Thursday, May 10, 2012

Ubuntu For The World - The Future!?

It isn't a matter of foreseeing, it isn't a theory, it isn't either because I am psychic, but I believe that Linux would have taken much longer to reach the position where Ubuntu has taken it in such a short span of time. Linux was there since the very beginning, and it is here to stay, no doubt, but it's a fact that only the so-called "power users" would have been using Linux by now if Ubuntu wasn't around. It wouldn't have gained this much attention in the wider public or the so-called "end users" group. I remember surprising everyone with the word "Linux" a while back. The first reaction used to be, "What is that? The latest version of Windows?", when I told somebody that I am running Linux on my PC, and that isn't from decades ago, I am talking about pre-2007 era.

Now, people recognize my OS straight away and try to tell me, "You are running Ubuntu!?", but most of them still can't pronounce "Ubuntu" correctly. :D I don't know if they would have recognized any other Linux also as Ubuntu, as this is probably the only name they know. But that is a win for Ubuntu, definitely, and also for Linux in general, otherwise they would have known 'nothing'.

This article isn't meant to praise Canonical, or Mark Shuttleworth, for what they've done. It isn't a marketing tactic and it isn't meant to lure you into ditching your current non-Ubuntu OS and start using Ubuntu, if you haven't already. It isn't either meant to take away anything from other Linux distributions, specially Debian, which is the parent distribution for Ubuntu, and nor from other projects without which the evolution of Ubuntu and the survival of Linux would have been a dream. But we can at least admit and admire the facts, can't we?

We admire Microsoft for what they have been delivering on the desktop. We admire Apple for their innovations in the desktop and mobile platforms departments. We are also aware that Android is something even greater than anything else, and also based on Linux. But, are we aware of everything that Ubuntu is bringing and what it promises to bring in the future?

Companies already supporting Ubuntu

Big companies, and those ones which actually seek profits, have started to jump into Ubuntu's boat. System76, HP, Dell, Lenovo, Asus and Acer have already been doing business with Canonical since a while and most of them plan this year to raise the number of PC/laptop models that come with Ubuntu pre-installed. Ubuntu for Android has been announced and will be available later this year. Ubuntu TV is also in works. Ubuntu phones and tablets will also make it to the markets anytime soon. And now, Electronic Arts (EA) is also in the 'game' and would probably supply Ubuntu-native games if the "trial" is successful. A "trial" because they are probably looking after the public response by supplying two browser-based games via the Ubuntu Software Center. If they feel it is positive, they will probably go ahead with Linux-native game development. And we shouldn't blame EA for this as it is a profit-seeking company and they definitely don't want to undergo losses in the process.

So, doesn't that mean that Linux, and more specifically Ubuntu, is gaining all the popularity and attention that it actually deserves? Probably, almost everyone already knows that more than 90% of the servers worldwide are running Linux but that doesn't change the game for "end users". Will the things mentioned above change how Linux is perceived on desktops, laptops and tablets? Let's wait and see.

Electronic Arts and Ubuntu

Yesterday, as indicated above, two EA games were made available in the Ubuntu Software Center. These are the popular strategy game "Lord of Ultima" and the world resource domination game "Command & Conquer Tiberium Alliances". Both of them are web apps/HTML5-based and would run in your preferred web browser rather than as a native application. You can search the Software Center and install these games.

Probably, EA wants to confirm the user base of Ubuntu and the scope of gaming among its users. Please go ahead and install those two games and give them a try if you want to help bring more games to Ubuntu.

Steam for Linux

Not a rumour anymore, it has been confirmed that Valve is developing Steam for Linux. They are not just porting Steam to Linux, they are also porting its Source engine. The first game that will be ported is "Left 4 Dead 2", because they think it is the most stable code-base for initial porting.

Ubuntu for Android

Ubuntu for Android, not to be confused with "Ubuntu Phone", is designed to run the usual Ubuntu OS on up-to-date spec'ed Android phones and provide a full desktop experience when the phone is docked to a monitor and a keyboard. It would provide all the basic functionalities of a desktop, including office software, web browsing, e-mail capabilities and multimedia playback. It would also feature 'Unified Contacts', so that you can search your Android phonebook right from the Unity Dash. The same way, Android calendar data will also be synced to Ubuntu. Your photos, stored on the phone, will also be accessible via Ubuntu as well. Moreover, you'd be alerted for any incoming calls and messages. You can reply to those or even make new calls and messages from within Ubuntu as well.

Recently, they have released a new video that features opening of document files from the phone in LibreOffice:

Ubuntu TV

Ubuntu TV, announced earlier this year, will support terrestrial, cable and satellite broadcast for standard or high definition content with integrated electronic programme guides (EPGs), as well as support integration of YouTube.

Ubuntu Phones and Tablets

No official release date for Ubuntu Phone and Tablet is known other than Mark Shuttleworth himself stating in a blog post on October 31st last year that it would happen before Ubuntu 14.04. A recent job posting offering the position of a "Business Development Manager (Ubuntu Phone OS)" was revealed in April this year, which confirmed that Canonical is quite serious about this stuff. The role of the Business Development Manager was defined as:

Canonical is seeking a business development lead to engage and develop strong relationships with industry partners in the run up to the launch of Ubuntu as a smartphone operating system.

So, probably they have cooked something which is almost ready to be launched?

Ubuntu Phone mock-up by deviantART user Musl1m
The Bottom Line?

Sure, EA games aren't exclusive to Ubuntu and we have been playing many of those on several different gaming platforms since years. Same way, Steam isn't something new for gamers either. EA games and Steam themselves don't sound as a revolution as we are already quite familiar with those. But, at least, the arrival of commercial applications, from big companies, on an open source OS sounds as a revolution. Who would have thought that by 2012, we will be able to play EA games on Ubuntu without WINE? And this is just the beginning.

But the other stuff that Ubuntu promises to bring in the near future, including Ubuntu for Android, Ubuntu TV and Ubuntu Phone surely sounds like a revolution. The biggest benefit of using these products would be seamless data syncing between all of my personal devices from a single place that can be Ubuntu One, another Ubuntu/Canonical product.

With the arrival of these Ubuntu platforms, and the expectation of Canonical's Chris Canyon that Ubuntu will be shipped on 5% of all PCs that will be sold next year, if that actually comes true, Ubuntu can easily reach the 200-million-users mark by 2015 which it is aiming for.

In the meantime, the Ubuntu Developer Summit for Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal is currently going on in California, USA. There will be plans, new features, and probably something more to write about in the coming days and weeks.

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