back to article Ubuntu boss: I want to make a Linux hybrid mobe SO GIVE ME $32m

Canonical wants $32m (£20.8m) in donations to launch Ubuntu Edge - its own hybrid Ubuntu-Android smartphone first unveiled a year and a half ago. The maker of open-source Linux distro Ubuntu announced on Monday it is seeking crowd-sourced cash through Indiegogo in the next 30 days to fund development of the homegrown RAM- …


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  1. Jim 59


    Phone that becomes a Linux PC. Sounds interesting, if I can get Gnome 2 on the PC bit.

    1. Uncle Slacky Silver badge

      Re: PC

      Maybe not Gnome 2, but MATE could be a possibility.

    2. JDX Gold badge

      Re: PC

      When they're making a Linux phone, why not just get a phone that IS a Linux PC?

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PC

      That would be called MATE --- if they'd be interested in porting their desktop to a phone. Probably not, though. They probably realise that a good desktop interface is very different to a good phone interface.

      Anyway, the last thing I want is a Ubuntu phone (or a Unity desktop), so I'm not giving them a penny

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: PC

        >Anyway, the last thing I want is a Ubuntu phone (or a Unity desktop), so I'm not giving them a penny

        I'm no Linux expert, but would have assumed that a phone that can run Linux could be tweaked to run other distros fairly easily.

        Besides Unity (and arguably Android) there any other small-screen touch-orientated Linux desktop environments being developed at the moment (such as might have fallen out of Nokia)?

        1. Dave 126 Silver badge

          Re: PC

          >would have assumed that a phone that can run Linux could be tweaked to run other distros fairly easily.

          Oops! I meant that i assumed that a phone that could run Ubuntu could be tweaked to run other Linux distros fairly easily. No matter!

        2. Anonymous Coward
          Anonymous Coward

          Re: a phone that can run Linux could run other distros.

          Maybe. And, ok, that is worth thinking about. Let's discuss it over a beer, and I'll relax my hard-line point of view.

          Not as far as sending them cash, though!

    4. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: PC

      So 2 security fail OSs in one. I bet the malware writers can't wait...

  2. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    I suggest you read the crowd funder campaign again

    The phone will run Ubuntu phone OS as well as run Android in a virtual container within Ubuntu. (which it can do now)

    1. Antonymous Coward

      Re: I suggest you read the crowd funder campaign again

      Canonical is keeping schtum on the RAM and processor. Shuttleworth said instead his company would "benchmark the silicon as it comes out of the manufacturing process".

      It also says:

      We’ll protect that gorgeous display with something vastly tougher than glass: pure sapphire crystal, a material so hard only diamond could scratch it. For a phone to run a full desktop OS, it must have the raw power of a PC. We’ll choose the fastest available multi-core processor, at least 4GB of RAM and a massive 128GB of storage.

      So that'll be "at least 4GB of RAM" then.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: I suggest you read the crowd funder campaign again

        There was a recent Reg article about sapphire production methods falling in cost (just as silicon wafers for semiconductors have done). Only today I saw some quartz watches for sale with sapphire crystals (the see through bit above the watch face) for £125, so much materials are no longer the preserve of higher-end man jewellery.

  3. Cliff


    No, seriously, why would I want one? I don't get it.

    I have a smartphone, I have a computer, is this device meant to replace both and be an ok phone and a shitty computer? Does stuff I do in Android seamlessly integrate into the Ubuntu side? Are all the apps cross-compatible? I just don't get it.

    1. Shagbag
      Thumb Up

      Re: Why?

      You've already answered your question.

      My desktop computing needs (outside of work) are light so the possiblity of having a single, portable device that fits in my coat pocket is a real plus point. I'm already looking forward to Ubuntu Touch on the N4.

      1. Dave 126 Silver badge

        Re: Why?

        >Does stuff I do in Android seamlessly integrate into the Ubuntu side?

        Probably yes, seeing as such techniques have been used for some time on virtual machines. If you download VMWare Player (free as in beer) for example, you will be given the option to download the VMWare 'Helper' tools, which allow you to do things such as copy-paste between windows, regardless of whether said windows are programs running on the Host OS or the Guest OS.

        I do have a little sympathy for your cynicism- this proposed Ubuntu setup requires the user to carry a micoHDMI or USB MHL cable, plus Bluetooth mouse and keyboard- which are bulkier than the actual phone. If you're resigned to carrying those odds and sods, you might as well carry a separate Linux machine too- perhaps one of those little 'inline' jobbies the size of a USB stick.... that way you can still make phone calls whilst editing your spreadsheets.

        1. Goat Jam

          Re: Why?

          "If you're resigned to carrying those odds and sods, you might as well carry a separate Linux machine too"

          Or maybe you mostly move between two locations (work and home) and can thusly keep a set of each of these "odds and sods" at both locations in much the same way that laptop owners use docking stations for?

          1. Cliff

            Re: Why?

            -3 for asking a genuine question which nobody's really given a particularly compelling answer to yet. I still don't really get it. Of you're going to the trouble of plugging in all the peripherals to make a computer, wouldn't you want a proper computer without the premium price for batteries, touchscreens, etc.? This may be a powerful phone but is it really your dream processor for running desktop Linux?

            I appreciate the point re copy and paste etc., I would expect that level of integration naturally, I meant more in terms of app file format and functionality compatibility. A lot of mobile apps use lightweight formats as the devices aren't intended to be interoperating loads with desktop OSes. Or maybe I'm wrong and there are loads of apps being written to harmonise between Ubuntu and android?

            These are real questions, is there a real viable use case for 40000 of these phones as distinct from being a decent phone with fairly crappy desktop performance (compared with a cheap lappy for instance)?

      2. Charles Manning

        But I already have that.

        I have a phone.

        I have a laptop/desktop. They share all the data that needs sharing in the cloud.

        Merging them seems a bit artificial.

        I don't need all my development source code on the phone.

        And, anyway, 128GB of storage is too small to hold all the stuff I need in a laptop/desktop (development tools,...),

        This thing is vastly underspecced to replace a laptop, yet overspecced for normal phone use. Seems pretty pointless to me.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Got mine on order.

    The £340 model with 128GB of storage and 4GB of RAM is now sold out. I got mine on order last night. Looks super-sexy.

    1. Antonymous Coward

      Re: Got mine on order.

      There's only one model, they just offered the first 5000 orders at a lower price.

  5. Pen-y-gors

    Why only make 40,000?

    If it's any good, why not make more?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Why only make 40,000?

      Trying to strike a good balance between testing the market and pre-empting their commercial partners I imagine. 40000 sounds about right to me.

  6. GeorgeTuk

    Why bother?

    Market is already crowded and it's hardly likely a new small player will have any impact at all.

  7. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

    "People committing $830 (£532) get a free phone"

    Um, this is some new definition of the word "free" that I was previously unaware of, it is?


    1. NumptyScrub

      Re: "People committing $830 (£532) get a free phone"

      quote: "Um, this is some new definition of the word "free" that I was previously unaware of, it is?"

      Nope, not really. Pledging to crowdfunding is exactly that, a pledge. What they choose to give you for pledging at specific levels is also that, a choice.

      So you are committing at least $830 purely to see the project take off. What they are saying is "assuming we get enough for this to happen, we'll give you one of the phones for pledging that much".

      Whether pledging with an expectation of a specific tier reward, constitutes a "purchase" under consumer legislation, has not yet been tested in court AFAIK. The intent is to be a "donate more than £50 and we'll give you a free tshirt!" type deal rather than "buy our overpriced tshirt for £50 to help the cause!". Semantics, but then it seems a lot of legislature (and the interpretation therein) is based on that.

      1. Geoff Campbell Silver badge

        Re: @Numpty

        "Yes, it is" would have been a rather more concise way of saying that, but I thank you for your explanation nonetheless.


      2. h3

        Re: "People committing $830 (£532) get a free phone"

        It is being abused by big business who don't need it.

        Standard practice was you invest you get a share of the profit. (Especially for something like this that is very high risk). 50% of it to the company 50% to the people providing the capital.

        The new way is like the banks take none of the risk but all the profits.

        1. Fink-Nottle

          Re: "People committing $830 (£532) get a free phone"

          Give poor Mark a break. He lost tons of money when he couldn't get the South African government to change their exchange control regulations just for his benefit.

  8. Jonathan 29


    I like the idea, but it seems a lot of money for software that hasn't been written yet and nobody knows how it will work or if it solves an existing problem. Ever since Ubuntu Touch came out it seemed like Ubuntu for Android was going to be replaced, but here they both are. I am not sure if the Ubuntu desktop accessible from Ubuntu for Android will be different from the Ubuntu desktop accessible from Ubuntu Touch - seems like they could, but who knows.

    There is no way he they are going to raise all that money in 30 days unless Mark funds it himself, so I am not sure what is going on here.

    1. Steve Davies 3 Silver badge
      Black Helicopters

      Re: maybe


      There is no way he they are going to raise all that money in 30 days unless Mark funds it himself, so I am not sure what is going on here.

      Perhaps it is a prelude to Canonical post Shuttleworth?

      It he preparing to make an exit?

      IMHO, they (canonical) are trying to do far too much on too many fronts. One minute they seem to want to take over from RedHat in the server arena, the next they are playing around with phones. His money can only stretch so far.

      BH for the Ubuntu fanbois to bomb me with for daring to think the unthinkable...?

  9. JDX Gold badge

    Crowd sourcing...

    Isn't that for individuals who have no way of bringing something to market without funding, rather than for companies to avoid paying their own R&D?

    Not a great trend we want to see starting IMO.

    1. Ru

      Re: Crowd sourcing...

      Given that several kickstarter campaigns have raised a few million dollars in funding, it isn't really surprising that large existing organisations would take the opportunity to obtain investment in return for toys instead of stock.

      I'm not totally adverse to the idea, but I'd have expected an organisation with that much wealth behind it to have at least some sort of prototype, or indeed anything in their pitch beyond artist's impressions and a wishlist. Poor effort.

    2. Rob Fisher
      Thumb Up

      Re: Crowd sourcing...

      Companies are just groups of individuals.

      I like the trend. This way we can get niche products, as long as we are prepared to put our money where are mouths are.

      1. Nuke
        Thumb Down

        @ Rob Fisher - Re: Crowd sourcing...

        Wrote :- "Companies are just groups of individuals."

        ...... one of which, the head in fact, is a multi-millioniaire who could finance it himself.

        Seems to me this is more an excercise in market research, with you paying the researcher to survey you.

    3. exanime

      @JDX Re: Crowd sourcing...

      I keep hearing things like these and I don't get it... crowd sourcing/funding is a way of financing, philanthropists use it all the time and they have the most money out there...

      If Microsoft did it I would not support them, but I fail to see how any company (Microsoft included) would "damage" crowd sourcing by engaging in it... In the case of Canonical I still think they are somewhat Ok to morally participate in this since they at least give Ubuntu away for free

      To me this is like the whole stupid claim that gay marriage somehow degrades same-sex marriage... both can coexist no problem... little indie developers or start up companies can still do it (and would probably get most support) while big companies can try it and get the finger

    4. xehpuk

      Re: Crowd sourcing...

      I think its a great idea. Much better than some overly rich company wasting 900 million $ on something nobody wanted.

  10. Rob Fisher

    Not a bad gamble

    I paid. I expect it to appear about the time I expect to be buying a new smartphone anyway. This does look like a nice device, and different enough from the current way of thinking to be interesting. And it is completely open, so I can run whatever software I like on it. And the money is not a bad deal for a high end smartphone at UK prices.

    Yes, I pay now and get it later. But interest rates are less than inflation so no point keeping my money in the bank. If I change my mind later, I can probably get most of my money back selling it on eBay.

    So this is quite a rational gamble.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Not a bad gamble

      Why not Jolla Oy then?

  11. Stephen 2

    I can run Ubuntu on my S3

    I've already run a full install of Ubuntu on my S3 using the 'Complete Linux Installer' app. It was interesting for about 30 minutes and then I removed it.

    1. M Gale

      Re: I can run Ubuntu on my S3

      A Linux distribution running in an emulated-x86 VM on an ARM processor, with the UI chugging along at some low amount of frames per second and the apps taking an age and a half to load, is not quite the same as a custom-made phone for a custom-made distribution running apps designed for the system.

  12. William Boyle


    As though Shuttleworth can't afford this out of petty cash! Sorry Mark, but I am NEVER going to use/recommend Ubuntu in the future, simply because you are a troll!

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: Right...

      What a ridiculous post. Well done for making no sense whatsoever.

  13. strangelybrown

    So what happened with Ubuntu on tablets then?

    Linux fan. However, saw this yesterday, as part of my weekly check to see whether Ubuntu tablet has been released yet - I've got a Motorola Xoom II here, which is utterly crippled by ICS4.0 and never used. My initial thought on Ubuntu Phone was 'ooh, interesting development', followed by a steady descent into measured cynicism caused by a number of things;

    1) Who's paying for all the various patents and licences needed to run the thing? Or is that why it'll have Android on it, for phone duties?

    2) The phone spec seems to be missing the back end of the statement of 'at least 4gb RAM and Unobtainium Glass' with "and it'll be waterproof to a gazillion feet and have a special shark-launcher with lasers and ninja death monkeys and if you press this button here it'll turn into a morning star so my dad can beat your dad up and it cost a bazillion pounds".

    3) What happens when it breaks? And break it will - Nokia, for example, have been making these wireless telegraphy contraptions for some considerable time, including the nuclear-proof 6310. However, even with all of that experience and employing most of Finland, they'll still expect a returns rate of 10% on new models.

    4) So we, the crowd, cough up £20m to see Ubuntu mutilated to run on a small touch screen... then what? It's rolled out onto tablets? Everyone else has to pay also? Or does it remain true to the open source roots of Linux?

    1. Dave 126 Silver badge

      Re: So what happened with Ubuntu on tablets then?

      >Unobtainium Glass

      "Man-made sapphire could replace Gorilla Glass as the material of choice for scratch-and-crack-resistant mobile phone screens in the near future, according to a recent speculative piece from MIT Technology Review.

      "Having had a little wander around the relevant places and a few chats with people who would know, I'd say that it's actually not just possible but highly likely. "


    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: So what happened with Ubuntu on tablets then?

      "and employing most of Finland"

      You should say that in past tense. They sacked well over 10000 employees more than year ago.

      AFAIK Nokia only has 3 people working, Stephen Elop, Juha Alakarhu and that woman (Christina Bjorknas). The rest are bunch of tourists whom visit the town a few times a year and attend some boring board meeting... otherwise Stephen would just sit there talking to himself which looks ridiculous.

  14. dacian

    this is a very rude proposal

    This is a very rude proposal.

    First of all because it comes from someone that has a lot of money!!!

    Second because linux is developed by many many people and they will see jack from this money. Yes one can argue that the code will go under open source license but we saw the same kind of promisses from Oracle when they bought MySQL and look how it ended...

    And lets be serious there are people developing games from ground up and asking far less financing.

    And remember they are not building the phone! so they don't need production facilities! and even the hardware for iPhone has production costs of about 174$ so how can this guy ask for 800$ in crowd funded campaign. This you would ask in retail end user price not crowd funded. Give me an incentive if you want me to fund you. Otherwise you can wait 'till pigs fly for my contribution and I'll wait until you release the product and buy it only then... and guess what for the same price... or maybe even less because by then Google or apple will come out with a better phone.

    He compares F1 races and with this campaign but he conveniently forgets that F1 is not crowd funded!

    It is the companies that do the heavy lifting and users enjoy the ride.

    There are people doing computer games and hardware for far less then this sum.

    look at parallela from Adapteva, delivered super computer running linux (collected 898,921$ asked $750,000)

    look at udoo dual processor board with quad core CPU-s (collected 641,614$ asked $27,000)

    star citizen game (collected 2,134,374$ asked 500,000$) far more complex in doing then anything Mark's team will ever do for linux

    So please Mark Shuttleworth have a little bit of decency and don't be such a materialist }#¦#@°.

    1. James Hughes 1

      Re: this is a very rude proposal

      Er, what?

      Linux contributors contribute. There is nothing saying they should get anything at all from it. As long as Cannonical adhere to all the licences, you point is irrelevant.

      You also seem blissfully unaware how much its costs to get a HW device like a phone up and running. I work on this stuff, and it is expensive. VERY EXPENSIVE. As to your counter examples, all much MUCH simpler than a phone, even the Paralla . Phones nowadays need a shitload of peripherals on top of the CPU/GPU/MODEM. That stuff isn't cheap. Then you have the casing to develop - that's real expensive. Just the parts cost for something like this will be $200. They are making 40k of them, so that's $8M in parts minimum, not including manufacturing costs. Then you have the production line to setup , with dedicated test jigs etc. That a Mil at least. Then you have the dev costs of plumbing it all together, then the dev costs of making stuff like the camera work. It all adds up.

      $32M sounds about right for a new phone developed from scratch to me. Maybe even on the low side.

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: this is a very rude proposal

        "$32M sounds about right for a new phone developed from scratch to me. Maybe even on the low side."

        Perhaps he could learn a lesson from the Jolla-folks. They ask far less for their proposed phones. Not to mention that there's no obligation to actually buy on if it gets released.

        And they already showed the world some o/t things they're working on. Sorry folks, I'm more interested in Sailfish OS and Jolla then what this rich bloke dare to ask.

        Perhaps he should "talk" to Balmer too and strike a "deal" there. They could start the rich bloke club there in Redmond. Have a bbq and dance around butt-naked in the moonlight.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: this is a very rude proposal

      you appear to be overlooking some key differences between funding software, and funding for hardware. if a software project gets excess funds from crowdsourcing, it's great, because that money can either be pocketed as profits, or used to add extra development/testing resources. If, on the other hand, a HARDWARE project gets excess funding, and the funding is tied directly to the number of units released, excess funding can dramatically increase time to market, or, if they take steps to expedite that, then it will instead drastically increase COST.

  15. xehpuk

    I think if I don't help in this then who will.

    All of us who don't want NSA snooping in our pockets should help projects like this. I have contributed but I doubt target will be reached. Anyway if target is not reached and the money returned, then at least I did put my money where my mouth is during the 30 days.

  16. ItsNotMe

    And when the whole thing goes tits-up before they produce anything...

    ...will I get my money back?

    1. Jonathan 29

      Re: And when the whole thing goes tits-up before they produce anything...

      If they don't meet the target you would get the money back, but if they do, yet don't produce the phone then you are not entitled to anything. You are not paying for a phone, but are funding a project. Fine if you have spare cash I guess.

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Or... the future today. Get a Windows phone. It'll be another 5 years at least before these neck-beards have successfully copied MS's ideas (again).

  18. Spoonsinger

    This whole crowdfunding thing?..

    (Now don't get belligerent like, it's just a question). In the days of yor, you would give money to a company with an expected return on investment based on your initial funding. So how does this whole fund crowdfunding work? Is it basically 17th century patronage by people with excessive dosh, (which generally didn't apply to established companies), or is there a deeper philosophy to it?

    1. Matt Piechota

      Re: This whole crowdfunding thing?..

      "(Now don't get belligerent like, it's just a question). In the days of yor, you would give money to a company with an expected return on investment based on your initial funding. So how does this whole fund crowdfunding work? Is it basically 17th century patronage by people with excessive dosh, (which generally didn't apply to established companies), or is there a deeper philosophy to it?"

      Think of it as a slightly different direct version of capitalism. Instead of the consumer looking at the options that are available and choosing the best for them, they're influencing what options are available. It's just a different way of buying something, perhaps with a bit more choice for the consumer.

      1. Spoonsinger

        Re: This whole crowdfunding thing?..

        Cheer's for the response. So basically a focus group where the focus group pays for their opinion. I can see how that that could work, but it's still old school patronage rather than an investment on the funder's part.

        1. JEDIDIAH

          Re: This whole crowdfunding thing?..

          There seems to be plenty of opportunity for Canonical branded hardware in a variety of interesting form factors. They could put together a lot of ready made kit in configurations that are unusual. This doesn't have to be limited to phones where the market is already saturated.

          It also doesn't require some sort of crowd-driven ransom-ware scheme.

          Others have already done better. Canonical should raise the bar.

  19. Adair Silver badge

    There seem to be...

    ...a lot of glass half empty miserablists on the loose today. Maybe they, like me, can't spare the cash to try this out. Cry me a river, if the Ubuntu phone is a flaming turkey and everyone loses their money, the glass half empty miserablists will have their world-view confirmed; if it soars like a vulture looking out for well rotted carrion, don't worry, there will be something else along directly to be miserable about.

  20. WylieCoyoteUK

    A lot of people seem to be missing the point

    The whole point is that this will be cutting edge hardware, with cutting edge software, in a limited edition release.

    Canonical expect to break even at best, manufacturing costs are going to be high for a short run product, Development costs will likewise be high, and the product will have a lot of experimental features.

    The mobile phone companies won't finance something like this because the bean counters will nay say the risk.

  21. FrankAlphaXII
    Thumb Down

    I want to give Canonical money for Vaporware around the same time I give it to Google, Apple, Microsoft, IBM and Red Hat for the same. I want to encourage Canonical's behavior in regard to things like Unity, Mir and their CLA. I want all of this....

    ....about as much as I want to chew shards of the Sapphire they want to use in their screens.

  22. Thecowking

    I've been using Ubuntu Touch on and off since it announced

    And, I just can't love it.

    It's got naff gestures, a lack of buttons (it's a lot like Meego in that respect, if you liked meego, you'll love Ubuntu touch. If like me you hated meego, ubuntu touch is painful.)

    I really, really want a proper Linux phone, and if I could get one with a better interface and less of the Unity, I'd be all over it..

    I would point out though that anyone giving it a try now really should be aware of the limitations that it has as a work in progress. On a Nexus 7, for example - it's one of their reference devices, a lot of remarkably basic things don't work, like landscape orientation.

    I want to love it, I keep going back, but the basic design just keeps putting me off. I hope they have an awesomely good product to bring to market, but at the moment, the implementation is leaving me cold.

  23. MeRp

    This seems perfect for my wife, if only I can convincer her that the sapphire screen is like jewelry. Being able to go phone to desktop for the stuff she does (web stuff), seems like a no-brainer for her use case.

    It would eb cool for me too, if only I could run eve-online on it.

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