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 PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags canonicalhardware systemstablet PCslaptopsnetbooks

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

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

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?