101: Ubuntu for Android – dual OS on a dual-core smartphone

What is Ubuntu for Android?

Ubuntu for Android is a complete Ubuntu (Linux/Unix based) desktop for docked Android phones. It was formally announced at MWC 2012. The Press release is here.

Here’s Canonical‘s guide to what Ubuntu for Android could offer handset manufacturers if they decided to implement it.

Overview

Ubuntu for Android provides a full desktop experience, including office software, web browsing, email and media applications, on Android phones docked to a screen and keyboard.

Thanks to tight integration with the Android service layer, the transition between the two environments is seamless, making it easy to access the phone’s services from the desktop when docked.

Secure full-featured web

Sit back and enjoy a full desktop browser for multi-tab, multi-window web productivity. Ubuntu supports both Chromium and Firefox, the world’s fastest browsers, and is naturally resistant to web malware, which is why enterprises and governments are adopting Ubuntu on desktops.

Surf on the move with the Android browser, then dock to continue your session on the desktop. You get the same web pages, the same bookmarks and the same browsing history, with all the real-estate of a desktop. Using web applications with a full keyboard and mouse is so much better than a tablet when you’re at a desk, even in a hotel.

Unified contacts

Both Ubuntu and Android access the same mobile address book. So even when the phone is docked, you can view, edit, call, text or email a contact. You can even check their profiles on Facebook or Twitter.

Calendar coordination

As with your contacts, your Android calendar data is shared with Ubuntu. This enables synchronisation with any desktop or web-based calendar application, like Google Calendar.

Messaging and calls

Read and reply to incoming SMS messages from the desktop, using Ubuntu’s message indicator. You can also make and receive calls via the desktop – and you’ll be alerted to voicemails so you can manage them while you work.

Simple integrated settings

Alarm clock settings on the phone can be synchronised to alert you when working in the Ubuntu environment. You’ll have one place to enter Wi-fi passwords and one place to pair your Bluetooth headset, then everything just works.

Photos

Manage and view photos stored on your smartphone using the Ubuntu Gallery application. Then edit them on the Ubuntu desktop and save them back to the phone. Create, edit and consume, all on one device.

Social networking services

All your Android social network account credentials are synchronised seamlessly, using the Ubuntu social networking client to provide easy access to your online communities.

Technical specifications

Ubuntu for Android requires minimal custom hardware enablement, allowing fast and cost-efficient core integration. It requires a core based on Android 2.3 (Gingerbread) or any subsequent version.

Ubuntu and Android share the same kernel. When docked, the Ubuntu OS boots and runs concurrently with Android. This allows both mobile and desktop functionality to co-exist in different runtimes.

Shared services and applications are delivered using a Convergence API module which ensures the tight integration between desktop and mobile environments.

Work is balanced across the cores of the phone. When the handset is not docked, both CPU cores transfer their full power to Android.

Handset hardware requirements

Dual-core 1GHz CPU
Video acceleration: shared kernel driver with associated X driver; Open GL, ES/EGL
Storage: 2GB for OS disk image
HDMI: video out with secondary frame buffer device
USB host mode
512 MB RAM

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