Ubuntu heading to phones and tablets

When I heard the news, I slumped in my seat. Took a cup of really hot coffee and said to myself “what in the world is going on”. If you haven’t heard of Ubuntu, then you probably haven’t lived yet. Ubuntu stands for “humanity towards others” and has been a really successful Linux distribution.  Ubuntu is designed primarily for use on personal computers, although a server edition also exists. Ubuntu holds an estimated global usage of more than 20 million users, making it the most popular desktop Linux distribution. It is fourth most popular on web servers, and its popularity is increasing rapidly. Ubuntu is sponsored by the UK-based company Canonical Ltd., owned by South African entrepreneur Mark Shuttleworth.

Canonical generates revenue by selling technical support and services related to Ubuntu, while the operating system itself is entirely free of charge. The Ubuntu Developer Summit, a biannual event at which members of the Ubuntu development community gather to lay out a roadmap for the next version of the Linux distribution, will take place next week in Florida. As usual, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth will start the event with a keynote. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, the company behind Ubuntu Linux, will announce at the Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando, FL, that they will be taking Ubuntu Linux to smartphones, tablets, and smart TVs.

Ubuntu’s new Unity shell will play a key role in Canonical’s plans to bring the Ubuntu user experience to smaller screens. The platform already has preliminary tablet support, including experimental functionality for touchscreen-based window management. It seems likely that the Qt-based Unity 2D experience will serve as the mobile implementation. The Qt Quick user interface design framework is well-suited for building touch-friendly mobile experiences. Ubuntu isn’t the only one to see a multi-platform interface this way.

Microsoft, with its Metro interface, is taking a similar approach in Windows 8. Ubuntu, however, has been shipping its new look interface since last year on desktops. Still, also like Windows 8, you won’t be seeing a production version of multi-device Ubuntu anytime soon. Shuttleworth said that he expects a fully-baked and ready to go Ubuntu for all devices will appear in Ubuntu 14.04-April 2014. In the meantime, there’s not even alpha code. They’re taking their time because they want to get it right. Shuttleworth wouldn’t say when the first code would appear.

Although few details about the Ubuntu mobile platform are available now, more information will likely surface during Shuttleworth’s talk at the Ubuntu Developer Summit.