Canonical: Ubuntu TV Lives, But Linux Smartphones Come First

Canonical: Ubuntu TV Lives, But Linux Smartphones Come First

Canonical has not abandoned Ubuntu TV, but it is focusing for now on delivering smartphones powered by Ubuntu Linux, according to Community Manager Jono Bacon.

Canonical still wants you to power your TV with Ubuntu Linux—but it's more focused for now on smartphones. That's what Ubuntu Community Manager Jono Bacon reported in recent comments on the status of Ubuntu TV, an initiative Canonical unveiled a while ago but has since put on the back burner but has not abandoned, according to Bacon.

Describing Ubuntu TV as Canonical's "least active project," Bacon said it "has been put on something of a backburner as we focused on bringing these other form factors up. We showcased the TV and the TV is basically a product that works. It's still not as complete as we liked it to be."

He was referring to a demonstration of Ubuntu TV at CES 2012 back in January 2012, when Canonical showed that Ubuntu TV does indeed basically work. But the company has revealed few updates to the project since.

In the meantime, Canonical has put a lot more effort into building an Ubuntu-powered smartphone. Its attempt last summer to crowd-fund an innovative device called the Edge failed, but Ubuntu developers have continued their slow but steady march of integrating phone- and tablet-friendly features into the core Ubuntu operating system. Most of that work is coming in the form of updates to Unity, Canonical's homegrown interface for Ubuntu that aims to provide a seamless user experience on traditional PCs as well as mobile devices—and, maybe someday, TVs.

For now, the focus on phones (even if Canonical has yet to produce a truly revolutionary product on this front, or secure any meaningful partnerships with hardware vendors or ISVs) makes sense. It's much easier to imagine a major market for Ubuntu-powered smartphones—and channel partners who might be interested in working with Canonical to gain options beyond the Android and iOS world—than for TVs.

But since the technology for Ubuntu TV already apparently exists, at least "basically," Linux fans might hope that Canonical will let it into the wild sooner or later. Keeping it under wraps and away from the community for so long is actually a bit strange, unless the company is hoping to court partners with some kind of exclusive software deal.

At any rate, I do like my TV just as it is, and am much more interested in replacing the Android OS on my bug-plagued tablet with a polished version of Ubuntu.

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