Feeds

Rarin' to buy an Ubuntu phone? Maybe not until 2015, Canonical man says

'Long road' ahead before they'll be sold in carriers' stores

High performance access to file storage

Commercial smartphones running the mobile version of the Ubuntu Linux distro probably won't be available through carriers until 2015 at the earliest, a Canonical spokesman has revealed.

When Canonical CEO Jane Silber first announced plans to port Ubuntu to phones last year, she said the goal was to ship the first handsets with the OS preloaded by the end of 2013.

That didn't happen, and from the sound of it, Ubuntu fans probably shouldn't hold their breath for a dedicated Ubuntu phone this year, either. Even if one does appear, it will likely be a limited-run device targeting niche use cases.

"Longer-term we would love to see the major OEM/Carriers shipping Ubuntu handsets," Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon wrote in a recent Reddit AMA session. "This is a long road though with many components, and I would be surprised if we see anything like this before 2015."

Bacon said he expects the first Ubuntu handsets will be built by smaller OEMs who serve smaller regions, and that if these sell well, larger OEMs and carriers may follow suit.

But don't expect Canonical to kick-start the process by developing its own Ubuntu handset. After the failure of last year's attempt to crowd-fund the Ubuntu Edge, a high-end hybrid device that would have functioned as both a phone and a PC, any further such plans have been effectively shelved.

"I am supportive of this," Bacon wrote. "I think it would tie Canonical up in knots delivering a very specific device rather than focusing our efforts on making Ubuntu work well for other OEMs who can ship it."

This means that for the foreseeable future, the only way to run Ubuntu on your phone will be to use Canonical's installer to install it onto one of the handful of supported Android devices – namely, Google's Nexus-branded kit.

There's yet another catch here, though. In a post to the Ubuntu Phone mailing list on Monday, Canonical developer Alexander Sack said that the Ubuntu Engineering team planned to discontinue development on several of the current Nexus devices and that it would not port the OS to the latest, the Nexus 5.

"We decided against moving to the latest Nexus phone, because the switching costs were simply too high taking our current engineering goals/agenda/needs for [Ubuntu] 14.04 into account," Sack wrote.

The Galaxy Nexus, the original Nexus 7, and the Nexus 10 are also being retired as engineering platforms, he said, which will leave the Nexus 4 and the 2013 version of the Nexus 7 as the only mobile devices for which Ubuntu is being actively developed – provided, of course, no one steps in to take over the other ports.

None of this sounds particularly promising for Ubuntu's chances of finding its way into many users' pockets soon. By comparison, the Mozilla Foundation, which announced its web standards–based Firefox OS for smartphones around the same time that Canonical first started murmuring about mobile, has already managed to launch Firefox OS phones from multiple manufacturers in several global markets via divisions of Deutsche Telekom and Telefónica.

Mobile Ubuntu's apparent struggles haven't dimmed Bacon's enthusiasm for the project, however. "I would not want to suggest that any given year is the year of the Linux desktop (who would? :-)), but I think 2014 is going to be a defining year for Ubuntu and our convergence strategy," he wrote. As for what that means, exactly, the rest of us will just have to wait and see. ®

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Report: Apple seeking to raise iPhone 6 price by a HUNDRED BUCKS
'Well, that 5c experiment didn't go so well – let's try the other direction'
Samsung Galaxy S5 fingerprint scanner hacked in just 4 DAYS
Sammy's newbie cooked slower than iPhone, also costs more to build
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
Feast your PUNY eyes on highest resolution phone display EVER
Too much pixel dust for your strained eyeballs to handle
Zucker punched: Google gobbles Facebook-wooed Titan Aerospace
Up, up and away in my beautiful balloon flying broadband-bot
Nvidia gamers hit trifecta with driver, optimizer, and mobile upgrades
Li'l Shield moves up to Android 4.4.2 KitKat, GameStream comes to notebooks
AMD unveils Godzilla's graphics card – 'the world's fastest, period'
The Radeon R9 295X2: Water-cooled, 5,632 stream processors, 11.5TFLOPS
Sony battery recall as VAIO goes out with a bang, not a whimper
The perils of having Panasonic as a partner
NORKS' own smartmobe pegged as Chinese landfill Android
Fake kit in the hermit kingdom? That's just Kim Jong-un-believable!
Gimme a high S5: Samsung Galaxy S5 puts substance over style
Biometrics and kid-friendly mode in back-to-basics blockbuster
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.