Image Source: Ubuntu
The Ubuntu Edge smartphone is the embodiment of all the aspirations Mark Shuttleworth, Ubuntu Founder and Chief Guru, has for Canonical and its Ubuntu Linux operating system. In 2011, foreseeing the decline of the desktop market, Canonical embarked on a project to take the Ubuntu desktop operating system mobile. The initiative, announced in February 2012 was Ubuntu for Android.
Essentially, Ubuntu for Android would piggyback an Ubuntu operating system on an Android phone. As a phone, the device would operate like any other device. Connected to a monitor, keyboard and mouse, the Ubuntu operating system would take over, and you would have a fully functional desktop. When docked as the desktop, files, apps and other phone functionality like voice calls and SMS are shared between the two. For example, if an SMS message is sent to the phone while docked, the SMS pops up in Ubuntu. Proof of the concept was shown with Ubuntu for Android running on a Motorola Atrix. The technology appeared good to go. It was simply a matter of finding an interested Android manufacturer. Unfortunately, there was none.
Earlier this year, Canonical announced another mobile project, Ubuntu Phone OS. Ubuntu Phone OS appears to be based on Android. When my opinion was asked by a Linux publication about the new Ubuntu Phone OS, I felt it was a mistake and what Canonical should do is build an Android phone, with Ubuntu for Android onboard. Well, here it is. Sort of. Whether the Ubuntu Edge ever sees the light of day depends on whether it can get US$28.5 million more in funding in the next twenty-nine days.
The World’s First SmartBrick?
The Ubuntu Edge gives you a choice of booting into Android or Ubuntu Phone OS, and whatever mobile operating system you choose to run, plugged to a monitor or a lapdock, it gives you a full desktop operating system. This seems to be the modern day embodiment of the “CPU Brick” envisioned by PCMag’s Tim Bajarin. One multicore processor to rule them all.
Sometimes, I think all this might have generated more interest, if you had Windows 7 piggybacking on an Android or Windows Phone device, or Mac OS X piggybacking on an iPhone. Ubuntu is not the most popular desktop operating system in the world.
In a nutshell, this is what the Ubuntu Edge is: potentially, the world’s first SmartBrick. An Android phone, which can be plugged into peripherals to make it an Ubuntu Linux desktop. Do you want it? If the answer is no, you can stop reading here. If you do, continue to the next part of this article and see if it is worth it.