gotten it working on 2.3, it probably won't take long for them to port to 4 and/or the rumored 5 Jellybean. Now that I have a phone with ICS on it, I don't want to go back.
  • 1 Hide
    doorspawn , February 22, 2012 1:59 PM
    It is great to have a decent free operating system on handhelds.

    That being said, I fail to see why they had to make the OS worse for desktop power users at the same time. There was no need to totally remove functionality that power users liked, it could have just been removed from the default system.

    Hopefully they'll add the missing functionality and configurability back into Unity as it matures.
  • -1 Hide
    annymmo , February 22, 2012 2:40 PM
    Razor512The main issue with bringing the desktop to the mobile device is that it cant be done with current hardware.For example My x86 or x64 exe files (eg I really like miro) apps will not work on my ARM based mobile deviceWhat the makers of ubuntu want to do is basically bring the ubuntu UI to a mobile device (which will be an improvement if it can be either the gnome or KDE UI but not the unity crap.What we need is to get rid of ARM and move to chips that can handle the same code as a desktop or laptop CPU that way you can truly have an environment where the same programs on your desktop will run on your mobile phone and the makers of said programs can have multiple UI's like what they do now with android where the same program will look differently whether it is run on a tablet or a small screen smartphone.The way it is now seems like the windows 8 crap where the Amish or other groups not too experienced with smartphones and tablets, will think that their desktop applications will run on their tablet but in reality, you will only get a similar UI but thats where it ends, the applications on the desktop PC will not work on the ARM tablet


    You're confusing instruction set compatibility with hardware capabilities.
  • 1 Hide
    gm0n3y , February 22, 2012 4:27 PM
    __-_-_-__so, how will they manage the proprietary drivers from all hundreds of devices?this will not work.

    It is being installed by the manufacturer so it shouldn't be too bad as they'll need to get it all working before they can sell it. Way easier than in the desktop and even laptop market. Of course once we can upgrade the internals of a cell phone... man that would be awesome.
  • 0 Hide
    razor512 , February 22, 2012 8:32 PM
    I was basing my reply more on an already implemented design of windows 8 for desktop and tablet. The tablet version will not run the applications from the desktop version, thus making the only thing similar between the 2, the metro UI crap.

    ubuntu is essentially doing the same thing.

    You may get the unity UI but the similarity ends there, you wont be installing the desktop version of firefox, chrome, open office, your various coding and compiling tools, gimp, various other tools, unless they make a ARM version.

    Because of this, a user is not provided with the desktop experience on their mobile device, because the applications will not be the same on both devices, meaning you cant work on something like a file in gimp then continue to work on it with your mobile device, then dock it with your desktop system and sync the files over and finish working on it on your desktop PC.

  • 0 Hide
    del35 , February 22, 2012 8:47 PM
    This sounds really cool. Cant wait. Love Ubuntu. This might be the thing that puts Ubuntu
    in the limelight.
Display more comments