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Canonical Developing Ubuntu OS For Tablets 228

Posted by timothy
from the wheels-spinning-all-the-time dept.
snydeq writes "Canonical is preparing a version of the Ubuntu OS for tablet computers as the company looks to extend its presence in the mobile space, InfoWorld reports. The OS will be a lightweight version of Linux with a simplified, touch-friendly user interface, and tablets with the Ubuntu OS could become available late in winter 2011. The focus will be on developing an OS with a simplified user interface that provides quick access to the most-used applications. Development efforts will also focus on adding on-screen keyboard features and compatibility for multitouch drivers."
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Canonical Developing Ubuntu OS For Tablets

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  • HELL YES! (Score:3, Insightful)

    by somersault (912633) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:02PM (#32517614) Homepage Journal

    AFAIK you can install your own version of Ubuntu onto the Joojoo, which is way cheaper than an iPad but has decent enough hardware specs.. this could be really awesome!

    • on the other hand, TFA says this won't be out until the end of 2011 :/ Best just to wait and see what other decent tablets come out in the meantime.. preferably ones with expandable storage, and an open environment..

    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by sootman (158191)

      The JooJoo and the iPad are both $499. How is the JooJoo "way cheaper"?

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        I entirely get your point. However, if you stop paying Apple whatever they ask in the future, then the iPad loses functionality. This doesn't happen with an OS like Ubuntu or any other free distro.
        • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

          by sootman (158191)

          Wow. Nothing personal but I can't imagine how you've been nodded up... TWICE. What do you need to pay in the future? What has Apple announced they would do along these lines? You buy an iPad today and it will function as it does forever without ever talking to Apple again. Please specify exactly what functionality will get turned off if you don't send Apple money above and beyond the initial purchase price.

          Considering that the JooJoo's manufacturer is likely to go out of business before the warranty expires

      • Here in the UK the JooJoo is £320 while the cheapest iPad is over £400. I looked at the JooJoo specs last night though and it doesn't appear to have expandable storage either.. and with only 4GB of storage it's rather limiting. Guess I'm back to waiting to see what other cool stuff comes out in the next few months. I'm still happy with my netbook too, but there are a couple of things that a tablet would be nice for if the price was right.

  • So... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Monkeedude1212 (1560403) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:03PM (#32517626) Journal

    What about getting it ON a Tablet? Anybody agreed to or even thinking about putting Ubuntu on their tablet?

    I don't see a lot of people wanting to buy a tablet only to replace the existing OS.

    Though it'd be nice to get some kind of slate for a cheap price - this should cut down the price by $100, if Ubuntu can get someone on board with it.

    • Re:So... (Score:4, Informative)

      by DeadDecoy (877617) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:18PM (#32517796)
      Well, the consequence of putting Ubuntu, or any linux distro on a tablet, is that it would provide a less restrictive platform than the iPad. If you want your own drivers, software, etc, then you can just apt-get them. I imagine this will also be nicer for developers as they wouldn't have to wrestle with vague rules on getting their work submitted to the apple store. What Canonical should do, after this, is setup an opt-in app store, such that users can support developers if they want to.
      • by Bert64 (520050)

        They already have an app store, that's effectively what the package manager has been all along... I believe they are working on extending it to allow paid app purchases, while still having the benefits of centralised updating etc.

    • by SethJohnson (112166) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:47PM (#32518624) Homepage Journal
      Don't think the business model will work. Let's use the iPad as an example. The OS isn't the expensive part of that product. Apple sells the iPad for $499 with the understanding that the purchaser will likely buy several apps and many movies through iTunes. You put Ubuntu on there, and the user can apt-get to bypass the App store. Same with movies.

      The other problem is that tablets are media consumption devices, and Netflix doesn't work on Ubuntu.

      Using Linux isn't going to save any hardware manufacturer a significant component cost. And since Android is there for free, there's not a good business argument for bundling Ubuntu.

      Seth
      • tablets are media consumption devices

        Says who? Plenty of artists use more expensive tablets such as Cintiq for media creation. Or by "consumption" did you mean an old name for TB, which sounds like TV?

      • Apple sells the iPad for $499 with the understanding that the purchaser will likely buy several apps and many movies through iTunes.

        Are you trying to imply they sell the hardware as a loss leader? You certainly "think different" [google.com] to most people in the industry.

    • Re: (Score:2, Informative)

      by dissy (172727)

      I don't see a lot of people wanting to buy a tablet only to replace the existing OS.

      I might not qualify as 'a lot of people', but I will be damned if I will leave Windows 98 on my Fujitsu stylistic 2300!

      20 years ago was a long time, but I am pretty sure my intent was replacing its OS right fast after buying it.

      Ubuntu runs on it just fine today. Back then I used slackware and then debian, as ubuntu didn't exist yet.

    • by westlake (615356)

      Though it'd be nice to get some kind of slate for a cheap price - this should cut down the price by $100, if Ubuntu can get someone on board with it.

      Simply an observation:

      WalMart - the world's largest and most aggressive deep discount retailer - has never been able to consistently undercut OEM Windows by $100 - by $75 - by $50 - on systems with competitive, marketable, specs.

      • by debatem1 (1087307)
        I think the OPs estimate is inaccurate, but I would point out that WalMart does undercut by hundreds of dollars on computers- they just do it by selling windows machines instead of macs.
        • by westlake (615356)

          I would point out that WalMart does undercut by hundreds of dollars on computers- they just do it by selling windows machines instead of macs.

          For the better part of a decade, WalMart tried to make a go of OEM Linux.

          With Slashdot's cheerleaders on the sidelines. The netbook was the chain's last big push. Nothing ever came of it.

  • Why so long? (Score:2, Interesting)

    by crhylove (205956)

    The iPad is out NOW. Windows tablets will be out SOON. Why be so late to the game? I don't understand the slowness of FOSS to catch Win/Mac.

    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by QuantumG (50515) *

      No-one gives a shit about tablet computers. Never have.

    • Re:Why so long? (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kitkoan (1719118) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:26PM (#32517888)

      The iPad is out NOW. Windows tablets will be out SOON. Why be so late to the game? I don't understand the slowness of FOSS to catch Win/Mac.

      And the android tablet was out in 2009 [youtube.com]. I don't understand why the Win/Mac are so slow to catch up...

    • Re:Why so long? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by cupantae (1304123) <maroneill AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:28PM (#32517920)

      *sigh*

      FIRST of all, tablet PC's are over 10 years old.

      Second of all, the reason FOSS always seem to be behind Win/Mac is that when there is a FOSS project which is pioneering something, it is usually not advertised and ignored until one of these companies comes along and claims to have invented it. When MS/Apple pioneer something, they spend millions telling the world about it. It then becomes relevant to people that there is a FOSS version of this famous thing.

      So, in summary:
      FOSS comes first -> not a big deal until the others do it.
      Proprietary comes first -> FOSS are lagging behind.

      Mmmkay?

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by blair1q (305137)

        FIRST of all, tablet PC's are over 10 years old.

        Sure. But what cool technology ever hits the big time on its first birthday?

        PCs were around for 15 years before the web sold them to your grandma's friends.

        Tablet PCs before the iPad were clunky and slow computers with weird connectivity and someone trying to pump you up for balky character recognition as their greatest feature.

        Now they're big-screen smartphones, and everyone wants one.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward

      How much money can Microsoft invest in putting touch drivers into Windows 7? How much money can a company with a fixed six-month release cycle who puts out free software invest? For that matter, how much development time have you invested into making Ubuntu what it is?

      Personally I'm just a leach - I barely touch alphas and betas and have only started to participate in the forums and bug reports to help collect information, but I understand full well why my Touchscreen PC works flawlessly under Windows 7 b

      • by jedidiah (1196)

        ...it's all about interest.

        If there's interest, there can be a better experience on Linux than Windows 7. Beating MacOS/PhoneOS is a much lower bar.

        Personally, I want tablets that don't skimp on the parts and aren't gravely restricted to what they can do or are allow to do.

        I'm not holding my breath on Redmond here...

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      There has been lots of suggestions but as you can see from my submission it gets downvoted pretty mercilessly on Ubuntu Brainstorm http://brainstorm.ubuntu.com/idea/23527/ [ubuntu.com]
  • by Anonymous Coward

    When will comapnaies/websites with worldwide audiences wake up and realise that usign terms like 'ready in the winter' is NOT conducive to setting expectations equally? 'Winter' is completely relative to where in the world you are located.
    How about using something somewhat universally acepted like '3rd quarter', or even better - state the damned month directly and give youyself an actual target/deadline!

    • by Garridan (597129) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:21PM (#32517838)

      Perhaps they, like the DNF team, refer to the winter in Ecuador.

    • 'Winter' is completely relative to where in the world you are located.

      There's more land mass in the northern hemisphere and more disposable income too. For example, the majority of the population of industrialized English-speaking markets do not live in Australia, New Zealand, or South Africa. They live in United States, Canada, Great Britain, and Ireland. So with more land mass in the Northern Hemisphere and more developed countries in the Northern Hemisphere (apart from South American countries and South Africa), the majority of wealth experiences winter in the first quarte

      • by styrotech (136124)

        Not only that - but the products usually don't get released in the southern hemisphere until 6 or 18 months later anyway. So the season is still accurate.

        Seriously though, I have to agree. If you want to divide up the year into 4 vague sections use quarters dammit.

  • by neiras (723124) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:15PM (#32517762)

    I hope they hire a UI designer who isn't an Apple admirer. We need fresh ideas [youtube.com]...

  • Window Buttons (Score:2, Insightful)

    I wonder if anyone over at Canonical is now thinking this:
    "Okay, so we're now designing a touch-screen version. Considering how many right-handed people are out there, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to move the window controls to the left-hand side of the screen."

    Doesn't seem so ergonomic anymore, now, does it?
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by IANAAC (692242)

      I wonder if anyone over at Canonical is now thinking this: "Okay, so we're now designing a touch-screen version. Considering how many right-handed people are out there, maybe it wasn't such a good idea to move the window controls to the left-hand side of the screen."

      You can change that. You know that, right?

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by moonbender (547943)

      A tablet version will probably try to run apps full screen anyway, with a few possible exceptions. Ubuntu Netbook Remix already works that way, and I assume the tablet edition will take the netbook concepts one step further. Classic windowing controls don't really apply, though clearly there will still be a need to close windows/applications.

  • Are they going to redesign those "most used apps" too? A simple touch friendly veneer won't do much good if all it does is throw you into an instance of the Gimp or OO.org.

    • by spagetti_code (773137) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:51PM (#32518120)
      You are correct - Its the APPS.

      If this is a business device, the killer app is OneNote. Sure tablets dont suit a lot of people, but if you want to take notes, do research, read and link information, be mobile etc... Onenote is it. Evernote is not. (right idea, wrong execution). There are also niche applications (medical etc), but from a general business focus... do Onenote.

      If its a consumer device - create an open iPad. BUT you will also need to ensure that Music, Reading, Web browsing, Gaming, Sharing work brilliantly. Only Apple has really succeeded with that, as long as you live in their ecosystem. If you can made those apps work openly **and** get the media providers on board, then you stand a chance.

  • by erroneus (253617) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:25PM (#32517884) Homepage

    Unless every app were designed to run in the new constraints, they won't look, work or act right. Netbook spins of Linux are always just menus with large icons that just make you feel like you are playing with a toy with extremely limited options and usability.

    Maemo just about got it. Droid definitely got it. Making an "Ubuntu" version would need to be more than a new Window manager and selection of packages. It needs a controlled and contained UI that will work within that environment and integrate well.

    This rather leads me to an idea... one that is either really stupid and/or impractical or something else.

    If Linux's X apps were created with an application's equivalent of HTML's "CSS" then perhaps applications could be tremendously more adaptable to different user environments.

    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Mekabyte (678689)

      If Linux's X apps were created with an application's equivalent of HTML's "CSS" then perhaps applications could be tremendously more adaptable to different user environments.

      Sounds like the QML (Declarative UI) portion of Qt Kinetic [trolltech.com] (and Qt Style Sheets have been around for a while).

      • by erroneus (253617)

        It does but I think there needs to be more. Applications generally expect to run in a window and have tool bars and all the things a typical Window system does. It doesn't leave it open, necessarily to other paradigms. Not saying that I have considered other paradigms or could even imagine one, but considering the iPhone and Maemo, I can imagine a bit where current expectations of current apps won't be too adaptable. Basically, my idea is completely unrefined and not well thought out and would require s

      • by AHuxley (892839)
        But Ubuntu has Dell, and Dell has a small, known product line.
        Other netbook lines are the same. Ubuntu gives the world the freedom to support any hardware they like with at any price point.
        HTML's "CSS" sounds good, just need the perfect fonts :)
  • by vladisglad (1214592) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @07:32PM (#32517962)
    I'm just dying to see the user interface. If there is any instance when I need to use scroll bars to scroll in any application its insta-fail. Same goes for windows.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by kevinmenzel (1403457)
      Wait why exactly is a scroll bar bad? Given sane restrictions on how small the scroller can be, it offers a pretty decent way of getting directly to any vertical or horizontal location when presented with more information than the computer can handle. Yes obviously gestures can be used for relative scrolling (Scroll up from here, down from here, etc.) - the beauty of a scroll bar is the potential for either the "tap and you're there" functionality often associated with playback position for audio/video, som
      • by drinkypoo (153816)

        Wait why exactly is a scroll bar bad?

        for the same reason that having a scroll area on the touchpad is bad, and multitouch scrolling is good. sometimes you mistouch and you scroll when you meant to move, or move when you meant to scroll. but most humans can touch with one finger or two, or for that matter, drag instead of tapping.

    • by jedidiah (1196)

      Insta-fail? Lack of scrollbars cripples the mobile browsers. Their absence on the iThing is merely annoying. Whereas Android could sorely use real scrollbars.

  • Canonical or Google?
  • Will this work on the http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dell_Streak [wikipedia.org]
    Ubuntu as a "something newer" OS would put real computing power and freedom into a larger pocket/messenger bag.
    Could we finally enjoy a flash supporting, codec rich, web friendly OS on usable hardware with real usb?
    I really hope this works and we see a generation of creative computing again vs the DRM, rented, book erasing, push dreams of an Apple, MS, Amazon ect.
    • by Svartalf (2997)

      I'm sure you can reflash the firmware a' la Cyanogen's stuff- just using an ARM Ubuntu build with the Tablet Remix overlay- and it wouldn't surprise me if they don't have a bit of that kind of thinking going on in their heads right now over in Round Rock.

  • by TheDarkener (198348) on Wednesday June 09, 2010 @08:13PM (#32518310)

    8.04's focus was stability.
    9.04's focus was netbooks.
    9.10's focus was cloud computing.
    10.04's focus was pretty themes (and apparently dyslexia).
    10.10's focus is now tablets.

    Am I the only one that thinks that a Linux distro should stick with focusing on doing one thing very well? Seems all of these half-baked ideas are just late-night bong-induced dreams that get left at the wayside 6 months later. You just end up getting a bunch of "won't fix" bugs in LP because "the focus is now release+1". /me grows weary of this runaround...

    • Am I the only one that thinks that a Linux distro should stick with focusing on doing one thing very well?

      I hope so.

      A useful OS needs to do *MANY* things well. And the UI must be at least not hell to work with, not everyone does everything in a terminal and uses Pine to read their mail... Window GUIs exist because many people prefer them, they should elegant and well designed.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by TheDarkener (198348)

        A useful OS needs to do *MANY* things well. And the UI must be at least not hell to work with, not everyone does everything in a terminal and uses Pine to read their mail... Window GUIs exist because many people prefer them, they should elegant and well designed.

        Agreed. That, however, has nothing to do with the fact that each release has steered the entire distribution in a completely different direction.

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by human-cyborg (450395)

      Ubuntu's one main focus has always been on ease of use of the average user (read: people who are generally not aware of Linux, or even Windows for that matter*) People want a stable experience, that runs on their netbook, stores their stuff so that they can always access it, and looks good while doing it.

      Are you saying that 10.04 is unstable, doesn't work at all on a netbook, and has no support for cloud computing?

      I wouldn't say these are half-baked ideas, I'd say they're more like milestones. I don't think

    • Open source developers work on what they find fun. You have a problem with that? Go back to Windoze.
  • APad with Android (Score:4, Interesting)

    by protektor (63514) on Thursday June 10, 2010 @12:28AM (#32519960)

    Orphan Electronics Apad M800 $150-$200 Street Price

    http://pricedinchina.com/buy-orphan-iped-mid-slate---m800-wifi-7-android-tablet-pc---m800-iped.aspx [pricedinchina.com]

    It looks like China already beat everyone including to a degree the Open Source community with a clone of the iPad. They are already selling an iPad clone in China. It looks just like the iPad in everyway, but the guts. I understand it is suppose to have an 600mhz Intel CPU inside, and 2gb of storage with USB port and I thought a memory card. It also has Wifi and web cam built in.

    Seems like this thing beats the iPad in almost every area that people complain about for the iPad. Much lower price, same size screen (7"), open and can do all the things the iPad can't or won't. Seems like a pretty good iPad killer to me, and it run Android already so there isn't really an issue of limited apps either. Runs Flash, MKV/H.264, MPEG 1&2, RM/RMBV, MP3, WMA, APE, FLAC, AAC,AC3, WAV.

    If I were going to buy a tablet computer I would certainly give this one a serious look.

    If the screen isn't big enough for you. I have seen other Orphan Electronics tablets advertised with bigger screens, but of course they cost more than this version does.

    Here is one with a 10" screen for $290 and has more storage and still uses Android.
    http://chinagrabber.com/buy-10-orphan-iped-m16-1024-x-600-android-apad-wifi-tablet-pc-m16-mid.aspx [chinagrabber.com]

    At $100 retail in China and $150 retail on some web sites. Seems like this is exactly the kind of table that all the Linux companies like Ubuntu should be looking to use as their hardware platform. At the price of $100-$150 it beats even most eBook readers on price, and it has wifi built in so adding more books/music/software isn't an issue, not to mention the USB port on it.

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