The engineers over at Canonical responsible for developing the Ubuntu Touch operating system have recently announced some big support changes. The Ubuntu based operating system designed to be used for mobile devices will now only support the Nexus 4 smartphone and the Nexus 7 tablet.
A lot of developers were expecting the Nexus 5, which was released October of last year, to be added to the list of supported devices since it has a much more improved hardware. The developer community however may still be able to port Ubuntu on their devices however it won’t come with any official support.
The main reason as to why the Nexus 5 won’t be supported right now is that the switching cost would be too high considering that they are concentrating their resources right now on the Ubuntu 14.04.
Aside from not supporting the Nexus 5 several devices that were previously officially supported were also dropped. These are the Nexus 10 (2012), Nexus 7 (2012), and Galaxy Nexus.
Canonical’s Alexander Sack said that their team will now be concentrating only on two devices for from now on so that they can be able to release Ubuntu Touch at the end of January 2014.
Sack also added that the four goals right now are
- Ubuntu Engineering (UE) will make a strong push on the emulator during the month’ ahead. Goal is to support the emulator for arm and x86 as a primary engineering platform for UE and our App Development community
- Ubuntu Engineering (UE) will continue to focus on the Nexus 4 phone platform and will not adopt the new Nexus 5 platform_ short term (before 14.04 is out).
- Ubuntu Engineering (UE) will discontinue producing builds for the Galaxy Nexus (maguro) phone to ensure we can really focus on the N4 and emulator to polish and drive our Ubuntu Touch engineering agenda towards 14.04.
- Ubuntu Engineering (UE) will consolidate the supported tablet device landscape and focus on making one device shine rather than producing builds for all the NEXUS tablet platforms out there.
Canonical has announced that its Ubuntu Touch software aimed at mobile devices can now dual boot with the Android operating system. Previously the only way to run Ubuntu on an Android device with an unlocked bootloader was to totally replace Android. This new development makes it easier to switch between both operating systems.
The dual booting feature is still not recommended for the casual user as Canonical announced it is suited for developers. This is because it requires knowledge on flashing and reconfiguring the partition layout, however if you’re up to the challenge then you may try it out.
Canonical says that “Ubuntu Dual Boot Installer is provided as a tech preview for developers who want to run Ubuntu and Android on a single device. It is not intended to be used by regular users, neither at this point nor as its ultimate goal. Those developers installing it should be familiar with the Ubuntu and Android partition layouts and should also feel at home with manually flashing partitions in case something goes wrong.”
“Ubuntu Dual Boot Installer was born as an internal skunkworks project some Canonical Engineers dedicated a limited amount of their time to. Seeing the good progress, it was decided to release this preview for the developer community to test, study and contribute to.”
“Dual boot is not part of the regular Ubuntu release.”
Dual booting will work on several Android versions including but not limited to stock Android and CyanogenMod (Android 4.2 Jelly Bean and above).
An app is available on both platforms that will let users easily switch between the two environments. Just tap on the button to boot to Android or Ubuntu Touch.
Getting this new feature on an Android device may be a little bit tricky. If you haven’t tried installing Ubuntu Touch on your device before then its best to read the instructions carefully.
Requirements for dual booting
- A Nexus 4 phone (other Nexus devices may work, but haven’t been tested)
- Android 4.2 or higher with a stock, AOSP, or CyanogenMod-based release
- 2.7GB of free storage on the device
- Android’s adb tools installed on your PC
- Bootloader unlocked
- USB debugging enabled
Ubuntu Touch is the mobile version of the Ubuntu operating system developed by Canonical. It is designed to take advantage of the touch interface of smartphones and tablets. It was first announced in October 2011 while the Ubuntu platform for phones was unveiled last January 2013. A Developer Preview was released a month after the unveiling.
The crowdfunded Ubuntu Edge smartphone may already be dead but that doesn’t mean that we won’t be seeing Ubuntu run on smartphones. The Ubuntu phone team recently announced through their mailing list message that the Ubuntu Touch, the OS that would have been used by the Edge, will have an October 17 release date which also coincides with the release of Ubuntu Linux 13.10.
Canonical technical architect Loïc Minier announced that “only four and a half weeks to go and phone 1.0 will be a reality! Obviously we’re all trying to finish or fix lots of things in the remaining time, but that might include hard-to-track-down and painful regressions.”
QA community coordinator Nicholas Skaggs mentioned in a blog post that “We are exactly one month away from the release of [Ubuntu 13.10] Saucy Salamander. As part of that release, Ubuntu is committed to delivering an image of Ubuntu-Touch, ready to install on supported devices.”
The Ubuntu Touch developer preview was first launched last February and is compatible with Samsung Galaxy Nexus, Google Nexus 4, Nexus 7, and Nexus 10 devices. It is basically a custom ROM that users can install that provides a way to experience Ubuntu on mobile devices. If a device has an unlocked bootloader and can run on CyanogenMod then chances are it can also run on Ubuntu Touch.
Aside from providing an interface for mobile devices Ubuntu Touch can also be used to run the full desktop version of Ubuntu. Users simply have to dock their mobile device to a desktop monitor to make this happen.
Those who own a Nexus device are encouraged to try out the developer preview which is available for download right now. The important task right now is reporting any bugs that may exist so they may be corrected once the first stable build gets released.
Devices that will be released in the market running on Ubuntu Touch won’t happen anytime soon. This is despite the fact that the first stable build will already be released next month. Canonical says that discrete devices running on Ubuntu Touch will probably be released in late 2013 or early 2014.
Ubuntu Touch is a new mobile interface for Ubuntu being developed by Canonical. Its main purpose is to bring the Ubuntu experience to touchscreen devices. Applications that run on the desktop version of Ubuntu will also be able to run on the mobile version and vice versa. Mobile devices with Ubuntu Touch can also be used to provide the full desktop Ubuntu experience by simply connecting it to an external monitor and attaching the necessary peripherals.
Over at the xda forums an experimental port of the Ubuntu Touch has just been released for the Xperia Tablet Z. Most of the features of the tablet are working such as its Wi-Fi, touchscreen, and camera among others. There are however a few bugs still present such as inability to record video, or the camera app freezing when started but works fine after about a minute. These bugs are expected in any experimental build. The best part of this is that it can be dual booted with CyanogenMod.
If you own an Xperia Tablet Z and would like to tinker around with the OS by installing Ubuntu Touch then make sure that you have a firm grasp of the concepts involved in flashing ROMs. Installing Ubuntu Touch is just like installing CyanogenMod so if you have experience in performing the latter then it’s going to be easy to perform.
Warning: Before proceeding with the install make sure to make a back-up of your important files. This is still an experimental build and is not advisable for daily use.
Download the needed files
- Copy downloaded files to tablet
- Reboot into fastboot
- Flash boot.img extracted from device image – fastboot flash boot boot.img
- Reboot into recovery (don’t forget to BACKUP) – fastboot reboot
- Wipe Cache + Dalvik + Data + Factory Reset
- Flash device image
- Flash ubuntu image (be patient here)
- Reboot (no bootscreen)
Dual Boot Procedure
- If you have CM up and running, just reboot into recovery and install the device image ( + ubuntu image, if first time installing Ubuntu Touch). Wipe cache + dalvik. Reboot to run Ubuntu Touch.
- To go back to CM, reboot into recovery and simply install your ROM’s image. Wipe cache + Dalvik. Reboot to go back to CM.
Ubuntu Phone OS was first spotted at CES, where Canonical decided to unveil their new mobile project to make another open source mobile platform, with a gesture based user interface.
For a while it all went quiet, then Canonical launched Ubuntu Edge on IndieGogo, asking for $27 million in funding to get the first Ubuntu Phone on the market. the Ubuntu Edge would be able to use Ubuntu Phone OS, Android OS and Ubuntu desktop OS.
Still we wait for Ubuntu Phone OS, but one developer has taken it upon himself to recreate the home-screen for desperate Android users and fans of the Ubuntu Phone design. An XDA Senior Member has created an emulated look, available on the Google Play store today.
The Ubuntu lock screen will not allow the gestures like Ubuntu Phone OS, but it has the same type of functionality. To open the phone, the user swipes from the right to the left, the same as they would on Ubuntu Phone.
This is currently in beta and while the emulation is a clever application, it just makes us want to try out Ubuntu all the more. Canonical showed a feature on Ubuntu Edge that would make it easy to hop from Android to Ubuntu, could we not see this implemented the Google Play store, as a launcher or ROM.
Ubuntu Touch or Ubuntu Mobile OS is one of the new mobile OSes under development in 2013. This year has been rightly touted as the year of new mobile OSes as we’re going to see many new platforms surface. To begin with, the Firefox OS is currently seeing widespread coverage, then there’s the Tizen OS jointly developed by Samsung and Intel, and also Jolla’s Sailfish OS which will mark the rebirth of the MeeGo OS. But Ubuntu Mobile is making the most noise as it’s that much closer to launch. The new smartphone OS is far from being perfect, and is a developer only project as you would imagine. Which is why the folks at Canonical (devs of Ubuntu) want to give the developers a taste of this new mobile OS by making it available for download. The OS is now officially available for download and install. Devices like the Samsung Galaxy Nexus, the LG Nexus 4, the ASUS Nexus 7 and the Samsung Nexus 10 are compatible with the new OS. So if you have any of these devices as spare handsets, make sure you give the OS a try. But we must reiterate that this is merely a developer preview, which means that it’s far from being the final version of the real thing. In other words, it won’t be snappy or smooth like the modern mobile OS.
The Canonical team claims the new OS to be “very new and unfinished” which is developer talk for “don’t use it unless you know what you’re getting into”. Regardless, it’s a great new OS and we can expect fruitful things from Canonical’s new mobile OS. All of this will be free for all to try though, which is neat and as with the desktop version of Ubuntu, things are pretty simple here too. If at all you are interested in trying out the new OS despite knowing the risks, you must remember that all your data on the device will be wiped and you will have to make a complete backup of the same before flashing the ROM. Shortly in the future, we are going to see apps being developed for the smartphone along with new and improved versions of the OS making its way to the fore. I will reserve my temptation to try out this new ROM until then. Perhaps someday we’ll see Canonical launch standalone Ubuntu OS smartphones, without having to rely on Android’s mercy.
As of now, Ubuntu Touch features the Android Developer Bridge Tool connectivity as well as support for making calls, sending texts, Wi-Fi, some core applications, front and rear cameras along with some other developer tools. So while it might pack all the essential features, it cannot really be used as a daily driver, even though we’re trying to convince ourselves otherwise. But the day is nigh when the OS comes out of alpha and is usable for all. If you’ve got a device to spare, make sure you try the new Touch Ubuntu OS from the source link below by following the download and installation instructions. After you’re done, make sure you drop us a line and let us know about your experience.