News Analysis: The Linux developer community is poised for a number of changes in 2011 that will revamp the open source operating system with new versions and interface changes for the latest mobile devices and set-top boxes.
With all the excitement surrounding Android and other open
source projects like the MeeGo Linux-based mobile operating system project, the
Linux open source operating system seems to be getting less attention these
Advocates have been predicting the "year of desktop Linux"
almost ten years now, but this year's focus seems to be on how developers are
updating Linux for today's mobile devices.
Linux will be making a play for the tablet market, competing
with the wave of Android tablets, Apple's iPad, The BlackBerry PlayBook, the long-promised
MeeGo, and the expected Microsoft Windows 7-based units this year. Some hints about
a Linux tablet, long teased by Canonical as "coming in 2011," emerged in
December from Taiwan-based TENQ.
As promised by Canonical earlier in 2010, the Ubuntu tablet
from TENQ will run a derivative of Ubuntu 10.10, also known as Maverick
Meerkat, which has been optimized for touch, according to GizChina
who had the exclusive images of the upcoming device.
The specifications for TENQ's P07 promise a 10.1-inch touch
tablet with an Intel Atom 1.66 Ghz processor, 2 GB of RAM, and a 32 GB SSD hard
drive. TENQ is also claiming to include HDMI and USB ports, Wi-Fi and Bluetooth
connectivity. It will also have a built-in webcam, a Micro SD card reader, and
a "cover with built-in keyboard," according to reports.
There is a lot of potential for a Linux tablet, since there
is no need for a separate App Store. The Ubuntu tablet would just extend the
Linux desktop to yet another device. Canonical's Chris Kenyon, vice president
of alliances and OEM services has said that the company had plans for pushing
Ubuntu into automotive systems, tablets, set-top-boxes, and digital devices.
Maverick Meerkat is being modified to improve its touch capabilities and the
new Unity interface is supposed to simplify user experience on the tablet.
The shift to the Unity graphical user interface represents a
dramatic shift for Linux desktop. Canonical sent shock waves through the Linux
community in October when its founder, Mark Shuttleworth, announced that Ubuntu
will abandon the X Window interface in favor of Wayland for its graphical stack, and that
all future Ubuntu
distributions will ship with a Unity
interface by default. Ubuntu had the GNOME
interface as the default in the desktop and laptop versions and the new Unity
interface in the netbook version. Canonical decided that Unity represented the
interfaces that users wanted to work on the latest Linux devices and
applications, said Shuttleworth.