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Ubuntu for Your Smartphone

  • November 1, 2011
  • By Sean Kerner

There are many different screens on the Linux Planet, and Ubuntu wants to be on as many of them as it can. This week, Ubuntu founder Mark Shuttleworth delivered his new vision for his Linux distribution platform, even as others aim to build Linux from scratch.

1. Ubuntu Heading to Smartphone/Tablets

Computing isn't just about servers or desktops anymore. In the post-PC era, computing is about mobile devices, including smartphones and tablets. It's a world where Linux already holds a strong position by way of Android. In the view of Mark Shuttleworth, it's a market that Ubuntu Linux needs to get into as well.

Shuttleworth delivered his message of Ubuntu's "smart" future at the Ubuntu Developer Summit this week in Florida. Shuttleworth wants to see Ubuntu on an array of smart screens including smartphones and tablets.

Sitting underneath all those screens will be the Unity framework, which he described as being the unifying element of Ubuntu. The ironic element, of course, is that Unity in the broader Linux community has been anything but unifying, providing a divisive element for the community.

While Ubuntu follows a predictable release cycle, don't expect to see Ubuntu on smartphone just yet. Shuttleworth figures it will take at least two years.

2. Ubuntu Reaches 20 Million Users

During Shuttleworth's keynote he casually dropped the fact that he figures Ubuntu has some 20 million users. That's a non-trivial amount of users and citizens of the Linux Planet.

That said, Ubuntu isn't necessarily the most widely used or deployed Linux distribution. The Fedora Project, which bases its usage assessment based on the identification of unique IP addresses that update Fedora packages, shows a higher number of users.

As of Nov. 1, 2011, the Fedora project counts nearly 35 million unique IPs running Fedora that have connected with Fedora servers for updates.

While it's a fun exercise to try and guesstimate the number of Linux users for any given Linux distribution, the Fedora Project tells us all that it simply cannot be done.

"Currently, there is no reliable way to determine the total number of Linux users, or even count the total number of users of any Linux distribution which does not have a mandatory per user registration process," Fedora's usage stats page states. "Anyone who tells you otherwise may be misinformed, dishonest, or trying to sell you something."

3. Linux from Scratch 7.0

While most people who use Linux use a Linux distribution of some sort, some like to build their own, from scratch. That's where the Linux From Scratch (LFS) project comes in, which released LFS 7.0 this week.

LFS provides a manual for those who want to learn how to build their own Linux distro from the ground up.

"Building an LFS system helps demonstrate what makes Linux tick, and how things work together and depend on each other," the LFS 7.0 release states. "One of the best things that this learning experience can provide is the ability to customize a Linux system to suit your own unique needs."

4. Chrome 15

On the software front, Linux users got a new version of Google's Chrome web browser this past week. The new browser fixes a long list of security flaws for which Google paid out more than $26,000 in rewards to security researchers.

Chrome 15 also provides a refresh of the new tab page as well as the Chrome apps interface.

5. Mozilla Builds Firefox for Bing

While Google was out updating Chrome, Mozilla was out making a new custom version of Firefox with Bing as the default search engine.

Mozilla has a deal with Google for search revenue share for searches done from the Firefox browser. That deal is set to expire this month and no public comment has yet come from either company about whether or not the deal is being renewed.

Google remains the default search provider for now, and even if Mozilla was to change the default provider, Linux users can simply alter their home page and default search provider preference.

Last year, Ubuntu toyed with the idea of using Yahoo as the default search engine for Firefox, but it never followed through in a general availability release.

Sean Michael Kerner is a senior editor at InternetNews.com, the news service of Internet.com, the network for technology professionals.

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