The Ubuntu Linux operating system started off as a server and desktop operating system. Today Ubuntu has become much more, extending out to TVs, phones and now tablets.
Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth today announced the new Ubuntu Tablet interface. For Shuttleworth, the Ubuntu Tablet is a natural extension of his company's convergence strategy.
"It's exactly the same code that will give you a phone, tablet, TV or PC experience," Shuttleworth said during a press conference today. "It is one single platform that adapts itself and presents the optimal experience for each type of device."
The Ubuntu Linux tablet is set to offer a number of features that go beyond what tablet leader Apple is currently providing with the iPad. For one, Ubuntu Tablet will provide secure multi-user capabilities. Personal data for each user can be encrypted to provide an additional layer of security and content isolation.
From a hardware perspective, Ubuntu for Tablets will be compatible with silicon that supports the Linux-oriented Board Support Package (BSP). As such, hardware architectures that currently support Android can potentially be leveraged to run Ubuntu for Tablets.
Shuttleworth said that Canonical will not be building its own hardware, but rather will work with hardware partners.
The Ubuntu Tablet announcement follows Shuttleworth's announcement of Ubuntu for Phones in January. The Tablet experience is going to part of the same Touch Developer Preview of Ubuntu that will be made available on February 21st. Canonical will be providing installation instructions to enable Ubuntu for Phones or Tablets on the Nexus 7 and 10 tablets as well as the Galaxy Nexus smartphone.
Since the Ubuntu for Tablets experience is based on the same code as the rest of Ubuntu Linux, Shuttleworth expect an easy on-ramp for application developers.
On the HTML5 application front, Shuttleworth said that Ubuntu for Tablets will be supported by the open source PhoneGap framework. PhoneGap is an open source effort now owned by Adobe that enables cross platform mobile development.
Mobile Device Management
As part of the convergence story, Canonical's existing management tools will also be leveraged for BYOD and Mobile Device Management (MDM).
The Canonical Landscape platform is currently used to manage Ubuntu servers and cloud installations. Shuttleworth noted that there is still much work to be done, but his company will have a compelling enterprise management story.
"Ubuntu tablets should present on the network as just another Ubuntu device," Shuttleworth said. "By using common APIs and a common approach across phones, tablets and PCs we will be able to do things like standardized remote management and the ability to lockdown a device."