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Ubuntu For Android to be Shown Next Week at MWC 2012

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.

  • d-isdumb
    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.
    Reply
  • kj3639
    A true, all in one computing device. I want this.
    Reply
  • 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 :)
    Reply
  • kenyee
    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 :-)
    Reply
  • indian-art
    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.
    Reply
  • indian-art
    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
    Reply
  • LuckyDucky7
    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.
    Reply
  • Darkk
    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.

    Reply
  • __-_-_-__
    so, how will they manage the proprietary drivers from all hundreds of devices?
    this will not work.
    Reply
  • Milleman
    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.
    Reply