Thursday, January 03, 2013

Ubuntu for Android set to release 'the full power of the phone'

Ubuntu is a well-known Linux distribution, and since Android is based on Linux -- well, it's obvious what's coming. After announcing Ubuntu for Android in February of 2012, Canonical has finally unveiled the new platform.

The new Android distribution (we suppose it could be called) is built around already existing Android drivers as well as the Android kernel. However, as Canonical said on Wednesday, Ubuntu for Android promises to use "the full power of the phone," as it does not use a Java Virtual Machine (JVM) as standard Android does. It will also support both ARM and x86 processors, which promises to make Intel happy (although Android does support Intel processors, now).

Despite those changes, Ubuntu for Android is supposed to be compatible enough to allow Android phone makers to run it on their devices with minimal changes. That should, as well, allow third-party developers to run their software on the new OS with minimal modifications, too.

On Wednesday, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth demoed what appeared to be a fairly mature operating system. Still, no carrier or OEM has come forward as saying they will definitely support the new platform, which is something that Shuttleworth says may take until Q4 or even Q1 2014.

Ubuntu for Android will initially be released as a file which can be installed on Samsung's Galaxy Nexus phone, replacing the device's default Android build. What is still a question is whether or not consumers will gravitate toward the OS. Ubuntu for Android will allow users to run desktop apps on their handsets, which can then be docked to monitors and used in place of a laptop or desktop when necessary.

Another open question is whether or not we need another mobile OS. Recently, Samsung announced it would release a Linux-based Tizen handset in 2013. With the addition of another Linux-based OS, we've got plenty of room for more fragmentation.

That's fragmentation in terms of more platforms, but Canonical worked to prevent fragmentation within its own OS. By building frameworks that allow handset providers to insert their own content and modifications to the OS, without affecting the base OS, it's hoped that the Android fragmentation seen on Google's OS won't happen.

Time will tell.

Canonical is a company dedicated to commercializing open-source Ubuntu operating system. The company plans to demonstrate the OS at the International CES (Consumer Electronics Show), to be held next week in Las Vegas. The company released a demo video, embedded.

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