You know how people like to say that today’s smartphones are more powerful than the computers that NASA used to send astronauts to the moon in the ’60s? Well, that’s not saying much, because those early computers were small potatoes.

But how about this: modern smartphones are powerful enough to act as full-fledged desktop computers. Now Canonical is out to prove it by loading Ubuntu Linux onto Android smartphones.

Ubuntu for Android

Yes, you read that right — two operating systems on one device. The idea is that Ubuntu and Android will share a kernel and be able to access shared storage and some other features such as your contacts and calendar.

But when you pull your phone out of your pocket it will be running Android. And when you put it in a docking station and connect a monitor, keyboard, and mouse you’ll have a full Ubuntu Linux desktop experience.

In other words, you don’t need to synchronize data between your devices, because there’s only one device and much of your data can be shared across operating systems. You can create a document in Android, and access it in Ubuntu — and upload it to Ubuntu One online storage if you need to sync it with another computer.

Canonical has even developed software that lets you answer phone calls or respond to SMS messages from within Ubuntu so that you won’t miss a phone call when you’re surfing the web in Chromium or watching videos with VLC.

The company hasn’t announced any hardware partners yet, and the software is still under development. But Canonical will show off the software at Mobile World Congress next week.

In theory, most phones with 1 GHz or faster dual core processor, 512MB of RAM, and hardware video acceleration should be able to support the software.

Update: Celebrate Ubuntu has a video of Ubuntu for Android in action.

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8 replies on “Ubuntu for Android brings a desktop OS to Android smartphones”

  1. So, reading up on this in more detail i came accross an unlisted youtube video showing ubuntu-on-android running
    A.) in Desktop Mode
    B.) in TV Mode
    check it out:

  2. Can you compile with gcc and run binaries on the phone now – or is that still limited?

    1.  Pretty much the same hardware for Android tablets as phones.  So shouldn’t be a problem and would probably work better with the larger screen resolutions and not need to use a external monitor as much.

    1. Summs it up pretty much.

      I never understood why Webtop was so limited when they could have done a proper desktop like this.

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