Like many companies, Google uses a variety of operating systems in-house. macOS and Windows are used by a large number of employees, a modified build of Debian Linux is used on its servers (as of 2014, at least), and Chrome OS and Android devices are commonplace. In work environments where Linux is needed, Google uses a customized version of Ubuntu 14.04 called 'Goobuntu,' which has never been released publicly.
Canonical, the company behind the Ubuntu linux distribution, has been trying to make a dent in the mobile market for years. Back in 2012, it developed a feature that allowed phones to dock into full Ubuntu PCs, similar to Samsung DeX. That eventually evolved into Ubuntu for phones and tablets, a mobile OS specifically designed to work as as phone and portable PC.
After an eye-popping pitch for a futuristic, dual-booting smartphone-desktop hybrid, the Ubuntu Edge secured the world record for crowdfunding on August 15th, with $10,266,845 pledged. It's since been boosted up to $12.8 million, but unfortunately, that's a far cry from the $32 million that the Canonical company asked for. The Indiegogo campaign has failed, no sponsors will be charged, and no money will be collected.
Say what you will about Canonical and founder Mark Shuttleworth's outlandish goal, but the conceptual hardware and software for the Ubuntu Edge is the stuff that smartphone dreams are made of. A unibody chamfered metal housing, a synthetic sapphire screen, 4GB of RAM and 128GB of storage are among its highlights.
So, the folks at Canonical have been talking up their Ubuntu smartphone platform for a little over six months. Today they revealed their ultimate plan to revolutionize the smartphone world, a fantastic Death Star of a concept device: the Ubuntu Edge. It's a beautiful slab of metal that features some of the most outlandish mobile hardware ever seen, it runs Ubuntu for smartphones, doubles as a dockable ARM-powered desktop, and dual-boots Android. And all you'll have to do to get it is fork over thirty-two million dollars.
Well, not you, personally. It's an Indiegogo crowdfunded campaign that's asking for $32,000,000 from a variety of users...
While Ubuntu (and Linux as a whole) may not be hugely popular among the consumer desktop computing crowd, it'd be folly to discount the OS as a whole. Especially among the Android developer crowd. Well, if you happen to be among the tech-literate faithful who use open source desktop operating systems to write code for your open source phone operating systems, Canonical would like to make your life a little weirder: introducing Ubuntu for smartphones!
Not to be confused with Ubuntu for Android, which allowed a docked Android phone to run a more-or-less full version of Ubuntu a la Webtop, this new product is a full-blown smartphone OS, distinct from Android entirely and meant to run all on its own.
Good news, Penguins! Google is working on a Drive client for your favorite OS!
Google Drive, if you haven't heard, is Google's Dropbox/Google Docs hybrid. It launched yesterday with 5GB of cloud storage and desktop apps for Windows and Mac, but our tuxedoed counterparts were left out in the cold.
The lack of Linux love caused a bit of an uproar on Google+, where #driveforlinux was a trending topic for a good part of the day. Teresa Wu, the Community Manager for Google Docs, took to a G+ thread and gave the happy news:
"One Device to rule them all, One Device to find them, One Device to bring them all and finally unconfine them"
Ok so I may have taken a few liberties there, but that's what we all want, right? One device that can do everything that we require of a computer throughout our daily lives. Smartphone by day, desktop by night.
Fortunately, we aren't the only ones who think that this is a great idea; the Ubuntu team has already announced plans to transform your smartphone into a proper computer when it's placed in a docking station, and with the release of Linux 3.3, this just got easier for OEMs to do as well.
Earlier today, Canonical announced Ubuntu for Android, an incredible new system that will put a full desktop OS on your Android-powered phone. Now, one employee has taken the time to show us just a little bit of what Ubuntu for Android is capable of, and it's nothing short of awesome. Check it out:
As if we weren't excited enough after the initial announcement, seeing it in action really makes us want to get our hands on this and give it a whirl. Anyone at Canonical ready to hook Android Police up with some beta software?
On a side note, anyone happen to notice that all of the screenshots on the official Ubuntu for Android page display 12:04 as the time?
Imagine carrying a full desktop computer in your pocket. We're not talking about that crippled Webtop crap from Motorola, either. We're talking about a real desktop OS built in to your smartphone. Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu, wants to make that happen. Soon.
Ubuntu for Android is something that we've only dreamed about up to this point - one device to rule them all, if you will. In your pocket, it's an Android-powered smartphone. Not just any smartphone, either - it's your smartphone. Pull it out and drop it in a docking station, though, and it becomes a full workstation powered by Ubuntu, complete with monitor and keyboard.