Ubuntu Mobile Hands-On: Player Four Has Entered The Game

Last night we bumped into Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical and Ubuntu commander in chief, at CES 2013. After pleasantries were exchanged, we had a quick chat about Ubuntu Mobile, and he was kind enough to show us his Samsung Galaxy Nexus with the operating system running on it. I must say, it looks amazing.

Slicker than Android, sexier than iOS and more versatile than the two of them put together. Let Mark explain what Ubuntu for Mobile can do and when you might be able to get it on your phone.


    I am so happy to see this getting positive mentions. I love ubuntu and I think it would be great to bring it to mobiles, giving people more choice.

    Looks pretty cool. Great to see the beer in the guys hand, lol...

    I'm very interested in giving this a shot when it becomes available, but I must say I'm worried about leaving the simplicity and convenience of Googles services such as Gmail, calendar, etc.

      You won't have to, they're integrating apps for Gmail etc in the unity interface, which will presumably be the same in the mobile version.

    I was prepared to be unimpressed but it was actually really slick in some ways. I don't like the way it presents apps but the in-app UX is amazing. Still, I can't see it being anything more than a geek's toy, much like the rest of Linux, but that seems to be all they are expecting of it.

      On the contrary, just like I like the way Unity works on the desktop, I similarly like the way it works on the phone screen.
      I'm an Ubuntu (and linux) newbie, but I've fully made the switch to Ubuntu on my PCs and I'm looking forward to their developer release to guide me on my next handset upgrade.

        If that's the case, then you clearly don't use your PC for much. There is not a single piece of software I use evey day that is available for Linux, which means I would have to make unacceptable compromises, throwing out most of 15 years professional experience with it, to make any version of Linux viable for me. Choose your applications and let the OS choose itself. Linux will never make that particular cut. I've tried Linux on and off since around 1999 and I have never been able to make it work for me.

          What programs are you using every day that aren't available for linux? I'm sure there would be many alternates for them on linux.

            Xara Designer Pro, Synapse Audio Orion, Autodesk Combustion, Autodesk 3DS Max, Zune, IE 10. Yes, there are laternative for some, e.g. Blender does most of what 3DS Max does, but it would take me 5 years or more to be as proficient with Blender as I am with Max now. For some others, like Combustion, Xara and Orion, there is nothing on any platform that works as well for me as they do, so any alternate would be an unacceptable compromise. e.g. I could replace some of what Combustion does with Nuke, which I already know how to use, but Nuke costs $5000 and still lacks some of Combustion's essential features. Pro audio on Linux is still a long way off being viable.

          I really have to agree with you on that. The fact is, the software is more important than the OS. As much as I want to make the jump, Linux still doesn't have a good alternative to excel (running it in wine has very limited functionality).

            I use LibreOffice Calc for my spreadsheet program, and I really prefer it over Excel. I find the new Office interfaces incredibly annoying.

          I use my PC quite a lot and I respectfully disagree. You might not find the software that you like using but I can find a large amount of the software that I use. It's true that a lot of software does not have a linux equivalent (definitely on the games side), but the community does its best to fill every niche. The main issue with linux that I find is that manafacturers don't provide enough driver support. The kernel and desktop environments are better than OSX/Win8 FOR ME, because the development is more organic, closer to the user base.

          In the end, if you haven't had good experiences, it's up to you not to try it again. But don't discount it's use for other people, some of us really like it.

            It's got nothing to do with how many hours a day you spend in front of it, it's about how hard you use it. I get up on stage with mine and expect it to run a whole set of songs flawlessy while we interact with it via multiple external interfaces - keyboard controllers and drum pads. Windows has been delivering that for us since 2000, when Linux couldn't even provide acceptably low latency. I also do 2D/3D motion graphics for a living, which pushes my computer even harder and the only Linux software available to me for that kind of thing is obscenely expensive, incredibly complex and less well suited to the task. Yes, I could move from 3DS Max to Maya, or even Blender, but these applications are so deep that it would be many years before I got back up to the level of proficiency I possess with Max today. Realistically though, if I was going to switch from Max it would be to Cinema 4D (because I could actually get work with it), which doesn't run on Linux either.

        90% of computer users use Browser, Office apps and perhaps a Music/AV management program.
        I'm one of them!
        Firefox/Chrome are my browsers of choice
        LibreOffice suffices for my minimal Office Apps requirement ("suffices" is probably far too harsh a descriptor, cause I have used OpenOffice successfully for years in a previous workplace)
        Banshee and XBMC are my Music and AV Management Programs (both have Android Remote Apps that work as I need them to)

        There will always be a case for specialty users such as yours, but for the average bloke, Ubuntu (and other GUI Install Linus Distros) is easily at the stage of being an easy to use replacement for Windows or MacOS.

    Hmm, a Linux competitor to Linux (Android) and Linux (iPhone). Life is full of so many wonderful options I don't know what to do.

      The iPhone does not run linux.

        iPhone uses iOS which is derived from OS X, with which it shares the Darwin foundation (code developed by Apple, as well as code derived from NeXTSTEP, BSD), and is therefore a Unix operating system.

        Splitting hairs... but wth..

          Yep, they all come from the same fundamental system. The only one that doesn't is the Windows Phone, which is based on Windows. Might be splitting hairs, but people need to know that this is where things come from and while the choice they think they have isn't really a choice when it comes to OS

            Yeah yeah, they ALL still come from BASIC at some point :P lol

            Other than windows, point out a current operating system that isn't unix based.

            What's your point? iOS is not linux. That was the statement made.

            What a stupid comment. There will always be a choice when it comes to OS. So what if the basic framework at the start is Linux. It's like saying, they were both developed on same computer, so they must be the same. You're an idiot.

      Well..... considering IOS isn't linux, then you have one less option.

      iOS is Unix. Unix is Linux in the same way that a chicken is a duck.

    Looks slick. Also, more developers should their hands-on show with a beer in the other hand :)

    I saw a hands on video on Android Central and I thought the UX is pretty poor. I really don't like how you have to swipe and continue to hold that side of the screen in order to navigate. This UI makes the person "stop and think" about what he/she has to do to navigate. Hopefully an improved beta version will change this.

      It would also make the learning curve very steep, I reckon. This is not a phone you could just pick up and start using.

      Last edited 09/01/13 1:55 pm

    It was agony watching to see if the phone would die - the battery indicator was empty!

    Is it bad that I'm actually impressed by a CEO actually knowing nitty-gritty details about their product, such as the porting?

    Looks Awesome, I cant wait to see what the Tablet version looks like, Im prepared to replace both my iPhone and iPad for this interface, Im aslo glad its not running on top of Android.

    Looking forward to this and the TV version as well, if it ever comes out lol.

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