11 years ago the first version of Ubuntu was released: Ubuntu 4.10 Warty Warthog.  Later this week Canonical will release Ubuntu 15.10 Wily Werewolf.

The operating system’s come a long way in the past 11 years, but so have the devices that can run Ubuntu. For the past few years Canonical has been working to bring Ubuntu to smartphones, and you can already purchase a few phones that come with Ubuntu pre-loaded or install it on some phones or tablets yourself.

So what’s next? Soon it might not matter whether you’re using a phone or desktop, because Ubuntu will support the same apps on both platforms.

ubuntu convergence_02

Canonical calls this convergence, and the idea is that not only will Ubuntu phones be able to run apps optimized for devices with small, touchscreen displays, but they’ll also be able to run full-fledged desktop apps.

This means you can open LibreOffice or GIMP on your phone. But it also means you can plug your phone into an external display and hook up a keyboard and mouse to use it as a desktop.

The developers of Ubuntu have been working on convergence for a while, and even tried to crowdfund a powerful smartphone that would ship with the feature. That campaign failed to reach its goals, but convergence is still on the way, and it should be available for smartphones users in the not too distance future.

In fact, some developers have already started sharing pictures of desktop apps running in an Ubuntu phone user interface.

Canonical isn’t the only company working on software that lets you use a phone like a desktop PC. Microsoft’s Windows 10 mobile operating system has a feature called Continuum for phone that lets you hook up an external display and view a desktop-like environment. Your phone’s start screen becomes a start menu. There’s a taskbar. And apps like Microsoft Office take advantage of the extra screen real estate to use a desktop-style layout.

But Windows 10 Continuum for phone has limitations: apps only run in full-screen mode and the vast majority of Windows apps won’t run unless they’ve been converted to Universal Windows apps first.

Ubuntu, meanwhile, is shooting for support for the “full range of desktop applications” with its convergence service. That said, developers will still need to tap into Ubuntu’s software development kit to enable mobile support for desktop apps… and desktop support for mobile apps. So it wouldn’t be surprising if Ubuntu’s convergence looks a lot like Microsoft’s Continuum at launch: not all apps will be supported right away.

via The VAR Guy



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11 replies on “Ubuntu celebrates 11th birthday, looks ahead to smartphone/desktop convergence”

      1. Why? Unity 8 will have both tablet and desktop interfaces. What’s wrong with the Unity 8 desktop interface?

  1. I’m a fan of the whole desktop and mobile convergence idea. I wish MS and Canonical the best in their efforts in this area.

  2. Linux certainly isn’t now ready for touch screens. There would already be distributions for tablets if the problems had been solved. The phones are a bigger problem unless you are comfortable with panning around to find the rest of the user interface.
    The touch-screen events need to be used to simulate a mouse event and the on-screen keyboards need to be called when desired. A full time keyboard could also work. These advancements now work to a limited extent with certain touch drivers and if perfected would avoid the need to change any of the multitude of current programs. They shouldn’t need to know whether a touch screen, touch pad or mouse is used or whether a real keyboard or on-screen keyboard is used.

      1. This article say there is an os and “not yet” answering there isn’t because it can’t. It seems to not understand a bit about linux display and event management too. There are already on screen keyboard for years that work with any application in accessibility features. Applications all use X events. Keyboard, tablets, mouse, etc all use X events. That’s why for, you don’t need to install a driver to have a wacom tablet ruing for example. You only have 5o hot plug any model even serials one works with usb adapter. There are no other os like that. But android, that is based on… linux

  3. You accidentally retyped ‘Warty Warthog’ at the end of the first paragraph as the name of the 15.10 release instead of ‘Wily Werewolf’.
    Good points about Ubuntu convergence efforts vs MS.

  4. I have been running my home desktop/server with ubuntu for 3 years now. Even if windows was free I would still chose ubuntu.

  5. Still my fave distro (and lots of other good ones are based on it). I think that first sentence is caught between two drafts of this post, though “the first publicly version” should probably just be “public”…

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