Feb 22, 2013
Ubuntu has plans to take their Linux-based operating system from desktops and laptops and expand it out to pretty much every modern display and interface that’s out there with Ubuntu Touch. Phones and tablets are going to be the first devices that will get to use the hybrid OS. A preview build is now available for the Galaxy Nexus, Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10.
The idea appears to be that Ubuntu wants to make one OS to power all devices. A phone interface for phones, a tablet OS when on a bigger touchscreen (say the Padfone?), a desktop OS when connected to a monitor with external peripherals, and even a “Ten-foot interface” when connected to a TV. This is all theoretically on one device. As well, the tablet interface can integrate tablet-optimized apps to run alongside phone-interface apps.
Now, Ubuntu was initially promised as operating as a single kernel on an Android device where the Android side of things would power the phone interface, and Ubuntu would power the actual computing side of it. This appears to be actually a special phone interface for Ubuntu, meaning that they have likely changed course on their plans.
However, there’s plenty of reasons to be interested in this: tablet-laptop hybrids are a burgeoning industry, but by instead adapting the interface for the form factor currently in use, it may solve some of the awkward issues. As well, Linux has deeper roots on ARM-based processors (the processor architecture which powers many modern phones) than Windows RT, the ARM-based variant of Windows 8 that powers the cheaper Surface version. However, with x86 Android devices on their way (the processor architecture that powers most modern computers) then more desktop apps could come to Ubuntu Touch.
The developer builds is available from Ubuntu’s website; they require your device to be wiped to use them and are primarily meant for developers building apps, not for consumer usage, so only the extremely curious and those wanting to make apps for Ubuntu for Android need apply.