Saturday, February 23, 2013

Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview released for certain Nexus handsets

Early adopters and developers can now take a look at promised Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview, the first version of the Linux distro available for smartphones and tablets. Canonical released images that can be installed on various Nexus devices late Thursday night.

The images are available at this link. Installation instructions are provided here. As an early release of the platform, the procedure is not for the faint-of-heart, and if done improperly -- or even if done properly -- could brick your device.

Canonical has expanded its original list of devices that can be flashed with the new OS. Originally, the company said that the Galaxy Nexus would be the sole device to receive a test image, but later added the Nexus 4, Google's current developer smartphone. Since then, they've added two Nexus tablets, the Nexus 7 and Nexus 10.

Although the installation will wipe your Android image, Google provides factory images for its Nexus devices, so if you want to revert back to Android afterward that is possible. Canonical has provided links to those images. It is also possible to dual-boot Android and Ubuntu Touch.

Not every Nexus variant among the listed devices is supported, though. For example, Canonical lists the following devices:
  • Galaxy Nexus: (codenamed) maguro, (FW) takju or yakju
  • Nexus 4: mako, occam
  • Nexus 7: grouper, nakasi or nakasig
  • Nexus 10: manta, mantaray
That excludes the Verizon Galaxy Nexus which is codenamed "toro" or the Sprint Galaxy Nexus, "toroplus." There are three variants of the Nexus 7 listed, which we assume are for the wi-fi, AT&T, and T-Mobile variants.

In terms of those Sprint and Verizon Galaxy Nexus devices and the 3G Nexus 7, Canonical said that the images may run "but with limitations. For example we don't support CDMA yet, and we have not enabled data support over 3G."

Don't expect the images to create a phone that is fully usable, though. The Ubuntu Touch preview includes only basic apps such as a Web browser, contacts, gallery, camera, notes, and dialer

Note: If you look through the system images you will find a "phablet" image. You might think that refers to a Galaxy Note or something, but Canonical said the "phablet" download is "the Ubuntu full system," and that the name does not refer to any particular device.

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