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.
Starting July 3rd, the daily builds of Ubuntu Touch boot straight into Ubuntu without making a pit-stop at Android. Ubuntu’s no longer just another Android shell.
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.
I certainly HOPE Canonical is going to include the ability to have the phone boot into a “desktop mode” that lets you run full programs in it – like you would a regular desktop, when mated to a keyboard/monitor – because honestly, that’s the single largest apeal to me when this project was first announced. Without that, Ubuntu becomes just another “me too” entry in the mobile OS arena like Firefox in my mind – bringing nothing truly innovative to our ever more powerfully evolving portable devices, other than a new OS that does the same things in a different way. Using a quad-core phone with a couple Gigs of RAM as a viable alternative to a home or office desktop, for most common tasks, I thought was a brilliant direction of thinking… And would require nothing more than a few cheap added bits to accomplish (spare monitor, mouse, etc). I really hope this “feature” is included, otherwise, why would I move over from Android and it’s well supported updates and apps? Give me a phone that can break out of the box however, and act like a full desktop when I need it to? I’d make the jump over in a heartbeat.
Why in the hell would we want to run a desktop operating system on a device unintended to do so? That’s why there is ubuntu touch. The UI is designed for portability in mind. This is a phone, and asking for desktop type stuff will very quickly break functionality and the phone itself. Go minimal.
does having android run in ubuntu perform better tan ubuntu running inside of android?
Running on the “bare metal” will always be faster than in a virtual environment, even when they share the same Linux kernel. So, I would expect Ubuntu to run slightly faster and Android slightly slower in the new configuration – a good thing if you’re more interested in Ubuntu. 🙂 In practice, though, you probably won’t notice much difference in app performance. A bigger benefit is reducing the OS “footprint” and boot time for low-end devices. (Note that I haven’t actually run the latest image yet – just my expectations based on 30 years experience with computers.)
Does Canonical plan on having the ability to install and run regular desktop and command line software? I don’t mind the whole dual UI thing that many Windows 8 haters complain about.
Also, do they plan on providing images or ISOs for installing on x86 tablets like future Intel Bay Trail ones? It’d be nice to run virtual machines of other OS’s with Bay Trail’s hardware virtualization acceleration support. The 4 cores and 4 GB of RAM will definitely help as well. I just hope the new eMMC 4.5 support and the devices that implement it aren’t a bottleneck.
Yes, Canonical plans on eventually converging everything to have one OS running on a wide range of devices and just switch UI between devices.
They’re a long way from getting their yet though, as Ubuntu Touch is still mostly a work in progress and getting everything to work both ways will take a lot of work too.
Though Ubuntu 13.10 already is getting some Ubuntu Touch apps in the Ubuntu Software Store, under Ubuntu Touch Core Apps!
Mind that the apps are themselves in various stages of development, just like Ubuntu Touch OS, but confirms where they eventually plan on taking this…
You can already run things from the command line. It just uses the arm packages, so there’s a ton of stuff there. Nethack is even playable in the terminal!
Most “desktop” stuff won’t work, as it’s not running an X server, although since everything’s Qt-based, porting stuff shouldn’t be too hard.
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