Ubuntu Linux coming to phones, tablets

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Ubuntu Linux, the free and open-source operating system, will power tablet computers, cellular phones, TVs and smart screens in cars and elsewhere, Mark Shuttleworth, the South African behind the software announced in a blog post on Monday 31st October.

The software will support all these new devices in time for version 14.04 LTS, expected in April 2014. Shuttleworth promises the software will connect supported devices “cleanly and seamlessly to the desktop, the server and the cloud”.

He explains that Unity, the desktop interface used in Ubuntu, was specifically designed with this in mind. “While the interface for each form factor is shaped appropriately, Unity’s core elements are arranged in exactly the way we need to create coherence across all of those devices. This was the origin of the name Unity — a single core interface framework, that scales across all screens, and supports all toolkits.”

Shuttleworth believes desktop interfaces will merge with mobile, touch interfaces into a seamless personal computing platform in the future. “Today, we are inviting the whole Ubuntu community — both commercial and personal — to shape that possibility and design that future; a world where Ubuntu runs on mobile phones, tablets, televisions and traditional PCs, creating a world where content is instantly available on all devices, in a form that is delightful to use.”

He says the “opportunity remains wide open but only to products that deliver excellent experiences for users across a full range of device categories”, adding that there is “no winner in place yet”.

According to Shuttleworth, the investment that Ubuntu funder Canonical has already made in the user interface “accommodates the touch scenarios required in some form factors” and “will work equally well in mouse-, keyboard- or stylus-driven environments”.

In addition, Ubuntu’s personal cloud and application centre services will deliver the “storage, syncing and sharing capabilities that are not just a convenience but a requirement as we move to a universe where content is increasingly shared but the devices that access them become more diverse”.