The developers who have been working to bring the Ubuntu Linux operating system to smartphones and tablets have released the first builds that don’t have to load Android before they can boot into Ubuntu.
Up until now, at boot, your phone or tablet would load CyanogenMod, a custom version of Android. But instead of loading the Android user interface, shortly after boot the device would load the touchscreen optimized version of Ubuntu in a chroot environment.
But that doesn’t mean Ubuntu Touch doesn’t need Android anymore. It still relies on Android software to interact with some of the hardware on your phone or tablet.
So now instead of loading an Ubuntu environment inside of Android, you can run Android in an LXC container in Android. Canonical calls the new installer images “Flipped Ubuntu Touch Images.”
Eventually Ubuntu may move away from Android altogether. For now, leaning on Google’s operating system provides an easy way to make sure the operating system can talk to the hardware. Theoretically it could also open the door to running Android apps on Ubuntu Touch devices, but so far Canonical seems more interested in developing apps specifically for Ubuntu Touch.
While work right now is focused on making Ubuntu into a fully functional operating system that can power smartphones and tablets, we may also eventually see updates that allow you to connect an Ubuntu phone to a dock to connect a mouse, keyboard, and monitor to use it as a full-fledged desktop computer, making your phone possibly the only computer you need.
Flipped images are currently available for the latest Google Nexus devices including the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google Nexus 4, Google Nexus 7, and Google Nexus 10. The developers plan to offer instructions soon which will allow third party developers to port the software to run on other devices.