Canonical scrapped its plans to bring Ubuntu to smartphones and tablets years ago. But the independent developers at UBPorts have been keeping the dream alive since 2017.

Now they’ve announced a release candidate of a new build of Ubuntu Touch that marks a major milestone: it’s the first version of the Linux-based operating system based on Ubuntu 20.04 LTS.

Marius Gripsgard (@[email protected])

While Ubuntu 20.04 is already two years old at this point, it’s a long-term support release that will receive standard support through April, 2027 and extended security support for five more years after that.

More importantly, while UBPorts has made a number of changes to Ubuntu Touch over the years, including porting the operating system to run on a wider range of hardware, the OS has been based on Ubuntu 16.04 LTS since 2018. The move to Ubuntu 20.04 will be only the second time the base operating system has been updated since UBPorts took over development of Ubuntu Touch.

UBPorts has been rolling out test builds of Ubuntu 20.04 to supported devices signed up for the dev channel for the past few months, but now the team has announced that it’s now available through a Release Candidate channel through the UBPorts Installer.

If everything goes well with the release candidate, the goal is to shift all development of Ubuntu Touch from Ubuntu 16.04 to Ubuntu 20.04 and roll out the first stable release in the coming days or weeks. But it could take a little while until the new builds are available for all of the devices that support Ubuntu Touch.

At this point only “a small number of devices” can run the latest build of the operating system, but the list will likely grow over time as more developers work to port the software to run on more of the dozens of devices that support Ubuntu Touch.

Update: A previous version of this article incorrectly stated that Ubuntu Touch has been based on Ubuntu 16.04 since UBPorts took over development of the operating system. The article has been updated to reflect that the OS was based on Ubuntu 15.04 when Canonical ceased development, and that the UBPorts team updated to Ubuntu 16.04 LTS in 2018

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  1. It is actually incorrect to state that the base OS hadn’t been updated since Canonical took their hands off the project. UBports inherited the project running 15.04, so the first order of business was brining it up to 16.04. So this is the second base OS update under the stewardship of UBports.

    1. Whoops, my bad. I did write about that upgrade back in 2018, but my memory ain’t what it used to be!

      I’ll update the article to reflect this. Thanks for the reminder!

  2. I really would love to see widespread adoption of the Lomiri UI, across devices and architectures. I really don’t understand OEMs’… addiction to Android with its grotesque built in obsolescence. Why don’t/won’t they support UT?

    1. I don’t think obsolescence is a problem at all when it comes to Android. The majority of Android apps today work perfectly fine on Android 7 which was released years ago. I’d say it is more of an issue for iOS, considering how apps stop working fast if you are not updated to the latest iOS version (granted, you get much more updates with iOS compared to older Android phones)

      I recently had to use my old Android 6 based phone while my Note 10+ was being repaired (Cubot Manito). All the apps I use worked perfectly (albeit slow), like Spotify, Google maps, YouTube etc. Could even do some games on it too! This was only a few months ago.

      Really wish Windows 10 mobile could have taken off… I really dislike the duopoly that Google and Apple have. Imagine WSL on a Windows Phone…

      Maybe UT will take off at some stage, although some major OEMs would need to take it on, and then you have the whole chicken and egg problem that MS suffered.

    2. Because if you want your phone to sell, you have to lock your bootloader so that safetynet and all those other “security” features work correctly, so people’s bank apps and other apps handling sensitive information work correctly. So there’s very little environment that would allow a custom ROM culture to grow to the point that they could start demanding you ship your phones with other operating systems, which you don’t even want to do because each one is it’s own OS for you to maintain, because phones are not Systemready thus you can’t rely on an OS image compiled for all Systemready devices.

      Locked bootloaders and nonstandard firmware in every device are the bane of choice in operating systems.

  3. Updates are great and all but without voLTE, third party OSes will die as the world shuts down 3G. Europe may be moving slower on that than the US, but iirc in 2 more years it will be turned off in most European countries.

  4. I’d like to see this running on my Kindle Fire tablet. But sadly:

    At this point only “a small number of devices” can run the latest build