Ubuntu For Smartphones

Extremely exciting news, it’s finally upon us. Canonical will be releasing Ubuntu for the smartphone. I’ve seen videos of Ubuntu running on the Galaxy Nexus and the adapted version of the UI for mobiles looks nothing short of fantastic. Everything is at your fingertips as Ubuntu uses natural swiping gestures from the edges of your screen-a touch feature I particularly loved.

Just imagining Unity (a touch ready environment that integrates your apps and workflow) with it’s set of features on my phone is like a wet dream come true.

It brings out the total geek in me, in all of us when using the world’s most favorite Linux distribution.

Ubuntu has taken OEMs, ODMs and network operators in mind by bringing great performance and opening new opportunities for PC convergence. OEMS and operators can also customize their services, content and apps and brand them at their will. For me the most important experience will be that all core applications run at full native speeds with small memory footprints. Performance will be optimal as UI and elements will work fluidly and respond extremely well to the gestures you bring them.

Some of those gestures include:

A short swipe from the left edge of the screen is all it takes to reveal your favourite apps.

A full left-to-right swipe reveals a screen showing all your open apps, while a swipe from the right brings you instantly to the last app you were using.

A swipe from the right edge takes you back to the last app you were using; another swipe takes you back to the app you used before that. It’s natural to keep many apps open at once, which is why Ubuntu was designed for multi-tasking. No other smartphone lets you switch between applications this quickly.

Swiping up from the bottom edge of the phone reveals app controls. You can hide or reveal them instantly, which means they don’t take up room on the screen, leaving you free to focus on the stuff
that matters.

Update. Gruber’s take on the interface, gestures and performance. “Laggy as hell”

Looks OK aesthetically, but the purely swipe-and-gesture based UI is a loser. It’s confusing. Swipe from the right takes you to the next most recently used app, but swipe from the left does something completely different (show a list of favorite apps). I’ve said before: gestures are the touchscreen equivalent of keyboard shortcuts: a convenient alternative, but almost never a good choice for the primary interface for a task. Ubuntu has designed a phone interface consisting entirely of gestures; it’s like a desktop interface with nothing but keyboard shortcuts.

I expect Ubuntu for Phones to be about as relevant as Ubuntu is on the desktop. Vlad Savov at The Verge has hands-on video of the system as it stands today, and — shocker — it’s laggy as hell.

Here’s what The Verge has to say:

There’s a bit of lag while swiping through the phone’s different panels, but overall it looks to be quite the attractive and intelligent interface.
All in all, it’s an attractive-looking OS, and Galaxy Nexus users should be able to flash the Ubuntu phone OS images to install for users soon. However, the first real shipping devices won’t be available until early 2014.

There is more (especially on apps), if you’d like to read the fine print. I’ve compiled some links for the savvy user or developer that might help you learn more about this fantastic ecosystem.


Go Mobile For the Developer – Learn about QML, native and HTML5 apps.
Go Mobile for the Savvy User – Learn more about the wonderful world of Ubuntu on your smartphone.
Ubuntu for Android –  A superphone that is also a PC.

Entry level Ubuntu smartphone – 1Ghz Cortex A9
High-end Ubuntu “superphone” – Quad-core A9 or Intel Atom


Whether you’re an individual or business that wants to dock your phone to become a full PC or thin client, Ubuntu is a choice for you. In the years to come we’ll see one of our favorite operating systems not only on smartphones but other handhelds such as tablets as well.


I’ll be very interested in seeing this live and in the wild, we definitely need to see more mobile Os’s. The ability to dock the phone and turn it into a full fledged desktop is a wonderful idea, plus the mobile version looks intuitive, fluid and user friendly. If the mobile OS does well and proves itself, it would generate a massive increase in Ubuntu destop users around the world. All in all a great move for Ubuntu :-)


VirtualBox. Installing Guest Additions Limits Screen Resolution

When installing Linux on Oracle’s Virtual Box you might run into a problem whereby the host machine limits your screen resolution. You might just have two default resolutions supported, for me it was 800 x 600 and 1024 x 768.

The VBox User Manual says (I suggest you download it as a reference):

When guest systems with the Guest Additions installed are started using the graphical frontend (the normal VirtualBox application), they will not be allowed to use screen resolutions greater than the host’s screen size unless the user manually resizes them by dragging the window, switching to full screen or seamless mode or sending a video mode hint using VBoxManage.

Easy steps to overcoming this issue are:

  1. In your terminal run:
    sudo apt-get install virtualbox-4.2 (make sure that you have Virtual Box installed in your linux box (Ubuntu 12.04).
    Don’t forget to install your updates if you haven’t: sudo apt-get update
  2. Your next step is to run:
    VBoxManage setextradata global GUI/MaxGuestResolution any
  3. Restart your Linux VBX and head over to > Displays..

Note: these settings apply globally to all guest systems, not just to a single machine.