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Ubuntu joins the touchy, feely Linux shouting match

28 Feb 13

The thot just plickened where mobile technology is concerned, as Ubuntu shows off (yet another) Linux for the handset up in Barcelona.

It’s touch-driven interface joins a market that is surprisingly well populated, beyond the Android and iOS staples we all know. Yes, yes, and Windows Phone, though you chaps only have 2% globally.

Ubuntu* is based on Debian and named for some touchy-feely South African philosophy about how…well, you can Google that yourself. Nerds everywhere will no doubt squeal in joy knowing that the darling of the open source industry is going to be in tablets and handsets. Um. Again.

Up at the Barca Mobile World Congress, the chaps at CNET are already going all gooey on getting their paws on to various devices powered by Ubuntu.

But what kind of a market does a new mobile OS face up to? Well, as you know, we’ve got iOS (itself based on UNIX, ultimately), Android (another Linux distro, effectively), and there’s Windows Phone 7, 7.8, 8.

We’ve also got Firefox OS (more Linux), Tizen (more Linux), Bada (which Samsung is killing in favour of Tizen). There’s even something called Sailfish, which, incredibly enough, is based on…Linux.

There is, as you will gather, no shortage of mobile operating systems. At the same time, the appeal of an OS is directly tied to numbers; numbers of users mean numbers of developers, which means numbers of apps, which means appeal to users and more numbers.

Competition and innovation is always a good thing, but it would take something special, very special, to elevate Ubuntu from the noise. Not even Microsoft, with its massive resources, is able to convince consumers to move en masse to Windows Phone.

*Pronounced ‘Ooo-booon-too’. Trust me. I’m a Saffa*.

**This may be counterintuitive, because I’m a Saffa.