Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Run A Full Ubuntu Desktop From Your Android Smartphone

The guys over at Canonical, or as we know them the mad scientist behind Ubuntu our favorite Linux distro, have developed a new Ubuntu Android add-on that will allow you to turn your smartphone into a desktop style PC.

The line between smartphones, tablets and other hand held devices and a traditional PC are certainly being blurred these days. Our phones are gaining more and more power allowing them to function more like a traditional computer than a phone. The team as Canonical plan to use that power to gives users the option of leaving the desktop out all together. Powering a monitor and keyboard straight from your Android based phone.

"The processors at the heart of smartphones are approaching the power of low-end laptop processors, so we use the horsepower to power a desktop experience," said Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth. "If you link your phone to a computer monitor and keyboard, then the phone can drive a full desktop session."

The new software, which is being called Ubuntu for Android, works as an add-on to the traditional Android mobile operating system. When a user's Android phone is docked to a screen and keyboard, the software will launch a full desktop environment based on the Ubuntu Unity shell. Android and Ubuntu, both being based on the same Linux kernel, will run side-by-side sharing information across both uniformly. Users will see unified system with the same contact list, address book, calendar, settings, photos and social media passwords to make the entire experience seamless. You'll even be able to make calls and texts while using the Ubuntu desktop utilizing Ubuntu's message indicator.

For now the system won't run on just any Android phone. After all you do need a bit of raw power to run both shell's at the same time. Here are the current phone requirements:
  • Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or higher
  • Dual-core 1GHz CPU or higher (multi-cores required)
  • Video acceleration: shared kernel driver with associated X driver; Open GL, ES/EGL
  • 2GB storage for the OS disk image
  • 512 MB RAM
  • HDMI video out with secondary frame buffer device
  • USB host mode

The OS is currently only available to OEMs at the moment, alas Canonical plans on showing the new system off at Mobile World Conference so I'm sure we'll see more details coming and if there is a lot of interest me might even see a consumer version.

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