In 2011, Canonical
the company that produces the Ubuntu operating system and is a leading player in cloud computing, server and Internet of Things, announced that it would produce an operating system based on Ubuntu that would run on desktop, phones, tablets – and just about anything else. The same operating system on all devices. By connecting your phone to a monitor and attaching a mouse or keyboard you would have a fully functioning desktop.
The result of this was that Ubuntu Touch went into development and the first smartphone that ran it, the BQ E4.5 Ubuntu Edition, was released in 2015. More phones followed and then two versions of the BQ M10 tablet. In addition to Ubuntu Touch apps the tablets also ran genuine desktop apps such as LibreOffice, Firefox web browser and GIMP. It felt as if full convergence was just around the corner – until Mark Shuttleworth wrote in his blog in April 2017 that, “we will end our investment in Unity8, the phone and convergence shell.”
However, the dream of convergence is not dead as the community stepped in. UBports, who had been porting Ubuntu Touch to a variety of devices took over the development of Ubuntu Touch with the aim of making real convergence a reality.
Already there are stable images based on Ubuntu 15.04 that run on all the official devices and a few others. The team are working on a major upgrade to base the image on Ubuntu 16.04 using the Halium project’s layer. The UBports project is attracting funding and sponsorship because there are plenty of people out there who still believe that convergence is a great idea, and that open source software, transparency and security are important.
The ability to do everything with just one device is clearly attractive. If you’re on the road why carry phone and laptop when a phone or tablet alone will do just as well? The fundamental principle of the smartphone is that it is NOT just a phone! Phones are devices that we use to email, blog, interact socially, message, browse the internet, make notes, take photos and edit them, listen to music and watch videos and much more besides – and sometimes we phone people to speak to them. The smartphone demands convergence.
UBports’ version of Ubuntu Touch will provide just that. Why restrict ourselves to what an iPhone or an Android device will allow us to do when a phone or a tablet running Ubuntu Touch means that, effectively, we can take our desktop with us everywhere we go and do everything that we need to do?
Convergence is the future of computing. Be part of that future.