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Ubuntu to hit smartphones, but not until 2014

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Ubuntu tablet
Ubuntu tablet

At the Ubuntu Developer Summit today, Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth announced the company is planning on porting its popular Linux variant Ubuntu to the already crowded mobile OS market, destined for smartphones, tablets and TVs. This move has reportedly been in the works for two years, and won't bear fruit until 2014, though the Unity UI has been remarkably mobile-friendly since last year, as shown above. Of course, it's not easy going as a new mobile Linux in an Android-dominated market, but Ubuntu's planning some interesting features, like shipping different versions of the OS to each device, but the ability to switch between them at will, allowing users to make their tablet handle like a computer when and if they want. We'll see if novel ideas like this allow the new mobile version to succeed where predecessors like 2008's Ubuntu Mobile Internet Device Edition and the unreleased Kubuntu Mobile have failed.

Individual users will be able to download and install the software, but Canonical does plan to team up with OEMs in order to get the OS built into products, so balancing between a consumer's desire for freedom and a manufacturer's and carrier's desire for customization may prove to be tricky, and it's tripped up others in the past.

Check out a touch-friendly version of Ubuntu running Unity in the video below. While this isn't what's going to ship in 2014, it's a taste of what you might be able to expect.