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Canonical's attempt to raise £20.5m ($32m) to create a Ubuntu Linux smartphone wasn't the failure it appeared to be: despite only managing two fifths of its fundraising target by its own deadline, the Edge handset project was a hugely successful advertisement for the Ubuntu distribution.

That's, of course, according to Canonical boss Mark Shuttleworth, who reckons the whole episode has generated huge amounts of interest in Ubuntu Linux as a mobile platform even if the devices he promises to launch in 2014 won't have the hybrid capabilities of the Edge.

"While we passionately wanted to build the Edge to showcase Ubuntu on phones, the support and attention it received will still be a huge boost as other Ubuntu phones start to arrive in 2014," he and his team wrote.

Canonical's community manager Jono Bacon was even more explicit, pointing out that the project:

"Garnered media attention across CNBC, Engadget, The Independent, TechCrunch, the BBC, T3, Stuff, The Verge, The Guardian, Wired, Pandodaily, Fast Company, Forbes, The Telegraph and more."

So as a marketing project to get the Ubuntu name associated with phones the whole thing was a big success even if it didn't lead to the promised hybrid of a combined phone and desktop computer.

Not that such a thing is unthinkable - plug a Motorola mobe into a big screen, via HDMI, and it will happily boot into a desktop interface navigable with keyboard and mouse. The Ubuntu Edge was supposed to boot into Ubuntu as a phone or desktop machine, using Android to run existing mobiles apps, but the advantages of having two operating systems must be called into question - what proportion of ordinary users would really gain from a Linux-based desktop OS?

Hybrid devices will come, the model of dropping one's handset into a desktop is very compelling despite cloudy services going some way to replicate the experience, but dual-booting two separate operating systems seems a clumsy way to go about it so perhaps once Ubuntu has been proven as a phone OS we could just use that for both, or perhaps not. ®

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