Canonical has been tinkering with a multiple GUI Ubuntu that seamlessly switches between GUIs depending on available hardware. It may work very well because in Linux the GUI is not tightly coupled to the window manager or the kernel.
Canonical is hoping to put Ubuntu into the hands of slab-fondlers who want something that can double as a near-desktop. It's doing so via a partnership with Spanish smartphone-maker BQ, whose 10.1-inch Aquaris M10 will run the Linux distro. While the M10 is already available with a more conventional Android config at €229.90 …
The mobile/tablet version will be a Unity GUI with a Mir window manager. This is the reason for Unity - it's intended as a GUI which has features which can adapt to both desktop and touch. That doesn't mean it's exactly the same GUI - but rather there are common design features which are used to create both the desktop and small screen touch versions so that "apps" designed for one will work in both and users familiar with one will have an easy time adapting to the other.
Apple uses totally different GUIs on desktop and phone/tablet. Microsoft tried sticking a phone GUI on a desktop (Windows 8). Ubuntu is taking a third path - a GUI which is a desktop GUI when working as a desktop and a phone/tablet GUI when working as a phone or tablet and automatically switches as required. I suspect that both Apple and Microsoft will follow in this path eventually, and indeed I believe that Microsoft have already decided they will need to do so.
This by the way is the main reason why there was the split in Linux desktops between Unity, KDE, and Gnome. Ubuntu wanted to focus on touch (tablet/phone) first with desktop being an offshoot of that. KDE wanted separate touch and desktop GUIs. Gnome (basically Red Hat) wasn't interested in tablet or mobile, and so didn't want to accommodate it except as a afterthought. Mint with Cinnamon and MATE are also in the "who cares about anything but desktop" camp.
Canonical think that free/open source operating systems of the kind we are familiar with have only a narrow window of opportunity to establish themselves if they are not to be squeezed out by changes in the market. Replacing one monopolist (Microsoft) with another (Google) is no improvement, and the new generation of phone and tablet hardware is increasingly locked down so you can't install any alternatives.
It's probably too late for anyone to unseat Android from market dominance in the phone and tablet field. It's probably as unshiftable there as as Microsoft is from business desktops. This is why Ubuntu is putting the priority on "converged devices", which is what they had been banging on about for years before Microsoft woke up and noticed it.
I suspect that even for dedicated desktops, the conventional "Wintel" PC hardware we see today will largely disappear from the market. It will be replaced by very cheap and very small commodity boxes about the size of a Raspberry Pi (with a plastic case of course), and using a similar physical layout (all on one board). Everything including CPU, RAM, and SSD will be soldered onto a very small PC board. Whether it will have an ARM or Intel CPU is an open question. I wouldn't want to bet any money on Microsoft still being a significant factor in the desktop OS market by then either.
I suspect that the days of being able to go into a shop and buy what we see as a "conventional" desktop are numbered. If GNU/Linux (as opposed to Android/Linux) operating systems are not well established in the changed market by then it will likely be very difficult to buy any non-server hardware which will run it.
As a happy owner of a BQ Aquaris phone and having installed one of their 3D printers for one of my clients, I can tell you that these guys rock! They make very good quality kit for very reasonable prices, they have an active fan community and a good support service. They don't bundle nagware/malware/adware in their phones and even apply OS patches in a timely manner.
Canonical could have chosen a worse partner for this adventure.
...so in the end you get a device you don't even have a terminal on (without downloading it from the store... which means registering), but you have all the crap nobody wants, like Spanish language news feeds and weather reports.
Ubuntu is now making exactly the same mistakes Microsoft makes. They are changing from a working desktop system to some horribly complex desktop system to a cut down mobile system which lacks all the features people like (i.e. apt-get on Ubuntu) and replace them with crap.
I mean just imagine a Windows phone which could join a domain just like Windows 95 could. It would sync all your data on login/logout. Done via some more modern protocol like rsync, this would have been an actual advantage over other systems.
All the crap nobody wants?
Funny that because here in not so sunny Madrid the news feed on my BQ Aquaris mainly has articles from the Guardian, Telegraph and Reuters, all in English. Funnily enough all the icons and menu options are in English. Maybe I got a rogue model. Even so I'm sure there are many people who wouldn't be too bothered about Spanish language new feeds.
BQ are famous for stock android with a pleasant lack of junk software. Ubuntu are famous for their occasional digressions, but in the big scheme of things put a lot less restrictions on the software you run than any other big software provider.
Seems apt-get works on touch if you want it to.
I am definitely the target audience for this sort of device. I currently carry an x200 series ThinkPad with me (and use an old-school deskside box at home). I want my next "luggable" computer to be a tablet running a full Linux distro, accompanied by a BT keyboard/mouse.
But it will definitely not be this one. It is specced as a cheap Android tablet. To be useful as a "portable workstation" it must have no less than 250 Gb of storage. To be useful as a tablet, it must have GPS. If Android-specced hardware was acceptable for me, why would I want a BQ when I can get a Nexus or a Z tablet and install Ubuntu there?
> We might be able to compile programs we want but that is going to be beyond the ability of most people who could buy this tablet and may never look beyond the software manager that's built into Ubuntu
Do you realise that the software manager in question takes care of downloading the right packages for your architecture?
We're getting closer.
Just make sure we can pop a terminal open on it and we're golden.
Im not that phased about space...since you can easily strip back Linux to use less space.
Just dont fuck up the graphics driver.
Id buy a tablet running a proper Linux distro in a heartbeat.
Especially if it followed a similar format to the MS surface...albeit with a usable keyboard.
What canonical needs to realise here is that us hungry geeks are looking for a portable terminal...what we'll get though might be very different.
Im not even bothered about having massive amounts of power...I work mainly via servers anyway. So my power is elsewhere. Just gimme a god damn portable terminal!
With two USB3 sockets one for usb ethernet and one for a USB serial adapter.
Once you've nailed that. A nice universal rackmounted power dock / keyboard would be epic.
What is the on-screen keyboard like?
Have they followed the paradigm of Android and iOS, so that typing [and more especially editing] on an on-screen keyboard is an exercise in frustration?... or have they actually "thought outside the box" and come up with something different and usable?
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