Feeling the technological trend, Ubuntu tried to create a mobile operating system based on Linux. The first announcement was made ten years ago, and six years later Ubuntu closed the curtains on the project.

What went wrong? How did it start? Is Ubuntu Touch still alive? Let’s look at the history of the Ubuntu Touch in chronological order.

Shuttleworth announced for Ubuntu Touch

The Ubuntu Touch project began with a blog post by canonical founder Mark Shuttleworth. The blog article from the 31st. October 2011 started with a bold prognosis: By 14:04 LTS will power Ubuntu tablets, phones, TVs and smartphones from cars to office kitchens and connect these devices neatly and seamlessly to the office, server and cloud.

Shuttleworth also explained that this step will primarily be carried out using the company’s new office environment – Unity. (Unit was introduced with Ubuntu 10.10.) Unit, the desktop interface of the current Ubuntu 11.10, was designed with this specific vision in mind.

The idea behind Unity was to create an interface that works on different screen resolutions.

The most important elements of the Unit are arranged exactly as we need them to create consistency between all these devices. That’s how the name Unity came into being – a single basic interface system that fits all screens and supports all tools.

Shuttleworth said the decision was motivated by the increasing use of mobile devices. Make no mistake – just as the world changes for manufacturers, it changes for Linux distributions. Today 70% of the Egyptian population uses the internet exclusively by telephone. Even in the US, this figure is astonishing: 25 %.

Ubuntu Touch launched on the global market

The Unity desktop environment was originally introduced with the Ubuntu 10.10 netbook version. However, the phone interface will only be visible to the public in 2013. Mark Shuttleworth showed it at CES 2013.

Ubuntu Touch 1.0 is released in Ubuntu version 13.10 This version mainly supports the Galaxy Nexus and Nexus 4 phone, other images are also available.

The requirements for Ubuntu Touch looked a bit like this:

  Input levelUbuntu smartphone High quality Ubuntu Superfony
Processor architecture 1 GHz Cortex A9 Quad-Core A9 or Intel Atom
Reminder 512 MB – 1 GB At least 1 GB
USB key 4-8 GB EMMS + SD Min. 32 GB EMMS + SD
Multi-sensor Yes Yes
Convergence of tables No Yes

Concept of Convergence

Pay attention: The last point in the list above (convergence of workplaces) may be a new idea for some people. This means you can use the Ubuntu touch device as a phone, but you can also connect it to the screen, keyboard and mouse to use it as a desktop. Unfortunately, Ubuntu Touch never received this feature.

Ubuntu tribes that make the phone difficult

To show what a perfect phone for Ubuntu would look like, Canonical started on the 22nd. July 2013: a crowdfunding campaign to finance the Ubuntu region. The goal was to raise $32 million a month to produce 40,000 units.


According to the campaign site, Canonical had hoped to use the new device to create a high-tech, low-volume platform that would be funded by mobile computing enthusiasts and professionals. An innovative project that accelerates the introduction of new technologies and promotes their introduction into everyday life.

The Ubuntu-Krai was then considered an elite with the following characteristics:

Mobile Control System Double download from Android and Ubuntu Mobile
Desk control system Ubuntu work table
Internal memory 128 GB
Screen 720 x 1280, 4.5 inch
Shooters Sapphire crystal
Login Dual LTE, GSM
Speakers Stereo
Battery Li-ionic silicone anode
Prices $695

It is interesting to note that several large companies have promised money. For example, Bloomberg promised $800,000. They did this because they were convinced that Ubuntu Touch would benefit their customers and the future of mobile computing products/services.

In the end, the campaign did not reach its goal. It only reached $12.7 million, or 37 percent of the target. The amount raised was the largest mass fundraising campaign ever.

Ubuntu Touch goes into production (type)

Although Canonical was not able to develop its own hardware, the company continued to work on the software part, namely the Ubuntu Touch mobile operating system.

Ubuntu Touch was launched for device manufacturers in 2014. In the same year, two device manufacturers undertook to produce Ubuntu phones. The two companies, the Chinese Meizu and the Spanish BQ, were not exactly global celebrities, but Shuttleworth said it was all part of the plan.

Although we like to work with well-known names, we want to work with partners for whom we can be an integral part of their story, instead of joining the more complex story of other brands.

Both companies have produced and marketed different phones with Ubuntu Touch as the main operating system. The BQ has also released the Ubuntu touchpad. However, no other manufacturer has committed to producing Ubuntu touch devices.

Ubuntu Touch Canonical Disconnection

Unity 8 was in beta when Ubuntu ended its Unity and Ubuntu Touch project.

Early April 2017 Mark Shuttleworth made another announcement. After mentioning that Canonical had a great quarter and a great year, Shuttleworth announced the end of Ubuntu Touch and Unity. I am writing to inform you that we will terminate our investment in Unit 8, the telephone envelope and convergence. Canonical will instead focus on the Ubuntu desktop.

He moved on:

I thought that if merger was the future, and we could offer it as free software, it would be widely accepted both in the free software community and in the technology industry, where there is considerable frustration with the existing closed alternatives available to vendors. I was wrong on both counts. In society, our efforts were seen as fragmentation rather than innovation. And the industry didn’t listen to this opportunity, but approached, better than the devil you know, these form factors or invested in national platforms. What the Unity8 team has achieved so far is beautiful, easy to use and solid, but I respect the fact that the markets and the community ultimately decide which products grow and which disappear.

He concluded by saying it was a difficult decision because he strongly believes in the future of the rapprochement.

Community keeps the project alive

When the Shuttleworth ad went online, all Ubuntu Touch fans were shocked. Many weren’t sure what would happen to the equipment they had. Fortunately, the community came to the rescue.

Shortly after the announcement of Shuttleworth, Marius Gripsgaard announced that the UBports team would keep the Ubuntu Touch alive. UBports was already known in the Ubuntu Touch community for its work on porting to more devices.

Several other projects tried the same with the desktop version of Unity, but most of them didn’t last long. One of them had the original name Unite, but it will probably not be actively developed.

UBports is the only project that supports Ubuntu Touch and works continuously on its development.


Ubuntu Touch did not have the success Canonical expected. It’s still too early for the market. With this, however, the foundation has been laid for the Linux phones that we now have.

I think the PinePhone and the Purism Librem 5 phone would not have appeared without Ubuntu Touch, which would have aroused interest in the Linux phone. At the same time, canonical engineers and programmers solved the problems that formed the basis of these modern phones. You can’t succeed without a few failures.

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