Ubuntu tablet threat to iPad? Nah
Apple mops sweat from brow, puts down smelling salts
The founder of Linux Ubuntu has laid to rest stories of a tablet version, no doubt causing widespread relief in Cupertino.
Rumours of an Ubuntu tablet circulated over the weekend, based on an interview with Canonical's VP of Alliances and OEM Services. But those rumours have now been scotched by the man in charge, Mark Shuttleworth, who told Golem.de that Ubuntu remains about desktops, netbooks and servers.
Canonical is the company that funds and manages Ubuntu. Canonical's VP reportedly said that a touch screen version of the distribution was in the offing, and mentioned all sorts of places where the distribution might turn up including tablets. At the time we commented that this would seem in contradiction to previous statements, and sure enough Shuttleworth - the man behind Canonical and sometime amateur astronaut - has clarified the matter.
In the interview with Golem.de Shuttleworth makes it very clear that while Ubuntu will be working on a lightweight version for netbooks there is no tablet-specific version planned. The original interview, it seems, was referring to the habit of Ubuntu developers to run the platform on all sorts of hardware, as Linux hackers are wont, including tablets.
Competing with Android and Meego, not to mention iOS, would seem optimistic to the point of self-delusion. Any company, open source or otherwise, who decides to take on Nokia, Microsoft, Apple and Google for ownership of a market that might not even exist is surely fanciful at the very least. ®
The beauty of open source
There's nothing to stop someone else from starting a 'PadBuntu' fork.
If any distro could pull it off…
it would be Ubuntu or one of the variants. I'd guess one of the simplified-UI variants, say Xubuntu or Unbuntu Netbook Edition, could be tweaked to work well on a tablet. Android too, I suppose, seeing as it *is* designed for touchscreen devices.
I'm getting some extended play-time with my sister in law's (wifi-only) iPad, and it's nothing special hardware wise… except that screen does look soooo nice and sharp, and they've managed to keep it light without making it feel flimsy. Apple's big win with the hardware design is that they resisted the engineering temptation to cover the thing with more buttons than absolutely necessary: power/sleep on top, volume and screen lock on one side, and home below the screen. Anyone could do that… they just don't. Note that keeping the physical controls to a minimum also keeps costs down: gotta keep those margins up, right?
Start with decent hardware, put some lightweight office apps on the thing, and market the spit out of it (but it wouldn't shock me if the cost were close to the iPad's). Make sure there's plenty of other apps that will run on it, and for Tux's sake, make sure most of those apps are things that normal people would want to use.
I don't see a use...
for the iPad. I can't fathom why anyone one would one. Especially since you can't run anything on them that doesn't have Steve Jobs stamp of approval. Now if I could have a tablet that I could run anything I wanted on it then I could see some uses for it, but not enough to actually justify buying one.
But some people do. I say give them options if they want a tablet. The iPad shouldn't be the only one on the market. Ubuntu, with it's massive progress in recent years in the area of user experience, is the ideal distro to start with if you're going to make a Linux based tablet.