New Linux-based Handheld OSes on the Horizon – Watch out Android

Ubuntu for Phones, from Canonical

(Announced January 2, 2013)

Big Ideas – One operating system for your PC, Laptop, Tablet, Phone, TV, etc… Desktop Linux based, years of being the top Desktop Linux distro for end users, (Ubuntu is already on phones with Ubuntu for Android)

Firefox OS from Mozilla

(First announced in 2011 as Boot to Gecko, Demoed in 2012, you can test it now on your computer.)

Big Ideas – Years of web-based experience – reaching back into the days of Netscape, HTML-5 and Javascript based, heavy cloud integration, (Firefox was one of the first browsers to offer Extensions which were/are really just Apps built into the browser)

SailfishOS, from Jolla

(UI presented publicly for the first time on November 22, 2012)

Big Ideas – Beauty, simplicity, openness, Jolla is made up of a lot of the developers from Nokia who worked on Meego and Maemo before that, this is the spiritual successor the the Nokia N-Series Internet Tablets, like the N-770, the N-800, the N-810, and the N-900. Maemo offered a lot of the Desktop Linux apps on your phone/device years ago. (I personally use a N-900 running Maemo as my only phone, and it has on it.)

What do you think?  Do any of these catch your attention?  Do you think we’ll be more than a 2-horse race in 2014?

5 thoughts on “New Linux-based Handheld OSes on the Horizon – Watch out Android”

  1. It appears as if they’ve completely dropped any reference to Ubuntu being a Linux distribution. I wonder if Ubuntu has a chance on phones. Most phone consumers could care less about the phone OS; all they probably know is what their friends use.

    • That is weird, but you are right, I searched several pages of the Ubuntu website (Features, why is it free, what is ubuntu, take the tour, etc.) and not one reference to the word Linux anywhere. Now, if I use the search feature to find “Linux” on the site, there are tons of hits, but if I wasn’t looking for that word, I wouldn’t find it. It wasn’t until I scrolled to the bottom of the home page and under Project I found “About Ubuntu” (not the big “What is Ubuntu” link on the homepage, but the small “About Ubuntu” on the bottom) there it mentions Linux.

      I don’t see it as any attempt to hide what Ubuntu is, but to simply limit the number of weird sounding techno words that an end user has to deal with. If a user knows what Linux is, and has a positive perception of it, they know Ubuntu is Linux. If they have heard of Linux, maybe, but think of it as “some weird hacker thing” or “that crappy OS my geek brother-in-law tried to get me to use in 2002 that wouldn’t play any of my games or run Microsoft Office” then it’s better from a marketing standpoint to not bring up the Linux connection.

      Android doesn’t really reference Linux at all in their marketing either. Nor does TiVo. “Linux” is far from the selling point. The selling point is the user experience.

      Like you said, most consumers don’t care about the OS. They care about their experience, their comfort, their social standing, and a lot of other things.

      I don’t know if “what their friends use” is as big a deal as “I’ve heard of this before”. Few people like trying something completely unknown on something that for most people is mission critical. Of course, 6 years ago, few people except maybe some Palm and Blackberry users even realized their phones /had/ operating systems.

  2. I’m really looking forward to Ubuntu on phones and tablets. I’ve aways hated the limitations of mobile operating systems. I want a tablet that can do a better job of downloading files, that can do real productivity, edit photos, and has a decent word processor . A device that I can dock and use as a pc, that has real inputs unlike Apple products. This is great for people who do more than shop, tweet, and upload photos of their lunch to face book.

    • I have the same dream. One device to rule them all.

      Android is almost there now, if you get the right hardware. A tablet with OTG and HDMI can very much be used as a desktop/laptop computer. They even sell set-top boxes and laptops/netbooks running Android. That said, Ubuntu would be better, assuming it is truly Ubuntu and can run all the applications (not just apps) that Ubuntu can run.

      But just because the operating system is built for phones, doesn’t mean the applications will automatically work. The types of processors are different between a phone and a PC. The applications won’t need to be rewritten, necessarily, but at least recompiled. Until that happens, no matter how powerful the hardware is, and no matter what operating system it is running, the applications that aren’t compiled for phone processors just won’t work.

      Fortunately, though, with so many applications for Linux being open source, it just takes one or two enthusiastic people with programming knowledge to make that happen for whatever application you need. A lot of programs are already compiled for phone processors. (Note the above mentioned presence of Desktop Linux applications on my phone.)

  3. For the record – WordPress is maddening. It’s great and all that it can just post YouTube videos if you just paste in the URL – but why in the name of all that is good and holy does it eat the HTML embed code without so much as a warning and not leave so much as a trace for you to still have the links? Since it is so “smart” to see the YouTube URL and magically embed the videos could it not see the embed code and magically, idk, EMBED THE VIDEOS?


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