Forget flash sales: The first Ubuntu Phone is now available to buy all the time

When the first Ubuntu phone launched, it was only available via limited-time “flash sales.” If you missed them, rejoice! You can now purchase an Ubuntu phone like you would any other product—if you live in the European Union, at least.

The phone in question here is the BQ Aquarius E4.5 Ubuntu Edition. It’s now available for purchase on BQ’s website for €169.90, or about $181 US. This is the same price the phone was offered in via flash sales, but those are done. Want an Ubuntu phone and live in the EU? You can get one for less than two hundred euros.

Make no mistake: BQ’s Ubuntu phone is a low-to-mid-range model. It offers a 540×960 resolution display, 8GB of internal storage, and 1 GB of RAM. But that’s to be expected. After all, it’s only 170 euros. You’d pay more than four times that price for a new, unlocked iPhone 6.

With this announcement, Ubuntu Phone just became much more available. We’ve gone from no phones, to one phone you could maybe get in one region, to—finally!—the first Ubuntu phone that you can always get in one region.

But don’t worry if you’re not in Europe. The BQ Aquarius E4.5 Ubuntu Edition is just the tip of the iceberg.

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Don’t live in the EU? A more powerful phone is coming

Canonical’s own website says there are “more Ubuntu phones coming soon.” And we know that Canonical is working with China’s Meizu on a Ubuntu smartphone. Canonical showed off Ubuntu running on a Meizu MX4 LTE phone at Mobile World Congress in March. Meizu’s phones should go on sale soon.

Forget flash sales: The first Ubuntu Phone is now available to buy all the time | PCWorld

Canonical’s Ubuntu Phone OS running on the Meizu MX4 LTE.

Previous rumors have suggested that Canonical might have the rights to sell these Meizu MX4 phones worldwide through their own online store. This would mean the rest of us could finally get our hands on a proper Ubuntu phone—not just Ubuntu running on not-officially-supported Nexus devices —and try it for ourselves.

The wait isn’t all bad. It may actually be for the best. The Meizu MX4 will be more of a “flagship” device, with a 1920×1152 display, at least 16 GB of internal storage, and 2 GB RAM. Ubuntu Phone should perform even better on this device, and it seems like this is the phone Canonical wants to present Ubuntu to the world on.

This flagship phone should be more expensive, though. Given the price of the equivalent Android model, I’d expect to see it retail somewhere around $350-$400 off-contract.

So, is it time to buy an Ubuntu phone if you live in the EU? Well, maybe—if you just can’t wait, or you’d rather get a more inexpensive Ubuntu phone.

Linux geeks looking forward to Canonical’s vision of convergence don’t need to rush, though. Ubuntu phone doesn’t yet offer the convergence features we’re all looking forward to, like the ability to plug them into a larger display and have your phone power a full Linux desktop. We might have to wait a few years to see that up and running. For now, the big selling point of Ubuntu phone is its unique interface.

via Forget flash sales: The first Ubuntu Phone is now available to buy all the time | PCWorld.

Six Popular Linux Desktop Environments

Unlike Windows and OS X, Linux allows you to fully customize not only the look and feel of your desktop, but also its functionality and settings, thanks to a host of desktop environments it offers. Different desktop environments offer different styles and options, and unavoidably, with choice often comes confusion.

Here’s an overview of the current most popular Linux desktop environments, so you can have a better idea about their core differences, what each has to offer and what could potentially suit you best.


Gnome, which stands for GNU Network Object Model Environment, is one of the oldest and most widely used Linux desktop environments. Its design goals include simplicity, accessibility, and ease of internationalization and localization.

The project was initiated in August 1997 by Miguel de Icaza and Federico Mena as a reaction against KDE. While Gnome 2.x was one of the most popular and well received versions of the desktop environment, Gnome 3.x, its latest offering which seems to be more inclined towards handheld devices, failed to impress a large section of its users.

Gnome’s user interface starts in the Activities Overview mode, which allows you to launch new applications, switch windows, and move them between workspaces. The dashboard on the left contains your favorite as well as currently active applications.

There’s a Show Applications icon at the bottom, clicking on which displays all applications installed on your system.You can also search for a specific application by using the search bar present at the top of the screen.

Pros: The interface is fast; Supports a lot of keyboard shortcuts.

Cons: Application search isn’t very smart; Requires time to become proficient.


Based on Gnome 3.x, the Cinnamon desktop environment aims to provide innovative features along with a Gnome 2.x-like user experience. The idea is to make users feel at home and provide them with an easy to use and comfortable desktop experience. At present, it is the default desktop for Linux Mint, but can also be installed on other Linux distros.

Cinnamon came into existence in 2012 after Gnome transitioned from version 2 to version 3, as the team behind Linux Mint felt that the new version did not fit the design goals they had in mind for the distribution. It started as a Gnome 3.x-based frontend, but soon became a complete desktop environment built on Gnome technologies.

Cinnamon provides a powerful and customizable, yet easy to use desktop layout. Out of the box, the desktop environment’s UI features a single panel located at the bottom of the screen, with applications menu on the left, and system tray, clock, notifications, and more on the right.

Applications can be added to your panel by right clicking on their icon and choosing ‘Add to panel’. You can easily change the panel layout to place it at the top or both top as well as bottom, or change its look and feel with applets and themes.

Pros: Combines the power of Gnome with its in-house features and applications; Easy to navigate.

Cons: Requires 3D acceleration, which means it might not work well for you depending on your machine’s graphics card and/or drivers; It might not be as stable as some of the more mature and established desktops.

Full Story: Six Popular Linux Desktop Environments – TechSpot.

Mint 17 is the perfect place for Linux-ers to wait out Ubuntu uncertainty

The team behind Linux Mint unveiled its latest update this week—Mint 17 using kernel 3.13.0-24, nicknamed “Qiana.” The new release indicates a major change in direction for what has quickly become one of the most popular Linux distros available today. Mint 17 is based on Ubuntu 14.04, and this decision appears to have one major driver. Consistency.

Like the recently released Ubuntu 14.04, Mint 17 is a Long Term Support Release. That means users can expect support to continue until 2019. But even better, this release marks a change in Mint’s relationship with Ubuntu. Starting with Mint 17 and continuing until 2016, every release of Linux Mint will be built on the same package base—Ubuntu 14.04 LTS. With this stability, instead of working to keep up with whatever changes Ubuntu makes in the next two years, Mint can focus on those things that make it Mint.

With major changes on the way for Ubuntu in the next two years, Mint’s decision makes a lot of sense. Not only does it free up the Mint team to focus on its two homegrown desktops (Cinnamon and MATE), but it also spares Mint users the potential bumpy road that is Ubuntu’s future.

In other words, Mint can sit back and work on perfecting its desktop while Ubuntu stumbles through the Mir and Unity 8 transitions. When things have settled down in Ubuntuland, Mint can jump back in with both feet (assuming it still wants to) when Ubuntu 16.04 LTS arrives. If all goes the way Mint developers intend, these changes will give Mint users a more polished, stable distro.

All of this makes Mint 17 an important release—it’s essentially what Mint will be working with for the next two years. Luckily, after spending some time with it, the good news is that Mint 17 will make a great base on which to build.

Linux Mint 17 Cinnamon

As with all Mint releases, there are two separate downloads available, one for the Cinnamon desktop and one for the MATE desktop. The more interesting of the two Mint 17 releases is the Cinnamon flavor, which features the just-released Cinnamon 2.2.

The Cinnamon desktop is a curious hybrid, combining some of the best elements of KDE with the best elements of the now-abandoned GNOME 2.x line. Cinnamon also has more than a few tricks of its own that build on those earlier foundations. It sounds like a recipe for a terrible Frankenstein of a desktop, but fortunately that’s not the case. Cinnamon ends up being perhaps the most user-friendly and all-around useful desktop available on any platform.

Now, Cinnamon has problems, but fortunately 2.2 solves many of the worst. It’s much faster and much more stable than previous releases. In fact, if you tried out Cinnamon even just a few releases ago and dismissed it as slow and buggy (can’t say we blame you; it was), we highly suggest you give it another try in Mint 17.

Among the more noticeable changes in Cinnamon 2.2 is the revamped system settings panel, which is no longer divided up into the somewhat arbitrary sections “normal” and “advanced.” Here there are just settings. The various settings panels are all in one place and have been reorganized into some basic categories that make it easy to find what you’re looking for, while also allowing you to change it.

Full Story: Mint 17 is the perfect place for Linux-ers to wait out Ubuntu uncertainty | Ars Technica.

Canonical bug report suggests audacious Ubuntu for Android project may be dead

The idea was audacious: Combine Android, the most popular mobile version of Linux, with Ubuntu, the leading Linux desktop operating system, on a single smartphone that swapped between the two depending on whether the device was docked. Alas, Ubuntu for Android seems to have moved off the active roster as Canonical focuses on its own Ubuntu Touch project, and a new exchange on a Ubuntu project-tracking website seems to suggest Ubuntu for Android may be dead.

Matthew Paul Thomas, an interface designer with Canonical, opened a bug report on, stating that “[The website] describes Ubuntu for Android as ‘the must-have feature for late-2012 high-end Android phones’. Ubuntu for Android is no longer in development, so this page should be retired.”

Well, that sounds ominous. (The thread in question has been scrubbed from Launchpad, but you can still see a Google-cached version of it.) Canonical developer Anthony Dillon then asked web director Peter Mahnke to check on the situation. Here’s Mahnke’s reply:

“We do check if this and the tv page should be kept on the site. currently the answer is yes. I have removed the 2012 text.”

I’ve asked Canonical to comment on the status of Ubuntu for Android.

If the project is indeed joining Ubuntu One in the deadpool, it can’t quite be called a surprise. Canonical has yet to convince phone makers to preload Ubuntu for Android on phones, while phones running on the company’s Ubuntu Touch OS are slated to hit the streets this very year, after thirst for the OS was fueled by Canonical’s massive Ubuntu Edge smartphone crowdfunding campaign. There are only so many hands to go around, after all.

via Canonical bug report suggests audacious Ubuntu for Android project may be dead | PCWorld.

Ubuntu coming to your smartphone “late February”

The mobile phone market is fierce. Handset manufacturers aside, there are four major smartphone operating systems fighting for your attention. Android, Blackberry OS, iOS and Windows Phone all want your hard earned cash and have more than capable hardware to give you what you want. But soon, there’ll be a fifth platform vying for your attention.

Following their announcement and reveal last week, Canonical’s Alan Pope has said that an installable image of Ubuntu for the Galaxy Nexus handset will be available “late February.” The source code will also be made available.
With the OS still in development and the Galaxy Nexus as the handset being used to demo the OS, anyone wishing to install the OS shouldn’t expect a fully featured experience. The phone experience – calling and texting – work a treat, and the design and fluidity of the OS is a joy. But there is a distinct lack of an app store and incomplete features and functionality, like the Webkit-based browser.
But if you fancy getting your Linux on, on a smartphone, keep your eyes peeled and ear to the ground and grab the image when it is made available.
via Ubuntu coming to your smartphone “late February”.

10 reasons to choose Ubuntu 12.10 over Windows 8

Microsoft’s Windows 8 dominated countless headlines in the weeks leading up to its launch late last month, but October saw the debut of another major operating system as well.
Canonical’s Ubuntu 12.10 “Quantal Quetzal” arrived a week ahead of its competitor, in fact, accompanied by a challenge: “Avoid the pain of Windows 8.” That slogan appeared on the Ubuntu home page for the first few hours after the OS’s official launch, and attracted considerable attention.
Apparently Canonical decided to tone down its message later in the day—the slogan now reads “Your wish is our command”—but it seems fair to say that the underlying challenge remains.

Full Story: 10 reasons to choose Ubuntu 12.10 over Windows 8 | PCWorld.

Review: Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal a mix of promise, pain

Write this down: Ubuntu 12.10, the late-year arrival from Canonical’s six-month standard release factory, marks the first new release within the company’s current long-term support cycle. Got it? Good, because it may be the best takeaway from the latest Ubuntu release, codenamed Quantal Quetzal. After that, it’s a bit of a rocky ride.
The product’s development lineage is important to note from more of a business/adoption side perspective. The release of Ubuntu 12.04 LTS in April was Canonical’s fourth long-term support product and signaled the end of one full two-year development cycle. Quantal Quetzal is the first standard release on the road to pushing out Ubuntu 14.04 LTS in Spring 2014 (undoubtedly to be codenamed “Uber-rocking Unicorn” if the pattern holds), and it sets up themes and directions which will mature over the next two years.
Standard releases aren’t terribly different from the bi-annual LTS products, though they tend to be slightly less conservative in code offerings. The Ubuntu development community lets off the brakes a little and sticks some shiny back in.
Ubuntu 12.10 is no exception, so make no mistake—there’s some shiny goodness in this release. We’ll get into what makes this a decent desktop and even more decent server release. But there’s a little tarnish mixed in, too, and that makes Ubuntu 12.10 less special than previous editions.
Full Story: Review: Ubuntu 12.10 Quantal Quetzal a mix of promise, pain | Ars Technica.