The four faces of Ubuntu

Ubuntu is shifting its OS to cover televisions, smartphones and tablets as well as PCs. Here, we look at the four different versions of Ubuntu being created.

Ubuntu for the PC

A Recommended award winner in our recent Linux distro Labs, Ubuntu remains the most accessible distro on the market, thanks to its smart interface, integrated Software Centre, built-in cloud storage and the ability to install it from within Windows.

Version 13.04 (Raring Ringtail) will be out shortly with minor tweaks, including improvements to the OS’s Dash search facility that will, for example, allow you to search for and preview music tracks online without opening a browser window.

Ubuntu 12.10


We’re yet to see Ubuntu TV embedded in a television, more than a year after it was first unveiled. The familiar Unity interface translates well to the big screen, but the feature list offers little that isn’t already found in set-top boxes or rival platforms, such as Google TV.

Perhaps the most intriguing feature is tailored playlists, which allow each person in the household to create their own selection of recorded shows, so there’s no need to wade through 86 episodes of Peppa Pig to find Match of the Day.

Ubuntu TV


Ubuntu’s smartphone OS will be familiar to desktop users, with a swipeable column of favourite app icons emerging from the left-hand side of the screen, and the Dash facility that allows you to search across all content on the phone – be it music, email or ebooks – and have the results delivered in one, clearly presented screen.

Early demos showed there’s plenty of work to do on performance, but Canonical claims the absence of a Java virtual machine will make Ubuntu run much more smoothly than Android on low-end handsets.

Ubuntu Smartphones


Ubuntu finally showed off the fourth plank of its OS strategy in February, with details of the tablet interface. The tablet version will offer a feature called “Side Stage” that allows tablet and smartphone apps to run simultaneously on a tablet screen, in a similar vein to Windows 8.

The big question is whether third-party developers can design touch-friendly apps. “We’ve played a big role in focusing the community writ large’s attention on design,” says Canonical CEO Jane Silber. “Many talk about design in ways they never did before.”

Ubuntu Tablet

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