Ubuntu for Android: A Desktop in Your Pocket

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22 Feb, 2012 6:45 pm

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Turning your phone into a desktop computer has been an ambition of many handset makers for years, Motorola has their Webdock and ASUS is coming out with the Padfone.

Canonical’s Ubuntu for Android takes a different approach by seamlessly integrate Android with the Linux-based Ubuntu distribution. Your device will at first glace look like a typical Android handset with all the apps. Ubuntu is carefully tucked away and only surfaces once it’s been slid into a dock that connects to a monitor, keyboard, and mouse. The installation basically gives you two devices in one: an Android phone while on the go, and a Ubuntu desktop when plugged in.

What makes this more interesting than what Motorola has done with the Webdock is that Linux has a large installed base of desktop apps and its open-source origins might make it a better choice for this type of application.

The system reportedly lets you share your smartphone’s contacts, media, and apps among both Android and Ubuntu. The Ubuntu environment also supports MMS/SMS and phones calls: a pop-up window appears when you receive a call, and you can simply mouse over and click to answer.

Using virtualization tools like Citrix and VMWare, Canonical says that IT departments could issue a single device that covers both the desktop and mobile needs of employees.

There is no word on who will be making the docks or what handsets will be compatible, but seeing as it is going to be preloaded by the handset makers we’re just going to have to wait and see. With Mobile World Congress just a few days away we can cross our fingers for an announcement.


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  • David

    Finally! I want this so bad.

    Microsoft should take a note and think about how stupid it is to disallow clasic desktop apps on ARM.

  • CyberGusa

     It’s much easier to port Linux apps because most are pretty much self contained.  Unfortunately that isn’t the case with most Windows apps.  So more complex to port them.

    However, something both Linux and Windows apps have to work on is to be more powerful efficient.  While add that VM for ARM is very power consuming already and performance won’t be as good as running natively means it would make run time horrible and negate the power efficiency advantage ARM would normally have over x86.

    Never mind other issues like screen size optimizations, and other issues of making desktop apps work with mobile devices.

    Windows 8 and apps made for Windows 8 will have power efficiency optimization but legacy apps won’t.

    ARM is also 32bit only, so no 64bit porting is allowed either btw.

    Though the next gen 28nm ARM Cortex A15 is suppose to have a much improved VM capability.  So maybe they’ll add more capability later as ARM becomes more developed.

    Right now though MS concern is to make sure everything works as well as possible and since Windows 8 for ARM will be going on mostly mobile devices that they’ll have to compete with how quick and reliable Android and iOS already are on those same devices.

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