Bossa Conference 2008: Ubuntu for UMPCs

Mar 19, 2008

Ubuntu Mobile and Embedded (UME) will be out soon, and Linux Magazine Brazil had a preview at Bossa Conference 2008, presented by Adilson Oliveira from Canonical. UME is targeted at connectivity devices, such as UMPCs and MIDs (Mobile Internet Devices), but not at cell phones, as they are "too closed", according to Oliveira.

Canonical's UME tests are currently being undertaken on a Samsung Internet tablet device that originally had Windows running. The first stable version of UME will be out in May, and will be based on Hardy Heron, with packages directly derived from the official ones. At first it will be available only for x86 processors, which is why it needs notebook-like hardware. However, it is completely focused on touchscreen interfaces, with its current GUI roughly based on Nokia's Maemo.

The web browser is based on Firefox and all applications are displayed full screen by default. The test hardware sports many connectivity interfaces, with a video-out jack, multiple USB jacks, bluetooth and wireless, and is powered by a 900MHz Celeron processor with 1GB RAM.

UME enjoys strong support by Intel, and in the USA there are many OEMs and ODMs ready to include the modified distribution in their products. However, there are still some major hindrances. Connectivity devices are not meant to be switched off, but suspended instead – and returning from this state still takes longer than users would tolerate. Also, boot times – which, once again, should never happen – are too long, and the use of LinuxBIOS in the devices is not possible, as manufacturers provide their specifications and UME can only conform to those.

UME will follow "regular" Ubuntu's release schedule, i.e. a new version every six months. Ubuntu software packages not specifically made for UME can also be installed, but their interfaces will actually be just like in a desktop, instead of following the mobile interface guidelines.

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