While there are very few tablet PCs in mass production today, the successful launch of the Apple iPad has dozens of companies planning to enter the tablet space. And that has software makers eying the space pretty closely as well. We’ve seen plenty of tablets running Google Android over the past few months, and it looks like the folks behind MeeGo Linux are making a tablet version of their software. Now it looks like Canonical is getting in on the action, with plans to develop a tablet version of Ubuntu.
The idea is to retool the Ubuntu interface so that you can use the operating system without a mouse and keyboard, using a touchscreen display to perform most actions. That also means adding an on-screen keyboard for text entry.
Canonical is also working with Freescale, Marvell, and Texas Instruments to optimize its software to run quickly on ARM-based chips from those companies.
We probably won’t see a tablet-specific version of Ubuntu until this fall at the earliest, since the company is talking about basing it on Ubuntu 10.10 which is slated for release in October.
I’ve always felt like the program launcher for Ubuntu Netbook Edition looked like it was designed for touchscreen devices rather than netbooks with touchpads, so I wouldn’t be shocked if the tablet-friendly version of Ubuntu winds up looking a lot like the Ubuntu Netbook Edition software available today.