Ubuntu chief Mark Shuttleworth has revealed that plans to bring Ubuntu to phones is on track. The OS, which will run on smartphones, is expected to be available from October 2013, but developers are already hard at work to develop apps for the platform.
In fact, a version of Ubuntu for the popular Samsung Galaxy Nexus handset is expected to be available for download towards the end of the month, Shuttleworth informed The Wall Street Journal earlier this week.
The Galaxy Nexus was announced in 2011 and has been one of the most popular stock Android smartphones and the reason for Ubuntu picking this handset hasn’t been entirely clear. If we had to guess, it would be down to the Galaxy Nexus’ ease in being hacked and flashed with a new ROM. One thing is for sure, Canonical, the company that produces Ubuntu, will have loads of Galaxy Nexus owners waiting to beta test the ROM.
Shuttleworth also told the Journal that Canonical plans to partner with OEMs and carriers to deliver phones with Ubuntu pre-installed. However, he stopped short of mentioning any names. Clearly, getting Ubuntu OS on the Galaxy Nexus is just the first step. He also wouldn't reveal where the first Ubuntu phones would be launched and preferred to tell the paper that the company plans to have the phones available in "two large geographic markets" later this year.
In January, Canonical’s Jane Silber explained that Ubuntu for phones would use the same device drivers as Android, which explains the reason for picking the Galaxy Nexus. The company hopes that Ubuntu would eventually run on most popular Android handsets out there.
The competition within smartphone OSes has intensified over the past year, when besides Canonical, Mozilla Foundation also announced plans to bring its Firefox OS to major phones in emerging markets. The foundation is planning to debut the Firefox OS platform in Brazil later this year. Ubuntu and Firefox OS are not the only open source OS to be launched this year. Samsung’s Linux-based Tizen OS will be available in more than one device in 2013, according to the Korean company. Another OS that is looking to capitalise on this mini-boom is Sailfish, which is being developed by a group of former Nokia engineers.
Ubuntu’s key feature, however, could eventually sway more users. It can be docked with a keyboard and monitor to essentially become a desktop PC. This allows users the convenience of not having another device to run more intensive PC applications. There’s no doubt that the OS is one of the most hotly-awaited launches this year. Ubuntu has been a big name in the Linux community and developer support for its smartphones could rival Android’s when the phones see the light of day later this year.