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Canonical shows off Ubuntu for Android, and it looks good

By Mike O - January 6, 2013 8

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Cononical Ubuntu for Android

Remember the cutesy video Canonical released showing the Ubuntu for Android concept? Well it’s been a recent reality and we’re starting to see Ubuntu installed on more Android devices, though admittedly mostly amongst hobbyists and enthusiasts.

In the video below Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth gives a hands-on demonstration of the OS in action, and based on what we can see it looks rather promising.

For those unfamiliar, this is Ubuntu (a Linux operating system) running on an Android based handset. Because Android is based on Linux, it is possible to install this Ubuntu variant on just about and Android device, even on a Nexus 7.

The idea here is that by connecting the device to a keyboard, mouse and monitor combo (ideally with a dock), it essentially becomes your PC. And when it’s removed from the dock it switches to phone/tablet mode. This takes the ‘computer in your pocket’ concept to a new level.

For those already used to Ubuntu this will be pretty cool. In fact I’m even tempted to give it a try on my Galaxy S3. The only thing holding me back is my experience with Ubuntu has shown it to be very un-user-friendly when compared to Windows in some areas, with some trivial tasks even requiring intimate command line knowledge.

Hopefully they’ve made improvements for this mobile version because frankly that’s the main thing holding back Ubuntu (Linux in general) from being accepted by mainstream markets – it’s still too damned difficult to use for the average person. If they don’t make strides in this area, we could sadly see Ubuntu for Android reside in the realm of geeks. Which is a shame because it looks so damned good.

Mike O

Michael is the founder of Android Analyse, a veteran web designer/developer & Android enthusiast. He loves designing and building mobile web interfaces and messing around with code for fun. How geek is that? For his daily drivers Mike O uses a Samsung Galaxy S3 and a Google Nexus 7.

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  1. Darren Kemp 20 Darren K

    This looks really nice. I like the idea of having no buttons. If this had been released eighteen months ago, I would have been ask over it, but I have now invested too much in the Android ecosystem that I would dream of leaving. I may have to have a play though when a gnex image appears.

  2. I might use this once it comes out on a secondary device, but as Darren said, I have spent too much on the Play store to abandon Android altogether. If I could dual boot Android and Ubuntu on the device, with the ability to have the Ubuntu OS sync calls and sms with the Android OS, I’d jump on this in a heartbeat.

  3. 92 Jason G

    little bit exciting…. the big question is: if it’s built on the Android kernel, can I still run my android apps side by side with my ubuntu apps? because this would be the killer feature for ubuntu as a phone/tablet OS.

    • Darren Kemp 20 Darren K

      Yes, Ubuntu on an Android device with the Play Store available. I’m not sure how that would work with existing Android apps though as they currently rely on the back button, which is nowhere to be found. I am currently running Ubuntu on an old netbook so being able to dock my phone and have the same desktop experience that I currently get from my netbook, that would be a winner.

  4. Rodney 130 Rodney

    I’d be very interested in dual boot and or the ability to live switch between OSs (isn’t that what Ubuntu on Android promised in the first place?). But like everyone else, I am not switching from Android to this, now. Although, I do like the look of it.

    Windows 8′s unified phone/tablet/desktop approach appears to be floundering, so there is space for someone to get this right and really clean up (although I still believe Microsoft will win that one, purely on the weight of their desktop and legacy apps – when they get around to getting Intel based mobile devices actually available, instead of the pure garbage that is Windows RT).

    Even if you can’t run both OS’s “at once” (and you’d better be able to, because that was their promise), manufacturers providing dual boot phones with multiple OS choices would be a very good thing.

  5. 1 Jesse Lashley

    I believe this is based on desktop Ubuntu, not on Android. As of right now, you can’t dual boot, so I’ll be sticking with Jelly Bean on my Nexus 4.

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