Popular Linux operating system Ubuntu could soon be making a debut on mobile phones, and even possibly the iPhone, in the very near future.
The maker of the ARM processors – widely used in smaller devices and for system-on-chip processors – announced late last week that it had secured a deal with Ubuntu backer Canonical to port the operating system to the mini platform.
Ubuntu in turn announced that with the release of Ubuntu 9.04 in April next year, it would also make available an ARM version of the operating system.
Initially the deal is designed to make Ubuntu more compatible with a range small laptops, known as netbooks which run on the ARM processor. The release of Ubuntu expected out next year will cater for the ARM7 architecture, specifically the Cortex A8 and A9 processors.
But, while netbooks will be the initial target of Ubuntu-ARM, the deal also opens the way for Ubuntu Linux to be ported to a much broader range of portable devices. Chief among these are those mobile phones known as smartphones. Phones such as the HTC G1, which currently runs Google’s Android operating system, is based on an ARM processor. Even Apple’s popular iPhone is understood to be based on an ARM processor, although Apple doesn’t actually disclose this type of information.
With an Ubuntu version available for ARM systems, the Linux operating system is very likely to start appearing in a range of netbooks, phones and other "digital lifestyle" products including Internet appliances.
The move by Canonical to support the ARM platform is not entirely surprising as it is very much in keeping with Ubuntu’s current focus on mobile devices.
Jane Silber, chief operating officer of Canonical said of the new ARM support: "This is a natural development for Ubuntu, driven by the demand from manufacturers for an ARM technology-based version. Joining the considerable community of free software developers working on the ARM platform ensures that a fully-functional, optimised Ubuntu distribution is available to the ARM ecosystem, providing wider choice for consumers looking for the best operating system for their digital lifestyles."