Ubuntu 14.04 to Run on Smartphones, Tablets and TVs

Pulkit Chandna

"Now it's no longer just about the desktop but really a broader vision.” This remark was part of Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer’s CES 2009 keynote address, in which he talked about the impending transformation of Windows into “an experience that spans the PC, the phone, the TV and the cloud." Fast forward to the present and Canonical is ready with a similar strategy for Ubuntu.

Canonical is describing this new strategy at the ongoing Ubuntu Developer Summit in Orlando and hopes to realize its vision for the future of popular Linux distro, which spans multiple screen, in a couple of years time.

“By 14.04 LTS Ubuntu will power tablets, phones, TVs and smart screens from the car to the office kitchen, and it will connect those devices cleanly and seamlessly to the desktop, the server and the cloud,” wrote Canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth in a blog post Monday.

Can you guess what is going be the key to this whole strategy? The answer is Unity. Yes, the oft-maligned Unity graphical user interface (GUI) that was introduced as the default GUI with release of Ubuntu 11.04 (Natty Narwhal) earlier this year.

“Unity, the desktop interface in today’s Ubuntu 11.10, was designed with this specific vision in mind. While the interface for each form factor is shaped appropriately, Unity’s core elements are arranged in exactly the way we need to create coherence across all of those devices. This was the origin of the name Unity – a single core interface framework, that scales across all screens, and supports all toolkits.”

In his blog, Shuttleworth underlined the importance of the company’s partnerships with major “silicon vendors that are driving this converging market are critical.” Earlier this month, Canonical rolled out support for chips based on Arm’s architecture inside Ubuntu 11.10. This is, of course, an important development, as support for Arm chips is like a passport to the mobile world.

Further Shuttleworth believes, Ubuntu One and the Ubuntu Software Centre will do a great job across different hardware environments: “They deliver the required storage, syncing and sharing capabilities that are not just a convenience but a requirement as we move to a universe where content is increasingly shared but the devices that access them become more diverse. Ubuntu One’s support for other OSes show the ability of Ubuntu to play nice with others, recognising that the divergence is strength.  It allows users to choose the devices they prefer but still delivering the benefits of Ubuntu-centred strategy.”

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