According to its developers. the Ubuntu operating system could be the next step in getting our Android platforms to replace the PC entirely. Ubuntu is a free and open-source operating system, based on Linux, that has an estimated 20 million users. worldwide. While this is a tiny number compared to the 1.25 billion users of Microsoft Windows, the de facto standard operating system for the PC, Ubuntu is, nevertheless, a heavyweight desktop operating system and it’s coming to Android.
Ubuntu for phones was recently announced by its developer Canonical Ltd and will be available, as an alternative to Android or Windows, later this year. A version for some tablets is already available, but only if you’re prepared for it to overwrite Android. Of more interest to Android users, though, is Ubuntu for Android which enables both Android and Ubuntu to run on the same multi-core handset at the same time. Because both operating systems share the same Linux kernel this doesn’t involve the emulation or virtualisation techniques that, traditionally, have allowed one operating system to run inside another. As a result, Android and Ubuntu will both run at the maximum speed allowed by the processor.
Canonical doesn’t envisage you using Ubuntu as an alternative to Android when you’re on the move. Instead, you’d use Android as normal when you’re out and about and then, when you return to the home or office, you plug your phone into a docking station that will give you access to Ubuntu with the added convenience of a keyboard, mouse and full-sized screen. Not only that but the two operating systems can share address books. emails, text messages and the like, thereby eliminating the need for synchronisation. Richard Collins, product manager at Canonical, sees all this as a significant development. “Ubuntu for Android is really important to giving users of high-end Android smartphones a fully embedded native Ubuntu PC experience”, he said. “This is a PC capability in every sense, meaning that when the Android phone is docked to a desktop monitor, the user has exactly the same set of Ubuntu services thatwould run on normal PC hardware. You are effectively carrying your PC in your pocket.”
However, David Ludlow, editor of Computer Shopper, the UK’s highest circulation PC monthly, isn’t too sure. “The ability to dock your phone and seamlessly switch to a desktop environment on a monitor sounds brilliant for people on the move, as it lets them carry around a complete personal system”, he agreed. “However, a phone can’t compete with the power. flexibility and storage of a full PC or laptop, so I don’t expect Ubuntu for Android to offer anything other than niche appeal for now.”
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