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Ubuntu hoists skirt, flashes 'concept' gadget at CES

Desktop Linux goes TV - or tablet?

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Ubuntu shop Canonical has promised to make a splash at the annual gadget jamboree, the Consumer Electronics Show, in Las Vegas, Nevada, next week.

The Linux specialist will unveil "an exclusive Ubuntu concept design" that will be announced at show.

The minimal reveal, announced here, will accompany the display of the latest Ubuntu Linux desktop and cloud gear, and demonstrations of the Ubuntu One cloud storage and data-synching service that lets you stream music.

Canonical didn't provide any more information, but last year saw two big developments in Ubuntu.

First was the move to the Unity interface adopted controversially at the expense of GNOME; Unity cleaned up the desktop with a 3D-look and paved the way for touch-based apps and input. This was a focus with Ubuntu 11.04 and 11.10.

Canonical claims Ubuntu is now the world’s third largest desktop operating system, but the emergence of Unity has suggested a future expansion beyond this fixed environment and into mobile and devices via tablets. Ubuntu daddy Mark Shuttleworth, however, has warned there's nothing imminent as he doesn't expect a tablet version of Ubuntu until Ubuntu 14.04 - expected in April 2014. The next version of Ubuntu will be 12.04, codenamed Precise Pangolin and due in April, a Long-Term-Support (LTS) release that'll set the look and features of Ubuntu for the next two years.

Shuttleworth has, though, claimed his company is already in talks with hardware manufacturers to develop Ubuntu-based tablets and phones.

Unity, meanwhile, has also primed Ubuntu for TV; late in 2011 Shuttleworth got excited about Ubuntu TV, noting developers had thrashed out a set of priorities for the project.

Ubuntu TV raises the prospect of tellies running Ubuntu as their operating system with a 10-foot input distance, the ability to access the web along with your Ubuntu One account through sets, and the potential to control your Ubuntu TV from other Ubuntu-powered devices.

Canonical's embrace of CES comes as Microsoft, inching towards Windows on tablets with Windows 8, has decided to completely withdraw from CES after this year's event, where chief executive Steve Ballmer will deliver his usual keynote. Verizon's chief executive Lowell McAdam is also reported to have cancelled his appearance at this year's CES, citing scheduling conflicts. ®

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