Canonical commits to netbooks over tablets for Ubuntu

The company has not yet built a tablet-specific edition of the Linux-based Ubuntu distribution

Canonical has not yet built an Ubuntu Linux distribution for tablets and will continue development of the OS for PCs and netbooks, company executives said.

Fast growth in tablet shipments has not affected Canonical's focus on netbooks and the company wants to push Ubuntu into more low-cost laptops, they said.

"We certainly haven't quit the netbook space -- if anything, we see growing demand for Ubuntu in PC sectors pushing into new global markets, where netbooks are the name of the game," said Mark Shuttleworth, founder of Canonical, in an e-mail response over the weekend to questions about the company's focus.

Canonical in the past has said it would build a version of Ubuntu for tablets. Some tablets, such as Kno, have shipped with Linux OSes based on Ubuntu, and many tablets with the OS have been shown at trade shows.

Canonical last week released the first beta of Ubuntu 11.04, code-named Natty Narwhal, in distinct editions for desktops, servers and netbooks. The Netbook Edition is for use only on devices using ARM processors, and its release came as a surprise as Canonical on March 9 said it would nix the Netbook Edition starting with version 11.04. The company did not release a Netbook Edition beta for the x86 architecture, integrating the code base into the Desktop Edition, which is for laptops and desktops.

ARM processors are primarily used in smartphones and tablets, and have not found success in netbook-like devices or PCs. Most netbooks ship with Intel's x86 Atom chips, but shipments of the devices are slowing down because of the popularity of tablets, according to market research firms.

The ARM-based Ubuntu 11.04 Netbook beta is not specifically for tablets, but it could be adapted for the devices, said Gerry Carr, head of platform marketing at Canonical, in an e-mail.

"We're not targeting this platform in the sense of making it available for download for people running [devices on the ARM architecture]. It's for the pre-install market only and part of our efforts to support ARM fully as an architecture. I guess you could build a tablet out of it -- but I have no idea if anyone is," Carr said.

The Ubuntu 11.04 Netbook Edition beta is designed to work with ARM-based processors including Texas Instruments' OMAP4 application processor, which is being used in Research In Motion's PlayBook tablet. The OS is based on a new user interface called Unity, which can dynamically adjust UI behavior based on screen sizes. For the ARM platform, Ubuntu is offering two separate Unity implementations, including one with advanced shaders and effects, and another with a 2D interface for lightweight devices.

More Linux-based operating systems are entering the mobile fray. Many tablets and smartphones ship with Google's Linux-based Android OS. Intel is backing the development of Meego, a Linux-based OS for smartphones and tablets, while Hewlett-Packard's proprietary webOS is based on Linux.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags canonicalhardware systemstablet PCslaptopsnetbooks

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Agam Shah

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?