A diamond in the rough
Ok, VERY rough. Lots to do in 8 months, but I'm looking forward to the first release!
Canonical says that Ubuntu 13.10 will include "a complete entry-level smartphone experience" when it ships in October. Anyone brave enough to try out the Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview, however, will quickly discover that the current incarnation of Ubuntu for phones and tablets offers considerably less than that. When it …
"For now, the Ubuntu Touch Developer Preview is best seen as an experiment." just accept that. Of course they could have waited for a year with this experiment, but that is not, perhaps, how marketing works. I quite like the amount of activity going on regarding smartphones and I would very much like a situation when you bye the hardware you like and then decide what software you want to use on it. Wonder if I am thinking of something that has happened sometime earlier.
It's a Canonical product, therefore it will *always* be of alpha quality. It's nice to see new concepts and new people doing stuff, but Canonical don't appear to understand the notion of testing or quality control so even if it did make it into a phone I'd predict a 90% returns rate.
Some, apparently expert at marketing, do a very good job by keeping everything pretty-much secret until the all-singing all-dancing product is ready to to go in all it's [alleged] glory. First impressions count.
Anyway, this is an experiment, and I'm sure that anybody trying it will try it on that spirit. I doubt if it is for me ... I'll wait for for the Mint phone :). By the way, does the current Ubuntu phone work as ...a phone? Or doesn't that matter any longer?
Puzzling me, at any rate.
I thought the whole point of using Linux was to re-purpose existing code, but this reads as though that is not happening. A Browser with only rendering & navigation sounds like it is being written from the ground up. Why? There are dozens of browsers for Linux. The TV image was announced last year. Has nothing liftable emerged from that.
I can sort of see the idea of using dead icons as placeholders, but there are all those desktop widgets that could be under them for now.
This sounds like something announced off the fag packet, not off a running prototype. I really, really, want it to be fantastic, but in 6 months? Scared now.
It's seriously bizarre shipping even a demo/early preview with so few apps compiled for it.
If Canonical couldn't tweak a few of its own desktop apps enough to throw in, it raises serious questions about the whole desktop/tablet/phone OS compatibility message. At the very least it hints they've dumped the current desktop API and expect everyone to start again, with something so immature they can't use it themselves. Or if we're lucky they just shipped a preview as soon as it could boot a slideshow and many months before it's ready for anything.
Either way, this looks like a fscking stupid idea if they're trying to get app devs to jump aboard. I'd love to say Mozilla will do better but FF mobile has a bare addon store with bugger all compatibility with the desktop, so the same mistake being made there.
"It's seriously bizarre shipping even a demo/early preview with so few apps compiled for it."
Development out in public with archived mailing lists and stuff in the bug tracker sounds OK to me.
Dummy content -> Canonical getting feedback on the UI as it evolves and reactions steering the design, again sounds fine to me, and consistent with the user testing driven development process that Canonical claim to follow.
The test will be in the rate at which issues e.g. the on-screen keyboard get fixed. Onboard (see full-fat Unity) looks totally different.
Interesting (and I say that as one who uses CentOS on the laptop, Ubuntu on the desktop, and has a blackberry).
@Paul Shirley "It's seriously bizarre shipping even a demo/early preview with so few apps compiled for it.:
Not at all, that's precisely how Microsoft used to operate in the 80s. Every bug-ridden partially-implemented application was a warning shot across the bows of everyone else that while they might be developing something, Microsoft have plans to do just that. All developers knew that somehow (gosh! how do they do that?) MS always got more performance out of DOS and/or WIndows than anyone else then the competition would be fierce and not necessarily fair.
Not quite sure why Shuttleworth is doing this, that is odd, but there is precedent for the actual practice.
How do we know it'll be a diamond?
Glad I resisted the urge to try it.
The most alarming part of this review:
"Navigating the OS took some getting used to. Unlike Android, Ubuntu offers no dedicated buttons for things such as Settings or the Home screen."
If Canonical decide to follow the same 'la la la la la we can't hear you' methods they deployed with Unity, this puppy will be DOA.
From what I gather (or hope), the intent is that you will be able, should you choose, to hook it up to a proper sized monitor (and hopefully keyboard) and use it as you currently use a desktop PC. Android is essentially unworkable as a proper desktop get-something-done OS, but Ubuntu can still be used in such a way once you fight your way through the UI.
I have high hopes for this endeavour, I really do. This preview is most definitely nowhere near finished as a preview, let alone a phone! But if and when an Ubuntu phone/tablet makes its way to Oz, I'll happily buy it. Why? Because, as I'm sure many people have noticed, iOS adds about $5 to anything you could do for free on Linux, and I mean everything, for example there is no way to program in C locally on iOS, I know that very few people may ever want to do that, but its nice to be able to pick up any old device and just say "Gosh darned it, how do I use C#?" And get right into it.
Perhaps my hopes are misplaced and my dreams folly, but gosh darned if I'm going to let Apple makes it 30% on something that should be free.
>"I have high hopes for this endeavour, I really do."
I don't. I've found that Mozilla always carries out projects better than Canonical, so I would imagine that Firefox OS is the one that will make real inroads. And, hopefully, Mozilla will finally be emboldened to create their own desktop Linux distro - something I think they could have done better than anyone else over the past decade.
I would love to see Firefox mobile OS being pushed hard. It could be the only mobile OS that is commercial free in the future.
I hope Ubuntu dies, and dies all together. However, Mozilla with a Linux distro? The world doesn't need another one, it could do without some it has. Of course anymore, having your own Linux distro is like having your own garden, cheaply sown.
Stick with vanilla Debian!
@MyBackDoor - oh my, what a short memory you have. Remember back to the Linux world before Ubuntu. There was no Android. The idea of a user friendly experience was somewhat scoffed at by Linux devs - people should just edit the config files, its easy - was a common refrain. Remember things like wireless cards? How often was it people had to use ndiswrapper to get them to work? Ubuntu brought around the idea of "lets make things just work". Sure, the project itself didn't do all these things, but their drive to make their OS stable and useable encouraged other products to improve too. X11 is amazing now compared to what it used to be, for example.
Debian, before Ubuntu? Great. Nearly unusable for the average computer user. Redhat/CentOS/Fedora? All entirely aimed at business users.
So, Ubuntu, even though it has become somewhat odd in its 'maturity', has done a hell of a lot for the Linux community.
Stick with vanilla Debian? Great. Go get your gran to use it. She'll have problems as soon as she tries to use BBC iPlayer. Or play a DVD.
So, no, don't 'stick with vanilla Debian', use whatever distro suits your computer use and your way of doing things.
I Tried Debian circa 2001, and had to manually setup my wireless cards, which then broke my network stack because i did it wrong. I gave up and went back to Win2000.
I then came back to it with Umbongo Dapper Drake, and it all just worked, which gobsmacked me. At which point I stuck with it and have been using it daily since.
A survey of one is not consistent with everyones experience, in both regards, but to dismiss Canonicals input is to be quite staggeringly idiotic.
Canonical have, in the last five years, made Ubuntu usable to the degree that the average numpty in the street can use it - such as my brother, who cares not for...well, anything computer related.
That's a massive leap for Linux, and anyone who denies that is a complete imbecile who has no concept of usability and stability.
"So why in this world you came back to Linux, Mr. Usability ? Windows was always better suited for you than Linux."
And what in this world is wrong with having options and choice? These days the average computer user can cope quite effectively with Windows, Mac OS and a Linux distro like Ubuntu, and that choice of vendors and systems can only be a good thing. Ubuntu existing doesn't preclude any other Linux distro existing, so what's the problem? If you want to put it all together yourself then you still can, but if you're one of the 99% who can't then it's essential to be given an alternative to the Windows/OS X desktop duopoly (I'm not at all sure that Chrome OS is any kind of real alternative, it's just a glorified browser isn't it...?)
I don't know what you are going on about - I didn't criticize or dismiss Ubuntu, I merely pointed out via the illustration of another distro that the problems were being sorted out across Linux. Ubuntu may well have been trivial to install but so was Suse
I have Ubuntu in VMs and have installed Kubuntu on EEEPCs but I find the process no easier or harder than OpenSUSE.
I was an OS/2 and the eComStation user; when the writing was clearly on the wall for that I decided to try Linux. My first attempt was with Mandrake (or was it Mandriva?) which on install screwed up my HD so badly that I had to do a low level reformat and start from scratch with eCS. Linux did not go back. Then I read about Ubuntu 6.06, and gave it a try. Everything worked perfectly and I didn't reboot until a kernel upgrade three months later. OK, one user, one bad experience - but Ubuntu was what made me swap.
localzuk, I would hope, if you're installing an OS for your grandmother, that you'd have the plain good sense and courtesy to set it up so she could actually use it.
All the things you pointed out will work on Debian if you set it up properly. Would you toss your grandmother into the cockpit of an aeroplane without flying lessons? Would you demand she cook you restaurant quality food without providing the proper ingredients and equipment? So why would you give her a debian install that wasn't configured with her needs in mind?
Maybe you just hate your grandmother?
I also hope, and believe, that mozilla's OS will go well. I know I mentioned C, but my mother tounge is HTML. And I would love to have an OS that is as tinker friendly as Mozilla is suggesting.
P.S Have an up vote for not being a dick and replying with a real argument, not the usual commentard crap.
What's more, Ubuntu isn't the only Linux-based mobile OS on the horizon. The Mozilla Foundation is taking a stab at it with Firefox OS, and Samsung is backing Tizen.
There's at least one other Linux-based mobile OS out there... If I could just remember its name... Golem? No, not quite right. Homunculus? No, colder... Robot! No, but it's something like that... lemme go Google it...
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I suppose that depends what you mean by 'taste in GUI design'. As a graphic designer Microsoft and Canonical are near the top of my list in terms of good design whereas Apple still appears to be stuck in 2007, if that. If we're talking about usability however, I'd be inclined to partially agree with you as I don't get on with Metro or Unity in the real world. Saying that, I've also always found OSX to be a bit of a headache as well. Give me an easy to use old-fashioned WIMP any day, although preferably one with a colour scheme and icon set that wasn't chosen by a programmer.
Good design does not change or get outdated so fast ...which is why I use a desktop with general design principles for which, much as I hate them, I have to thank Microsoft, 1995.
A hierarchic menu, panels, icons. The colours may change, the effects may change, but I don't see why the basic features and principles should not be working just as well in another twenty years, at least as far as the desktop system is concerned. Tablets, phones, and all things touchable are a different world, with different requirements and possibilities, and should be recognised as being different. I'm not about to demand a "start" menu on my phone.
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They're stuck in 2007 because they're still obsessed with skeuomorphism in their UI design. What that means is they're still attempting to make their UI look like it's made of real materials, such as menus that look as if they're made of brushed metal and icons of glass. It's looks very dated and it's got nothing to do with their menu layout.
You're right that some good design is ageless. Some chairs and such from the 60's still look as good today as they did when they were first designed. Nobody is manufacturing or buying the things in their original beige or baby-puke green colours though. A well designed WIMP is also ageless, the dull greys of the 90's or the fake materials of the 2000's are not
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With all these different groups working on competing smart phone operating systems, it feels a bit like the 8-bit home micro market in the 80s. The barrier to entry has dropped to a level where anyone can have a go - and lots are.
I'm going to get my popcorn, sit back, and watch the show, because I think it's going to be a cracker.
...the issue of being locked in gets in the way. The issue is not dissimilar to PCs only being shipped with Windows (upsetting Eadon and co for example), only even more complex.
With a PC it is generally straight forward to replace the OS. With smartphones, in spite of very similar architectures to each other, replacing the OS is near impossible for the man on the street. The manufacturers compound this by insisting that a specific handset is tied to an OS - look at HTC who offer a specific design for a Windows phone and another for Android.
I'd like to see manufacturers offer a range of handsets from cheap to top end with a choice of OS and the ability to change the OS in a relatively simple manner. Obviously, you wouldn't get Apple on board, but it's in the interests of Microsoft as they haven't made the inroads they would like and it broadens their potential market, while it also opens the field to Linux derivatives who can enter the market place without needing to develop hardware. If the datamongers at Google are as open and nice as they claim, they too would be able to jump on board. Heck, even Blackberry might be able to clutch a straw.
Now that's what I call an open architecture that might drive some innovation in an otherwise stagnant space.
We can but wish. I see the porcine community donning jet packs as we speak....
"You're really not up to speed on Secure Boot, are you?"
And you're still missing the point. I'm talking about breaking away from the old monolythic attitude that phone manyfacturers have of tying a particular hardware to particular OS. I'm not talking deep-dive technical, more philosophy. And besides, SecureBoot (if implemented properly) needn't be an impediment to this.
But don't worry your pretty little head with such matters if it's all a little too conceptual for you.
I noticed someone shipped a launcher for Android resembling the interface of it. Seems to impress.
It also means "unity" that desktop users hated is really optimized for touch. (win8 story again)
Ubuntu Phone stayed on my Nexus for almost an hour, I wanted to feel it running on my phone even though I was well-aware it was going to be mostly mockup, similar to what was demoed at CES last month.
On a slightly related note, there was a nice analysis and comparison of upcoming phone OS contenders last week, covering the progress, teams, approaches, and industry support and tips for success for Ubuntu Phone, Tizen, Sailfish OS, Firefox OS, BB10
Unfortunately, as that analysis was written by an ex-Nokia person who was totally committed to Meego, it can be summarised as "Tizen and Sailfish will rule the world, everything else is shit". The confusion of the author is demonstrated when he explains how Sailfish is a "premium OS perhaps aimed at the Vertu market", and then says its initial success will be in India and China.
Vertu owners don't know what OS their phones are running; they probably don't know their phone has an OS. In fact yesterday I was talking to a rather bright person not in IT (double first C Eng) who quite liked the Nokia 820 issued by the company, and thought that it was running the latest Android. The idea that anyone outside a few geeks gets excited over whether a phone runs Tizen or Sailfish is a bit delusional, I fear.
"But because Ubuntu is open source and community-driven, early users are able to give feedback on this and similar UI concepts to help shape what the eventual, mature version of Ubuntu for devices will look like."
If that is indeed the case, explain why the OS persists in the crappy default colour scheme.
I suspect that people who will whinge about the default, instead of changing it themselves, just aren't very high on the list of priority users. I've never bothered to change from the default, I hardly ever see any of it apart from the unremarkable grey-on-grey window decoration.
a) I became uninterested with the whole Ubuntu thing when it started to go "Unity" and I dumped it for the Xfce desktop.
b) I like normal small basic mobile phones, as I figure that smart phones are more pain than arse...
You can't type fuck all on them and the screen is really small....
c) I figure that if I want to type or do movies etc., get a REAL computer, or if I want to make phone calls, get a real mobile phone...
d) Mixing them into the one thing is stupid bullshit.
e) Putting the Unity interface on them is neither one thing or the other to me.
f) But getting a little ACER netbook, kind of fills all my needs....
Not much hard core computing brains - but it's great for MOST things.
Setting it up to make phone calls, with a head set - seems to offer some promise but this may be exceeding the capabilites of the software and hardware....
And it has a real keyboard....
Has anyone tried Plasma Active or Kubuntu Active? The only thing holding me back from getting another tablet is that I want to use as many of my desktop apps on the tablet as I can. Kubuntu is my distro of choice so running Kubuntu Active seems logical. Would love to read a few experiences.
There's an article over on PCWorld about how to make ubuntu look like Win7. Why not
* Turn an ubuntuphone in to a Windows phone
* best. wipe ubuntu, load linuxMINT.
Sheeple who fall for this Shuttleworth horseshit better hope its infinitely customizable. Thats their last hope.
Mamemo on a fully supported N80x0 type hardware. With the quality of the Nokia shells instead of the Samsung Plaste-Bomber. Ja, that would make me re-consider ARM platforms. Add a solid update-support (3-5 years / 2 years after the new hardware generation comes out) and you have a customer(1)
And then get a Java VM ported to it allowing classic JAVA / JFX2 applications as a model (Work on a JVM was on again off again IIRC). THAT could be a runner in the commercial software market since development could be done as a "also ran" while catering for the Windows market for the money. IIRC we have customer using Windows tablets because that can run SWING apps they use. They would (and could) switch to ARM based platforms but those available don't do Swing and no one pays for Android.
(1) Nokia ditched support for the original 770 quite fast. IIRC got better with the 8x0 series
I absolutely loved my N900, as imperfect and unfinished as it was. The UI flow was much more intuitive than Android, it did not suffer from unwanted apps mysteriously starting up in the background (and refusing to be killed), it did not have to be "rooted" to gain root access. If you installed the root shell on the N900, you still got the OTA updates from Nokia, unlike Android, where, if you root your phone, your manufacturer won't send you updates anymore. For the short time Nokia actually cared about it, it had tons of free apps for download, including all the top most popular ones. I could ssh to my N900 from my laptop and use it as a real computer. It had a real Xterm and a real X server. Nokia made a huge mistake IMO, when they abandoned Maemo/MeeGo, and the results are coming in. Windows Phone - not quite the box office success Elop was hoping for. Even Bill Gates himself admitted a few days ago that Windows Phone sucks.
My first reaction when I read about this Ubuntu Phone was: WTF? Who needs a cheap-looking knockoff of the Android UI, with horrible colors to boot? Then it dawned on me: Microsoft needs the Ubuntu Phone. It makes them look competent.
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Nokia basically stopped updating the screen technology. The Maemo tablets still where using resistive screens when capacitive and inductive (stylus) units where becoming more and more common (and payable). One of the many errors they made.
No clear roadmap, limited support for developers and non existing advertisement / reviews where others. Android has it's fair share of troubles in development. But the Eclipse plugin and emulator are extremly useful tools
If Ubuntu gets this to work on an Atom based penable AND support all of the hardware in/on the unit to 100 percent capability inlcuding stuff like Miracast AND keep it that way for 3-5 years they have a potential winner. Such a unit could run (most) Linux and non-platform dependent client software covering around 80-90 percent of the tablet needs.
It's very early days for this, so I think it's better to wait until they actually have some functionality in their releases. However, here's some early stuff they really should have done already:
1. Provide installation via Linuxes *other* than Ubuntu. Yes, I know they'd love you to install Ubuntu on your desktop, but I run CentOS 6 (the world's #1 commercial Linux desktop no less) and I don't see why I should switch to Ubuntu. On a similar note, provide an official installer for Windows too - a very obvious move missed there!
2. Once installed, this page is useful: https://wiki.ubuntu.com/Touch/ReleaseNotes
However, they really do make it harder by saying "the recommended way to get shell access to the device is through SSH" and then promptly *not* including openssh-server in the tablet image!
3. The biggest omission of the whole thing, though, is the lack of a bootloader to provide multiboot, so that you can retain your Android install and boot between it and Ubuntu Tablet. With the release being in chocolate fireguard mode at the moment, there's no way people will want to keep backing up and restoring Android countless times. This issue was solved quite a while ago (e.g. moboot on HP TouchPads to go between webOS and CM9 and there's a dual boot Ubuntu/Android tablet actually on sale - http://www.androidauthority.com/android-4-0-ubuntu-12-04-kite-nibbio-tablet-features-exynos-chip-costs-e309-147513/ ).
"1. Provide installation via Linuxes *other* than Ubuntu. Yes, I know they'd love you to install Ubuntu on your desktop, but I run CentOS 6 (the world's #1 commercial Linux desktop no less) and I don't see why I should switch to Ubuntu. On a similar note, provide an official installer for Windows too - a very obvious move missed there!"
I haven't looked at the instructions to see if they really are all that Ubuntu-specific. But I do doubt it. If it is, it should absolutely be fixed! As for Windows installs... well, you should see the unholy terror it takes to make Windows talk to one of these phones! No kidding, I mean, flashing a ROM on my Samsung with heimdall and Linux, it's like "1. Put all the ROM-related files in one directory." "2. Reboot the phone, hold down these keys (power and volume down on mine.)" "3. Run heimdall with these flags". (4. If it doesn't work, try the older Heimdall version. I had to do that.) In Windows? *OVER* a dozen steps screwing around with drivers and such.... Linux step 1 was like step 15 for Windows! And post after post of people that do follow those instructions and mysteriously have the phone never detect. In short, I would not wish the "installer for Windows" project on my worst enemy.
The reason I mentioned a Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet was several-fold. Firstly, there's probably just as many Windows users curious about Ubuntu Tablet than there are Ubuntu desktop users. Secondly, Ubuntu desktop already has an installer that can be run from Windows, so why on earth isn't there one for installing Ubuntu Tablet from Windows? Thirdly, a relatively idiot-proof Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet would knock out almost all of those multi-step bits you mentioned.
I know it's very early days, but if you want to bring in as many testers as possible, you really do need a Windows installer for Ubuntu Tablet, IMHO. Plus the multiboot stuff I mentioned, since *everyone* is going back to Android after trying the current preview release. Without those two, Canonical won't get many "free" testers for their pre-releases, but it appears they've not even thought about either issue yet :-(
@Robert A Harvey.... *shrug*. This being a 13.10 preview means they are aiming for a release in October. I don't think they'll write all their apps from scratch (at least I hope not...), but simply have a proof-of-concept UI mockup without worrying about putting each app in it's place yet.
Anyway, I'm interested at least. Android is fine with me, but I do like Ubuntu and would be interested in trying this on a tablet when it's more complete.
Hah hah hah. Bet Microsoft are loosing loads of sleep over this non functional abomination. Looks like 2013 ain't gonna be the year of Linux on the phone.
And before idiots like Eaton jump in to the fray, Android is not Linux. It is a commercial product designed specifically to line the pockets of Google. It may use certain bits of Linux (using other peoples work saves Google time and makes them more money) but it aint Linux
That is all
Linux is great, but the last thing the world needs is an open source phone.
The day i try and call someone who does not get my call or cannot call me due to some issue with their homebrew phone, is the day they are fired!!
Running linux on a laptop as i did for many years was a case of always fixing something before i could just get on with the job in hand... eg. 1 day i use an overhead projector at a meeting, wanna plug in my laptop, oh wait go an install this and that and set up that driver... yawn.
This is not a dig a linux, this is my personal experience with linux outside the data centre and it was wasting my life almost as much IE did in the old days. Down vote if you like, but its my opinion.
And the day someone cannot call you due to a battery life problem with an iOS update, as happened just a week or so ago? They get fired?
If that is your attitude then you should be supplying locked down company phones that make very reliable phone calls and have good battery life, not expecting people to BYOD. I expect BlackBerry will be quite pleased to get a new Enterprise account.
Just a thought.
Linuxes have update managers. I'd guess there should be many incremental updates on this provided Umbuntu are on the case of course. This is clearly a long way from being fully cooked.
As for this "Google is Linux" line that was forked off some time ago.
"Is it, in fact, actually a phone?"
It's claimed to be an OS for "smartphones" but as people have said of the iPhone it's not very good for making calls.
I don't want a lifestyle. I just want to be able to punch a number and get connected to the person I'm calling.
Anywhere above ground (and preferably some way below) in my service providers alleged coverage area.
A v 0.1 UI is not necessarily a problem for an apps developer. But a 0.1 API is hence my comment about the frequent updates needed to get this into shape.
but, i can't imagine there is anyone that would be thinking of putting an Ubuntu or similar linux-y OS on a smartphone that isn't a fully paid up penguin-fiddler and so already dreams in command line scripts rather than a visual medium.
Even typing text into the browser was awkward, because Ubuntu's onscreen keyboard is pretty shoddy. Its layout is cramped, despite lots of wasted space around the keys, and the keys are always rendered in uppercase, even when pressing one will yield a lowercase letter.
That's almost exactly how iOS's abortion of a keyboard works (it only ever shows lowercase) and the fanboiz think it's the Only Possible Way.
I was looking forward to seeing a new flavour of ubuntu this year, hoping feedback to Ubuntu would remove unity as no one I know likes it and I would like a tick box to get rid and use KDE or gnome instead. (I don't have time to recompile kernals to get rid of it) But that screenshot has Unity on the phone, please tell me that it isn't unity on the phone.
Instant fail, which is a crying shame.
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