Feeds

Ubuntu open to greater touch

Canonical gets physical

High performance access to file storage

You'll want to touch Ubuntu in personal places - like in your kitchen or in your car. At least that's what Canonical hopes, as it works on architectural changes and business deals to put the Linux distro on more embedded systems.

But smartphones, the industry's current fixation, are out of the picture.

Canonical is looking at Ubuntu for in-car systems, tablets, set-top-boxes, and what director of business development Chris Kenyon called "the digital home or something you carry around".

"We're not thinking about the phone base," Keynon said when he spoke to The Register recently.

The focus of all this is Ubuntu Core - Ubuntu Linux minus the familiar interface, but with kernel, middleware and a user-interface framework that lets those building devices offer their own screens instead.

A pivotal move towards a ubiquitous Ubuntu Core was the inclusion of support for Open Multimedia Application Platform (OMAP) 3 in the standard image of Ubuntu 10.04, which debuted last month. OMAP 3 is the Texas Instruments platform used, for example, in devices from Nokia and Samsung.

Keynon told us he expects support for other architectures and variants of ARM to grow during the next 12 months. He did not provide further details, but he works closely with companies building computers and other devices running Ubuntu.

"We are expecting to see people make announcements on set to boxes for products that will launch next year," Kenyon said. "Ubuntu does what you need to run on set-top-boxes, but the actual products have a longer product lifecycle in design, build and launch."

Another major move is the addition of touch support in Ubuntu 10.04. It's not yet at the API level, so you can't really do finger-based input without a lot of additional work, but it's aimed at hardware makers working with Ubuntu.

Some people have been adding touch to Ubuntu since at least Hardy Heron in 2008. Canonical wants to eliminate the deep programming work and make building with touch more accessible to application and device makers.

"In 10.10 [due in October], you will see a big push that will make Ubuntu Core a fantastic platform," Kenyon promised.

Also pushing Ubuntu down this road is the Unity interface, unveiled at the Ubuntu Developer Summit this week. The interface re-orientates the Linux distro's interface so that the dock runs down the left-hand-side of the screen while offering a launch menu for frequently-accessed applications. This can be worked using the fattest of fingers - or so Canonical will hope. Okay, menu down the side is not news for the Mac or PC, but it comes as Ubuntu 10.04 has closed the gap on both platforms.

Unity is also the basis for Ubuntu Light, which promises to get you online and Facebooking less than 10 seconds after start up. Ubuntu Light is stripped down to just chat, IM, browser and media player, and it uses what Canonical calls a "non traditional" file system to speed things up.

Touch screens on PCs and smartphones? That's one thing. But embedded systems are arguably more important, considering the market covers everything from computers in cars to TVs that deliver on-demand programming to low-cost disposable gadgets for surfing the web or keeping the kids quiet.

And now, it looks like Ubuntu is pushing hard on a touch door opened in the smartphone and PC world by Apple with the iPhone and, um, Microsoft with Windows 7. And though smartphones aren't on the cards for Canonical, the company does believe you'll be talking to Ubuntu in the future as well as touching it.

"I think people are seeing just how compelling touch interfaces can be. We have to believe that mobile computing will not be tethered to places where you only have a keyboard, and both voice and touch will have a very strong part to play in that," Kenyon said.

"It throws down many, many challenges to developers, designers and UI experts to rethink the way people interact with programs. People are really starting to get their heads around that in leaps and bounds." ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Android engineer: We DIDN'T copy Apple OR follow Samsung's orders
Veep testifies for Samsung during Apple patent trial
This time it's 'Personal': new Office 365 sub covers just two devices
Redmond also brings Office into Google's back yard
Batten down the hatches, Ubuntu 14.04 LTS due in TWO DAYS
Admins dab straining server brows in advance of Trusty Tahr's long-term support landing
Microsoft lobs pre-release Windows Phone 8.1 at devs who dare
App makers can load it before anyone else, but if they do they're stuck with it
Half of Twitter's 'active users' are SILENT STALKERS
Nearly 50% have NEVER tweeted a word
Windows XP still has 27 per cent market share on its deathbed
Windows 7 making some gains on XP Death Day
Internet-of-stuff startup dumps NoSQL for ... SQL?
NoSQL taste great at first but lacks proper nutrients, says startup cloud whiz
Windows 8.1, which you probably haven't upgraded to yet, ALREADY OBSOLETE
Pre-Update versions of new Windows version will no longer support patches
Microsoft TIER SMEAR changes app prices whether devs ask or not
Some go up, some go down, Redmond goes silent
Red Hat to ship RHEL 7 release candidate with a taste of container tech
Grab 'near-final' version of next Enterprise Linux next week
prev story

Whitepapers

Securing web applications made simple and scalable
In this whitepaper learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
HP ArcSight ESM solution helps Finansbank
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Mobile application security study
Download this report to see the alarming realities regarding the sheer number of applications vulnerable to attack, as well as the most common and easily addressable vulnerability errors.