Exploring Ubuntu Touch, the other Linux OS for your phone

The chances are good that if you’re buying a smartphone or tablet in 2013, you’re buying something with iOS or Android on it. The two operating systems loom so large over their competitors that even the entrenched, deep-pocketed Microsoft has had trouble making headway into this market with its Windows Phone, Windows 8, and Windows RT systems.
Google and Apple’s combined dominance hasn’t stopped others from trying, though. New mobile operating systems have been springing up like weeds in the last six months. RIM (now BlackBerry) finally launched the long-awaited BlackBerry 10 and BlackBerry Z10 in an attempt to overhaul its image. Mozilla is making Firefox OS in an effort to tackle developing markets and prove that a browser is all you really need. And Canonical wants to take Ubuntu beyond the desktop with Ubuntu Touch.
We got a not-quite-hands-on test drive of a 12.10-based version of Ubuntu’s mobile operating system back at CES, but the OS images were recently updated to Ubuntu 13.04 when Raring Ringtail was introduced at the end of last month. Though Ubuntu Touch won’t be available at retail before the end of this year at the earliest, we figured now is an opportune time to check in and see how things are going.
It can’t be stressed enough that even in this updated form, Ubuntu Touch is nowhere near usable as a mainstream mobile operating system. Canonical makes no claim that it is. For now, the software is about half development environment and half proof-of-concept tech demo. As such, we aren’t going to be evaluating Ubuntu Touch using quite the same criteria we’d use for a shipping product—we’re going to be focusing more on how the OS looks and works and less on how it performs. As we get closer to Ubuntu 14.04 and presumably Ubuntu Touch’s retail availability, we’ll certainly be revisiting it with a more critical eye.
Smell you later, Android: Installing Ubuntu Touch

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