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Ubuntu, possibly the most popular desktop release of Linux, is presently teasing website visitors with a countdown. Might Canonical be about to announce an Ubuntu Linux-powered tablet?

Recent news reports indicate Linux has now reached 42% of consumer devices, largely through the explosive popularity of the Android mobile and tablet OS. On the desktop, Ubuntu Linux is still the leading free and open source operating system.

As much as Android offers a far more customisable experience than Apple's closed iOS ecosystem, it does not provide a desktop-like experience - running the full gamut of software such as applications, tools and even games.

I have longed for an all-in-one computer/phone and previously saw Motorola's Atrix as a potential candidate with its webtop environment and many compelling "docks".

My vision was for a device which would have a usable filesystem and desktop environment. Carry it around and it's a phone; dock it with a keyboard and monitor and it's a full usable environment - yet, webtop was slow and limited and very disappointing and Motorola have since abandoned the Atrix.

At the time of writing, Ubuntu's webpage displays the tantalising message, "So close, you can almost touch it" with 40 hours to go.

Canonical Inc has been touting the possibility of "Ubuntu for phones" for some time, though with no real materialised product.

It stands to reason the Ubuntu announcement will be a touch-screen Ubuntu-powered device and this is very exciting. Unlike Apple's iOS, unlike Android, unlike Windows 8 RT, an Ubuntu tablet would offer consumers, technology professionals and businesses alike a richer experience with a tablet that offered large-buttoned content consumption apps as well as a powerful underlying operating system and file system that let you do, well, real stuff.

With Microsoft yet to actually bring its Windows 8 Surface Pro tablet to life, a tablet based on Ubuntu could gain strong market traction, and from there, to a smaller phone edition.

While it is oft-joked that "this year" will be the year of the Linux desktop there can be no mistake Linux has strong ground in the server market and has attained a huge footprint in the mobile market. A tablet running Ubuntu will only strengthen that footprint with a truly useful tablet.

 

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David M Williams

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David has been computing since 1984 where he instantly gravitated to the family Commodore 64. He completed a Bachelor of Computer Science degree from 1990 to 1992, commencing full-time employment as a systems analyst at the end of that year. Within two years, he returned to his alma mater, the University of Newcastle, as a UNIX systems manager. This was a crucial time for UNIX at the University with the advent of the World-Wide-Web and the decline of VMS. David moved on to a brief stint in consulting, before returning to the University as IT Manager in 1998. In 2001, he joined an international software company as Asia-Pacific troubleshooter, specialising in AIX, HP/UX, Solaris and database systems. Settling down in Newcastle, David then found niche roles delivering hard-core tech to the recruitment industry and presently is the Chief Information Officer for a national resources company where he particularly specialises in mergers and acquisitions and enterprise applications.

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