Mobile Ubuntu Coming in 2013, says Canonical Founder
When it comes to the mobile arena, Apple iOS, Google Android, and Windows Phone aren't the only games in town -- open-source initiatives, once on the periphery, are also making their way onto the field. Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Ubuntu, a popular distribution of desktop Linux, has announced that 2013 is the year in which Ubuntu will make a strong push toward being mobile-ready and more actively involved with cloud accessibility.
Criticisms aside, a mobile Ubuntu could have immediate implications for IT admins, who already know that users are readily rooting their devices to accept all types of user-installed upgrades. Midsize firms will need to be ready for the changing face of the mobile market.
The Founder's Plans
Shuttleworth explains on his personal website that moving Ubuntu into the mobile market will involve both phones and tablets. It will be achieved by bringing mobile developers into the fold at Canonical, the software development company behind Ubuntu. Mobile developers are expected to create new tools that will define a whole set of new software. This will include better integration with the cloud so that new infrastructure can be easily accessed, maintained, and developed for all forms of hardware in question.
He also says Unity will be the focus during this mobile restructuring -- Unity is the user interface of the current GNOME desktop. The mention of Unity has eased some controversy about its current state of readiness and how hard the push will be to make it mobile.
It Needs Some Tweaking
At the Linux magazine Muktware, Swapnil Bhartiya notes why he thinks Ubuntu has a long road ahead. He mentions global menus and the heads up display as two features that don't work well with small screens.
In addition, Unity can't yet be interacted with through swipes and taps. This limitation means users will have to complete a lot of typing if they want to get anywhere on their phones. On the upside, however, Bhartiya supports Shuttleworth's initiative for cloud integration, saying that Ubuntu already does a good job with this measure.
Midsize Firms, Take Note
Despite the limitations that Bhartiya points out, a large, dedicated user base is on Shuttleworth's side. He should have no trouble getting developers to create a fully mobile Ubuntu, one that works on both the handset and the desktop.
Admins will be seeing Unity slowly creep onto phones and tablets in the workplace, and this is where IT staff will need to be ready. In offices that are increasingly dominated by a BYOD policies, employees will be showing up with all manner of hardware and software. To keep up, IT will need to be familiar with the capabilities and limitations of Ubuntu in the wireless world.
This post was written as part of the IBM for Midsize Business program, which provides midsize businesses with the tools, expertise and solutions they need to become engines of a smarter planet. Like us on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter.