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Preview Ubuntu On Your Nexus Smartphones and Tablets This Thursday

By Wesley Fenlon

Ubuntu's coming to your friendly neighborhood Android device--so long as it's a Nexus, that is.

AT CES in January we got to look at (but not touch) Ubuntu for smartphones, Canonical's big attempt to expand beyond Linux desktops and laptops and take a stab at a hotter market. An Ubuntu smartphone OS isn't such a wild idea--after all, Google's Android is built on Linux, too. Now, not too surprisingly, Canonical has announced plans to put Ubuntu on tablets. Ars Technica reports that developer previews of Ubuntu for smartphones and Ubuntu for tablets will be released this Thursday. The OS builds can be installed on the Nexus 4 and Galaxy Nexus phones and Nexus 7 and 10 tablets.

Ubuntu for tablets targets devices with screens measuring six inches to 20 inches. Installations for an early build of Ubuntu will be available at Ubuntu's app developer site, and Canonical plans to update its SDK to support tablet app development.

Ars notes that tablets and phones running Ubuntu will be able to dock with a keyboard/mouse/monitor setup to serve as a portable PC. This will require at least a quad-core Cortex A9 or Intel Atom processor and a gig of RAM in the smartphones; Canonical hasn't said what Ubuntu for tablets will require to dock and turn into a PC, but we'd expect similar spec requirements.

The PC mode definitely targets business users, as it offers access to some Windows applications by operating as a thin client. Ars also writes that the mobile OS will support disk encryption, multiple user accounts and IT management software.

Canonical expects Ubuntu phones and tablets to ship around this time next year, but the software itself will be available around October. Supposedly just about every phone that runs Android could run Ubuntu, so we may see quite a burst of activity in the Android hacking scene this fall.