Feeds

Ubuntu desktop is so 2013... All hail 2014 Ubuntu mobile

Does this mean Linux gets a real chance on mobile?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth is no stranger to exploring rarefied territory. The man has, after all, been to space.

His interest in new frontiers means Ubuntu, the Linux distro he created, is also poised to make a great leap - to go where no Linux has gone before.

Shuttleworth's plan to take Linux beyond the desktop and into the world of consumer devices may be his most daring and, if it works, lasting idea.

Ubuntu is headed for orbit. But, just as you don't want to get too close to a launching rocket, getting to close to Ubuntu right now may be risky.

There's a lot of heat and debris flying at the moment. Casualties have thus far included a bit of privacy (fixable, but still unsettling) and a general neglect of what was once the focus - the Ubuntu desktop.

Sometimes it shows: that controversial search feature wasn't exactly great at finding what you wanted.

Also, the Mir windowing system that was supposed to bring more touch to the desktop got yanked weeks before its supposed release, because of outstanding technical problems.

It's not that Ubuntu has abandoned the desktop, but it does seem clear that its interests, at least currently, are elsewhere. There were the usual spring and autumn desktop updates, Ubuntu 13.04 and 13.10 respectively, but neither brought much in the way of new stuff to the desktop.

If Ubuntu were just another Linux desktop, this would be the space where we question just what the heck its developers are doing. But Ubuntu is no longer just another Linux desktop.

Just 12 months ago, Ubuntu was yet another Linux desktop. In that sense, looking back at 2013, it would be perfectly reasonable to say it was a very boring year for Ubuntu. So long as you confine the meaning of "Ubuntu" to "actual shipping, desktop operating system" then it was a largely unremarkable year. The roadmap for 2014 looks similarly dull on the desktop. There's a new display server coming, a change that most users will never notice. The usual incremental app updates and bug fixes are also inevitable. Yawn.

Shuttleworth photo by Nitot

Shuttleworth looks beyond the desktop

It's all about the Touch

What has made and will continue to make Ubuntu the distro to watch in 2014 is not desktop Ubuntu: it is Ubuntu Touch.

What made 2013 a really exciting year for Ubuntu fans was the revelation that Canonical was going to put a real Linux distro on a phone. You could argue that Android is Linux – peel back the virtual machine layers and technically Android runs atop a Linux kernel – but Android pales next to the full power of Linux on your phone.

When Shuttleworth announced Ubuntu Touch, he didn't just move Canonical into a new market, he reignited the nerd fantasy of real Linux-based phones, which taps a market well beyond Ubuntu's usual share of the Linux desktop. Like many, I don't use Ubuntu on the desktop, but I will be lining up when the first Ubuntu phones hit the market.

Why? Because the future is mobile. I don't mean mobile in the meaningless buzzword sense, but literally mobile, as in light enough to take anywhere. Light enough to always be with you. Couple of relatively cheap, small, lightweight hardware with server-based file storage systems like Ubuntu One or Dropbox and you finally have the fabled thin client we've been hearing about for decades now.

To paraphrase an old Apple ad, an Ubuntu Touch offers your desktop in your pocket. Thanks to that Mir display server that no one will notice you literally have a desktop in your pocket; all you have to do is plug your phone into a larger monitor and Ubuntu Touch will reveal a desktop size interface. The "desktop" version of Ubuntu in 2018 will be your Ubuntu Touch device docked to an 8K ultra-HD monitor. Who doesn't want that?

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
Kate Bush: Don't make me HAVE CONTACT with your iPHONE
Can't face sea of wobbling fondle implements. What happened to lighters, eh?
The agony and ecstasy of SteamOS: WHERE ARE MY GAMES?
And yes it does need a fat HDD (or SSD, it's cool with either)
Apple takes blade to 13-inch MacBook Pro with Retina display
Shaves price, not screen on mid-2014 model
Apple to build WORLD'S BIGGEST iStore in Dubai
It's not the size of your shiny-shiny...
Steve Jobs had BETTER BALLS than Atari, says Apple mouse designer
Xerox? Pff, not even in the same league as His Jobsiness
Apple analyst: fruity firm set to shift 75 million iPhones
We'll have some of whatever he's having please
TV transport tech, part 1: From server to sofa at the touch of a button
You won't believe how much goes into today's telly tech
XBOX One will learn to play media from USB and DLNA sources
Hang on? Aren't those file formats you hardly ever see outside torrents?
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Top 10 endpoint backup mistakes
Avoid the ten endpoint backup mistakes to ensure that your critical corporate data is protected and end user productivity is improved.
Top 8 considerations to enable and simplify mobility
In this whitepaper learn how to successfully add mobile capabilities simply and cost effectively.
Rethinking backup and recovery in the modern data center
Combining intelligence, operational analytics, and automation to enable efficient, data-driven IT organizations using the HP ABR approach.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.