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Ubuntu delays its planned PC mobile convergence

The desktop isn't quite right
Thu Feb 13 2014, 14:48

LINUX DISTRIBUTION Ubuntu will not offer cross-platform apps as soon as it had hoped.

Canonical had raised hopes that its plan for Ubuntu to span PCs and mobile devices would be realised with the upcoming Ubuntu 14.04 release, providing a write-once, run-on-many template similar to that planned by Google for its Chrome OS and Android app convergence.

This is already possible on paper and the infrastructure is in place on smartphone and tablet versions of Ubuntu through its new Unity 8 user interface.

However, Canonical has decided to postpone the rollout of Unity 8 for desktop machines, citing security concerns, and it will now not appear along with the Mir display server this coming autumn.

This will apply only to apps in the Ubuntu store, and in the true spirit of open source, anyone choosing to step outside that ecosystem will be able to test the converged Ubuntu before then.

Ubuntu community manager Jono Bacon told Ars Technica, "We don't plan on shipping apps in the new converged store on the desktop until Unity 8 and Mir lands.

"The reason is that we use app insulation to (a) run apps securely and (b) not require manual reviews (so we can speed up the time to get apps in the store). With our plan to move to Mir, our app insulation doesn't currently insulate against X apps sniffing events in other X apps. As such, while Ubuntu SDK apps in click packages will run on today's Unity 7 desktop, we don't want to make them readily available to users until we ship Mir and have this final security consideration in place.

"Now, if a core-dev or motu wants to manually review an Ubuntu SDK app and ship it in the normal main/universe archives, the security concern is then taken care of with a manual review, but we are not recommending this workflow due to the strain of manual reviews."

As well as the aforementioned security issues, there are still concerns that cross-platform apps don't look quite as good on the desktop as native desktop versions and the intervening six months will be used to polish the user experience.

Getting the holistic experience right is essential for Ubuntu in order to attract OEMs to the converged operating system. Attempts to crowdfund its own Ubuntu handset fell short of its ambitious $20m target, despite raising $10.2 million, the single largest crowdfunding total to date. µ


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