Oh snap, here comes another entry into the mobile OS game. Instead of some no-name third-party, though, Canonical has plans to step up to the plate with Ubuntu and see how it fares at on-the-go computing. Once the finishing touches have been put on the the upcoming LTS (long term service) release -- version 12.04 -- Canonical plans to start porting Ubuntu to mobile handsets, tablets, and even smart TVs.

Mark Shuttleworth, Canonical founder, stated that Android will be their primary competition, going as far as to say that Google's purchase of Motorola Mobility has "[shaken] up the hardware vendors, so some of them are looking for non-Android alternatives."

OEMs have tough choices. They can build their own operating system, such as what HP did for a while with webOS or work in a consortium. Consortiums can’t win. They can’t take a forceful, direct view with their products. The smartest OEM strategy is to play people off against each other. Thus, some OEMs want to have Ubuntu as a disruptive element. A strong Ubuntu can be both more co-operative with OEMs than a larger company and give them leverage with Google and Microsoft.

Mark is ready to play hardball.

If you're giddy with excitement thinking about Ubuntu running on your mobile, hit the brakes and take a breath. According to Shuttleworth, it will most likely be April 2014 before we see multi-device support baked into the OS.

What do you think -- would you be interested in Ubuntu on your tablet/smartphone? Or is 2014 just way too late for any newcomers to enter the mobile world?

[via ZDnet]

Cameron Summerson
Cameron is a self-made geek, Android enthusiast, horror movie fanatic, musician, and cyclist. When he's not pounding keys here at AP, you can find him spending time with his wife and kids, plucking away on the 6-string, spinning on the streets, or watching The Texas Chainsaw Massacre on repeat.

  • Chris

    Saw this on reddit this morning...they're major argument is the acquisition of Motorola Mobility is supposed to alienate HTC, Samsung, LG and the other OEMs. Flimsy if you ask me. Especially since the other OEMs are the ones producing the Nexii.

    • Phil

      Agreed. Shuttleworth is slipping into panic mode with the desktop as we know it becoming less and less relevant. I love Ubuntu but I don't see it slipping into this market this way. Better to try and beat Google on Chrome OS and work in from tablets and laptops maybe. Although I could see a bunch of devs writing apps since it would be so open in terms of languages and frameworks. Who knows.

      • http://feathertail.dreamwidth.org Tachyon Feathertail

        Nobody's panicking in the Ubuntu world that I can see. The community's been growing pretty steadily, Unity / GNOME Shell controversies notwithstanding.

        This doesn't seem like a last-ditch effort so much as a natural expansion, and the next step towards world domination (or at least becoming a player in the mobile space).

  • Chris

    I like Ubuntu, and I hope they launch with a big splash. That being said, even if you assume their argument has merit, Android has an almost insurmountable set of advantages. Ubuntu hits 2014 (assuming its on time of course), who knows what Android will look like then? What does Canonical's app dev strategy look like? With no market share, no consumer ecosystem to leverage and no experience, I wonder how they will compete?

  • Android Addict

    I can't figure out Ubuntu on my pc. Please don't put it on my phone. lol

    • http://twitter.com/Sxeptomaniac Sxeptomaniac

      Really? I went straight from being a Windows user to an Ubuntu user pretty much cold turkey (thanks to a burned-out monitor on my Windows machine). It wasn't terribly painful, and that was something like 6 years ago, and the online resources have only gotten better since then.

      • Kevin

        I threw it on my old XP Laptop just last week. It's different and takes a little getting used to but overall it's not that difficult. I'm no more confused on Ubuntu than I am on a Mac. I'm still learning and tinkering around with it but it's something new and different so I'm enjoying it.

    • MicroNix

      Amen brother! Every time I've tried Ubuntu I spent more time in forums than using the dang thing. I'd like to love it but its not there for me. Plus it needs the most important element for me: gaming. Not connect 4 either. When steam and all of its catalog comes to Linux, I'm there. I'll spend the time to get it running right because I've had it with Microsoft.

      However, if Ubuntu tries to put its desktop OS on a phone without serious work into a *mobile UI*, it will fail faster than Microsoft in the mobile world.

      • fluffman86

        A lot of steam games already run great in Wine, as does steam itself. Personally I won't support a company that doesn't provide a linux option (except netflix now that it's on the wii), so I mostly just game on consoles.

    • GigiAUT

      Ubuntu was nice until "Unity" happened. I want my easy customisability back. I threw out Unity to install Gnome 3 which is an even bigger nightmare for those used to the "old" system.

      • fluffman86

        Give Lubuntu or Xubuntu a try, then. I just put Lubuntu on a Celeron computer that was accidentally upgraded to Ubuntu 11.10, and it just couldn't run Unity. They are loving LXDE so far.

        I wasn't a huge fan of Unity at first, and still don't use it at home where I have 4:3 monitors. But at work I've got a 24" widescreen right beside my laptop, so the Unity panel on the left stays up all the time, just like the taskbar in windows. I like having it over there out of the way. Plus it gives me more vertical space.

  • Hyeron

    The most pitiful distro around wants to go mobile? Yeaaaaah right. They ain't even able to make a correct, bug-free, user-friendly desktop... What a joke.

  • Devin

    Lol. Ubuntu may be for a niche crowd, even for desktops. Mobile phones?? Come on, get serious. Unless you can replace my integrated email, picasa, social networking, and calendar sync with ONE account, don't even try.

  • mastigia

    The Unity desktop reminds me alot of Mac OS. So this would be like porting iOS into a perfectly good device to me...gross

  • Steve

    If he can obtain WebOS from HP. It -is- linux plus HTML5, not a kludge of interpreted Java on top of a linux kernal, then make the WebOS UI as available to working with linux apps as the other linux UIs. . . . (Ubuntu already runs on WebOS devices, via chroot)
    (I'm sick and tired of myriad Android issues on my Droid 1, from not receiving texts, to the UI constantly being dumped and having to rebuild the desktop. Things that simply shouldn't be happening past alpha stage. (Froyo)

  • Josh Cissell

    Really?.. Droid 1.. Time to upgrade mate.
    But back on topic, I think it would be an interesting move to say the least. But by the time that 2014 rolls around android will be a force to reckon with. And who knows, even maybe microsoft will have a decent mobile platform by then.. If they do ill definitely be waiting to see the reviews before running out to grab an ubuntu phone.

    • Kevin

      Some people are on contracts. If I didn't buy a used Incredible off Ebay, I would still be using a Droid 1.

      • fluffman86

        Yeah, I'm under contract with a D1 too, but I've had an upgrade available from Verizon for MONTHS...really since the 1 year mark. They just want me to "upgrade" my phone so that I get their new, improved, 2GB data plan instead of my unlimited plan.

        I chose to pass and bought a fascinate on craigslist. :D

  • http://twitter.com/Sxeptomaniac Sxeptomaniac

    It's an interesting thought, but I think it would be interesting to see them aim for tablets first, then possibly move towards phones. Since the others have started out designed for phones and then moved to tablets, I'd like to see what someone would do with an OS primarily designed for tablets.

    Overall, if the support for this is there, it sounds like a good idea to me.

  • http://androgeoid.com Leszek Pawlowicz

    Yeah, Ubuntu has really taken a huge share of the desktop PC market ;-). Linux is great for geeks, and I'm glad it's there to make the Internet run, but they've shown little capability of making it usable by the mass market. But whatever ... best of luck.

  • Tiger

    Good luck to Canonical and Ubuntu, they're going to need it in this crowded arena.

    • Blackhawke

      Yeah really!

      This market moves so freaking fast that by the time Canonical gets around to it, it will probably be irrelevant (if it's not already) -- at least in the phone market.

      No, the tablet market might prove to be different. I mean, I don't own a tablet and don't really WANT to own a tablet because for the life of me I can't figure out why I'd want two cell phones, one being the size of a clipboard.

      If Canonical can give tablet's the ability to use desktop programs that won't run on a cell phone OS like Android (or iOS) then they might actually be able to horn in by doing something new. But if it's just more-oh of the same-oh, forget it. The effort will go the way of WebOS, Windows Mobile, and maybe soonishly RIM.

      • Tiger

        I certainly agree with your point about the tablet market being different.

        If Canonical do manage to give tablets the ability to run desktop programs that aren't more akin to phone apps I feel Windows 8 will be the main competition which looks promising so far IMO.

        Having said that, by 2014 it's probable Apple and Google's tablet ecosystems would've evolved and tablet apps could possibly become more desktop like. Android is a perfect example of what something can become in 3 years or so.

        Personally, I think Canonical are against the odds but I do hope they succeed, at least to a certain extent. Competition is never really bad for the consumer, well maybe excluding their wallets.

  • Travis

    Given how much I hate the new Ubuntu interface, this news strikes me as "less than interesting"

  • GraveUypo

    i kinda had this image of ubuntu and android holding hands, not raising fists against each other :(

  • Darkseider

    Meh. Ubuntu on a tablet would be nice especially with USB host support so I can burn a CD/DVD .ISO or something. Then again if someone in the Android dev community can come up with a kernel module that would allow that on a rooted Tegra 2 or Tegra 3 tablet running Honeycomb or ICS then ubuntu becomes all but useless.

    • Falconator

      Agreed...on a tablet, yes. Phone...not for me! Hopefully a smart developer will wake up and say, "I'm that guy who changed everything!".

  • Morgaan

    It's irony how you can critique Ubuntu, when they plan so far away. Two more years of updating the PC Ubuntu before they even focus on mobile. And for those saying it is too complicated, how long has Android been released in the public. Just a few years. When you're all running Ubuntu, I'll be trollololololing.

    • Chris

      Android started development in 2003 and didn't release until 2008. It wasn't until almost 2 years later, when 2.2 was released that it really got competitive. Thats 5 years of developing and 2 years of iterating, with the limitless resources of Google behind them.

      Even if Ubuntu just forked Android, I don't think they can compete. They have no ecosystem to speak of that will lure iOS and Android users away.

  • Ox

    Android itself runs sort of like a watered-down Ubuntu anyway. When it came out, it was a no-brainer to switch. The one thing Android lacks for me, however, and which both Windows Mobile and of course Ubuntu provide, is multi-tasking. In Android, you can't pull down a start menu to open a new app, or open a new app while you keep one running with all its loaded data. Considering that my Android device is almost as powerful as my laptop PC both in terms of processor speed and RAM, it doesn't make sense that this capability shouldn't be available on my phone. It's a huge inconvenience. However, I'm guessing that by 2014, Android will have it worked out.

  • Henry Hallan

    "If you're giddy with excitement thinking about Ubuntu running on your
    mobile, hit the brakes and take a breath. According to Shuttleworth, it
    will most likely be April 2014 before we see multi-device support baked
    into the OS."

    I have Ubuntu 12.04 on my Toshiba AC-100 (originally Android) now, and

    it's only November 2012.

    I use it to write books, and the only thing I can't do is prepare kindle from
    epub, since Amazon won't supply kindlegen for ARM. Everything else:
    writing; editing; preparing epubs; cover design; trade paperback typesetting;
    I can do it all on this little laptop.