It had to happen sooner or later, now the first announcement came from Linux vendor Canonical, best known as the producer of Ubuntu Linux.
Cell phones, especially the so-called "smartphones" (Android, Apple iPhone iOS, Blackberry, and Windows Phone), are becoming more and more powerful. These handheld powerhouses of today often are as powerful as our desktop computers of only a few years ago. If we ran spreadsheets and word processors and genealogy programs on our desktop computers five or six years ago, why can't we do the same with today's smartphones? In fact, we can.
The biggest drawbacks to running all these programs on a cell phone is the small screen and small keyboards typically available, as well as the lack of a mouse. You would never want to write the Great American novel on a typical cell phone keyboard! However, with many of today's smartphones, even these problems can be solved.
Third party vendors often sell full-sized keyboards that can be added to a smartphone. In addition, a very few smartphones will also support the addition of a plug-in external monitor and an external mouse. In theory, connecting your cell phone to an external monitor, mouse, and keyboard could make it the equivalent of a desktop computer. You can run the same programs whether at home or out traveling. The big keyboard and big monitor remain behind on your desk at home (or at the office). Of course, when using the tiny built-in screen and keyboard, you will be limited to reading brief documents and perhaps writing no more than a few lines of text. Once you return home or to the office, you plug in the external keyboard, mouse, and monitor and use them in the same manner as any other desktop computer. Using only one computer at all locations means you always have all your programs and data with you, whether stored locally or "in the cloud." There is never a case where you "forgot and left that important file back at the office."
To make this work, all you need is software.
Canonical is set to release Ubuntu Linux for Android. The operating system effectively turns your phone into a full Ubuntu desktop computer when docked and connected to an external keyboard, mouse, and monitor, meaning the day your smartphone could act as your primary computer is drawing nearer.
When traveling without the external hardware, you still have everything with you but are limited to viewing information on the smaller screen and to making data entries with the built-in keyboard.
Ubuntu Linux works only on Android smartphones. Ubuntu sits alongside the standard Android operating system, as they share the same Linux kernel. It appears that any recently-built high-end Android device can run Ubuntu so long as it meets the following requirements:
- Dual-core 1GHz CPU
- Video acceleration: shared kernel driver with associated X driver; Open GL, ES/EGL
- Storage: 2 gigabytes or more
- HDMI: video out with secondary frame buffer device
- USB host mode
- 512 MB RAM memory
Ubuntu Linux doesn't replace the Android operating system. Instead, it lets Android and Ubuntu share the same Linux kernel, so they can run at the same time. Both operating systems can access the one address book, one set of bookmarks, one place for text messages and one inbox for mail.
Like the other Ubuntu products, Ubuntu Linux for Android will be available free of charge.
You can learn more at http://www.ubuntu.com/devices/android.
As of now Canonical is working with handset manufacturers to get Ubuntu desktop functionality included out of the box in future Android phones.
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