Should You Care About Ubuntu for Android?

Ubuntu for Android“In every dual-core phone, there’s a PC trying to get out.” – Ubuntu for Android

I’ve long been an advocate for the idea that phones will eventually replace our desktop computers. The Motorola Atrix 4G was a promising step in the right direction, unleashing a phone/laptop hybrid that was understandably underpowered by today’s standards but still quite intriguing in its functionality.

Now, it looks like the Linux desktop powerhouse that is Ubuntu is making its way into the smartphone world. With this software, multi-core smartphones are capable of switching between mobile devices and full-fledged Ubuntu desktop computers.

Because Ubuntu and Android share the same kernel, Android 2.3 Gingerbread (or later) runs while the phone is undocked and Ubuntu loads up and runs concurrently while the device is connected to a keyboard, mouse, and monitor. It allows the user to enjoy the best of both worlds… at least in theory.

Why I’m Cautiously Optimistic

Before you jump to turn your phone into an Android/Ubuntu hybrid, there are some things to consider. Modern phones might have two to four cores and plenty of power, but they’re still not designed to push desktop software. Simple tasks such as browsing the Web and checking email might be easy for any phone to handle, but doing anything beyond simple tasks will undoubtedly be met with disappointment.

Google has been working hard to resolve an ongoing problem with Android sluggishness. Jitters, dropped frames, and other performance issues have been plaguing the mobile OS for some time. Project Butter did wonders to improve this, but even in Android 4.2 there are still improvements being made to address this issue. Imagine what might happen when you run Ubuntu concurrently in this situation. Even the peppiest smartphones would be expected to choke.

Ubuntu for Android is currently being pushed to hardware makers as a potential included software bundle. There is currently very little in terms of support for folks that want to modify their existing Android devices to take advantage of this project. If you’re a handset maker or network provider, Ubuntu is eager to hear from you.

Even though this project isn’t ready for prime time just yet, it’s impossible to ignore the fact that Linux generally provides a great indicator for where the commercial operating system world is heading. I could see the iPhone of the future pulling double duty as a desktop Mac. Windows is already becoming a unified operating system as it is.

There’s one thing for sure: Ubuntu for Android could be a great indication of things to come.

Image: Android

Article Written by

Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/gpowerf G.Power

    It is potentially a very exciting development, isn’t it? When I don’t have to do any coding (.NET) my work OS of choice often is Ubuntu. The idea that I could just travel to the office with nothing but my phone and plug it to the monitor is very exciting.

  • http://twitter.com/mmmcookie414 Elliott Cook

    Meh, I love Ubuntu, and if Android can run it, it’s awesome. I’m slightly saddened by the fact that it can’t run on iOS, but there you go. I personally think that mobile processors have a long way to go (at least to run desktop OSs) and that if Ubuntu Mobile still existed that it would be a better platform for it, but I want to see where this is headed. Also, I try to be balanced, but while I no longer ‘hate’ Windows, I don’t love it and it is not a ‘unified’ operating system across platforms. Modern UI everywhere doesn’t count as unified. What about the ‘Desktop’ and non-Modern UI apps? Dammit. I made this a rant. Better stop typing now…

  • Eddie Baxter

    My desktop PC struggles to run Ubuntu and it’s heavy heavy Unity, I doubt my phone would manage… Still, once this technology becomes what they want it to be (IE. a FULL desktop solution when docked) It’ll be amazing!

  • perry

    This recent interview with Mark Shuttleworth at LinuxCon Europe 2012 in Barcelona (wonderful interview place, btw) lets him explain how excited they are about this (05:05 mm:ss in the video). It seems both the Galaxy Nexus and the Galaxy S III are working nicely nowadays, but it will take sometime til we see it in our smartphones.

  • swattz101

    If low powered Linux can run on something simple like a Raspberry Pi, why not an Android powered smart phone?