back to article Intel shows budget Android phone powering big-screen Linux

Intel is showing what it calls "Big Screen Experience" at Mobile World Congress, an Android smartphone which runs a full Linux desktop when plugged into an external display. The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile, but whereas Continuum devices are towards the high end, Intel's project is …

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  1. hplasm
    Happy

    "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

    Except it exists, and apparently works.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

      "The concept is broadly similar to The Motorola Atrix - 2011."

      along with a few other Motorola devices that could do the sane thing like the Razr. mine is sitting on my lapdock as we speak. Hardware now at a point its more realistic along with "the Cloud :-( "

      I want an ASUS padfone with 4.7" (MAX as with the tablet dock who needs a bigger phone screen!!!)) screen multi core (4 or 8) cpu INTEL with a 10"+ screen tablet dock, attachable keyboard and a desktop dock. with a HUGE battery in the phone (2 days life in standard use MINIMUM 5000+mAh?) multiple USB-C connectors. and a 3,5 Audio Jack. + Micro SD (SDXC) card support for 512GB+ cards

      running Windows 10 or Linux/Android combo. or Pure linux (user install options)

      1. Danny 14 Silver badge

        Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

        if you have to lug a small keyboard around then why not simply lug a thin and light netbook?

        1. MrWibble

          Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

          Keep up! Netbooks were declared officially dead years ago, because tablets were the saviour of the universe. Apparently.

        2. This post has been deleted by its author

    2. Mikel

      Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

      Been using the Android phone with a wired connection to the bigscreen and Bluetooth keyboard for several years now. VnC to remote desktop provides DaaS on any OS. Online office apps work fine. With screen casting it went wireless in 2013. Hoping for the 4K Chromecast now. A nuisance to answer the phone though.

      Are the Intel chips with Imagination Technologies GPUs still crippled on Linux?

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

        I tried to use Chromecast to cast a full desktop... not. pretty.

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

      Yeah, agree, MS has Continuum ready to roll. This Linux thing is just a lab demo... and doesn't look all that great based on the picture.

      I see what Intel is doing here. Trying to entice the smartphone crowd to come back to Chipzilla instead of ARM by showing them that they will need the CPU power to compete with MS after MS, finally, brings out a proper smartphone (which it appears they will do this year with Surface Phone) and has Continuum out there. I think Intel is playing with fire though. If Redmond decides that Intel is no longer their preferred CPU and starts working with ARM more extensively and maybe IBM Power (which IBM has been begging MS to do forever), that hurts Intel a lot more than this hurts MS.... MS, internally with Azure etc, is one of the largest CPU buyers in the world. Forget about the ecosystem, they could just move a significant amount of their internal CPU to something other than Intel and Intel would feel the pinch. It is Win-tel (Win before tel) for a reason.

      1. ben kendim

        Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

        Yes, and the reason is that Int-ows doesn't sound good. :-) :-)

      2. Teiwaz
        WTF?

        Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

        "If Redmond decides that Intel is no longer their preferred CPU and starts working with ARM more extensively"

        Redmond don't have enough toes left to pull that off. Arm negates most of Windows advantage (the huge range of binary windows x86 software). Primarily OSS/Free sotware OSs can pull this sort of thing off as they are set up to recompile the stack often, Windows hasn't and still isn't.

      3. PeteA
        Trollface

        Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

        "which it appears they will do this year with Surface Phone"

        This is the year of the Windows phone ...

    4. PleebSmasher
      Megaphone

      Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

      The concept is broadly similar to Ubuntu Edge!

      Ubuntu screwed up everything by asking for an unrealistic amount of money for their crowdfunding campaign. Subsequent smartphones have gotten off the ground with less than $32 million in crowdfunding!

    5. Anonymous Coward
      Facepalm

      Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

      Not really, there's no MS Office suite for Linux

      1. Richard Plinston

        Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

        > Not really, there's no MS Office suite for Linux

        This is about 'mobile'. There is MS Office for Android, which is said to be better than the one for Windows Phone 8.x.

        There are many Office suites for Android and/or Linux including WPS, LibreOffice, Google Office. If you require MS Office then use whatever works for you. Others don't need it or want it.

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Trollface

        Re: "The concept is broadly similar to Microsoft's Continuum for Windows 10 Mobile..."

        Not really, there's no MS Office suite for Linux

        … a brilliant selling point in my opinion. No Word/Excel macro malware and no PowerPoint-less bores.

  2. nematoad Silver badge

    Given the ubiquity of smart 'phones running Android could this be the breakthrough that Linux deserves?

    Here's hoping.

    1. RyokuMas Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Nope...

      "Given the ubiquity of smart 'phones running Android could this be the breakthrough that Linux deserves?"

      You'd just be trading one monopoly for another, save the new world order would be at the mercy of the carriers to ensure security updates hit the hardware...

      1. Halfmad

        Re: Nope...

        Yeah but the 'nux fanboys would love it, well until Linux was mainstream then they'd all look for something else to drool over.

        Much like the kids at school loving a band until it's popular.

        1. kryptylomese

          Re: Nope...

          Linux IS the biggest OS in the world already (just not currently on the desktop)

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: Nope...

            "Linux IS the biggest OS in the world already (just not currently on the desktop)"

            Linux is a kernel. It forms part of many operating systems. As a collection, yes it's popular due to it being free. No single operating system (bar Android) is deployed at any real scale, and very few come with the support people expect (and exception would be RHEL, Android support is an utter abomination).

            1. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nope...

              "No single operating system (bar Android) is deployed at any real scale,"

              Well one of the challenges with Linux has always been fragmentation, which is something Red Hat obviously want to address :(

              On the other hand, if you were to be slightly generous and count all deployed instances of Linux+Busybox as one flavour of Linux (which isn't a particularly unfair thing to do), you'd come up wth the same conclusion - Linux+Busybox already is the biggest OS in the world.

              No offence intended to (and indeed, many thanks to) the good people of GNU etc, without whom this picture would be rather different.

              1. Richard Plinston

                Re: Nope...

                > Well one of the challenges with Linux has always been fragmentation,

                The same 'problem' can be aimed at, say, the car industry. Dozens of manufacturers (there used to be hundreds) making many different models that are changed each year, and then there are all the options and different colours. It is an absolute nightmare having to choose one, and even worse if you want replacement parts if something breaks.

                Just think how much better it would be if there was just one engine/chassis and just a handful of different bodies built on that. Everything would just fit regardless of which model you bought.

                And yet people seem happy with the current situation.

            2. Mikel

              Re: Nope...

              >No single operating system (bar Android) is deployed at any real scale, and very few come with the support people expect (and exception would be RHEL, Android support is an utter abomination).

              Linux totally owns supercomputing, with 98.8% of the top 500 running it. It totally owns cloud - over 60% of the virtual machines in Microsoft's own Azure cloud are Linux, and almost all of every other cloud. It is the boss of public web hosting. It is used in the server room quite a lot more than you would think. And of course it runs every server at Google - who account for a significant share of all global server use. All of these things are at global scale.

              As for support, the level of support Microsoft offers is legendary for its futility. You might as well call Dell. Unless you mean patch support in which case it is well known Microsoft abandons their platforms on a regular basis for their own business reasons, includes patches you don't want like GWX, issues patches that brick your machine terrifyingly often. They make most Linux distributions' swift and regular patch issuance seem absolutely boring.

            3. Anonymous Coward
              Anonymous Coward

              Re: Nope...

              "Linux is a kernel. It forms part of many operating systems"

              Yes, but "no kernel, no operating system".

              Weather it's Linux+Hurd, Linux+Something else, it's still Linux in my book.

              Most of the userland stuff making up Unix-like OSs come from the same root philosophically, and in many cases from the same programmers.

              I'm not concerned so much with the vener on top, but more with the bolts and nuts underneath.

              I think you assume that unless you can see a GUI, it's not real. All servers with virtualised Linux environments are real (as real as running software can be).

              Or are you saying that Ubuntu, Mint and whatever server versions are used are not Linux because thay have minor differences?

              In that case Windows 2000, NT, XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10 are not Windows. Not to mention Windows 3, 95 and 98. They are all different OSs.

              1. Anonymous Coward
                Anonymous Coward

                Re: Nope...

                In that case Windows 2000, NT, XP, Vista, 7, 8 and 10 are not Windows. Not to mention Windows 3, 95 and 98. They are all different OSs.

                Windows < v4 is not an OS, but a co-operative multitasking desktop atop DOS.

                Windows v4, aka "Chicago" or Windows 95 was an OS.

                Windows NT is a different OS, that formed the basis of Windows 2000 and everything newer in the desktop Windows world.

                Then there's Windows CE, another different OS, that deserves to be forgotten.

                Yes, Ubuntu and Mint are different OSes. Forked from the same code base, and closely related, but they are different, in the same way that identical twins are still individuals, in spite of their similarities.

                1. Richard Plinston

                  Re: Nope...

                  > Yes, Ubuntu and Mint are different OSes.

                  By the same means then Windows NT 3.1, 3.5, 3.5 Server, 4, 2000, Server 2000, XP Home, XP Starter, XP Pro, XP Ultimate, Server 2003, ... are all different OSes. By your measure then XP SP1, SP2, SP3 (multiplied by Starter, Home, Netbook, Pro, Ultimate) would also be 15 different OSes.

      2. P. Lee

        Re: Nope...

        Intel Linux a monopoly?

        I doubt that monopoly would survive long.

        I'd want to see some higher specs though. No reliance on cloud compute please.

  3. Ole Juul

    attack surface

    This looks like it's going to be a security nightmare.

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: attack surface

      A user with this hybrid device will have no higher an attack surface than a dual device set-up (i.e, an Android phone and a Linux desktop).

    2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Re: attack surface

      "This looks like it's going to be a security nightmare."

      That was my thought. The apps that demand access to all sorts of details they don't need are then going to expect access to all the stuff on the Linux side.

  4. werdsmith Silver badge

    Why bother with the Android part?

    Dump google and run the phone with Linux.

    1. BinkyTheMagicPaperclip

      Apps. People want mobile phones to run mobile phone apps.

      There are a number of non Jolla phones that run Sailfish, but no-one does, because the app provision sucks. Same with Blackberry.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Use desktop Linux, and run Android in a container?

      2. Adrian 4 Silver badge

        Are you sure ?

        I don't want an app for every stupid little info box that could be done with a web page. I think it's the marketing department that wants Apps, not the end users.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      This is what I want, basically a PC in a mobile phone form factor, with a master OS & slaved radio phone system, that I can wipe completely & load a new OS at will

      If I can run some flavour of L*nux, completely open sourced, then I don't need or want any apps

      But no one wants this, there's no demand, say the manufacturers

      1. Chika

        But no one wants this, there's no demand, say the manufacturers

        Two reasons for that. Reason one is that only the technically proficient will want to use something like that. The market would possibly sustain one or two models at best but not enough to satisfy the corporate greed involved.

        Reason two is because they say so.

        1. Ogi

          " Reason one is that only the technically proficient will want to use something like that. The market would possibly sustain one or two models at best but not enough to satisfy the corporate greed involved. " ---

          Indeed, parent basically described the old n900, which was a Linux PC with a phone slaved to it. I loved mine, lots of nerds loved theirs (so much they tried to resurrect it with the neo900), but the wider world went "meh", until Apple came along with the iPhone.

          What we want, is not what the public wants. The n900 didn't even manage to sustain one model in the market, let alone more. And that was back in 2009, when the competition wasn't as fierce as now, and the "app market" was still not totally captive by Apple/Google.

          Maybe with persistence, marketing and refinement it could have been number 3 in the mobile OS options list, but Nokia couldn't financially sustain it, and after Elop got a hold of Nokia, a Linux based phone had no chance of surviving.

          Now, I think the best we can hope for is some sort of hybrid like this. Still not sure of the security implications. There are so many apps on my phone, and I don't trust any of them not to be buggy or malicious, that I refrain from logging into sensitive places.

          I have actually taken to carrying a second phone, running Cyanogenmod without any apps just for SSH and other sensitive stuff.

          At this point I have been pondering starting an OSS project to take AOSP, or Cyanogen mod, and rip out all the stuff down to the bare essentials to run the phone and wifi, then build a GNU Linux distro on top of it. No Apps, no Android compatibility, but as close to a Linux OS as you can get, something akin to my old N900, or if I can't get the phone bits to work, my old N810.

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Reason two is because they say so.

          this is the reason I can't get a decent phone with large screen & a slide out keyboard, I need to find a compatible bluetooth slide keyboard instead

          1. Ian Entwistle

            What you mean like the Blackberry Priv? large screen, secured Android, physical keyboard, or if you are slightly more brave and aren't a slave to Candy crush etc the Passport is an excellent piece of kit. I have one and can't right now think of a phone other than potentially a PRIV that Id swap for and even that I can't see the cost/benefit bit making any sense for me as the PP does everything I need.

      2. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >Why bother with the Android part? Dump google and run the phone with Linux.

        FFS! I've used a Linux desktop application on an Android phone (Inkscape) and it is a horrible experience. It doesn't matter how good the underlying OS is, if the UI is unfit for the Human Input method being used, it will be an exercise in frustration. Install it now if you don't believe me.

        UIs are important. Those proponents of Linux who don't acknowledge that fact won't do their cause any favours. So, if you really want Linux to do well, promote good UI design. Here's the thing though: it is time consuming to get right.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "UIs are important."

          Quite. The best approach seems to be that undocked you have a phone interface, docked you have a desktop interface. One of the things about Unix-based systems is that the UI is an additional layer on top of most of the rest of the system and the interface between the layers is clean enough to swap UIs as needed. Of course if you then try to run an application that needs the desktop interface when undocked you're in a hole of your own digging.

          Having said that Ubuntu decided that what they really needed was an app-centric interface on the desktop to prepare the way for use on the phone and got it out even ahead of W8. I don't think it's proved as popular as the more traditional desktops.

      3. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >If I can run some flavour of L*nux, completely open sourced, then I don't need or want any apps

        Can you expand upon that? I can't work out what you actually want to use your phone for. Take away all the applications, and you'll have nothing. No dialler, no SMS client, no gallery, no browser...

        I have a nicely polished pebble I found. I'll send it to you. No charge. It is 100% secure and quite ergonomic, though it can ruin the lines of a lighter jacket.

    3. oiseau Silver badge
      WTF?

      > Why bother with the Android part?

      Exactly my idea ...

      The last thing I'd want is to have Android alongside/near my Linux installation.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge
      Facepalm

      Why bother with the Android part?

      Oh, I don't know. All that fiddly stuff that handles the radios, who needs it?

    5. dajames

      Dump google and run the phone with Linux.

      That's what Ubuntu are working towards with their 'convergence' thing link to ubuntu.com (the thing they originally tried to crowdfund under the name of 'Edge' -- link to indiegogo.com -- until some struggling desktop wannabe pinched the name for its browser).

      I'm not sure that I like Ubuntu phone enough to consider that development interesting, though, it seems to me to be geared to much toward social media.

  5. wolfetone Silver badge

    Fairly sure Ubuntu either did this or were talking about it. And with their OS I would say we're closer than we all think to having something like this happen.

    If Ubuntu were to bring this feature out tomorrow on one of their new phones, I would gladly put myself in to debt to buy one.

    1. AndyS

      >If Ubuntu were to bring this feature out tomorrow on one of their new phones, I would gladly put myself in to debt to buy one.

      Ubuntu phones have been available for a while now - don't they do this already? http://www.ubuntu.com/phone

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        >Ubuntu phones have been available for a while now - don't they do this already?

        But why? If to make this system work you need the bulk of a wireless keyboard and mouse, you might as well carry a stick-shaped Linux computer. That way, you can do your work on a big screen, but also take a telephone call. Or just grab your phone as you nip out to the pub for half and hour.

        This 2-in-1 desktop/phone system seems like a lot of kerfuffle just to save on the cost of an SoC in a plastic case.

        Ubuntu have been proposing this concept for a while. Microsoft have played with it. Meanwhile, many people just use device-independent services such as Gmail - where an email I start writing on my phone I can finish on my laptop - and it is in this direction that Apple have moved (Yeah, I know that it is in Apple's interests to sell you both a Mac and an iPhone).

        Heck, I had a Sony phone with a real microHDMI socket on it. Grand. But it was nowhere near as convenient or flexible as using a Chromecast to display content on a big TV.

        1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

          "But why? If to make this system work you need the bulk of a wireless keyboard and mouse, you might as well carry a stick-shaped Linux computer."

          Different use cases I suppose:

          1. Keep the big peripherals at home and use the phone as a phone elsewhere.

          2. Carry a keyboard & mouse in luggage. Trade-off keyboard size vs convenience* to personal taste.

          3. Hot desking - a keyboard, mouse & monitor will be available in a remote office & carrying a phone is more convenient than a laptop.

          There are probably takers for each of these. You might not be one of them, it doesn't mean everyone has to follow you.

          *I used to have a Nokia Communicator, a clamshell tending to the size & weight of a brick. The keyboard was quite tichy and so was the 80x24 screen but back then you could get away with hanging a modem off the back of a computer so I did remote admin with that with no real problems. Eventually I replaced it with the next generation wich was smaller - big mistake. But for some reason I can't really get along with on-screen keyboards, even on a tablet.

      2. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

        "http://www.ubuntu.com/phone"

        They list 4 models. One's pre-order, one's out of stock according to that page, one's in stock according to the top page but out of stock if you click how to buy. You can buy one model. If I were in the market for a smart phone I might be tempted.

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