Ubuntu for Android attempts to be what Motorola’s Webtop couldn’t

Daniel Bader

February 21, 2012 5:32pm

Canonical, the smart and determined team behind Linux’s most popular distribution, Ubuntu, have released details of Ubuntu for Android. The idea is simple: when you’re running the OS on a smartphone, it appears as would any other device, an unsullied version of Android. But dock the phone with a compatible product, presumably one bundled with the handset, and on your screen pops up a full version of Ubuntu, complete with Unity UI.

The idea is not a new one. Motorola debuted the ATRIX with its Firefox-based Webtop platform, but much of the interaction was kept to a single browser window, and the Tegra 2 processor was not fast enough to accomodate the extremely taxing full-screen interface. The idea was sound; the implementation was not.

Canonical has also been instrumental in porting many existing x86 apps to work on Linux for ARM, though the number is currently very limited. Existing Linux apps need to be recompiled to work on many of the ARM processors embedded in modern Android handsets, and the opposite is true for Android apps on the upcoming Intel Medfield platform, which uses the x86 architecture. At the moment, Canonical claims that many desktop apps from VMWare, Citrix and Adobe are working on Ubuntu for Android, with more to come. More importantly, most phone functions such as answering phone calls, sending text messages and emails, are also freely available on the desktop interface.

The hype around Ubuntu for Android also certifies the desire for continuous computing — the notion that instead of carrying around two devices, say a phone and a laptop, your phone substitutes for the larger device and only docks when the need is there for a bigger display and truer multitasking. Canonical is claiming that Ubuntu for Android will take advantage of multi-core processors, fast GPUs and lots of memory — one of the main reasons users are buying Android handsets in the first place.

Check out all the details over at Canonical and let us know how you think this could add to your smartphone experience?

Via: The Verge


  • Spartacustomer

    This is amazing news for all the linux nerds out there. essentially your android phone will double as a travel desktop PC, all your data on the go.

    • Eric

      and all you need to do is bring along as least 2 usb cables, a power adapter, the mhl adapter, a bluetooth keyboard and mouse.. etc.

      im not saying its not great, but its not something you can just pull out and use, sometimes grabbing that laptop bag would be easier.

    • SAM


  • jon_d0e

    This is new and exciting.

    • CADDMan

      This is old and failed.

  • MXM4K

    I’m intrigued. Would definitely be interested in devices that could provide seamless transition from mobile to desktop.

    • CADDMan

      I’d agree, IF the processing power in the phone was capable of handling a modern desktop environment, which it isn’t nearly capable of doing, yet. Give it another couple years.

  • Alex Perrier

    Finally, a reason to buy a multi-core phone! 🙂

  • Justin

    Odd, I already have Ubuntu on my phone :S I just hook it up through HDMI and it’s ready to go. Of course it’s not a supported platform, but it does work.

  • Potato

    This is awesome. The fact that you can launch android apps and read and compose text messages on the desktop is amazing! Too bad I just bought my Xperia Play on a 1 year contract..Next year on February 5th this is the first thing that I will get on my phone! I wonder if the ubuntu will carry over with custom roms.

  • BOB

    It’s great but.IMO Google is going to embeded Chrome OS with Android and render Conical effort useless for the mass.

  • jellmoo

    I don’t entirely see the appeal. So instead of carrying a phone and a laptop I can carry around a phone and a laptop sized dock?

    What exactly is the advantage here?

  • jpbaril

    Finally! Not that I invented this, but this has been many years (even before Android) that I’m waiting for that.
    I really hoped that Intel mobile OS Moblin would have become that (Ubuntu was once working on a Moblin version). I’m pushing for later the acquisition of a new laptop since a year hoping that this innovation would arrive each year. If we can’t have a Linux on the desktop year, maybe 2012 can become the Linux desktop on the mobile year.

  • jason

    Also waiting for a good phone to desktop mix. Have a feeling that Ubuntu won’t be it as linux drivers were always a problem and I bet the install would be a pain. Still I love the concept for sure

  • jason4

    UBUNTU? BWAHAHHAHAHAHAHHAHAAHAHHAHA garbage. No one cares about ubunto-i-have-to-find-a-driver-everyday crap OS. Please….. give it up linux penguin nerds…. no one cares about these freeware OS’s…/END THREAD.

  • davy jones

    To all the people talking about carrying around docks. I think at the early stage that would probably be the problem but I imagine the idea is for this type of thing to gain enough ubiquity where that is no longer a problem. Imagine work-spaces and schools that only provided stationary docks. You could just pop in your device and have your entire computer with you. Got to admit, there is some appeal in that.

  • ile2010

    Neat idea, but I only could see myself needing this kind of thing when I’m travelling, and then I would need my hotel room to have a TV with HDMI and I’d need to carry around additional peripherals. This is then more complicated than carrying around my laptop.

  • gjeff12

    I don’t know if it’s good or not that this would be more powerful than my current computer.

  • joefaya

    I think it is meant for people that dont have a computer at home.