Will Google's OS Topple the Ubuntu Empire? : Page 2

Ubuntu's lack of a significant tablet presence appears to doom it in this fast-growing space.
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Ubuntu has the first two things to some extent, but is lacking on the latter. Yes, they have some great desktop apps. There is no question about that. However, I have yet to see any clear sign that Ubuntu has tablet-ready apps that are going to make me drop iOS or Android.

Remember, I'm a long-time Linux enthusiast. So seeing Ubuntu or another Linux distro competing with the existing options wouldn't hurt my feelings at all. As a matter of fact, it would make my day.

So, what have I found in the way of ready to use tablet software for Ubuntu?

Florence, a virtual keyboard and Easystroke, designed for gesture-recognition on a tablet computer. Sadly, after that I came up empty.

I looked at a variety of possible leads, but everything else that made use of the tablet was in reference to the Wacom tablet for creative art and other similar concepts. So the grand total of tablet-specific applications comes down to a couple of applications. That's it. Anything else, is strictly for desktop software or games.

It's almost like Ubuntu would do better to just give up and stick with the netbook instead of the tablet! Then again, perhaps this isn't such a great idea despite the lack of being tablet-ready.

The future isn't in netbooks

For those who resist change such as myself, sticking with a small netbook like my ASUS Eee is just fine. Unfortunately, though, it seems that the rest of the world is embracing tablets, in contrast to my affinity for a proper keyboard and touchpad.

Even though the tablet is gaining on the netbook at nearly every juncture, I cannot help but feel that this is where Ubuntu could do its best work. Ubuntu might do well to stick to the PC desktop, notebooks and netbooks. They should definitely embrace the server space, as well.

But, please use some commonsense and realize that Ubuntu is so late to the tablet market that they make Microsoft look like trend-setters. (Yes, I said that last statement with great sarcasm. Microsoft is almost as late to the tablet space as Ubuntu is.)

Love them or hate them, Ubuntu has had success in the desktop and server space. But unless the Ubuntu developers can come up with a magic trick that I haven't figured out yet, any play for the tablet market this late into the game is simply going to slow down future development efforts, I think.

Now, I would love to see some random Linux distribution not tainted by Google make a name for itself in the world of tablet computing. And goodness knows there are a number of non-Ubuntu options out there competing for eyeballs.

But it's Ubuntu that bears the brand that most people know outside of elite circles. Yet it's also Ubuntu that is wasting a lot of time and energy that would be better spent focusing on their desktop users instead. There's still plenty of work to be done on that front, why should a distribution spread itself so thin?

Perhaps the answer is less about ignoring tablet computers and more about how we approach the demand itself?

Just install over it

My strategy for getting Ubuntu or other distributions on Android powered tablets is a straight forward one. Take the Wubi-like approach. Make it brain-dead simple to get Ubuntu installed over the Android installation, assuming a method for doing so can be developed easily enough.

The advantages of this approach are huge. First, no more worrying about hardware partners. Just pick a non-iOS tablet and install the distribution. Second, users will be more invested in the Ubuntu installation since they had to do it themselves. Any long time Linux user can surely relate to the vested interest you have in making your system run your way!

And finally, the option of trying another distribution other than Ubuntu later, becomes easy enough as this Wubi-like approach already blazed a path. Much as Ubuntu has become a gateway distro for many new users, I see the possibilities of it doing the same for tablet users, as well.

Are any of these options ideal? Probably not. However, I don't see Ubuntu's current strategy making a lot of sense either. At least my suggestions give Ubuntu developers room to breathe, while allowing Android users an opportunity to try out the idea without investing in a non-Android tablet.

If nothing else, a Wubi-like option is a place from which to grow from. And quite frankly, it's the only chance Ubuntu has against Google's Android OS.

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Tags: Linux, Google, Android, Ubuntu

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