Canonical has released Ubuntu 13.10 “Saucy Salamander”, the latest update of the Linux distribution that is the first ‘true’ release of Ubuntu Touch for mobile devices. Ubuntu Touch is supported by a number of Android smartphones, currently the GALAXY Nexus and Nexus 4.
The update isn’t a public release, and while it is a stable release, it is still lacking in some key areas. The release is aimed at manufacturers, carriers and is intended for development and evaluation purposes.
Earlier in June, I got an early build installed on my GALAXY Nexus, then running Android 4.2.2 using a custom SlimROM. Being a very early build it lacked cellular, and even certain modules in Settings were missing. I did find the UI pleasing, intuitive, and although unoptimised yet for the hardware, still quite fluid. Several ‘important’ apps like browser, Twitter and Facebook clients were already available, HTML5-based naturally.
Battery life was astonishingly bad, and the Nexus would drain rapidly, even in idle mode.
Cellular was missing, and therefore I couldn’t use it as a daily device without some code hacking, and thus I made the decision to wipe the device and roll back to Android several days later.
For more photos of Ubuntu Touch on GALAXY Nexus, visit Flickr.
If you’ve heard of Ubuntu Edge, Canonical went on an ambitious crowdfunding drive on Indiegogo to raise US$32 million for their concept superphone. It failed to secure the full amount, but did manage to set a record for most money pledged in a campaign to date. The superphone was to feature the best in hardware, customisable according to users’ requirements. The world drooled, but eventually had to settle for being sold just the dream. For now.
Canonical expects the first true blue Ubuntu mobile devices to ship in early 2014.
Still in early stages but Ubuntu holds much promise in its hybrid mobile-desktop strategy. As a phone OS it’s simpler than Android, and the platform is an easier one to develop for, thanks to its HTML5 and web standards-based underpinnings.
If you are brave enough, you can get down and dirty with some code and install Ubuntu Touch on your GALAXY Nexus or Nexus 4. You will need stock factory firmware from Google beforehand. Follow instructions closely here — http://www.ubuntu.com/phone/install
I will be attempting to install this release on my GALAXY Nexus. Will post updates. Watch this space.